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What I learned from spending 3 months applying to jobs after a coding bootcamp (freecodecamp.com)
346 points by quincyla on Nov 21, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 389 comments

Holy shit.

Is this some kind of a joke?

> Otherwise, companies automatically categorize us into junior developer roles or tag us as “not enough experience.”

??? What do you think you are after a TWELVE WEEK coding seminar (no matter how intense it was)? It looks frightening to me that he doesn't even know what "junior developer" really means. How ignorant can someone be to NOT think to be a junior dev right after "graduation". Like: I am taking a first aid course - but you have to call me doctor afterwards - otherwise I am pissed off!

> A study by Triplebyte has found that bootcamp grads are weaker in these areas than computer science grads.

Really? No... This must be a lie!

No personal offence here, but honestly, I just can't imagine how a serious company with a certain degree of professionalism is going to hire people like him for a serious software engineering job (or similiar). But actually, if I think back, at my last job a couple of years ago we had a guy similar to him - it ended up giving him all the shitty work that wasn't too complicated and hadn't to much impact on the success of a project (some HTML & CSS stuff for the frontend) but nobody wanted to do (because it sucked). It took him hours and days to finish stuff someone of the rest of the team would have done in maybe half an hour.

I am also wondering about the reactions in the comments - also here on HN - interesting to see what kind if audience is hanging around here.

Anyway. Coding camps seems to be a good way to make money - for the organizers.

100% this! The tech world is due an implosion if this continues, you cant have people with ZERO programming experience beyond a guided 12 week bootcamp being offered anything more than a Junior role??

This single sentence terrifies me:

"At Hack Reactor, we’re trained to mask our inexperience. In our personal narratives, we purposely omit our bootcamp education."

$120k+ offer for 12 weeks experience - ridiculous, I hope he lasts 2 weeks

This is why you need good screening processes.

I on the other hand got taught to be able humble and make compromises especially when still being a junior. Looking back at my early days, when I wanted a position that I knew would change my career, I purposely asked for a lower salary in the beginning to compensate for my junior level or other skills (language for example when I moved into a country where I wasn't fluent yet), with a clause to bump it up to the level of other people when I can prove that I am on par with them and my lacking skills aren't a problem. It also showed the company that I was serious about wanting to work with them.

But man, 120k for 12 weeks of experience is insane. Sign me up for whatever bootcamp that was

Tip: You need a bootcamp in negotiations and selling yourself. Not in programming ;)

Good thing that's half (~6 weeks) of the curriculum at Hack Reactor!

(citation needed)

120k for 12 weeks of experience is insane. Sign me up for whatever bootcamp that was

It wasn't the bootcamp -- it was the self-study, and more to the point, his ability to reverse-engineer the interview process which got him that offer.

Which probably says a lot more about the current gold standard, "let's see how many hoops you can jump through" interview process than about the merits of bootcamps, per se.

They never said they should get anything more than a junior role. There was no disagreeing with the label.

It's a hack to get around HR auto-filters. The hiring people can then make further assessment.

What world do you live in where you'd not have more than one filter on hiring?

The alarms here are astounding given the other hoops that are likely to exist passed the first marker.

Pretty shocking the response to some advice that is really only "step 1" to getting the job anyway

$120k+ offer for 12 weeks experience - ridiculous, I hope he lasts 2 weeks

The reality, I find, is that (if properly motivated, and possessed of sufficient native intellect) once you get your foot in the door, you can learn the ins and outs of any programming role pretty darn quickly. OK, maybe you won't be able to design a compiler or anything like that. But for most of the standard web development $foobar stuff... you can pretty much pick it up as you go.

The people to be wary for (and weed out) are the outright imposters (those who blatantly lie about their capabilities), or the chronic attitude cases (which includes a great many experienced and ostensibly highly qualified people).

Not the inexperienced.

Sure I agree that offering more than a junior role is unreasonable, but all the HR grads I know moved into senior roles very quickly after being hired. I went to Hack Reactor, got a job, and was considered a senior dev by my manager after one and a half years. I'm in my second year now and I'm a team lead. We have a few other HR grads on our team and they are excellent developers that other engineers look up to for advice. Sure, not everyone is like that, but there are plenty of people like this who I know personally.

Now what about CS grads? We've interviewed plenty of people with master's degrees in CS who don't know how to code a binary tree because "you know, I wasn't that into the data structures course..." Or if they have lots of experience they demand more money than the manager makes because, apparently, every company has to compete with Google salaries.

I remember my classmates and I staying after class because there was a guest speaker coming in to talk about quad-trees and b-trees and we were SO EXCITED to learn about these things. We've taken more candidates from Hack Reactor than not because they show this passion for their work that I have personally rarely seen in CS majors. They generally require a few months of ramp-up time, but I think it's worth it, and since they are usually coming over from a different field they bring a lot to the table from their other experiences.

Maybe the silver lining will be a switch to a better process for hiring people that doesn't rely on two hours of quizzes or a pressure cooker hazing ritual.

I know companies which hire junior developers for $120k+, so that by itself is not the problem so much as the notion that a bootcamp graduate is not a junior developer.

On the other hand, I do advise the bootcamp graduates I know to drop it from their resume after their first dev job. Programmer with 1 dev job is a much better profile than bootcamp graduate with 1 dev job.

At HackCorp. We're trained to ask about the education, listen and hear carefully the narratives from the candidates.

Well. Gotta do that when people comes with a degree from the MIT, a degree from their local university and at the same time an internship at Facebook. All in the same year, from the 3 different cities.

The article does read a lot like the "Psychopath's Guide To Career-Hunting". Honestly, the tone reminded me a lot of some of my undergrad peers who were pursuing investment banking jobs, which I suppose makes sense considering his about section.

That all said, if your goal is to get the highest paying job possible, this seems like useful advice.

The article does read a lot like the "Psychopath's Guide To Career-Hunting".

Yup. Which is exactly the mindset that the current interview culture most strongly rewards.

This a 100%! While I was reading his guide, I couldn't shake off that jazz track from "The Talented Mr Ripley"...

One of the odd things about our industry is that we don't distinguish between technicians (who build and maintain things) and engineers (who analyze and design things). We tend to call everyone engineers, and muddy the distinction between building and analysis.

If we did make the distinction, the place of these bootcamps would be much clearer. They train technicians. Specifically software technicians. Their graduates can build things and fix problems using current technology, but they don't have the deep theory and sophisticated understanding of the field that lets them solve really hard problems (at least until they considerably augment their skills.)

The job that most closely fits those is usually called Software Engineer, as distinguished from Senior Software Engineer or Staff Software Engineer. Did the writer really land a job at the Senior level on the strength of ten weeks of instruction and three months of personal study? Sounds weird.

The only situation where I'd hire someone like that into such a position is if they brought a LOT more to the table, meaning probably domain experience. If someone spent ten years as a petroleum engineer and I am hiring a software developer to work on software for the oil industry, then yes, I might be willing to hire them at Senior despite a dodgy background in software.

Hey, there. I also went to Hack Reactor. It's not a joke.My first job out of the program was Groupon and the algorithm-heavy style of the interview wasn't a problem. The hardest thing for me while there was CSS (because they supported some old versions of IE).

I'm not saying that I was stronger on the data structures and algorithm side than top students who spent four years staying up coding during their nights and weekends but I was definitely ahead of most fresh grads I encountered. I don't know how that is, given what a typical CS curriculum (at least what I saw later on Open Courseware) but my guess is that a lot of CS grads don't actually practice what they're learning enough so that it sticks.

One thing it appears a lot of people on this thread are missing is that it's not a school for complete beginners. There are prep courses for people looking to enter the school. I had been programming simple things for my blog for years before I went. About 1/3 of my class already had CS degrees before entering.

The other factor is that intensity really does matter. The reason focusing on duration of 12 (well actually 13 weeks) is wrong isn't because nearly 1000 hours of instruction and work are packed into those 12 weeks. It's even more wrong because working at double the intensity leads to more than double the progress. I saw the same phenomenon with language learners when I was living in Taiwan. It's very common for someone who did a full four year degree in Chinese to speak poorly compared to someone else who did a much shorter, more intensive study at a top immersion program like ICLP.

Anyway, the degree of animosity here is a little surprising, even considering the cognitive biases that might come from having spent a fortune on a university credential. Large numbers of my peers from Hack Reactor went on to do well at YC companies and/or large companies like Google. One I remember well did both (was an early engineering hire at a YC company that got acquired by Google). I still consider the tuition I paid to HR one of the better investments I've ever made (and one that I easily recouped within the year.

Thank you Marcus and thank you, Shawn. You guys were fantastic instructors and project mentors!

Comparing a bootcamp to random schools in developing countries is laughable. It's well known that CS degrees from most of these schools are worthless.

Having been to school and coded for most of my life, there is no possible way you know as much after bootcamp as someone from a decent 4 year school. It was probably over 1000 hours of just studying alone. Code camps are comparable to an associate's degree or certificate.

>"Comparing a bootcamp to random schools in developing countries is laughable."

First of all, your characterization of Taiwan is both laughable and offensive. It's a developed democracy of 23 million, a stronger economy than many EU countries and a better transit/medical/internet infrastructure than I've seen in any western country. In terms of educational attainment, Taiwan is world-class.

Secondly, it looks like you misread my comment. I wasn't even comparing a boot camp to "random schools in developing countries". I was comparing one of the very best programming immersion schools, Hack Reactor, with one of the very best language immersion schools for Mandarin, ICLP (which was started by Stanford FWIW).

>"Code camps are comparable to an associate's degree or certificate."

No. It's not about credentialing. It's about what you can do. I got no credential whatsoever and I wouldn't have respected it if I had. Nobody had ever graduated when I started and when I finished, my prospective employers had never heard of the school. It's about the education, not some stamp of approval.

At least in my own opinion, there is no evidence whatsoever that our centuries-old model of higher education (or our k-12 educational system based on Prussia's model) are the pinnacle of efficiency. There are many ways to learn more quickly, ranging from working through OCW on one's own to getting help from experts while studying in an immersive school.

I'd argue that he's not Junior.

He needs an entry-level position.

