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There is way more to learn after a bootcamp program – make it happen in grad school.

It has been quite the popular entré to coding jobs to go to a bootcamp – a multi-week or multi-month program where you learn to write code. Specifically, you learn the basics needed to wire together today’s frameworks into a working application. The expectation is that when you graduate from a bootcamp, you can get a job as a developer at a company. Given the job market as it stands today, this is a pretty reasonable expectation.

But, the reality of writing code and being able to build apps is that it is only the tip of the iceberg of being a high-quality software engineer, which is a lifelong pursuit.1 I propose a graduate school of sorts for bootcamp grads – to take place on nights and weekends, like an executive MBA program. It would consist of activities like

  • Close readings of other people’s code2 to learn how different people think when they write code and how large code bases fit together. An exploration of the “why” behind the decisions is important as well.
  • Writing the same functionality several ways to explore the trade-offs that come from different implementation choices.
  • Building up a habit of contributing patches to open-source projects to learn about how large groups of engineers work together (hopefully well).
  • Building up a habit of answering questions on sites like StackOverflow to improve written communication skills.
  • Attending talks on deep technical topics with discussions after to understand just how deep that iceberg is and to explore more topics that could drive a passion for the career.

I’m sure there are many more activities that could be added to the list. What would you add?

  1. I am well aware that the activities suggested would be good for any developer at any skill level, because it is such a lifelong pursuit, and I am quite sure the best engineers already do stuff like this on their own. 

  2. What the hell is a close reading of code? Think of it as a code review. A really, really detailed code review where you do your best to understand absolutely ever line that is written. If you have to stop and think about what a line means, or what it does, or why it does it, then you would write a comment above it explaining all of that. I think this could be an incredibly powerful tool for developers of all skill levels to up their game in reading code and to internalize how to write more readable code. 

Hatched on Tuesday, January 12, 2016