Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

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SavingWithBabies
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Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:36 am

A lot of software developers are quick to suggest the career to others. However, it can be hard to get started. Some people go off on their own and learn or go study Computer Sciences in college. I did both of those things. However, as well as that can work, there are other options that work that can be more efficient (and more realistic if you are no longer a young adult).

In the software world, there is a relatively unknown Software Craftsmanship movement. The idea is to bring more focus on developing skills sustainably and getting new developers up to speed and productive efficiently. What that means is today in many places you have the possibility of having a paid apprenticeship with benefits. Typically, the pay is more of a stipend.

Compare that to "software bootcamps" that want to sell you a $30k 6 month course. I have seen that work for people particularly in hot markets like the San Francisco Bay Area when demand is high for new developers. But that approach does have some risk and it also results in the new developer ending up in an environment that isn't particularly focused on the newly minted developer's needs and continuing education.

After the apprenticeship ends, for most programs there is the potential offer of employment based on how things went. So it can be a stepping stone to a full time job.

So where are these companies? One way to find them is to search for local software craftsmanship meetups. I have a hard time finding a great directory. But here is an example of a directory for Chicago:

http://chicagoapprenticeships.com/

Each program differs. Some are tiered and have unpaid complete beginner apprenticeships along with paid apprenticeships. It's a good idea to talk to former employees of the company (I'd ask for such references).

Many years ago, I made a choice to go to one of these programs even with a couple of years of professional experience under my belt. I did so because I was fed up at my employer and wanted to learn more about test-driven development. I think these programs are great for becoming a more well rounded developer and getting experience in a wider variety of customer projects (many of these companies are consultancies), languages and frameworks.

So if you are thinking about paying for a software bootcamp or going back to school for a Computer Sciences degree, it's worth also considering an apprenticeship. These opportunities don't seem to be as well known as the pay options but they do exist and, in my experience, they can be great.

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BlueNote
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by BlueNote » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:29 am

I like the idea of a public body acredditing the professional at arms length from traditional academic institutions. I see a lot of quality variability in folks who just have an academic designation and that variability, in my experience, is noticeably reduced in professions that have good public accreditation (accountants, plumbers, electricians etc.). Some professions simply can't practice without being accredited in this manner, Doctors and lawyers come to mind. I guess people working in Academia have their own accreditation process based on their academic community standards and processes that is a lot like an apprenticeship. However many degree's and diplomas don't properly prepare students for the "real world" and workplaces really don't want to hire and train these folks if they don't have to. I don't think there is any substantial accreditation body for software development. However when I was briefly in that world (early 00's) I remember there were a lot of sponsored accreditations in IT (Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle etc.) but to me that seemed somewhat biased and not nearly as respected as an accrediting body that is run by its members. In software it looks like it's up to individuals to accredit themselves by building up a portfolio of work and references that has been endorsed by their employers/customers.

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vexed87
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by vexed87 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:15 am

BlueNote wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:29 am
Some professions simply can't practice without being accredited in this manner, Doctors and lawyers come to mind. I guess people working in Academia have their own accreditation process based on their academic community standards and processes that is a lot like an apprenticeship.
This is why you should accredit the individual, not the institution that hands out degrees. Arguably, then you don't need expensive courses to teach doctors or lawyers. It wasn't always the case that a doctor was required to attend a prestigious university, nor should it be that those who come from less privileged backgrounds are excluded on the basis of the cost of a degree alone. One should simply demonstrate the aptitude to succeed as an apprentice in the relevant field. I'm all for apprenticeships.

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BlueNote
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by BlueNote » Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:05 pm

vexed87 wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:15 am

This is why you should accredit the individual, not the institution that hands out degrees.

Yeah they should probably break the arrangement between the accreditation and academic institutions .

In fact a lot of the academic stuff is almost free these days with all the information being available online. So I don’t really understand the point of sitting in the lecture hall, at enormous financial cost, while someone drones on when you can just do that through the internet cheaply And do it with the best professors and courses to boot. I always preferred reading the textbook anyways.

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BRUTE
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by BRUTE » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:45 pm

brute has yet to see a software certification that wasn't bullshit. years of experience is also bullshit. there simply is no way to determine the quality of a developer besides working with them for a month or longer.

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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:17 pm

The apprenticeships sound like a great option. Thanks for sharing. I imagine someone with no degree still needs a portfolio.

I haven't encountered any boot camp graduates in my work. I doubt they pass our HR. I am very skeptical towards $30k for six months training. The information is free online. If one needs guidance, PluralSight is $30 a month, with an option to buy expert help by the hour. Self-led learning is part of the profession, the body of knowledge evolves monthly. Someone who needs a $5k/month boot camp will flounder long term.

