Don’t quit your day job just yet.

That’s the message that should be implied — if not explicitly stated — to every applicant of every gig and creator marketplace during the vetting process.

The reason some bootcamp grads are set up to fail

  • In my experience, not all bootcamps are created equal. They vary widely in acceptance processes, curriculum, program structure, and quality of instructors. They’re designed to push candidates through courses that will have them writing some code fairly quickly.

  • As a result, programs are forced to strip away a lot of fundamentals — those basics that help developers understand the “why” behind the code they’re writing.

  • When young software developers learn by copying and pasting, it can make troubleshooting difficult when they come across something that doesn’t fit the pattern they’re used to.

  • Small businesses and startups are those most likely to hire developers without degrees, but I’ve seen too many bootcamp grads take jobs at startups only to find they haven’t learned enough to make any real impact.

1. Look for bootcamp grads with personal projects

The best bootcamp grads are those who already considered themselves hobbyists. They didn’t enter a program expecting to learn everything they needed to know in 12 weeks.

They were already passionate about software development and enrolled in a bootcamp for some structure and guidance, and to level up their skills.

2. Adjust your interview process to test for fundamentals

Because bootcamps are, by nature, time-constrained programs, some will blow right past the heavy lifting of helping developers understand why things work the way they do.

The result is that some graduates come out of bootcamps using pattern recognition as their primary skill and an understanding of how to get by with copying and pasting code.

3. Hire natural problem solvers and nurture their intellectual curiosity

All engineering is problem-solving. Junior developers won’t be architecting anything right away, but you should look for people who show a predilection for understanding the problem they’re trying to solve and evaluating potential paths forward.

Even when your newest developers are working as order takers, they should be thinking critically about why those orders are issued. A good mentor can help initiate those conversations about the “why” behind each assignment and help new hires see what they might be missing.

4. Set new hires up for success with appropriate oversight

If you’re hiring someone fresh out of bootcamp, don’t expect them to come in and start developing complex applications by themselves. Most bootcamp grads have never worked in a real-world programming environment before, and you can’t expect them to be self-directed from day one.

You need a strong new-hire onboarding process and support system that makes new hires feel comfortable asking questions and continuing to learn.