By that, I mean that I make a distinction between a Junior dev (who may have a degree and professional experiences through a work and/or internships) and an entry-level/breaking-into-programming dev who's got nothing (no theory, no practise, zero real world experience).

Good point.

If there's one thing I've learnt, it's that "years of SW experience" is a downright shitty indicator of what someone is capable of. Facebook 1.0 was built by a bunch of Harvard undergrads with 0 degrees and 0 work experience. I'd take someone with 90th percentile IQ, a history of delivering professional results regardless of industry, and a drive to become a great SW engineer, over an average engineer with 10 years of SW-experience. Any day of the week.

Good luck with that. The next Google will be yours - that's for sure.

By the way: Mark Zuckerberg was a huge geek in is earliest years already and in no way he had "0 work experience". Have a read through the "Early Years" in his Wikipedia article and you may find http://www.letsintern.com/blog/4-thing-mark-zuckerberg/ interesting. He didn't start Facebook with 0 experience right after taking a 12 weeks seminar because he wanted to "change career".

Are you serious? We live in a capitalism. With all the things you see happening in the tech world you cannot stand some guy using the system to get a six figures salary. Or are you angry because you are one of those programmers who took years to progress through small promotions and cannot stand this whole world of bootcamp-grads making six-figures after a 3-months training.

I am not angry at all - what I really am is astonished.

> ...cannot stand this whole world of bootcamp-grads making six-figures after a 3-months training.

Hmm... Why not just get rid of all these annoying CS courses at University? I mean - who needs them anyway if you could just spend 3 months to reach such a badass salary?

What I am saying is the industry will behave with demand and supply. You can only expect bootcamps to get more and more popular with increasing software engineering jobs and increasing number of people changing careers. Bootcamps happen to be a feasible choice for people struggling to learn on their own and looking to find mentorship and structured learning environment without spending years and large tuition fees. However, if you are dissatisfied with the bootcamp education then vilifying someone who is just trying to help other people like him is not the right way.

Such angry rhetoric toward statements that are supposedly so "obvious".

The article is about hacking the system for networking purposes. He's not saying HR is "wrong" to apply those labels. Just that code camp graduates should watch out for that.

Given that this site has used up many cycles discussing how HR filtering sucks, these hacks are interesting to consider.

As for your specific concerns, calm down. You're giving off a superior tone. There is a lot of shit software out there. A lot of it coming from big companies. This notion that it's only for experts of a given status is elitist.

By your admission you're a smart coder so you have little to be upset about. Everyone works with people that aren't as good. My managers an idiot. Yadda yadda.

I'd work on my propensity for flying off the handle at trivial snippets taken out of context from larger stories. I'd rather work to help bring up a green coder with promise than alongside an elitist asshole

They gave him shitty work that nobody wanted to do, and you are surprised that guy had no motivation for do it?

> work that wasn't too complicated

"complicated" is subjective. There are many talents and somebody could be better in for example JavaScript (and not HTML/CSS).

Sometimes its about demonstrated skill. We all know about the FizzBuzz debacle - how most folks we interview can't write a simple loop and test? Well that guy was actually educated and demonstrated skills way up the bell curve.

There is "some kind of joke" going on, but it isn't that guy. Its the rest of the industry that turns out script-mungers and form-fillers and calls them 'software engineers'.

Are people in America seriously getting offers of $120k with no degree, no experience, and not even a side-project? That is mind-blowing.

In London, probably the biggest/richest market outside of USA, that sort of salary is beyond what most experienced developers get, even some very good ones.

I must be missing something here (some sort of bubble?) because I can't see how businesses can be profitable paying those sort of salaries to people who know almost nothing about professional programming. Either that or businesses in America are just waaaay ahead of Europe at turning code into cash.

Part of it is folks in the UK, and even London in particular, get paid quite a bit less than Americans.

My wife is from the UK and has worked in London and NYC and she makes quite a bit more money in NYC. She has told me there's no way she'd make her salary in London and it would probably be quite a bit less. She doesn't work in software either; she works in finance.

I think part of it is it simply costs a whole lot more to employ someone in the UK. All those social benefits have a cost and companies have to pay them. It's also much harder to fire someone in the UK than the USA where you can be fired on the spot for no reason at all. The benefits the company has to pay out are technically none except for some unemployment insurance for a few months which is quite small all things considered.

We've talked about moving to the UK but our lifestyle would change for the negative we believe due to the low salaries and the very high cost of living anywhere near London. Especially with the beating the Pound has taken recently when we convert our dollars to Pounds there's no way we'd get close to our current income.

To be honest I'm not sure how you folks do it. The UK is expensive and people simply do with less in general. That's not such a bad thing either.

If you're saying that the UK transfers some of the wealth that might've gone to employees and instead diverted it to social programs, that means we need a better analysis to account for the <full> value transfer that's going on.

It's possible to see a smaller paycheck and in fact receive a larger value transfer.

This is exactly what I was thinking. Put into words that are easier on my brain: If the things taxes are being spent on (social programs, shared services, and shared spaces like parks) are significantly better, one might still have a "better living" with a lower salary.

One of the main aspects of this that is very relevant to Americans is how easy or difficult it is to be fired and what programs are available for those who lose their job. Even if you are never fired, simply the threat of it can cause anxiety and stress that simply wouldn't exist in places where it is harder to be fired and which have better programs for people who are fired.

How good/efficient is the public sector spending funds?

Well the revenue of US based businesses is at a significantly higher scale than most European technology companies. Specifically companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel all make over $500K per employee (Apple is at $2m!). With such a high revenue to employee ratio, these companies can afford to pay developers at rates immensely above what we see anywhere else. And they should, since smart engineers who can move the needle even 0.01% are worth it. Since these companies hire such a high # of engineers, they tend to set the market rates of salaries in the cities they are based in. When you move out of the major cities, U.S. salaries drop significantly.

If Europe can build a few companies that churn out revenue at the scale of Google / Intel/ MSFT, European developer salaries will skyrocket. US companies with offices in Europe have helped salary increases, but really the continent needs a few Googles to really skyrocket salaries.

Totally and completely agree.

Let's take a case study here. Rackspace, a company that was just taken private, and Google.

They have almost identical P/E ratios, and the market cap for Google is 125 times that of Rackspace.

From what I can search around for, Rackspace has 6200 employees. Google has 53,600. Google makes roughly 15 times per employee in profit (not revenue) than Rackspace does. If Google's headcount to profits were the same as Rackspace's, the market cap of Google would be about 35 billion.

That being the case, heck yeah Google will kick down an extra 40k a year to an engineer. Makes perfect sense for them.

Why the downvotes? It makes sense.

His profile indicates that he graduated from UC Berkeley and previously pursued I-banking, so I wouldn't exactly call that "no degree, no experience." Also, a good coding bootcamp, properly applied, can easily be worth more than a typical random "side project", IMO.

That's a huge point. "Code bootcamp" can mean a huge variety of things.

At its best, it often means "technical, business experienced, just transitioned into intensive software study", which is an enticing candidate. At its worst, it means something like "paid $50k to learn basic Javascript". Lumping those two together makes it really hard to draw any conclusions about experience.

The average age in my class was 28. People weren't ex-baristas. They were people from various backgrounds, often technical-related. I was a Math and Econ double major with a minor in applied statistics, then spent 6 years in finance doing equities trading. I was drastically more qualified than the average 22 year old with a CS degree.

Many 22 year olds with a CS degree have been coding since they were 12.

Which is part of my point. You're talking experience and capability vs. "CS". The person I responded to contrasts two styles of bootcamps, but you could replace "bootcamp" with "CS" plus some minor editing and make the statement equally valid. "CS" doesn't really mean much, just as my math degree doesn't mean much. I used it to point out that the two rubber stamps aren't very different. The only real difference is that new grads are a crapshoot on both the technical side and the employability side. You just said "many", but how do I really know if one of those people is the one I'm hiring? How do I pick out the mature 22 year old that isn't a cowboy coding know-it-all, and who will actually be able to be fill the basic employment criteria? Technical minded-ness is pretty easy to spot, and I can verify recent work experience and success much more easily than I can validate what someone learned a decade ago. I'd happily hire a technically minded person with a demonstrated work history over a new graduate for the same price. Many people that take bootcamps already have technical knowledge, but not necessarily the specific domain knowledge. I'm using my experience to demonstrate that "bootcamp" doesn't mean the person magically sprung into existence the day before their coursework, just as your example points to the same thing. We hire people, not degrees or coursework.

Uh, have something to back this up? That's a very false stereotype.

Anecdotal, from the small sample size I've seen from working in Silicon Valley.

Just curious why you went from equities trading -> software engineering? I have thought about doing the reverse in the past.

I'm a very competitive person, which is how I ended up in that career. Towards the end of my time trading I realized I was competing with my health. I have epilepsy and hadn't had a seizure in a decade at age 26. I then had a few over my last 2 years of work, which was pretty easily attributed to lack of sleep. I haven't had one since I switched. I gained more than 20 hours in my weekday, some of which is dedicated to a better sleep schedule.

I think this is one of the largest problems facing the bootcamp industry in general:

* Other players in the space will likely make the industry look bad

* If you graduate the wrong people they can paint your company in a negative light

By and large, companies that get a bad university applicant who can't build a web app don't let it paint their experience of universities as a whole. But if the same applicant was from a bootcamp suddenly all bootcamps are terrible sources of any serious talent and they'll never be considered if they're in the applicant pool.

> By and large, companies that get a bad university applicant who can't build a web app don't let it paint their experience of universities as a whole. But if the same applicant was from a bootcamp suddenly all bootcamps are terrible sources of any serious talent and they'll never be considered if they're in the applicant pool.

This exact thing happened in the late 1990s with Visual Basic/HTML schools. A bunch of unaccredited for-profit courses issuing certificates and promising jobs sprang up during the dot-com boom and were fairly popular. Everyone I had heard about that attended these things left the industry during the crash. I do not see any difference in the way the "bootcamps" are run or what they promise (the word "bootcamp" is new, though), and I think the outcome will be the same.

Lots of people hold the same view about people who've come straight out of university; they simply can't code at all. I think it's less common nowadays, but it was whined about a lot in a IRC channel I frequented that people who came from university usually had to be taught even the most basic things about actually doing.