I agree the standard for software certification is far too low to be useful. While talent might have one or a few certs, it is because "work paid for this" or "I needed to pass HR screens." When someone emphasizes a cert, I find they are either inexperienced or ineffective.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by SavingWithBabies » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:38 pm

@BRUTE This is my experience too. I've found the same is true about a company -- I wish the way interviewing worked was I could work for the company for a month as a contractor before becoming an employee. But I agree about certifications except maybe some niche areas like when someone without a lot of experience wants to get into a place that puts value on certifications or a managed-services type organization that needs to tout the accreditation of their staff (although to be fair, that was with the Cisco certifications which are supposed to be rigorous).

@Scott 2 At the company I worked at, you could definitely start a non-paying apprenticeship without any degree. If you had already done enough self-education to be able to demonstrate ability in the initial take home assignment, you would also qualify for a paying apprenticeship. No doubt it varies by company. I encountered the boot camp grades in San Francisco. They definitely had potential but it wouldn't really have made sense in most markets except perhaps there.

My main reason for posting this is to have a thread to point to in the future. I think it is the best way to get started in software development. The companies offering these programs might not be a life long career type of place for everyone however I think with a good 2-4 year stint, there are a lot of much more solid developers with a better understanding of the industry, the practices and a feeling for where they fit into it.

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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by ducknalddon » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:47 am

SavingWithBabies wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:38 pm
I wish the way interviewing worked was I could work for the company for a month as a contractor before becoming an employee.
Back when I was contracting most of my customers would offer me a job at the end of the contract. It was usually pretty easy to start contract work as well, I guess they were more relaxed about the process because it's easy to drop a contractor if they aren't up to scratch.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:07 am

Apprenticeships instead of college would be great for a lot of jobs.
In fact a lot of the academic stuff is almost free these days with all the information being available online. So I don’t really understand the point of sitting in the lecture hall, at enormous financial cost, while someone drones on when you can just do that through the internet cheaply And do it with the best professors and courses to boot. I always preferred reading the textbook anyways.
Be careful what classes you pick. I've tried Coursera, some of it is not very good even though the professor and university have an impressive reputation.

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conwy
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by conwy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:13 pm

Why do people think they have to throw cash around to learn software development?

The best way to get good at coding is pretty much free of charge: start writing code.

It’s even easier now than when I started out 15 years ago. You now have Github where you can see the code of major projects by organisations as big as NASA or Google, all open source. Tooling and documentation are vastly better than in the past.

If you still feel you must be hand held, there’s plenty of good tutorials on YouTube, live coding on Twitch and copious manuals and PDFs for every major language, not to mention Stackoverflow and IRC.

I feel a lot comes down to motivation though. If you love this stuff as much as I do (I loved programming before I even knew I could get paid for it) you won’t need much to get.going, whereas if you’re just purely in it for a job, I guess you need more motivation and hand holding, but it might not be the most solid long term career for you and you might be better suited to management or some other areas of IT.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by SavingWithBabies » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:33 pm

@conwy The cash thing is exactly why I posted this -- you can get paid to learn if you already put some effort into learning. Or you can learn for free with direction if that is what you need.

I think that first step into a job can be hard and the bootcamps do try to talk up their placement rate. So I think some people get seduced by the sales pitch and fork out the big bucks. But you don't have to do that.

The advantage of the directed learning (apprenticeship, college, and even the boot camp) is that you don't know what you don't know. So a good directed learning experience will result in both getting a general survey for an area and learning some things that you might have avoided learning as they seemed too daunting (but in reality aren't that simple). I don't think the boot camps really have time to cover this material as well and the high cost makes it even less interesting.

But for some people, self-directed learning will work. I do think you will be a much more well-rounded developer going through an apprenticeship unless you get really lucky and land a job with a great team.

suomalainen
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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by suomalainen » Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:37 am

A story about a guy that went from zero code experience to a job in 10 months: https://medium.freecodecamp.org/how-i-s ... 895e855a8b

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Re: Apprenticeships and Software Craftsmanship instead of bootcamps

Post by Jason » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:16 am

I know an entrepreneur who is now strictly working off of this model. He told me a story of hiring a Harvard Grad who couldn't find his couch in his living room and said that's enough. He refers to it as the "German model" and actually has coders in Germany working for him remotely. He is also in contact with the local German consulate to assist in the creation of inner city and local university programs that provide training, apprenticeships and then jobs. He is a manufacturer but has moved ahead through the development of software.

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