We’ve all been inundated with disappointing statistics about the persistent lack of diversity in the tech industry. And with development positions on the rise nationwide, there is a clear need for employers to look at less traditional funnels when recruiting tech talent.
As an alternative education model, coding boot camps promise to be just such a hiring funnel. Though there are differences between the hundreds of boot camps worldwide, the core concept remains more or less consistent across programs. They feature an accelerated and rigorous curriculum, emphasize teaching job-ready competencies and in-demand coding languages, and come at a price tag that equates to a fraction of a traditional four-year degree.
Opening doors for non-traditional applicants
“Many of our most pressing social challenges — the rise in inequality and reduction in socioeconomic mobility — are a direct product of the lack of alternative pathways to good jobs,” says author and investor Ryan Craig. He sees faster and cheaper education models like coding boot camps as having tremendous potential to diversify competitive workforces.
As it turns out, this faster and cheaper education model is indeed appealing to a more diverse range of aspiring programmers. Course Report’s 2016 demographic study of U.S. boot camps found that 43% of coding boot campers were women and 25% were black or Latino. By comparison, the same figures were just 15% and 10% among university Computer Science majors in the USA.
These numbers should encourage recruiters to look beyond fresh college grads when hiring for entry-level development positions. If coding boot camp demographics are any indication, there are many untapped, ambitious potential hires who simply didn’t make the decision at the age of 18 to major in Computer Science. Because the programs are more accessible to people from different backgrounds and age groups, coding boot camps could be an incredible funnel for non-traditional recruits.
How boot campers are different
Bootcampers are cut from a different cloth than those that join the tech world fresh out of college with a CS diploma in-hand. As the infographic following this post shows, coding boot camp students bring a very different set of life circumstances to the table than do recent college grads. These differences can ultimately be a boon to the companies that hire them.
For one thing, coding boot campers are typically in their late 20s and already have a degree and several years of work experience. This could mean previous leadership roles, relevant industry knowledge, and a baseline of professionalism that your average fresh college grad has yet to acquire.
For another, while boot camps may be cheaper than a four-year degree, they are still a significant investment of time and money. Graduating from a coding boot camp could be indicative of a powerful work ethic and initiative in a prospective hire. And because many boot campers enroll with financial, familial, and professional obligations already in tow, completing such a program is not to be taken for granted.
Coding school vs. CS degrees
Can a coding school education really stack up to a four-year degree in Computer Science? Bootcamps certainly have their critics, but ultimately the answer to this question is dependent on the program.
Not all coding boot camps are similarly rigorous, in the same way that a non-selective party school can’t hold a candle to MIT. Finding a boot camp whose curriculum aligns with the needs of your company is essential.
The same concept applies to the students as well: slackers and stand-outs alike can be found in both types of programs. Learning to recognize performance indicators in a coding boot camp education that may be equivalent to a stellar GPA or prestigious internship can help you identify candidates who will excel in their new profession.