I certainly thought this was the general consensus. People seem to strongly prefer a substantial team project, reputable internship, or prior job when hiring new grads.

Without that, there's too much fear that you'll get someone who doesn't understand code reviews, writes unmaintainable horrors, or is generally inculcated into the write-once, read-never pattern of class assignments.

The median for software development in San Francisco is about $120k [1]; this means that even experienced developers are getting paid around this amount. Sort by the highest salary and you'll see Twitter, Dropbox, etc.

It looks like Square starts at about 100k for a new grad (uni degree). Seems high but it's more credible than $120k for a bootcamp grad.

Remember that median rent for a 1 bedroom in a non-trendy area is around $2900/month [2,3] and taxes should take about 39% of salary at that level of income. It is far more expensive to live in San Francisco than most of Europe.

1. http://h1bdata.info/index.php?em=&job=software&city=SAN+FRAN...

2. https://www.trulia.com/real_estate/San_Francisco-California/...

3. http://sf.curbed.com/2016/9/23/13034910/san-francisco-rent-a...

Most people I know have roommates though and pay between $1300 and $2000/month, ranging from decent Mission apartments to a nice Castro house. For $2900 a month you can easily live in a luxury two bedroom apartment.

The first part sounds about right. The second part is definitely wrong. For $2900 you won't be able to afford even a 1BR (unless we're talking about place far out from the main parts of the city).

For instance, places around me in SoMa have 2BRs listed above $4,500.

I think he means with a roommate, at least that is how I understood it. 5.8k for 2 bedroom luxury apartment sounds about right.

It sounds like what I've heard the market rate is.

That rate however; "it just ain't right".

> taxes should take about 39% of salary at that level of income

Is that 39% as in marginal tax bracket, or 39% of the absolute total?

Absolute, including federal & California state income tax, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and MediCal.

Don't forget things like short-term disability insurance, which is mandatory in California and can be up to $800/year.

It's rare. And a lot of the businesses that are paying these salaries to new developers aren't profitable, they're running on VC money.

In my experience $120k is in line with a developer with a 4-year CS degree and 1-2 years of work experience and maybe some OSS work.

For one thing if you're experienced you get a much better response rate than he got.

I hear back upwards of 60% when I send resumes to positions I am a good match for on job boards.

Your personal experience as someone hiring developers or yourself looking for new jobs? I think a candidate with a 4 year CS degree and 1-2 years work experience should probably command more than $120k. A lot of it depends on how well you can sell yourself, IMO.

Where? Also, are you assuming this work experience is at Facebook or Twitter? Most developers in the U.S. work for consulting firms or non-software-core businesses. The fact of the matter is that $120k is the median salary for software developers in the SF bay area, the highest-paying region in the U.S.

Anecdotally, I have no degree, 1 internship, no significant side projects and now make $100k + significant equity.

If it matters, I was hired through a Who's Hiring post with no personal connections.

The biggest justification for it is probably the idea that you hire people based on their ability to learn rather than their current knowledge. This sort of makes sense if you consider how fast tech tends to change and believe that you'll be able to hold on to an engineer long enough for them to grow into competence. Of course, it also leaves you with the huge problem of trying to evaluate "ability to learn" through a few hours of interviews.

The other thing to consider is that hiring is necessarily an ecosystem. An entry level job at Facebook can net you something like 120k + reliable stock compensation + signing bonus, and a startup that doesn't at least try to compete with that is going to lose out big on engineering talent.

It all ends up having very little to do with "justifying" a 6-digit salary, and a lot more with scarce supply.

This is also why we've seen bootcamps and and online vocational learning (Udacity, Bloc, etc) gain a lot of traction. Paying $18k for 3 months at Hack Reactor might seem insane, but if it lands you a $100k job it very quickly becomes worth it.

I would argue that there is a considerable amount of loose change floating around in the bay area tech scene that makes it possible for even young companies to pay large salaries to developers. $100k is pretty common for L1 developers, $120k is roughly average for anyone that can show they've built something before.

I can't speak to a lot of programs, but HR is roughly 800 hours of cultivating people with "enough experience to write higher order functions" into - specifically - web developers. These students implemented a binary tree in their first week, wrote relatively secure chat apps in their third, know React and Angular by the sixth, and have 4 side-projects (one of which over a full month) by the end. Meanwhile, CS grads have been taught that JavaScript is a toy language that can't solve a problem of any reasonable complexity and are instead competing for enterprise Java positions amongst themselves.

Is there a bubble? Probably. But there's also a market for individuals with a set of skills that isn't being met by our university system.

Totally real question, could you please ballpark estimate from a simple glance at my github how much I could be making in the US? I'm curious to know what's there to offer: http://github.com/franciscop/

If you want to adjust it with some extra notes: winner of worldwide NASA competition; degree in Industrial Engineering in Spain with final year project on Neural Networks in Tokyo University; organizer of one of the biggest Maker community in Spain (Makers UPV); 2 years work experience (besides non-profit)

In Los Angeles, right now, assuming you're qualified to work in the U.S. and speak fluent English, you could easily make $100k at the right company--maybe $130k, which goes a pretty long way. SF, maybe add as much as $20k. In either market, if you're remotely competent, you'd be able to get a job extremely easily.

I've not ever really had my github brought up in interviews nor known anybody else that has. If you could direct me towards a resume, though, I'd be totally happy to try and estimate.

Unfortunately I don't have a decent or updated resume (missing 1 year), but here's something: http://francisco.io/resume.pdf

My github account was brought up in a recent technical interview. The hiring manager felt that my account lacked professionalism because I had several >= 1 year old, unfinished repositories.

That is... bizarre. He should look at the abandoned internal repos of the average software company's experiments and realign his expectations with reality.

Amen, not every github project turns into a popular OS project.

Maybe he thought it was a dedicated portfolio repo rather than just "this is where I keep my stuff"?

I think that was their thought process. My personal Github is a bit of a graveyard/dumping ground but I saw this as a wakeup call and got rid of a bunch of forked repos and combined some unfinished projects into other repos.

I think it's a combination of two factors:

1. Programmers have lower status in the UK relative to the US - UK is more status/class conscious in general whereas US is more about money/productivity/impact.

2. Due to a bigger entrepreneurship culture in the US the opportunity cost for programmers is higher and that drives salaries higher across the board.

Yeah, it's the lack of supply that drives salary, benefits and status for American software engineers.

I do wonder about the positions that are at or below my salary that have higher status. Like the non-profit public policy lawyer I know, or medical students / doctoral residents, or the business-side people who get to _make decisions_ while I'm kind of just implementing their business decisions.

Last winter I dated a writer who has some local celebrity (definitely has some status), and she was getting down on herself about how little she's paid, and how she works a part-time job to make ends meet. I was also kind of depressed that winter, but more for reasons that I never make super impactful decisions where I'm at. I'm not steering the company's decisions much; the best I can do is be involved in architecture and be a faster/better coder. And the code I write is read by, at best, 6 other people. My PRs are usually just read by 1-2 other people. Whereas, what my ex was writing would be read by thousands of people easily.

I don't mind the idea of emptying out my own biases to try to absorb the craft as much as possible. But I do feel like, because engineers are in such high demand, it's not efficient for businesses to let engineers think about product/business decisions, even though engineers would have good intuition for those areas. Being at the end of a waterfall kinda sucks.

Your ignoring the fact your code can be run infinite times by infinite people.

>UK is more status/class conscious

Can you give an example of what this means? I'm a programmer and I have friends that are mechanics, lawyers, teachers, doctors, accountants, electricians, radio engineers, server-cpu designers, etc. Some of us live in McMansions while others of us live in 1 bedroom apartments or anything in between.

Would our jobs determine what status/class we belong to in the UK? Or is this based more on your family background (aristocracy)? In the UK would we not be as likely to be friends if we belong to different status/classes?

I would read Paul Fussel's Class to understand the US social-status system, then multiply it significantly for the UK. Class even in the US is based more on birth and culture than you'd think (only the middle class thinks that social class is determined by job, for example); in the UK, everything I've heard is that this is still more pronounced, and more explicit.

You can be a millionaire in the UK, and still be working class.

I'd say that is true for most of Europe. The status system is a big burden, and it makes personal interactions less pleasant.

Hard to go to UK and not hear parents bragging about what school their children go to...

The US is the same way, but it's universities the parents are bragging about, not K-12 schools.

I went to one of these programs in America and my starting salary was "only" 85k, mainly because I took a job that wasn't in New York or SF. Most of my classmates who took one in one of those high cost of living cities did 90-110k I believe. I would call 120k+ an outlier on the high side, but not inconceivable.

This was years ago and I don't know if the bar has slipped as coding bootcamps have gotten more popular, but the bar to entrance for my program seems pretty high in retrospect. None of the folks I knew and learned with there would I expect to go on into the corporate world and be one of those computer engineers who gets by in their career by doing hardly anything or being a net negative. They were to a man and woman very smart and voracious in their learning about programming best practices and languages. If you've got a person like that then does it really matter that they haven't been part of a real corporate project before? They will learn very quickly and likely be one of the most useful people on the team within a year. I'm not saying they should be made team lead without any experience but as a rank and file programmer, the salary is justified in that case, I believe.

Tech recruiter here. 85K even seems like an outlier to me for a bootcamp graduate unless you had lots of other credibility that came along with the bootcamp experience. I don't think I could get 85K for a new bootcamp grad in Philly, which is a couple tiers below NY/SF in terms of salary. More like 60-70K I'd expect.

>More like 60-70K I'd expect.

As a developer in Philly, even that seems too high for someone with only bootcamp experience

What's funny is that those figures were the pay back in the mid-1990s as well.

Indeed. Which proves there is no shortage of tech workers if salaries aren't even keeping pace with inflation

Maybe I'm wrong but the salary an American gets is the whole package and they have to figure out their income tax, social security, etc. In Europe a good part of what the company pays for an employee is "hidden" but can account to 50%-100% of the gross salary you receive. So if you're getting 50k company is really paying 75k.

