Bootcamp Grads Have Feelings, Too

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Bootcamp Grads Have Feelings, Too
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You’re a bootcamp student. You’re so excited to become a developer! Amidst your excitement about this new industry, you hear everyone say that bootcamps are a blemish on the community, that they’re a waste of time and money. “Maybe I’ve made a huge mistake,” you think. “I don’t know how I’ll fit in here." But you can make this community better! In this session, you’ll learn about the varied experiences of bootcamp students and grads, how exclusionary behavior can end up stunting our community as a whole, and what you can to do make a more inclusive environment for everyone of all skill levels.
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so I just wanted to thank all of you for coming thank you for being here I'd like to thank the Ruby calm program community for allowing me to speak here today all I'd also really like to thank all the Ruby conf organizers and all the hard work they've put in to putting on such an awesome event for all of us so please take them out and give them a hand awesome so hey hi hello my name is Megan tio I'm a software engineer call rail I am also the communications coordinator for rails girls Atlanta and you can find me at Megan to you on twitter and get up i'm also a proud bootcamp grad but i haven't always been proud enough to talk about it on a stage like this it's been a pretty big journey getting here because i like mini boot camp grads have faced the boot camp stigma so i'm here to tell you today that we have a problem on our hands on your hands on my hands on the problem on the hands of everyone that's surprised to find that an intelligent skilled developer went through boot camp this is the bouquet of sigma so in general we can define this as the negative feelings towards boot camp students and grads or boot campers as like to call them as a group because we are or were involved with a boot camp it's the preconceived notions about what boot camps are and what the people involved with them are like and this manifests in a variety of ways for very different reasons but we'll get more that but later but for now i'm here to tell you a story not my story but this is the story of countless boot camp students I've met in my time attending and organizing meetups acting as a teaching assistant for boot camps starting and running a women's group within my boot camp and mentoring boot camp students so I'm going to tell you the story of kaya ties of pharmaceutical sales rep but she's not really happy she's unfulfilled in her current job and she wants more of a professional life but kya has a cousin that's a developer they make a good living and the genuine seem to like what they do so she asks them you seem happy who's your career what can i do to learn more about what you do cuz that seems like it'd be a cool for me I think that'd be a nice option so guys cousin directs her to codecademy to learn all the basics and various online tutorials and kaya works through them she's really excited she's loving what she's doing so far and things are really clicking so she goes back to her cousin and she says this is going so well and I think I want to take this bit further what else can I do so they tell her about boot camps and she's really excited it's like wow this is awesome I can take some time like I've got some money saved up I can find out this is really what I want to do this could be the beginning of a great adventure but kaya is not representative of every boot camper right everybody's different so everyone could be going from variety of different reasons why else might people seek out boot camps that we think of boot campers typically as career changers so folks that are going from one career to becoming a developer there's so many different reasons so many different folks out there looking for this new learning experience so could be someone starting a business and they want to learn more about the technological side of things so they have more understanding about what their business is really going to do and how it's going to work could be a small business owner that wants to save a little cash on developer and make a simple website from themselves could just be someone who wants to learn a new skill set right people that really just like to learn in their lives and this is another chapter in that book could just be someone like a hobbyist that just wants to see if this could be of maybe a viable career for them they have like made a few apps on the side and they've been having fun with it but they're trying to see if it could be something more serious and it could just be someone that wants to learn what coding is all about so maybe they heard about this code on the news or in the in the paper and they're trying to figure out being more touch with technology so from career seekers entrepreneurs small business owners lifelong learners hobbyists curious minds it's important to remember that not all boot campers want to be developers not everyone is here to switch careers and when we think like this we stereotype boot campers and we fail to understand that many of us joining have many different purposes for being there's an overgeneralization of foot when we fail to see this diversity of background and purpose we fail to understand a growing segment of our industry but why do we have this stigma so in order to understand will want to check back in with kya a little bit so kai is really excited about boot camps right but she wants to make sure she makes the right decision so she asked her cousin there's so many different programs with different curricula like what programming language do you work with maybe I can find a school that teaches something like that or cousin says well I'm a Java developer that's not my favorite maybe you like my like Ruby more and thankfully kya has a little more success with this because thirty five percent of all boot camps teach Ruby it's especially relevant for us here but kind of Luke so Kyle looks into some Ruby courses but in all of her research she starts to notice some people saying less than nice things about boot camps things like save your money it's not worth it you'll have a really good value out of a boot