Getting Real

The tech industry is being heralded as the saving grace for troubled economic times and a shining digital future.

We have learn to code initiatives catering to every demographic. We have people that are tired or frustrated with their current jobs and want the promise of better pay or work-life balance. We have people that have been displaced from changes in their industries or competitive job markets and are given promises and guarantees about opportunities in tech.

Presently, there are three facets of inexperience:

  • Inexperienced management that lacks the technical chops to properly vet who they install as instructors and mentors.
  • Inexperienced teachers that are thrust into mentorship positions without proper training and guidance.
  • Inexperienced learners that are in a high stress situation where they are feeling pressured to gamble with their lives.

This is a recipe for shortsightedness. In a rush to provide solutions, we may not be able to adequately address the needs of these three tiers. Too many missteps could result in a meetup or bootcamp abruptly closing.

This is also where certain ne'er-do-wells will pounce upon the goodwill and popularity of the learn to code initiatives to prey upon those that have been put into a desperate financial position.

Any combination of missteps is enough to turn someone away from the tech industry for the rest of their life.

Code schools and bootcamps are being packaged as a sure thing.

This is dangerous thinking.

Unlike colleges and universities, they are attracting a hyperlocalized crowd that will be competing for the same pool of jobs that the previous, current, and next graduating classes.

Students doing the bare minimum will not necessarily find themselves with a job at the end of the curriculum.

Many successful students end up actually having to go beyond the class assignments, which is a hidden investment of time that prospective students may not be aware of.

Technology jobs are in the business of making themselves obsolete. Every advancement leads to better automation of tasks.

Handcoding HTML and CSS these days faces a bit of an uphill battle versus theming and drag-and-drop solutions.

The bar on "webmaster" has been raised considerably and will continue to be raised as tools keep improving.

The poisonous culture in the tech industry is another aspect to be aware of.

We have scope creep, death marches, and occupational burnout and try to carry on as if these are acceptable. We have glorified and idolized the ninjas, rockstars, and fabled 10x coder. We have latched on to every tale of startup success but gloss over the failures.

A Mediocre Programmer

Jacob Kaplan-Moss, 2015

Programming is Terrible

Thomas Figg, 2012