Same in the UK - the amount quoted is before any tax is deducted. It is usual for the employer to deduct the income taxes themselves, though... businesses in the UK bear some tax collection responsibilities, of which this is one.

On top of the quoted figure, there is an equivalent of employer's FICA contributions. The rate is around 12.5%. Anyway, this is treated separately and you don't generally hear about it; employers factor it into their calculations before deciding on a salary range.

Exception: it's somewhat common for public sector employees to have the employer's contribution quoted on their payslips, perhaps to make them feel like they're paying into the system.

The "all-in" cost of an employee is also much higher than the nominal rate in the US. The employer pays ~8% in social security/medicare taxes, unemployment insurance, most or all of the health insurance premium, etc.

This is definitely not the case in Ireland, and I would imagine the rest of Europe. While there is the odd tax that an Employeer might need to pay on having an employee (probably benefits related), if a job says it pays, say, €60k, that's €60k pre tax. Tax is then deducted from that and you get your payslip which displays both pre and post tax numbers, and you receive the post tax amount.

I don't know about Ireland but that's definitely not true for Germany. While the amount usually talked about in negotiations is pre-tax (since people have differing tax rates due to children, marriage, etc.), there's a significant difference from there to the actual cost to the company.

In my company we pay about 25% on top for social security, worker's benefits, health insurance, etc. This is without any company-provided benefits such as trainings, conference allowances, holidays, etc.

Yeah, similar here in Lithuania. You can say there's three salaries a person can be valued at.

There's the official one which you would declare (pre-tax, or "on-paper"), the actual you get (post-tax, or "hands-on") and the one that shows your actual cost to the employer (pre-tax salary + 31% additional tax).

The hidden cost of an American employee is probably even higher. Since the company picks up most of the cost of health insurance, its a huge chunk of change right there.

50%~ overhead sounds about right.

He has a degree from University of California, Berkeley (aka UC Berkeley or Cal) and it's a top notch university in US. It's often ranked #1 public university in USA and in top 5 or 10 even when other expensive private universities are included in the ranking, like Stanford, Harvard, MIT.

Obviously it all depends on the major and other factors, but I'd say simply getting into and graduating from UC Berkeley does mean something.

Of course lots of smart, hard working students simply go to local community colleges to save $ etc. But when a recruiter sees UC Berkeley on resume and they want someone with a degree, it give a good impression.

And let's not forget on HN survey, about half of the working programmers are self-taught.

And who knows, maybe he had side project(s) or examples of code to show.

In a tiny town in the middle of nowhere middle america, where the cost of living is 90% the national average, we can't keep college grads starting at $75k with an assured 10% bonus. This is a town where all marble 4,000 square foot McMansions start at $240k. bestplaces.net puts this as a comparable salary to around $280K in San Fran.

Maybe, but $280K in SF pays off the student loans a hell of a lot faster than $83K in the middle of nowhere.

$83K in the middle of nowhere is for entry level positions. $280K in San Fran are rock stars well into the 99% of salaries. You're comparing a starting first year fresh out of school who can easily afford a McMansion on a large acreage with a seasoned developer who's in the top 1% of their colleagues who can now just afford a nice condo.

Most new grads don't want to live in a McMansion in the middle of nowhere, even if the salary is great. They want to live in a city with fun things to do and tons of people their own age.

Yep. Fixed costs.

No surprise when those same college grads get comp packages of 200k / year at top places.

Well, if you read Quora, everyone makes millions of dollars writing code. In the real world (e.g. not Silicon Valley), yeah, it's hard to crack six figures--took me about 10 years to do that with a BS in CS, MS in Computer Engineering, and an unused doctorate (Info. Sci. with specialization in human factors). I became successful when I left the PhD the hell off my resume.

I'd question how you're presenting and selling yourself to potential employees. You have ALL of the leverage. Cracking $100k should have been easy, IMO.

Do you leave your publications off the list as well? Curious how long your resume is. I currently have a 4 pager full of pubs, conference service, etc. Thinking I should cull a lot of stuff.

get rid of all of it. If you are not applying to a research position it is just junk on the resume that make people want to stop looking at your resume. You want list positions held, tech stack used and important projects delivered. Anything else will be looked at second if at all

Unless you are a known name in your field, your resume should be a single page.

Experience and track record are the most important things in securing a position. Luckily in tech, you can build your own experience by doing things and not waiting for things to be handed to you.

The sad thing is devs who are out of school for 1-2 years think they have arrived at 6 figures, when they have many years of problem solving and result delivering to give to fully return the value of what they're being paid to their employers.

While those young devs may think they have hit pay dirt, quite often a higher starting salary is meant to keep them as lifers longer, while those who are willing to grind and hustle are adding more meaningful, sustainable, and measurable value.

It's also important to remember when times get tough the first group that are often let go are the overpaid people who add the least value.

In that spirit, I hope students continue to learn how to add value instead of just worrying about what value they receive. In a world where everyone's special, no one's special, except those who can add value.

> Experience and track record are the most important things in securing a position. Luckily in tech, you can build your own experience by doing things and not waiting for things to be handed to you.

Very true. As a new pilot, you have to pay/fight for flight time to build experience before moving up. As doctor/surgeon, you have to be in a certain situation with close supervision to practice your craft and gain experience, which is expensive.

In almost all tech, this is not a requirement, which is what I love about tech.

My sister graduated from Hack Reactor with no previous programming experience and a degree in Oceanography from UC Berkeley. Her salary is 115K. She spent a couple of months applying for jobs. I think it's basically a function of the developer shortage in SF right now.

I don't know how anybody would stay in London (or move to London) given local software engineer salaries for non-financial projects.

I was once offered a role of Scala software engineer with £45000 starting salary. I assumed it was a joke, but it wasn't.

Most experienced devs are contracting.

> In London, probably the biggest/richest market outside of USA, that sort of salary is beyond what most experienced developers get, even some very good ones.

That's what I though as well until we offered £100k to 3 different guys in London.

They all refused saying it was a substantial drop. One actually standed up and left the room :D

It sounds like it's in the Bay Area, where that level of salary is kind of a minimum, given cost of living.

London COL is very similar to SF/NY I believe.

Thanks to trains you can commute into London fairly easily from somewhere more affordable. And it isn't driving so you can work or read as well.

Not really, anywhere that's convenient to London has basically the same prices as London. If you do end up saving money it's because you're taking one of those awkward 90minute+ journeys.

sure, if you like reading standing up for 90 minutes while someone breathes down your neck.

The transit system is exploding, living in the commuter belt these days is a special kind of hell for a lot of people.

And don't think you're getting seats on the underground either.

Precisely. Bay Area is unlike any other.

It is. Of course, I haven't worked anywhere with onshore coders in quite some time.

I can totally get why if little/no-exp devs are expecting six figure salaries.

That's over £90k in our terms you can see why Google and othe reengineering companies set up in the UK as we are cheap

Two years ago $120k was just £77k (still good). Salaries are famously sticky as a number, and do not change quickly when currencies move after events like Brexit.

It makes sense they wouldn't; have costs of living in London increased since the referendum? I was under the impression rents and real estate values were down.

Costs have not gone up much, though there is a delaying effect on consumer prices too. But salaries are not only determined by cost of living, or programmers wouldn't be making $100k+. Companies in London will have to offer higher salaries in £ now when competing with U.S. based companies for overseas talent.

Financial journalists are warning that the cost of goods and services are likely to rise, e.g. Robert Peston: https://twitter.com/Peston/status/798482965856546816

rents are going up high end property >1 million £ has dropped a bit

I have no familiarity with the UK tax practices, but what kind of burden are you for an employer? The US has 7.5% tax per employee. There are a few others such as health insurance.

There's an extra tax paid by the employer, technically "employer's National Insurance contributions", which is about 10% (up to a limit). So that's comparable to US payroll taxes.

Because the National Health Service is generally considered to offer a decent-enough level of care, there's normally no private health insurance in most tech jobs -- so no extra costs there.

And anecdotally that an british expat who worked for citi in the states was paying over 15% just for his health coverage - he was lucky as his wife is something senior with the FBI and has coverage from work.

Add 30% of salary for each employee in the US to get "total compensation" which means health/dental/life/vision/retirement benefits.


Admittedly my sample size is low (2), but some level of private health insurance was offered at all the places I've worked in the UK.

For a gross salary of 90k as assuming 2k a month dc pension it breaks down like this.

Taxable wage 55K Taxpaid 15.6k Tax Free 11k NI 5.1K Take home 45.26 Pension 24k Tax relief on pension 9.6K

And rember you also have CGT allowance of 11K and an Annual ISA allowance of 14.2k (20k next year) and property taxes are much much lower

The rule of thumb I heard for the cost of a FTE was 3x salary.

FYI: Experienced devs are avoid Google London because they pay shit ^^

No, almost nobody is getting that for "nothing". However you can get that with just one of those. I'd say 3-4 years experience in the right field with the right learning that would be a very easy ask. Or a substantial side project applicable towards the place they're applying.

And you're really just talking about the bay area where competition is STIFF for talent. The hardest thing is finding people who can actually do the job - degree, experience or side project aside.

I'm in London too, $120K job in today's London market (£100K) only exists in some banks, hedge fund and HFT companies, and you'll definitely need 10year+ experience to get those jobs.

I think the salary gap between US and UK programmers in the last decade has definitely increased.

One reason is exchange rate, only a few years ago GBP/USD is 1.5x, now it's 1.2x.

Another reason is that tech sector boomed in the US, big companies like google and Facebook are doing really well, there are also more successful small companies, fuelled by VC money. together they drive programmer salary up.

However, the UK economy is totally dominated by finance. And the banks are not doing particularly good after 2007.

Not all bootcamps are equal. I've interviewed candidates from most of them, and the ones from Hack Reactor (the one that the author went to) were consistently of top notch quality.

I actually think it is more likely that you have young silicon valley VPs who dont have much experience and have been booted a fuck load of funding, this is likely the reason so many of them fail!

I mean fair play to the guy for landing a salary like that with basically zero experience but it wont end well for him or the company if he is put into a position of responsibility where he has to make strategic decisions.

It's pretty simple: British developers are willing to work for less.