camp things like you'll never learn enough from a boot camp to have a real career and things like you should just teach yourself just take a year off work you can do it it's easy to learn programming but kind of like well that's cool but I'm fine I learned better in a classroom I like having that one-on-one interaction that's the way I learn best so she's confident in her to citroen and she doesn't mind the haters but what would happen if she couldn't just let that roll off her back what happens when we refuse to acknowledge alternative education paths to give them legitimacy and so mark that was valid ways into this industry so let's consider the pipeline problem if you're not familiar with the pipeline problem it's the idea that there are groups unrepresented attack because of schools and early stage education but the problem with this theory is that denies any existing technologists impact on the lack of diversity in tech and denies that we could possibly be doing anything wrong it takes all the blame off of us and puts it on two people that are actually far removed from our industry so we take into account the fact that a computer science program might is part of the pipeline that's problematic look at what boot camps are doing as an alternative bringing in new voices so on average boot camps are a quarter of the cost of a CS degree that's huge that's so much more accessible for so many people four people four people have previously couldn't have gone to college they can learn development via bootcamp it's so much more accessible not only that but in terms of bringing in larger waves of people we don't see in tech is often twenty percent of boot campers looking x over just six point eight percent of cs students and that same vein women are thirty-six percent of boot campers but only fourteen point one percent of cs students so this is a big way that we can bring in more underrepresented people and attack but when we think about all the bad things the kaya is hearing people say about boot camps just imagine how many people are deterred by this type of thinking at the very beginning of their journey how many flames are prematurely extinguished by gatekeeping and trying to keep new people out so how does the boot camp stigma manifest let's take a look back at kaya and see what she's experiencing so at this point she's most of the way through her boot camp and she's starting to get more involved in the community she's going to meet ups she's joining developer chat rooms etc she's meeting a lot of great people and learning a lot of great things she's having fun and is really excited about all the learning but more and more she's starting to hear things about her boot camp people on her local community or openly talking about how worthless boot campers are and it's extremely upsetting when everyone around her is talking about how her development experience thus far is invalid how something she's so deeply excited about actually isn't any good and she starts to wonder if she made a mistake if she'll ever be able to find a job whenever seemingly everyone hates boot camps and the people involved with them so Kai is seeing the boot camp stigma in a variety of ways first being the boot camp Horror Story right we've all heard this one when we interviewed someone from boot camp once and they couldn't even reverse a string without using standard libraries oh we're never going to interview a boot camper again but here's the thing that not all boot campers are the same right that person that the anecdote teller was describing like they could have been someone still trying to find out if they'd even like to be in tech much less become a developer much less even work at this company and their boot camp maybe pressured them into taking an interview but that person's focus classmate that was really driven they definitely want to be at Albert they would have performed very differently under the same conditions so how else are we seeing the boot camp stigma so kind of seeing and hiring processes when she looks at job listing she sees computer science degree required and this that's a very clear barrier for anyone that didn't follow one specific path in their career but Chi mattress to get a job interview but when she gets in the room they say okay now I'm pulling a hash table and Ruby on this whiteboard go but this is rough right not only is the specifically testing theoretical knowledge from other like things that may have been more customed to computer science programs testing knowledge specifically that just those people might have but whiteboarding doesn't exactly come easy to everyone right it's an acquired skill it's not you can't just get up on a whiteboard and your first time like oh yes this is the solution to life these antiquated hire processes weed out those that did not learn the specific principles and theories behind them when we make our interviews for one type of person all other people are set up to fail so the stigma also rears its head in the exclusionary discourse right lots of things this could be but you know stuff like you went to a boot camp right oh you you wouldn't know about this or things like boot campers only know about the languages their boot camps taught them but this isn't fair right these things hurt and they're actually things people here this is real this is common and what are the costs of this ignorance so it installs a lot of imposter syndrome right when you're not feeling adequate or like you belong for reasons that aren't totally concrete or tangible when you're constantly hearing negative things about yourself you start to internalize it when someone says oh you don't know this you won't know this well wait I I thought I studied that but I mean maybe I don't know this and this leaves us with a community divided so on the one hand we have a group of unhappy disillusion people that feel like outcasts and on the other hand we have experienced developers that forgotten what it's like to be new they're happy to stay where they are and keep the new voices out and in doing this we create a modulus industry and we cheat ourselves and our future compatriots out of a diverse well-rounded industry when we exclude so many people from so many different backgrounds we include only one type of person from a common background and no new ideas