Is it possible to retrain?
The author of this article is quite a good example of that it is possible to retrain as a programmer. I did it after many years of working as a system administrator with a music degree. As of 2019, about half of the candidates for the job of a programmer do not have a specialized education, which is largely due to the peculiarities of the labor market in our country.
What’s in the job market?
For decades, the demand for programmers has greatly exceeded the supply. Employers are willing to take without education and with minimal experience, as long as the future employee would be able to perform the task. Often, the risk of being without the necessary specialist for the business is higher than the risk of hiring an insufficiently competent specialist. HR managers are in constant search of new programmers. Small companies and startups offer applicants inflated salaries. Large companies create internships in order to grow a specialist themselves and keep him or her for as long as possible. Not surprisingly, in this situation, the requirement to have a specialized education recedes into the background.
What about education?
A university education cannot always provide the necessary knowledge and skills. Nevertheless, the influence of universities on the IT labor market is increasing. Today there are very strong universities in Russia, whose graduates take first places in international programming competitions. Every year cool algorithmic-mathematicians graduate and successfully find jobs, but they cover only a small part of vacancies, as a rule, related to Data Science. Students have little chance to learn some applied skills such as mobile development, frontend or backend. It is almost not taught at universities, it is not in the educational program, and if it appears, it quickly becomes obsolete, because the information technology on the web develops with great speed, and the range of applied technologies is so great that for each language and framework would have to make an individual training program. Does self-education really remain the only way for graduates and self-taught students alike to get a job?
This educational vacuum could not have existed for long. It has recently begun to be filled, and it’s a wonder to me why it didn’t happen sooner. Lately, many courses have appeared that are ready to teach the necessary technology in a year or less. Their prices are similar – about 10000 rubles per month, sometimes requiring full payment in advance. The feedback that I was able to get from those who have taken such courses, were mixed. Yes, they give knowledge, but not all that is needed. Yes, there is an internship, but not for real projects, as promised, and you have to organize much of your own internship. The guarantee of employment, which is often mentioned in advertisements, is an ambiguous thing. To get a job you still need to learn a lot, and how can you guarantee a person that he will learn when it depends only on him? You will be given a chance to get a job, but you have that chance without the course. Would such a course pay off? I am sure that it will pay off, and very quickly, if, of course, you keep the desire to be a programmer. In any case, do not believe the hype: no one will make a programmer out of you – they just show you the right path.
This is a relatively new type of education in IT for Russia. The training format sounds promising. You come to a “camp” of programmers, where experienced and well-motivated programmers lay the knowledge in you for several months from morning till night. It seems to be the best you can think of, but the cost starts from 150,000 rubles for 10 weeks: “Wow, wow, take it easy!”. However, if you have a lot of money and you need such a powerful push for self-development, this is an option for you. Sometimes that push is just necessary, and the physical presence of experienced programmers and students just like you will increase that momentum. But I would recommend treating such a short and super-intensive course as a starting impulse. Even with full immersion in the learning process, ten weeks won’t be enough for you to cram all the necessary amount of knowledge into your head, unless you’re a genius. But if you are, you’ll do fine without camp.
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Shortage of good programmers
This abundance of training options has the opposite effect. Gone are the bad noughties, when they hired any newcomer on the principle: “If you’ve learned something, then learn the rest. The shortage of juniors is gradually disappearing. The market is saturated with graduates of universities, courses, camps, and just self-taught people. Programming jobs are becoming very fashionable. And if earlier there was a shortage of specialists at all levels, now it is more and more difficult to find a job with little or no experience due to increased competition. What to do about it? There are two options: to learn to do something better than others (to become a strong junior), or to learn to do something unique, that others can not do. What would you be able to do that is unique?