Or maybe there is too much supply and not enough demand in London. Maybe it's cultural. But I've noticed that salaries in London are pretty terrible. It's even worse than New Zealand, which doesn't (didn't?) have a lot tech jobs.

The salary growth also tend to be different, at least in the tech centers. More senior engineers at one of the larger tech companies can make several times this all in.

Wait till you hear about US Employment law! Your London salary includes a lot of things that are uncommon for US tech salaries.

On a related tangent, this is why it is so important to have a so called "Emergency fund"! An emergency fund is a little bit of money (often 1-6x average monthly expenses) such that if you get canned you can survive for 1-6 months without having to work so you can focus on applying for jobs and getting a new job without having to stress when your next bill is due.

I agree that 6 months living expenses is on the high side, but make sure to get at least >1 month of savings in ... make this a priority! I would argue to even do this before paying off your student loans. Why? Because this is such a 'small' sum of money which can really save your ass in the long run when something DOES go wrong. And if every month has a certain probability p of going down the shitters and you approach it like a geometric distribution then its a simple probabilistic (near) certainty.

Remember this: emergencies come unannounced (else they wouldn't be emergencies).

Get your emergency fund up and running !!

Depending on how often you expect to need an emergency fund and what the relevant interest rates are for illiquid saving (eg: paying down student loan debt) and unsecured borrowing, it may make more sense to have your emergency fund in an unsecured line of credit or credit cards.

Example with made-up numbers: Suppose you spend $2000/mo, you have an unused line of credit of $10000 @ 10%, your student loans are at 5%, and you are taking home $4000/mo. If you have an emergency that costs $2000 that hits your line of credit, that ends up roughly being an extra month servicing $2000 of debt at 10% instead of 5%. If you keep $2000 in cash instead of paying down student loan debt, that ends up meaning you service $2000 of debt at 5% instead of paying it down. These are roughly the same thing, so you wind up ahead if the LoC is sitting empty ~50% of the time.

Granted, these are much more favorable numbers than typical use of credit card debt, but the point remains - if you have access to credit on good terms, and you won't need it often, and you have good illiquid returns on excess cash, you ought to take a look at using credit to handle emergencies instead of cash.

Make sure to be diligent in checking the terms for that LOC. Many banks reserve the right to cancel it if there's substantial change in your financial situation, e.g. if you were to lose your job.

Make sure your emergency fund remains accessible if you get into an emergency.

Lines of credit can be revoked immediately. I have family members who relied on a line of credit only to have the limit dropped and the interest rate hiked by 10%.

The low yield on the emergency cash laying in a checking account is to compensate for its liquidity.

I was taught:

For the first 2 years, live on 50% of your income. Eat Ramen, coupons, live like a begger, and save up 1 year of income.

Then divide that by 12 and use that as a salary for a year while collecting another year. Repeat. Steady income, always a year behind.

Of course this was back when I was trying to go into film. A bit more unstable than software development.

Interesting, I hadn't heard of this before. That said, it's not easy in some cities where rent is 40-50% of your income.

> Eat Ramen, coupons, live like a begger, and save up 1 year of income.

It's unsexy, but one doesn't have to live in the hottest part of town, or go to the newest restaurants every weekend.

But the problem is that people are to led to believe that programming == tech money == big living, when it's really decent middle-class living which means one should still budget, which may mean not keeping up with the Joneses.

That being said, 50% is really a stretch these days. 25% would be more realistic for most yuppies in America, and 33% for those more financial prudent.

I'd call the lifestyle by most new grads in San Francisco to be on par with the middle-class lifestyle. I think your percentages are way off but the gross dollar values are acceptable when compared to other U.S. locales.

Most new grads in San Francisco are likely eating up most of their income on taxes, rent, and repayment of student loans. After contributing the maximum of $18k to their retirement plan and some modest savings, they likely have enough for one night out per week.

    100000 - 18000 # starting salary minus retirement contribution
     82000 * 0.39  # tax before tax refund
     82000 - 31980 # salary after taxes and retirement
      1200 * 12    # annual rent for a bedroom in a shared house in untrendy area
                   # this $1200 figure is from other posters in this thread
                   # and an cursory look through craigslist
     50020 - 14400 # disposable income minus rent
       500 * 12    # annual student loan payment for $50k, 120 month loan
    = 6000
     35620 - 6000
     29620 / 12    # remaining income per month
    = 2468
$2468 per month to save, spend on food, transportation, et cetera is pretty damn good. I think it leaves about $1000 per month for savings, considering groceries, utilities, recreation, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.

10% savings sounds bad but the dollar amount is not too terrible. I'm assuming the retirement savings weren't part of the equation, since they can't be readily used for support during unemployment. Overall, the San Francisco Bay Area is not a good place to save money. I think the financially prudent step is to not move to it.

If anyone disagrees with my numbers, please speak up! I would love to be able to optimize my own spending or make suggestions to my new grad friends.

Great job with the break down--the numbers seem spot on. I just checked my spending for September and I spent $1600 for discretionary; and this was with larger family dinners where I paid, and also a weekend trip to LA with friends. I'm more on the frugal side, though.

In regards to the 10% vs 25%, I believe most guidelines account for retirement saving. So with your numbers, we'd be at 28% which isn't too shabby. But yeah, in terms of getting six months worth of savings..

    1200 # rent
     500 # student loans
    1200 # discretionary
    1900 * 6
   11400 / 1000
   =  11.4
We'd need 12 months, which isn't unrealistic either. I figured one can easily live on $1200 for discretionary when unemployed. $300 for utilities, $600 for food ($20/day), $300 for whatever else. Just can't be blogging from Sightglass every day.

>6 months living expenses is on the high side

Not at all. Whatever causes the emergency is likely to come with unexpected costs of its own, so 6 months salary is more of a minimum in my opinion.

Minimum compared to what though? Saving at 20%, building 6 months of reserves takes 2.5 years. Do you not live until that time?

In my case, I was trying to save between 40 and 50 % untill I hit the reserve. After that, I relaxed it to 10-20 %.

You live on the other 80%.

By "live", I mean "do the optional parts of life", like vacation, date, spend money on hobbies, rent a place other than the cardboard box under the bridge, etc.

The problem with an absolute is its absoluteness.

So, you just need to acknowledge the risk you're taking on. You can "live", but if you lose your job and are unable to get one for 6-12 months, then not having a savings will be a disaster. What if you're disabled? You'll have to hire a lawyer to help you get on SS, and in the meantime you can't break your apartment lease or car payments to dynamically lower your cost of living quickly.

It's just a classic retelling of The Ant and the Grasshopper https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper

I've also found that the things you mentioned--- vacation, dates, hobbies, are actually more flexible than you think. Lift tickets make skiing an expensive hobby. But hiking or snowshoeing gives you a somewhat similar experience for much less. You can do some research on yelp and pretty easily control the cost of your dates, and once you're serious with someone, they don't/shouldn't care about you being frugal. Similarly, vacations can be done on the cheap. A vacation doesn't mean a trip to Europe, it could mean finding some cool small town nearby and enjoying it. (I feel pretty ashamed at how little I've explored the Western united states, despite having been to Europe & China.)

I'd also say-- you work as a programmer. If you have friends in their 20s/30s who are non-programmers, you should ask or estimate what they're making. They're probably having as much fun as you for much less.

> So, you just need to acknowledge the risk you're taking on.

Exactly. Every important decision is a risk and rewards assessment. A high risk is obviated by a high enough reward, and vice versa.

>By "live", I mean "do the optional parts of life", like vacation, date, spend money on hobbies, rent a place other than the cardboard box under the bridge, etc.

If you're hit by a financial emergency, those things are exactly what you won't have the money to do anyway. At least now you can make decisions about what to cut while not under stress and the impeding deadline of bills coming due.

Pay out now or pay out much more later; it's your choice.

I don't know how people can sleep at night not having an emergency fund. I have a couple of time got close to running this out when I was a poor student and I found it incredibly stressful.

Luckily for me, I have never needed my emergency fund. But I'm the same as you, I don't know how people can sleep at night without one. I've been close to the edge at times and it is incredibly stressful.

People seem so comfortable carrying a massive amount of debt.

I'm currently on the best paying job I've ever had, and although the financial planners around would say that I'm holding too much liquid assets (I'm not sure what to invest in), it certainly makes me sleep well at night knowing that I could survive frugally but comfortably for probably 2 or more years without a job.

Try starting out with zero, and having zero income, and zero rich uncles. People talk about these things like they're a given. I'm not saying anything about you personally, but there are different kinds of poor for every "poor student".

That is exactly how I started out. If I had been born in the USA I would never have been able to go to university.

I call it FU savings. Mainly because if you get tired of your employer, you can tell them to take their job and shove it. Move on to better pastures, and not have to worry about paying bills while you look.

I've done it twice, and there's nothing like having that fund (and also being unsecured debt-free) backing you up. Each time I made my choice to leave my employer, I had a new job lined up within a couple of months - and I had negotiated a higher salary to boot.

The best way to go about getting such a savings set up is to first plan a realistic budget. Then, pay down any unsecured debt, starting with the smallest debt owed first. Roll that payment, once the debt is paid back, into the next debt, until you have all your debt paid off.

At that point, you should be left with no unsecured debt; a mortgage can be considered OK (as it is secured by your equity) - but if you can pay that off too, so much the better. Usually, though, it's better to keep it for tax deduction purposes.

Don't have a car payment - if you aren't paying cash for a used (but reliable) car, and paying for it in full - you are likely wasting your money.

There's more tips out there than just the above, but them's the basics - basically. Once you become "debt free" in this manner - a great burden will be lifted from your shoulders. I'm serious.

And once you get your FU savings set up (bank for at least 6 months to a year - but ultimately, just keep building the savings as you have available cash - you may never know when you'll need it) - you'll be free to do as you please with your career and goals.

Easy to do when you make six figures and don't have a mortgage and a wife. That said I'm trying to do just this on 70k with a mortgage and a wife.

Edit: easier to do

or just have your parents pay for it.

This whole hardcore quizzing and testing during interviews has to go. As far as I can see, all it does is create selection bias for people who memorize things or like to practice interview questions.

Maybe that's just me being too old for that kinda' crap.