are allowed in so it's our responsibility to make a change it's our responsibility not to exclude a diverse group of voices from this industry because everyone deserves the agency to make software so why should we change why does this matter why is this important really let's think about what boot campers can do for you and your team so first off they'll encourage mindfulness in your team they're curious minds will wonder a lot about every part of how your applications work they'll be more present as a result like you'll be more present when you're writing your code to ensure that it makes sense to newer developers they'll question your code base and they'll ask things like wait why is this structure this way how does this work son really make sense and you'll agree and say yeah you're right that doesn't that doesn't make sense at all we got to fix that you'll find more inconsistencies and fix more parts of your code base as a result you'll have better applications not only that but they'll energize your team so when a team sees how bright and excited a new person is to learn and work every day don't want to rise to the occasion they'll get more excited it too and finally boot campers bring a diversity of opinion not just thoughts and feelings but like actual code related stuff right so someone who learn rails with rails 5 will have a very different view of the way things are architected then someone that starred with rails 1.5 they'll likely be more in touch with newer style conventions newer and hotter libraries and they'll see different patterns in your code they'll have different opinions on the way things are run and because they're often coming from different industries they'll have completely different ideas about how to run your team and with more ideas your team will run better so Sarah may talks about this she says at this point it's obvious to me that software has done great things for the world not because of its mundanity but in spite of it we will achieve so much more with a diverse community and boot campers are helping us get there when you have a large diverse number of opinions from people from all walks of life you'll get the best ideas boy I'll should we change so in addition to creating better more well-rounded teams boot campers contribute to longer lasting engage communities when we welcome boot campers they're grateful they're grateful for feeling included and they're all the cool new learning opportunities that they have they'll take that energy and put it back into the community you'll see them give lightning talks at a local meetup and then they'll be teen workshop and then they'll be teaching a class and then before long that cycle will continue and your community will be able to support itself on this pure energy and drive not only that but boot campers are the future of this industry Millennials are training away from traditional four-year degree programs and toward accelerated programs like boot camps the boot camp trend will continue and this brings us such a large pool of bright people and we can't count them out so what can we do how can we make boot campers feel welcome how can we make our communities more inclusive well we can leave our preconceived notions at the door we can level the playing ground we can bridge the gap with community and improve community communication and verse option so leave your preconceived notions at the door and by this I just mean don't expect the world of recent view cams right they won't leave their programs knowing everything there is to know about web development when we compare computer science grads at boot camp grads let's just take a second and look what we're really comparing here so on the one hand you have a person that spent four years learning computing coding and on the other hand you have some of that spent 12 weeks learning the basics of web development there is bound to be a difference in skill there right but though there is a difference in skill level and like knowledge base they will have different strong areas so while computer science student is more well-rounded in algorithms and data structures and theory boot campers will have more practical skills they'll be able to play with a rails app much quicker and be able to build out something probably bit faster but on the other hand we also don't want to underestimate boot campers so just as every boot camper isn't the same they won't all necessarily have similar skill levels and when you give boot camper a chance they just made surprise you so we can level the playing ground boot campers are operating a significant disadvantage to more traditional career paths including and community and industry perception average time spent learning and knowledge base so in order for boot campers to succeed the system can't be setup to automatically make them fail so what are some things we can do well more apprenticeships I love apprenticeships friendships are great as a paid opportunity for a few months that allows a new developer to learn and grow quickly within the context of a real company and by investing in an apprentice you get a team member that's used to learning very quickly so they'll learn and grow within your company fast and they'll continue to provide value to you even after you hire them on as junior developers so we can also prefer practical / theoretical coding tests you'll never be denied your standard libraries in a real-world context that's not going to happen reversing a string without them likely won't come in handy but if you give them a rails app and have them add a feature that's exactly what they're going to be doing and their everyday jobs why not test for what you're actually going to be doing instead of something arbitrary not only that but these practical tests are much more equal for both CS students and boot campers that's if you give them a rails app they're most likely both going to be able to work with it not only that but in order to actually level the playing field the best thing we can do is actually higher boot campers right actually give them a chance because if no one ever actually hires them so much of that fresh talent goes to waste and there's so much of it we can also bridge the skill gap with community we ourselves can organize community initiatives to help others get into tech including