*** No Bootcamp Applicants ***
This week, while searching angel.co for roles and positions, I came across a job post that began with the words,
******* NO BOOTCAMP APPLICANTS ********
in big bold screaming letters. At first, those words broke my heart and deflated my confidence in finding my dream job. I immediately equated reading this to the idea of seeing the words
“ NO WOMEN APPLICANTS”
“NO HISPANIC OR BLACK APPLICANTS.”
Telling knowledgeable, hard-working people not to apply for a job because they came from a non-traditional background felt so, damn, wrong. So, I continued reading the job post to investigate why? Why would my background be so unworthy of your job?
“Must have basic knowledge in algorithms & data structures.”
I spent twelve weeks, ten to twelve hours per day, of my boot camp working primarily on algorithms and data structures, and was tested on that knowledge every three weeks. So that can’t be the skill I’m missing.
The post went on to detail a need for an understanding of BigO time complexity, which is completely fair. No one wants a double loop in production code. What a bulky monstrosity that would be (imagining a giant disgusting swamp monster made of 0’s and 1’s, eeek!). I guess it’s good that a Stanford Computer Science course through Coursera about algorithms and BigO is only about $50. I certainly don’t want to make a messy newb mistake like creating a method with a time complexity of O(n²) or worse (cringe). I guess that’s not the skill I’m missing either.
Holy moly, was this part of your job post pulled directly from the Dev Bootcamp syllabus?
Now, I’m not naive, I do realize that there is knowledge that four years of institutional learning provides, that 19 weeks of immersive boot camp does not. I’m not suggesting that these two learning styles are equal in every way. I am suggesting that if the position you’re hiring for requires hands-on working knowledge of, and experience with, current technologies and languages, then a boot camp grad is actually a fantastic option.
We have already proven that we learn incredibly fast, adapt to changing and ambiguous landscapes, and fill gaps in our knowledge base autonomously. We don’t weigh down your team, we bring new energy, a creative view, and likely some noteworthy experience from other industries.
Worried about knowledge base and understanding of a boot camp grad? Isn’t that the entire purpose of the interview process? Send a code challenge, review it, is it quality code? No? Then pass that person up. Yes? Sweet! Maybe schedule a phone call and go from there. Problem solved.
Here’s the bottom line, when employers think about education like this start-up company does, they stifle diversity in tech and stop a whole lot of worthy people from eating at the table.
I’m sure we’ve all noticed, traditional education is expensive. Expensive in time, and mind-bogglingly expensive in dollars. Not everyone is privileged enough to make a four-year computer science degree a reality, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the aptitude to be brilliant and the knowledge base to build what you need and more.
Give a boot a chance Y’all, we will surprise, delight, and impress.