I have been interviewing the last couple months and have the same opinion. I've been coding for years and have some pretty complex stuff up on my GitHub.

I quickly found out that nobody looks at your GitHub, maybe 10% max. didn't matter that I had code from two weeks ago that did complex segmented locking on a concurrent hashtable. still got asked "what is threading" level questions at every place.

After botching my first spate of interviews to stupid trivia I gave in and and read through a bunch of CSCI 100 course notes and "beginners guide to language x". My performance improved significantly.

Ironically the most useful tutorials were the most basic "write a string to a file", as I had forgotten the classes for opening raw files in my three languages of choice (since nobody in their right mind has any business using those classes in a well designed WebApp). Doesn't matter that I could look it up in 5 minutes, they want it on the whiteboard with no googling.

It's really easy to game such interviews as they require very little domain specific knowledge. If you say you know Cassandra or MVC, they'll just take your word for it... as long as you remember the classes for opening a raw file in r+w mode

If you call it out to me during your interview during my standard warm-up question of "what have you done that you are particularly proud of it was challenging" and you don't bomb the rest of the interview then I WILL go look it up. I use things like this to remove any coding skills doubts during a debrief. Just putting it on the resume means there's maybe a 20% chance I'll see it.

I'm usually giving the holistic system design question which the interviewee can take any direction they like they just have to go all the way down in one area.

Jr devs on my team give the algorithms question much of the time and I make sure they're looking for the right things. Problem solving not memorization... Comfort in a language not trivial knowledge or formatting issues... Etc. They get sent to the interview class if they ask anything that is a named algorithm... Like three sum, tortoise and hare, etc and expect a candidate to derive it in a 30 minute coding section of an interview. T&H for example took 10 years for industry to derive.

On a side note don't use a language you're not familiar with in an interview because you heard the company likes it. Use what you are solid in. Python and ruby and the like make most interview questions trivial. I cringe on the inside when people jump for c/cpp in an interview esp college hires as it seems to take longer to get fluent in these languages.

Note I'm not saying to do interviews in Python and ruby but if you're solid in one of them it's like real working pseudocode compared to Java c# c++. But use your a#1 solidest language. Unless u have more than one and that language makes a particular problem trivial.

I am most comfy with Python but think it is the wrong language for me to do coding interviews. When I was in school, I was taught intro CS in C and Java. I got tripped by a fairly CS 101 question even though I use Python very productively and regularly at work. In C or Java, I'd be able to knock off that question easily.

As I said, it depends. If it's text heavy, python or ruby (or perl) is likely the best. If it uses a lesser known data structure, maybe java with it's massive set of libraries. If it's bit twiddling or memory intensive, then maybe c++ is the right answer. But a lot of questions are trivial in ruby or python. 3sum can be done in 2 lines of ruby (how I wish it was one, would be cooler).

I'm not shocked that nobody looks at your GitHub. Reading other people's code takes time and energy that a lot of people aren't going to spend if they have a ton of candidates to sift through.

You'd read your friends code, right?

Get a relationship, however minimal, with an inside contact, who shows his boss your code or conference presentation or whatever, he calls you and schedules an interview, then HR is told to find two bodies off the street to interview to make the hiring decision look good.

Their code doesn't get read. I'm always kinda pissed when I'm brought in for that kind of interview and I figure out I'm just a placeholder. I've never said anything unpleasant but I have mostly politely walked out of interviews like that. Once its clear they just needed a checkbox and my showing up was the checkbox, theres no point in continuing. This is why sometimes you get callbacks for the craziest jobs you can imagine, like seriously, what in my carefully resume made you think I wanted to program FORTRAN exactly? You're hiring someone who's 90% of the time a graphics artist and all I know about photoshop is I'm familiar with the name? You need a .net programmer and what in my resume made you think that was me, let me know so I can burn it off the page with fire? Or there's a massive experience or salary mismatch, etc.

Yeah, but everyone says, "you need to have a GitHub. You're not serious about coding unless you have a GitHub. That's how you get jobs now."

This is the issue I see.

Every CodingHorror post and list of hiring tips demands a GitHub profile, with the implication that it had better contain useful, quality code. (And with a bit of a threat that you'd better not put any hacked-together, one-off project in there, even though everyone has some.)

That's good, I see the value of it, and I also understand why interviewers don't want to read it. But new devs have every right to be annoyed when the industry-standard wisdom says that you have to have a thing which is never used.

(The real answer is probably "New devs, get ready for the interview gamut. Experienced devs, call a contact and have a GitHub profile." But somehow that never comes up.)

As a hiring manager, I wouldn't say people are serious if they have a github account, but having one, which actually has original work in it, can show that the applicant has some interest in the industry beyond the money. If you don't have a github account, that's fine but you've got to show something else that can fill in the gap. Perhaps you're on bitbucket or even source forge. Or maybe you did summer of code. Worst case, tell me you can bring in some samples to an interview.

I'm not too surprised either, but I marvel at the amount of time wasted preparing and asking all the stupid questions when they could just look at my code for 5 minutes. Like, the main file in one of my libraries clearly uses concurrent locking, it even says so in readme.md . These were all last round on site interviews and we spent maybe 30 minutes of 2 devs time going over pointless stuff when they could just skim 200 lines of code.

I think it's just that they have a process built up over time like "interview process.doc" and the devs don't want to make any waves going off script

Github makes it hard to tell what code is yours and what is something you just forked from somebody else.

I thought it showed on the page if a project was forked; perhaps it makes fraud possible but wouldn't it be spotted almost immediately when you started work, if it wasn't spotted then arguably it doesn't matter.

"Almost immediately when you started work" is precisely too late, though. If you hire purely off GitHub and get someone who lifted their code (instead of forking it), that's a huge price.

Bad hires inflict huge costs up front, in wasted interview opportunities and startup costs and lost training time and morale hits and a dozen other things. "Fire fast" is popular advice because it's better than firing slow, not because unsuccessful hires are a sustainable event.

Forks of GitHub repositories are marked as such, forks of projects hosted on other sites are not.


A company, that advertised here on the last "Who's Hiring" sent me a code project.

Wasn't quite enough to be 'you're doing a sprint item for us', but merited decent effort:

- write a log monitoring console program that consumes an actively written to file

- parse out specific parts of the log and aggregate them every 15s, display summary data

- generate 'alert' notification when log messages/second (over the last two minutes rolling average) exceeds a threshold

- remove notification when fall back under this limit

- continue to generate stats while doing so

- develop some unit tests to demonstrate alert logic

This is, at least to me, _several_ hours of decent work. Certainly was nearly 500 lines of code.


"Thanks for this. We'll review."

Last I ever heard.


Last I ever heard.

By all means, please do "out" this company. Preferably as a response their next "Who's Hiring?" posting.

You'll be doing not only your fellow developers a huge favor, but the guilty party as well. Being as they need to get their heads around the fact that it's not in their interest to keep pulling off bad behavior like this -- and if they need a good dose of public shaming for the message to sink in, then so be it.

The whole issue is a really weird mixed bag, where good interviewers struggle to weed out awful candidates without harassing strong ones.

"What is threading" actually doesn't bother me, because it's shockingly easy to find experienced backend devs who have no idea - even when they've used MapReduce!

The file I/O one is far more obnoxious, because low-level file interactions are so rarely a good idea in most languages. In general, the right way to handle that remains "scripting" right up until it becomes "framework". And if someone expects that file I/O as part of a larger problem, they should probably accept anything sensible-looking or offer you a couple of method names like "getTextLine" to avoid the whole issue.

The whole process is broken, certainly, but its broken on both ends.

It definitely is broken. If I had to point it to a specific cause, I would say the main problem is that the industry is overrun with charlatans. The reason appears to be, when comparing CS to other professions, that so many schools do a poor job teaching CS. Also a factor is that tech jobs are so hot that everyone and their cousins wants pie in the sky dev money without putting in the effort to go to school or self teach. In basically every other engineering profession, a degree is your boarding pass. Not so in CS. I've met guys myself with masters that have no idea what they're doing. Mostly from private school but some public universities too. This in controversial but I think bootcamps are just going to make the situation far worse, if they haven't already. You can't teach everything in a few months so they concentrate on teaching people the skills they need to pass interviews. The real solution to this is to raise the standards in school for CS. The end result would be better interviews for people with degrees, and a clear path through school that leads to an almost guaranteed coding job. This is how it works for every other engineering job.

I've been the guy to screen candidates before and the number of unqualified applicants is astounding. Like, barely more qualified than a random sample of the population. This is for a junior position that simply lists c#,MVC, 1 yr exp. Like a paragraph long job description with 3 requirements. Also listed that we would take Java exp with Jersey or spring boot instead. Over 80% of our applicants didn't meet those requirements. A good portion ~40% had never been to school or written code in their life.

Of the remaining 20%, we would call and ask basic questions relevant to the stack. Just to make sure they're not lying basically. Like for c#, I would ask "what is nuget?" Type questions. Same with maven type stuff for Java guys.

50% of remainder fail multiple questions that anyone who wrote a single app in that stack would know. We now have 10 people out of the 100 that applied.

Half of those aren't local, or lied about being local. 5 people. 2 of them didn't disclose that they need visa sponsorship. We pick 1-2 of the last three.

Rinse and repeat nearly that exact process every time we need to hire anyone. Finding people with experience was even more daunting.

Can confirm. I interview candidates on a regular basis. Company policy that we never invest time in checking a candidate's GitHub. But I do anyway.

Because of the startling amount of people unable to explain the code in their repositories, I've found code quality / problem complexity / stack similarity alone to be a worthless metric. On the other hand, I've found it to be invaluable to get candidates to explain their code and why they made the decision that they did. It's exactly how a practice assignment works, except candidates are much more passionate about the choices and have invested more time in the project overall.

How would the interviewer know that you wrote the code on your github?

Because I can explain anything about it. because the module is published on maven central under my name with my private key, hosted on a domain registered to me, on a GitHub account that's literally my name and a domain that's my last name. My primary email is firstname@lastname.com. A common theme with employers not checking GitHub is that the code could be lifted but in some cases it's glaringly obvious that it is not.

