Boom or bust: The lowdown on code academies

Programming boot camps are on the rise, but can a crash course in coding truly pay off for students and employers alike?

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The employers: Skeptical but warming

But for every firm that's eager to hire a recent boot camp graduate, there's another that wants no part of them. Part of the problem is these schools are so new that most have limited track records, making it hard for employers to assess the success or failure of their graduates over the long term.

Drew Sussberg, VP of sales and recruiting at Workbridge Associates, a tech staffing and recruiting firm, has placed graduates of several top coding academies into well-paying jobs.

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"If you have good communications skills, are presentable, and can pass a technical interview, you are as likely to land a job as anyone with a four-year degree who interviews for it. But I do have clients who won't interview people coming out of one of these programs because they believe they don't have the skills required to do the job."

--Drew Sussberg, VP of sales and recruiting, Workbridge Associates

He admits that salaries for graduates with no prior coding experience tend to be closer to $50,000 a year instead of $100,000. And some of his corporate clients won't even consider hiring someone who lacks a four-year computer science degree.

"If you have good communications skills, are presentable, and can pass a technical interview, you are as likely to land a job as anyone with a four-year degree who interviews for it," Sussberg says. "But I do have clients who won't interview people coming out of one of these programs because they believe they don't have the skills required to do the job."

Will Cole, project manager for Stack Overflow Careers 2.0, says, "It is unlikely we would hire someone who had no previous programming experience and had only gone to a 12-week boot camp."

He adds that larger companies with the time and resources to train inexperienced programmers would likely be more inclined to hire academy grads. And all types of companies could benefit from sending their data analysts, product managers, or designers to these boot camps so they can work more effectively with the dev team, says Cole.

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"Engineering is really hard. You can't just decide one day you're going to be one. Some people come out of these 12- or 15-week programs and are successful, but most of the time it's bad for both the employee and the company. They get really frustrated because they lack the fundamentals of computer science, data theory, and math."

--Jason Polancich, CEO, HackSurfer

Jason Polancich, CEO of HackSurfer, an information security data services company, says he hired roughly a dozen graduates of coding schools at his previous company. But only one of them was able to do the job -- and that one had been trained as a sys admin in the Navy.

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