Google Says Bootcamp Coders Not Ready for Primetime

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You might have seen this recently over at Business Insider, Google’s director of education and university relations, Maggie Johnson, came out and publicly slammed the popular short educational coding programs many call “coding bootcamps” in the IT industry.

From Johnson:

“Our experience has found that most graduates from these programs are not quite prepared for software engineering roles at Google without additional training or previous programming roles in the industry,” Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, told Bloomberg in a longer feature about coding schools in Silicon Valley.

Coding bootcamps have been the rage the past few years. With the glut of openings around the country desperately needing coding skills, it was no doubt we would see these start popping up everywhere. Therein lies the problem. With desperation, the industry opens itself up to fraud and poor quality, as unprepared suppliers rush in to meet the need.

What Google is saying is not that all of these programs are bad. But that doesn’t make great headlines. What Google said was that if you bring someone fresh out of working at Starbucks as a Barista, with no IT background, and teach them how to code, there’s a great chance they’ll suck at coding!

The state of Michigan tried this during the recession. Out of work, semi-skilled auto workers needed jobs. Every employer was begging for developers. So, what do we do!? Train the auto workers how to code! Genius! Well…not so much…

Turns out, turning a wrench on a steering column and writing code are two very different skill sets to learn!

So, does this mean you should run away from every program that teaches coding skills in a compressed format? Definitely not! But, you should be looking for the following, to go along with the program’s ability to teach coding skills:

  1. Industry Partnerships: Who does the program work with to develop their content? This will give you great insight to how well respected the content is, and most likely how prepared the graduates will be.
  2. The Background of the Student: Coding skills won’t be enough to be successful in most environments. The programs that work with experienced developers learning new skills are the best, and you’ll also find cross-over second career talent that is able to transfer the knowledge they learned in one career, plus their new coding skills, to be able to come up to speed in your environment quickly.
  3. Instructors: Dig into the background and experience of those teaching in the program. The top programs will have instructors who are active in the technology they’re teaching, and most likely working full time with the industry partners who developed the instruction.

Ironically, while Google’s own internal educational leader said most of these types of programs don’t deliver the quality they need to work at Google, Google itself has partnered with Udacity to develop their own compressed coding format to meet their needs.

Nanodegree, compressed format, educational opportunities can be a great source for ‘new-skill’ talent you need, you just need to make sure the program you’re recruiting from is reputable, competent, and recognized by the industry as being a leader in the field.

Need new pools of IT talent? Udacity is turning IT recruiting on its head by delivering great pools of talent that are curious, value professional development, and come with experience to give you the diverse perspectives you need. Check out Udacity’s Talent Source today to find some of the top Nano-degreed IT professionals on the market. Udacity is a proud sponsor of Fistful of Talent. 

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Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett SPHR, is the ultimate Mama’s Boy!  After 15+ years of successfully leading HR and Talent Acquisition departments for Fortune 500s and smaller technical firms, Tim took over running the contingent staffing firm HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Serving as the Executive Vice President, Tim runs the company his mother started over 30 years ago, and don’t tell Mom, but he thinks he does a better job at it than she did!  Check out his blog at www.timsackett.com. Because he's got A LOT to say, and FOT just isn't enough for him.

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