I mean what if I'm applying for jobs using someone else's resume? What's stopping me from having my coder buddy do the phone screen for me? Why don't I just list a bunch of experience at companies that went under... Unverifiable. Use a bunch of references that are actually my roommate and my dad with Google voice numbers.

At a certain point you just have to take things at face value. A GitHub is just as verifiable as every part of your resume that's not a school you went to or your identity

That's fair. I don't think I've really seen readmes on the github projects people list on their resumes, let alone seeing their stuff published to maven.

I do think the original article suggests that if employers put a lot of stock in github, the coding academy people would quickly have the "best" github pages.

I am pretty young and it seems stupid to me too, this guy wanted to be a React Dev. If he was ever at work writing a binary search tree by hand, or writing his own quick sort function, then he would be wasting his time and creating a huge potential problem point in the code.

This guy claims to have worked ~6 days a week for 3 months not to become a great full stack dev, but to become a great interviewee. Seems kinda backwards to me.

This is what drives me crazy. I'm a bootcamp grad, and I've been interviewing for 6 months. I've spent EVERY single day of those six months, (besides applying and networking and interviewing), working on coding, design, projects, and leveling up so I can collaborate with a team. This guy spends all of his time working on stuff that is considered "level 2", and he will make double what I end up getting. Frustrating.

As a former bootcamp grad, please prioritize interviewing skills over development skills. once you get a good job, you can spend your free time on side projects but until then you need to practice on interviews not coding.

Sadly it's the reality of interviewing and I hate it but there is nothing you can do until you are an experienced dev and can leverage your power to say "I refuse to work or interview at companies with dumb interviewing processes."

Fair point. Drives me bananas though.

Play the game. You know the rules and you know what you need to do to win the game. So just suck it up and do it. It does not take much more than 1-2 hours of dedicated interview prep over the course of a month to be successful in whiteboard style interviews.

I have seen that for internal promotions too on guy I knew spent months working his promotion my boss wryly commented of course he has not done any real work for 6 months.

I'm gonna put on my tin foil hat and say: maybe companies interview like this in order to filter out the people who are too old for this kinda crap.

This style is really filtering those who "don't have time," not by age.

As you get away from CS101, you kind of stop getting excited by it. I honestly don't care to look up how to implement quicksort at this point and would rather hack on some deep learning code in my spare time. Friends my age frustrated by interviewing are in the same position. Guess we're too old for a software job :-p

One thing I've found to help me with this ennui is to get excited about implementing the quicksort in another language, or using some newfangled pattern I'm not used to. I interview for fun and this helps to keep me engaged with the same old stuff.

There is zero chance of this happening until google/facebook stop doing it.

This comment appears in every single interview/hiring thread for past decade. Only change I've seen is actually the opposite now there are 5-10 "rounds" of these quizzes even in a no name enterprise companies.

They weren't "over it" by last fall.

whiteboard binary tree coding != brainteasers, more like memory testers :).

Honestly, I think the reason its still around is because it approximates "write FizzBuzz", which people should be asking.

People ask the 'quiz' stuff, successfully throw out some bad candidates who talked a good game on experience/theory, and assume its a good way to go.

The ideal middle ground is probably to offer ultra-basic code problems, ideally before an onsite. It's awkward, but it really is necessary to filter the non-programming applicants. And by not trying to be clever, you don't create an incentive to memorize Rabin-Karp and generally acquire useless interview-only skills.

Even for those still doing testing interviews, that's a good rule of thumb: if it was a paper-worthy insight originally, it's a ridiculous thing to make someone derive in an interview.

During one time I was using a recruiter to get a position, he had me interview with a company that used an online coding test as a first-level filter. I didn't know what they were going to ask, but I asked if he had any idea - all he would tell me was that it was something like good-ole "fizzbuzz".

So I studied a bunch of stuff. Anything and everything but fizzbuzz (not that I needed to study that). Then I decided to go for the test - which was timed - and...


I'm sitting there a bit dumbfounded - seriously? So I coded it up from memory; I could have easily pulled a solution down off the net, but I figured "what the hell - let's go old-school" on it. Also - if I just cut-n-pasted something in, and they saw "it took the candidate one minute to code it" - they might suspect something, then google search the plagiarized code. No good.

So - I coded it up; it was in PHP, but the job was supposed to be for javascript/node (???) - so I wrote it as a class, then I spent the remainder of the time optimizing it - making it the fastest FizzBuzz solver I could, complete with tests and demonstration code. I took up the entire available time, and submitted that. I made sure to add proper PHPdoc comments to everything.

...and I got an "in-person" interview as a result. At the end of that was an another "live coding" session - this one using javascript for a "single page" app. They left me to it, and I got everything coded up inside of 15 minutes or so (there was a paper document laying out what the challenges were in the example code). They were watching my progress via screen sharing.

Apparently I completed the task quicker than other applicants. I later learned that some applicants just sat there unable to do anything (not even google around for help!), or they would take convoluted paths to implementing the changes; not necessarily wrong answers, just not efficient ones - and would be sitting there doing this for a couple of hours (at which point the interview would be brought to a close).

At the end, I got the offer.

Ultimately - those are the kind of challenges I like - give me a real coding assignment, something close to what you are really working on. In this case, it was also in two different languages - so I could also help to "bridge gaps" between a PHP team and a javascript team as needed (added value for the employer).

I really dislike whiteboard coding - completely unrealistic, and while I gather why it is a widely used tool, I think there are better ways to gauge a developer's competence for the position - and actual coding challenges to solve problems seems like one of the best ways to do so (though I also understand that it is very time consuming - so an up-front online timed challenge might be a good pre-filter for on-site or further interviewing).

This is on the onus of mid / experienced level engineers. The community should decide collectively that we don't interview at companies like this.

My questions are just there to get people talking about what they have done. Sometimes you ask about malloc and people haven't used it. I think they serve as a pretty decent initial screen. You choose some basic things that people need to know, then some more advanced things that someone who uses a language regularly would know, and ask until you have an idea of where their knowledge ends.

The problem is that if you picture what you're doing as firing into the darkness to probe something, you can't be sure if the handful of shots you take actually indicate you've reached "the end" of what you're trying to measure, or just some arbitrary boundary. And that boundary may not actually even exist at the point you measured it, depending on some huge number of factors unrelated to the actual job (for example how much sleep they got last night, or if they haven't eaten this morning and are hungry, etc).

It selects for people who have recently been through an intensive learning process like a bootcamp.

Is anyone more than a beginner if most of our technology is less than a year or two old?

> A study by Triplebyte has found that bootcamp grads are weaker in these areas than computer science grads.

Really?! Who'da thunk?

> At Hack Reactor, we’re trained to mask our inexperience. In our personal narratives, we purposely omit our bootcamp education.


> Why? Otherwise, companies automatically categorize us into junior developer roles or tag us as “not enough experience.”

And you think that after a few weeks of bootcamp "education" you're anything but?

Given the people I've interviewed who had extensive "fundamental" "CS" "education", vs. the people I've worked with who've done bootcamps, I'll take the bootcamp any day of the week and tell the CS folks to get a refund from the university, because the CS folks straight up can't code on average.

I guess that would depend on if you are looking for a programmer or an engineer.

"Engineer" -- and I say this knowing full well it's the title assigned to me by my company -- doesn't entail any meaningful difference I've ever seen. Other than some architecture astronaut types I've worked with who felt that writing code was too dirty a task for them.

I mean, call it what you will, but a lot of these people are getting offers, man. Good ones. Which is more than I can say for myself with my comp sci degree and two years experience. Although my location is likely to blame for that.

More than I can say for my BS CS plus 17 years.

As I have had 7 different jobs for 12 different employers (due to mergers/acquisitions, by the most generous count), and have needed to run the entire interview gauntlet all 7 times, my primary career goal is no longer to earn more money. It is to never have to do another effing software-industry interview, ever again.

But damn. For $120k/year, in the region where I now live, I might just put Expo2 to whiteboard one more time.

I get tired of justifying my own existence to people who are only pretending to care that I am not actually a human-form automaton to crank out code. In short, the software-industry interview has always been stupid, but it has also become increasingly arrogant and rude. Is it really worth it to put up with the crap-on-you parade for a few more measly dollars in the paycheck?

>"my primary career goal is no longer to earn more money. It is to never have to do another effing software-industry interview, ever again.:

I feel exactly the same way, even though the existence of those interviews is probably the main reason I was able to get into kinds of companies I did.

to be fair many of them go to berkeley...

"At Hack Reactor, we’re trained to mask our inexperience. In our personal narratives, we purposely omit our bootcamp education."

Assuming most people who do bootcamps are changing careers, how do you explain suddenly becoming a developer after years of another career?


> companies automatically categorize us into junior developer roles

in other words, correctly categorized

Yeah this is galling to the point of fraud. You don't just walk into an engineering job and demand a non-junior position with no experience. You are wasting everyone's time. The company is paying that high salary because they want someone with experience; someone who won't have to "learn how the internet works" on-the-job.

Just because you were able to fool the company into hiring you doesn't mean you "passed the final" and everything will be fine from now on. If you had experience, you'd know that.

This was the part I didn't understand at all. You go through a CS program for 4 years or more and end up as a junior developer and that's fine, but if you go through a 12 week coding bootcamp you're somehow more qualified and shouldn't be "benchmarked against junior developers"?

I do realize I'm making an assumption that there was no prior CS experience before the bootcamp, but isn't that the crowd they're targeting?

That's because that's what a lot of these bootcamps sell. I've interviewed several grads, and while it's not universal, many of them literally tell their graduates they're going to be better prepared for the Real World™ than their college educated counterparts. Almost like, "You'll be better than a CS grad. All they can do is explain and apply the fundamental thinking process behind all this 'engineering' crap. You, on the other hand, will be able to select elements based on their CSS class. Way more useful."

Looks like this author fell for it.

I also don't mean to typecast anyone, but the author's profile on that site reads, "Full-stack dev @Radius, ex i-banker, @HackReactor grad, @UCBerkeley," so perhaps he thought his prior experience in an unrelated field or his alma mater should've helped him get a leg up over other entry-level devs.