starting from zero level instruction and content for folks that have already been coding for a while so do you and your local community have a bunch of inexperienced developers hold a workshop teach them do that again do that again for long for long you won't have a beat they won't be inexperienced for much longer so under one organization doing this is tectonic ax which is really great the based out of San Francisco founded by Michelle glauser they provide free tech training and living with childcare siphons and job placement for low-income women and non-binary adults now this is amazing right please support them if you can this is awesome work and they're truly making sure to provide for people that otherwise wouldn't be able to be into tech but this is an ideal right this isn't necessarily possible everywhere and we can't always provide everything for everyone so how can we make just achievable how can we achieve this on a smaller scale well I don't know about you but in my local community there's a handful of people that are excited and advocating for junior developers and boot campers and they're trying to give more people in tech a chance but that a handful of people they work hard and they get tired and they get burnt out and it's really hard to keep that going when there's only a few you so we can try equal distribution of labor so instead of just having one or two people organizing your meetup get a whole group so in organizing with rails girls Atlanta we have a board of directors and we equally distribute our tasks amongst ourselves what about six people now and it's been going pretty well for the past year not only that but are your coworkers helping the community think about all the developers you work with how many of them are actively contributing the community probably not very many of them right well kick their asses ask them say hey will you ta this workshop that we're holding great thank you if you ask all of them you'll have so many different riso much different resources so many more and so many more people will be able to afford it opportunities get them involved not only that but you can ask your employer for help right we're not all going to be able to crowdfund our meetups and events but we can ask a hand from our employers whether its food or space or even just cash and if you're trying to organize something for the community ask your company for help if they have a developer and vandalism program or Department like that's exactly what they're there for and even if your company can't contribute maybe you're co-organizers company can and just remember that it never hurts to ask so we also want to pay attention to community communication and perception when we're trying to smash this boot camp stigma so basically how we talk about boot campers and boot camps and the thing about languages that can be really subtle so here's a treat from a person that's trying to discuss a community-run alternative code schools and while boot camps may not be the best solution for all that we need they do provide many people opportunities that they otherwise may not have but this person is making a blake statement that boot camps are bad and no one intentional those person means very well this is harmful when you say bad code schools their students think oh am i bad by being here and I bad for liking what I'm doing here my bad for being associated with them and even though this person means well they're active in the community and they're very Pro juniors and boot campers this language can hurt the most when it's coming from allies from people that you feel like you trust so it's important to keep yourself in check and these sound like just a decent being a person things but it's important to check your bias and think about how what you say will affect others because it will it will affect others half the battle is knowing that there's a problem in catching yourself and nor to fix the problem we have to know the problem so not only that but you can keep your peers in check as cliche as it sounds if you see something say something right don't let others be mean and exclusive to people trying their hardest if someone is on Twitter or in slack and they're saying blanket things that you know boot campers don't belong here they're just trying to take our jobs and we don't need them here don't let them get away with it that's not okay you can fix it so let's check back in with kaya was she up to now she's finished her boot camp she knows that she definitely wants to be a developer but she hasn't found a job yet she's reviewing what she's learned and she's building up a portfolio she's volunteering with her local girl develop it chapter and knowing how hard it is to break into this industry she wants to make it a little easier for others so wrapping up a few takeaways for y'all one boot campers have feelings right it's the name of the talk no one is immune to hate when you say exclusionary things it really resonates with people even if no one responds what you're saying is being seen and internalized and no to boot campers have the same goals or knowledge don't let anyone boot campers set a standard or stereotype for all others in your mind because just as every developer is different that's already here every CS student is different all the boot campers are as well and boot campers are more accessible paths that are friendlier to people from underrepresented groups it helps us bring in new voices that otherwise might not be here with us for being an accelerated program at such a our price point and finally boot campers you deserve to be here you belong here you might have to fight a little bit to make your way here but I am here to fight along with you we're really glad you're here and welcome most importantly it's on us and it's time to get to work so thank you again my name is Megan to you I work for call real we are hiring so if you're in Atlanta or you're willing to be please come ask me about how you can work for our awesome company I will be taking questions off stage so please can find me either in this room or in the hallway afterwards and if you see me around for the rest of the conference please say hello let's chat I love to talk about boot camps or anything else really so thank you so much


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