Becoming a software developer is tough . And even worse, aspiring coders aren’t necessarily being taught the talents that employers value and expect, says one CTO.
These days, it seems everybody wants to be a coder. Lured by the prospects of massive salaries, plentiful work and therefore the chance to figure for a few of the world’s most successful firms, more and more people are seeking out new opportunities within the ever-evolving field of software development.
According to Career Karma’s 2020 Coding Bootcamp Market Report, 33,959 students attended one among 105 boot camps in 2019. These schools are designed to deliver intensive courses over the amount of a couple of months and leave students with a working, and ideally hireable, knowledge of software development once they begin the opposite side.
But this crash-course approach doesn’t necessarily set aspiring developers up with the talents or experience they have to succeed. because the leader of a custom software development firm and a professor teaching software engineering, Max de Lavenne, founder and CTO of Buildable, knows the talents and knowledge he’s trying to find in graduates.
He also knows that budding software developers aren’t necessarily being taught the talents that employers value and expect – not just at coding boot camps, but also within universities and software certificate programs. As a result, Lavenne says, developers are being misled – and ultimately disappointed – by the institutions claiming to position them for fulfillment .
“Software development is an awesome job – I even have been so fortunate to be ready to make a successful career out of my love for coding – but it’s not almost learning a coding language and watching the dollars appear ,” Lavenne says.
“Becoming a software developer is harder than the typical person might think – and it’s expensive.”
It’s hard to resist the allure of the reportedly astronomical salaries developers make performing at tech behemoths like Facebook and Google. However, Lavenne says the truth rarely lives up to the fantasy for graduates fresh out of coding school.
What’s worse, in some ways students are being found out to fail, says Lavenne, who has himself seen new recruits who can’t even clear
the low bar of a primary interview
. “We’ve seen people apply to positions here where they are doing these three-month trade-school courses where they’re promised they’re going to learn coding. Then we discover out that they don’t know anything,” he says.
It’s not just students being disappointed , but also working professionals stepping into software development after making a career change.
He says: “We all know the drill: Come to insert college where you’ll learn the tools to land your dream job and make $100K fresh out of school… A newly graduated software developer isn’t always getting to command top-dollar, and universities got to make this clear to them.”
The disconnect as Lavenne sees it’s that students are mostly just being taught the basics, and are lacking tons of the hands-on, tactical experience that connects to marketplace needs.
Educational institutions got to focus not just on the tools of the trade, but also on the trade itself, says Lavenne. Learning to code is, after all, just the tip of the iceberg; Lavenne likens it to the difference between “picking up a dictionary and putting words together”, and truly learning the grammar and culture behind a language.
“Just because you’ll mow a lawn doesn’t mean you’ll run a landscaping business,” he says. “Only about 40% of software development is writing code.”
“Our field is more nuanced, varied, and rewarding than many realize – and it’s time that degree programs educate students holistically to be great software professionals – not just good programmers.”
The programming languages that some courses specialize in also are a source of contention, with Lavenne suggesting that ‘hot’ languages aren’t necessarily ones that are utilized in common, everyday development scenarios.
“Languages are good for what they’re, but they [schools] definitely got to broaden the scope. Some languages like Python seem easy on the surface but aren’t actually that easy to write down cleanly. People can develop bad habits, and bad habits are very difficult to get rid of .”
Some languages are better than others at preventing graduate programmers from adopting bad habits – C# and Java, for instance . But Lavenne says he discourages developers from using other languages entirely. “I don’t want an engineer writing in C or C++, and therefore the reason is it’s too dangerous of a language,” he explains.
“There are numerous potential errors they will create that modern languages like C#, TypeScript, Java, Python can prevent…We don’t want them writing in those languages in the least .”
Connecting to marketplace needs
So what exactly are the skills and attributes that make budding developers marketable to employers?
Hands-on experience will always be a deciding factor – though Lavenne acknowledges that the bulk of scholars are going to be lacking this by default. Instead, he suggests university courses and coding programs encourage the maximum amount project work as possible – which can a minimum of equip them with a working knowledge of the varied components of the software development cycle.
There also are a couple of specific tools and technologies that Lavenne feels that each aspiring developer should have under their belt.
“On the skillsets for languages that are super marketable; the technologies that are very marketable today are web and APIs. Every single programmer which will begin on the market will work with APIs – they need to talk APIs, they need to talk JSON. XML is fading out into the distance; the planet is speaking JSON from computer to computer, and REST APIs are everything.”
Today, any application being built goes to be distributed and on the cloud. this suggests that deep and specific knowledge of cloud platforms goes to place a developer in good stead with potential employers.
“When people come to us and say, ‘I’ve worked with
Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform or Azure. ‘ – immediately we’re interested,” says Lavenne.
The solution to a teaching system that, as Lavenne sees it, sets students up to fail, starts with the syllabus. Teachers and professors could be hard-pressed to update these, given how rapidly the software industry develops, yet at the present Lavenne feels that a lot of universities and coding programs are stuck within the past.
Lavenne recalls one now-retired professor from his own teaching experience who, within the mid-2010s, was still “teaching the things that was being taught within the early 90s”.
He says: “These teachers take classes after classes after classes – they don’t want to rewrite the syllabus per annum , so there’s a touch little bit of resistance to adapt.
“But the reality is, the technology changes so fast they need to adapt, they need to update the course material, because what’s relevant this year won’t be relevant two years from now. We sleep in an industry where change is constant.”