Again, I don't mean to judge since my path to software development was also non-standard, but my first gig paid about $30k/year and I was grateful to even be given the opportunity with my inexperience.

"UCBerkeley" and "can program" seems likely to help people assume a Berkeley CS background without actually having to claim one.

To be fair, for 99% of web development being able to select elements based on their CSS class is seriously way more useful than being able to explain and apply "engineering crap". Pretty much until you get to the point where you need to scale infrastructure you won't use any of your CS degree when working on most web applications.

Also to be fair, learning how to select elements by CSS class is so trivial that it doesn't effectively separate levels of developers. Whether you choose the basic JavaScript version or one from a popular framework, it should take less than a minute to look up if you don't already know it. I imagine that seasoned developers (and possibly recent CS grads, depending on school) are much, much less likely to waste time wondering why $(".myClass") is giving them a "$ is undefined" error in their Angular/React/etc... project.

I might be wrong, I don't have any direct experience with boot camps, but stripping dev skills down to just the minimal, core, practical skills needed to build a working prototype in the language-of-the-month seems like just the latest version of the same short-sightedness that has been plaguing businesses for years. Low-risk, long-term success will always come from building on experience, not "hacks" and short cuts. There will be exceptions/outliers, but they're just lucky, not a model to be copied.

CSS is not only selecting elements (like JS is not only "defining functions"). Creating complex CSS layout can be hard the same way complex JavaScript system is.

It worked for a lot of COBOL programmers.

I think the boot camp grad is still going to be a junior developer but I can kinda see where someone with a "vocational" (code camp) educated applicant might actually be more productive than a college educated applicant for certain jobs.

To use an imperfect analogy, who would be better at actually building houses; a vocational school grad (who built houses all day as part of his education) or a college educated architect? A lot of programming these days is "hammering nails" not architectural design.

True, but when I think of "junior" or "entry-level" anything I think of someone with no real world, on the job experience, and that applies to boot camp and college grads.

Boot camps might very well be better than college programs in terms of preparing someone to use development tools and methods as opposed to focusing on the theory behind them, but at the end of the day, you're still not doing "real" work where your choices have consequences in a boot camp as you would on the job.

Working constructively with other people in the field (including answering to and being able to discuss and defend projects with colleagues and superiors), completing projects within time or budget constraints, and being able to make your own informed decisions with regard to things like project scope, methods, and direction, with a proven history of success -- those are the skills that separate "junior" from whatever comes after that, at least in my opinion.

Oh, I agree. For one thing, Senior engineers have lots of failures under their belt. Another trait of Seniors is knowing when "good enough" is good enough for the task at hand vs. the "best" way they were taught in school.

This is a fair point, but most vocational programs last years not months, so that is where the analogy breaks down here. I think "vocational" code schools offering 2-year degrees would be very, very attractive as an alternative to a traditional CS degree (both for students and hiring managers), but that's not what we're looking at.

According to a quick Google search, the average program length for these boot camps in 2015 was 11 weeks. That is on par with a single semester at a university. Even if you take a heavy course load of only practical CS courses, one semester is not nearly enough to prepare someone fully for a full-time dev position at top-tier companies. Sure, they may be able to answer the interview questions...but then what? I'm pretty skeptical of this trend and don't see it ending well for most of the boot camp graduates or companies who hire a large number of them.

> To use an imperfect analogy, who would be better at actually building houses; a vocational school grad (who built houses all day as part of his education) or a college educated architect? A lot of programming these days is "hammering nails" not architectural design.

If bootcamps were vocational schools things would be great. As it is, how many are more like for-profit scam courses handing out unrecognized certificates with the main aim of teaching people how to game the programming interview process?

I wouldn't say that makes them "better", but it's possible to shorten the time needed to learn to program by quite a lot. Though I mean more like 6mo-12 mo for most people if they do it 60+ hours/week with the right mentor to point them in the right direction.

Our current education system isn't always the most efficient way to learn. Skip the unrelated to programming classes, the extra curricular things, make people basically sleep, eat, and code for a few months and it's doable.

> Our current education system isn't always the most efficient way to learn. Skip the unrelated to programming classes, the extra curricular things, make people basically sleep, eat, and code for a few months and it's doable.

This attitude is the reason why I am strongly in favor of expanding vocational schools and training in the United States and Canada. People who do not actually care about learning or thinking should be discouraged from attending university and wasting the time of other students and faculty.

I get what you're saying, but don't agree with the way you're generalizing. You make it sound like vocational schools are only good for getting rid of the undesirables, while the real scholars attend proper universities.

Discourse in topics irrelevant to my career doesn't put food on my table (usually). I'd rather graduate from and pay for a shorter, more focused program than spend $50k/year to have topics I once enjoyed ruined by misdirection and absurd coursework I have no control over.

> You make it sound like vocational schools are only good for getting rid of the undesirables, while the real scholars attend proper universities.

What do you think a university is supposed to be? Of course it is a place for real scholars doing real scholarship. Your attitude is exactly the problem. Stop treating universities as trade schools.

I went to a four-year private liberal arts undergraduate university and majored in math and physics, which may seem foolish to many on HN. I myself thought early on that it was probably a mistake because of all of the "extracurriculars".

But in retrospect, I actually think those extracurriculars were more valuable than the classes I majored in and made me a more well-rounded, empathetic, and socially tolerable individual.

For example, I took a public speaking course that I credit with helping me be able to confidently teach an entire class of introductory physics students when I was in grad school (around 150 people), and currently present in front of my entire company without breaking a sweat (~70).

I learned Canadian history, which allows me to be a better global citizen and more fully understand our relationship with America's largest trade partner.

I learned basic economics which helps me follow the stock market and the way commerce works.

I learned (basic) Japanese, which in its own way is a unique learning experience. There's a reason why when something is confusing people say it "looks like it's written in Chinese," with the implication that it's so crazy to understand that it's impossible (remember, Japanese kanji are just repurposed Chinese characters, so the analogy fits). Tackling that sort of obstacle, even to an elementary level, is very rewarding.

Living in dorms all four years forced me to learn about and how to communicate with people from different lifestyles and cultures, both good and bad.

Yes, a liberal arts university education isn't for everyone. Yes, it's way too expensive (I know I'll be paying off loans for at least the next decade). And yes, it's not the best route to take if you just want to get qualified for a job. But if I'm being frank, a lot of people, especially in the IT and software development crowd, could benefit from being forced to take "the unrelated to programming classes, the extra curricular things," if only just to become better people.

I feel like I got those things from K-12 education. I took French in high school. I took USA and World History. I had an economics class. When I first moved out, I still had to have room mates regardless of school. We had to do presentations in front of the class all throughout school. And I was in public school.

I'm not saying college is bad. It can be a good experience despite it having some cons(like price and time). I'm just saying you can learn to code (and well) in less time if that is the only thing you are focusing on....and there's nothing wrong with that. Education is not just limited to school, and some people have that attitude about it.

> People who do not actually care about learning or thinking

I don't want to waste money in our poorly-ranked, expensive schools where professors aren't even paid enough to live on. I instead utilize the resources available to me online to learn it faster and cheaper, supporting education reform. It's not apathy towards "learning and thinking" to take a more direct path. My goal was to learn to code so I could get a job, I've done it, plenty of people have done it. Do some people bootcamps and suck? Yes. Do some self-taught people suck? Yes. Have I seen people with college degrees suck? Also yes.

Some people spend a few years in some enterprise java job going nowhere and attend a bootcamp to learn iOS development, github, data science, etc. In other words it's a career change within the industry. Not everyone likes to learn alone on evenings and weekends.

But the thought of spending thousands to attend a school and you're encouraged to hide said school from your resume looks really bad.

I too went to a bootcamp and spent about 3 months searching for a job afterwards. I didn't study anything. I let my bootcamp knowledge get written to disk and freed up more room for new stuff. I drank a lot of beer and went hiking in the woods as much as I could. I worked on my projects ~5-7 days a week but never for 8 hours at a time. Just a constant, undirected exploration and work towards building new things. Granted, I had some background in tech (particularly in data science, stats, college-level programming) so I might be an edge case.

At first I thought I was screwed, but after 3 months I'd completed 3 vastly different projects and it showed in my interviews. I could speak intelligently about 5 or 6 different programming languages and a multitude of database technologies, libraries and had my college-years algo/OO knowledge in the background. I had done everything from front-end design to Machine Learning, low-level algorithms engineering to full scale apps. And then I got an awesome job. I doubled my yearly earnings. People may scoff at bootcamps, but it helped in my case - if nothing else I got half a year to mess around with computers instead of doing that after work like I had been for the last couple of years.

As far as interviewing goes: I got rejected a lot. I rejected a lot of companies, especially those who tried to sell themselves to me. I was picky about not working in a megapolis hell. I didn't bug people if they didn't get back to me. I turned down second interviews if the person who interviewed me was an asshole or was non-technical. And it all worked out.

Unsurprisingly, I landed at a company with a lot of views similar to mine. We all mock Silicon Valley. We don't work around the clock, we like having lives outside of work. Few of us are traditional tech people. All in all, a very life-affirming experience.

This is a really nice story! It made me smile. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Is anyone else bothered by the code at the beginning of this article? Simply returning the expression would have had the same effect, ie:

    function getDevJob(studying, hardWork, luck){
        return studying && hardWork && luck;
I know that it might not make the code readable to novice javaScripters, but it bothers me anyway..

I'm more bothered because it's becoming "so clever" to put everyday life activities into a function. I saw code written in chalk on a sidewalk billboard at the door of a coffee shop yesterday. No, I will not reciprocate that cringe and verbally call a function to order my coffee because the barista learned Hello World the previous night.

Becoming? It's been this way since I first started hanging out in internet tech circles (eight years, longer I'm sure).

That's not even the biggest problem with this method. The name is totally wrong.


It's a rhetorical device. And some could argue that code is also a rhetorical device.

But the only argument an if else block that returns true or false based on a boolean makes is "I'm not very good at this"

I immediately picked up on this, too. From the code I've seen, novice programmers tend to do this a lot more often than someone who has been programming for a while.

On a similar note, another thing novice programmers do often is rewrite min and max using if-else.

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