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Recruiting from Developer Bootcamps

Hive IT shares their experience of recruiting from bootcamps.

Developer bootcamps provide short and intensive training to people with some or no experience of coding, preparing them for entry level tech roles. Employers can expect to recruit enthusiastic people from varied backgrounds with a range of different skills and experience. This approach has worked well for Hive IT who have two bootcamp graduates in their team, including software tester, Nusrath Mohammed. We spoke to Nusrath as well as Liz Hnat, Delivery Director at Hive and Ben Atha, founder of The Developer Academy to find out more about this recruitment pathway.

Bootcamps are short, sharp and intense. According to Liz, this makes tech training accessible to more people from different backgrounds and with different lifestyles. By doing so, she hopes this can broaden the field for recruitment in our region, explaining:

“Nusrath, a busy mum of three, would not have considered a three year university degree in computer science – how would that fit into her life? But she was able to make the time to complete the bootcamp. They are integral for meeting different lifestyles and cultural needs, and where people are in their life.”

Nusrath completed her training with The Developer Academy remotely, and now works from home. This flexibility was one of the reasons she was drawn to a career in tech, explaining: “The possibility of an exciting career while having a great work-life balance appealed to me the most. A few of my personal goals like encouraging my own girls and other women from diverse backgrounds to consider a career in the tech industry, also led me onto this incredible journey.

“Women like me, especially from ethnic minorities, hold professional degrees but often choose to be ‘stay at home mums’ due to the family logistics, cultural priorities and complex childcare duties. Bootcamp provided this unique opportunity to start an amazing career while not having to compromise on any of those.”

Liz adds,

“Tech has quite a narrow field for recruitment. We talk about trying to be more inclusive, equitable and more diverse yet we struggle to achieve some of those things because we’re recruiting from a mainly male, white and privileged pool of people.

“If we want to achieve those things and to truly become more diverse, we have to find different avenues. Bootcamps are one of the ways we can diversify rather than doing the same old, same old.”

Students can complete their training remotely with The Developer Academy

Work-ready graduates

Since launching in 2019, over 1000 people have trained with The Developer Academy and 85% of these have successfully found roles.

Ben and his team work closely with local employers to shape the curriculum, ensuring that students graduate with up to date technical skills and are ready to hit the ground running. He explains,

“Employers can expect passionate, eager to learn graduates who are capable of working on your live code and projects from day one. They often have a number of transferable skills, come from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and can offer alternative ways of thinking and working.”

Nusrath felt that her training prepared her well for her first role in tech, explaining:

“The bootcamp had a good balance of remote collaboration, fast-paced self learning and live, code along lessons. We would often work in groups, review and explore existing code in a variety of tech stacks, create projects and talk about them to an audience with technical and non-technical knowledge.

“As a software tester at Hive IT, I do something similar but for real clients and in different coding environments. I test every piece of functionality created by experienced developers on my team and report any bugs found. This involves understanding the functionality by asking the right questions, inspecting the code, reading about it then testing it manually and with automated tools for a number of test cases.

“The tutors at The Developer Academy highlighted the importance of soft skills like problem solving, good communication and willingness to learn. These are key skills for my role at Hive.”

Another of Hive’s bootcamp recruits, Kat, used to be a teacher and has brought the ‘alternative ways of thinking and working’ that Ben refers to. Liz explains: “Because Kat is used to teaching young people, she has an ability to translate complex information to different audiences, which is really important in our work and communication with clients.”

In both cases, Nusrath’s and Kat’s passion and eagerness to learn have proven a perfect match for Hive’s commitment to staff development. Liz says,

“We love to teach and both of the people we’ve hired from bootcamps have shown such energy and enthusiasm for learning and development.

“As this is their first experience in tech, they are moldable, so we can help them to grow and develop in a way that fits with what we need at Hive, and what they need as individuals. Being able to contribute to this is the most rewarding thing.”

Are bootcamp graduates right for you?

Can all tech companies provide a good working environment for people who have trained at a bootcamp? Based on her experience Liz thinks that bootcamp graduates will thrive in workplaces where helping each other is a natural part of the culture. She explains,

“Helping your graduate doesn’t have to mean sitting down with them for four hours every week. Just being available and open and saying ‘if you have any questions just ask me’, or doing a screenshare for half an hour. It’s just being part of a team.

“We’ve also tried to give our bootcamp recruits the opportunity to work in a way that suits them best, so we find out how they like to learn, how they like to work, and how we can support them to do that best. A different, more corporate organisation might not work as well for them in this respect – but equally it might work better. It really does depend on the individual and their own learning and working style.”

The Developer Academy encourages its students to think about their preferred style of work and what kind of company they’d like to work for, before applying for jobs, which helps to manage expectations on both sides. Ben explains,

“We work with the students a lot on the type of company they want to work for, the type of work they want to do, and the type of lifestyle they will enjoy. Some want to work with companies doing good things, some want to focus on back end or front end, some want to work on really complex systems or have lots of variety.”

When it comes to creating a good environment to integrate a bootcamp graduate, Ben offers some advice: “As with any graduate, they will need to have support as imposter syndrome is prevalent. Offering some form of academy style programme, whereby the first one or two months is focussed on how the company works and you develop the graduate’s technical skills before they work on live code, has encouraged many of our students to apply for roles over those who do not offer this. However, this isn’t the case for all of our graduates.”

Demonstrating that you offer progression routes is also key to attracting and retaining bootcamp graduates, according to Ben. He explains,

“Having a planned development programme, which shows what is required to reach mid, senior and beyond is so valuable. Showing what is possible within your company is a surefire way to see your new recruits thrive.”

How to engage with bootcamps when you’re recruiting

Hive doesn’t exclusively target bootcamps when recruiting, but when a position becomes available Liz just lets The Developer Academy know and they will promote the vacancy amongst its graduates.

So it’s a simple step to getting your vacancies in front of bootcamp graduates, but if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out on great potential, as Liz explains:

“You’re missing an opportunity to find really talented people with more enthusiasm than some of those who have been around in the sector for a long time. It’s a huge potential workforce.”

If you would like to take some more proactive steps to engage with The Developer Academy, you can meet students during online engagement events, a good way to introduce your company and find out more about students.

You can also mentor students, offering one hour a week to work with two to three people to help them develop their technical skills and provide useful insight on how to find a job, what will be required of them, and how they can network. This raises your company’s profile, whilst also contributing to the future tech workforce overall.

If you’re interested in either of these opportunities, please email Ben Atha to find out more information.