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Longhorn PHP 2019: "Beer, bylines & booleans"


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More and more people are entering the tech sector without tech-specific work experience, and/or with non-technical degrees (if they went to college at all). While many tech giants still require or heavily favor candidates with a computer science background for technical roles, other companies are recognizing the value of staff with diverse experiences and educational history.

As a journalist-bartender-turned-developer, I’m constantly finding ways that my “useless” liberal arts background and years spent slinging pints of beer have, in fact, prepared me for a successful career in tech. For those in tech with non-tech backgrounds, as well as the folks who do the hiring at tech companies, we’ll discuss the myriad – and often hidden – skills that non-CS grads can bring to the table, and how they’re broadly applicable to tech-focused jobs.

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Longhorn PHP 2019: "Beer, bylines & booleans"

  1. 1. @hilarysk Beer, Bylines & Booleans Exploring the secret superpowers of non-CS techies
  2. 2. @hilarysk Hilary Stohs-Krause Full-stack developer at Ten Forward Consulting in Madison, WI Tweet intersectional feminism, puns and tech at @hilarysk Read the second book of the Stormlight Archive in one day @hilarysk
  3. 3. @hilarysk Why am I qualified to talk about this?
  4. 4. @hilarysk I’ve had a lot of jobs.
  5. 5. @hilarysk Relevant Bartender, server Journalist Less relevant Kite repairer Movie theater concessions
  6. 6. @hilarysk Why did I move to tech? Better wages Flexibility In-demand industry
  7. 7. @hilarysk THE PROBLEM There are not enough tech workers.
  8. 8. @hilarysk 80,000 Unfilled tech jobs through 2022 (U.S.)6
  9. 9. @hilarysk 5
  10. 10. @hilarysk 4
  11. 11. @hilarysk 7% Level of optimism for finding skilled tech workers10
  12. 12. @hilarysk Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t hire only computer science grads anyway.
  13. 13. @hilarysk THE SOLUTION Bootcamp grads and self-taught coders
  14. 14. @hilarysk 930% bootcamp growth from 20128
  15. 15. @hilarysk 20,000+ bootcamp grads in 20189
  16. 16. @hilarysk 20 bootcamps in Texas in 20189
  17. 17. @hilarysk 84% Employers who say bootcampers are as or more prepared3
  18. 18. @hilarysk THE PEOPLE Who are bootcamp grads?
  19. 19. @hilarysk 30 years old 6 years’ work experience Bachelor of arts
  20. 20. @hilarysk While only 18% of C.S. graduates are women ... … 43% of bootcamp grads are women or gender nb.1
  21. 21. @hilarysk Bootcamp != C.S. degree
  22. 22. @hilarysk Five key lessons
  23. 23. @hilarysk LESSON 1 Your perspective has value
  24. 24. @hilarysk Alexandra Millatmal WEB APPLICATION DEVELOPER Former journalist; studied political science, gender studies & religion Something that I strongly believe, and I think lots of companies are coming around to, is that there is value in the person who is programming. “
  25. 25. @hilarysk Our experience matters Journalism ▧ Identify problems and solutions ▧ Access to different resources ▧ Understand needs of distinct communities
  26. 26. @hilarysk ▧ Exposed to wide variety of cultures and viewpoints Our experience matters Liberal arts ▧ Critical thinking skills ▧ Creative approaches to problem-solving
  27. 27. @hilarysk LESSON 2 Everything is a draft
  28. 28. @hilarysk Charielle McMullan WEB DEVELOPER Graduated with a degree in Chinese Language & Literature My experience learning Chinese taught me that … sometimes you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and most importantly, not give up when the code or the character doesn't quite fit. “
  29. 29. @hilarysk Liberal arts The art of refactoring Service sector Table of seven Out of special Not vegan Overcooked Kid spills soda Restaurant on fire Papers, anyone?
  30. 30. @hilarysk Service (and retail) are basically constant refactoring.
  31. 31. @hilarysk
  32. 32. @hilarysk
  33. 33. @hilarysk LESSON 3 Delegate to meet deadlines
  34. 34. @hilarysk Andrew Ek SENIOR SOFTWARE ENGINEER Former English teacher and nonprofit administrator Being a teacher makes it much easier for me to talk with other people, particularly the non-technical folks. “ I do a lot of teaching and coaching around how to use our product … and I try to do it in a way that leaves everyone feeling competent, confident, and cared for.
  35. 35. @hilarysk Service sector Delegation Educator ▧ Administrators ▧ Bartender ▧ Cook ▧ Busser ▧ Student teachers ▧ Unruly pupils ▧ Parents ▧ Host
  36. 36. @hilarysk Delegation Tech ▧ Project manager ▧ Designer ▧ Other coders ▧ QA
  37. 37. @hilarysk Not always a ton that juniors can do by themselves
  38. 38. @hilarysk LESSON 4 Feedback is a feature (not a bug)
  39. 39. @hilarysk Jacob K. SENIOR SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Ph.D in philosophy Most of the [philosophy] courses that I took and taught focused heavily on group discussion.“ These communication skills have been essential to my work as a developer. Without them, I would have missed countless opportunities to learn and grow from the feedback of my coworkers.
  40. 40. @hilarysk Learning to navigate and be receptive to critical feedback is crucial for programming.
  41. 41. @hilarysk Feedback loops Service sectorLiberal arts ▧ Papers ▧ Pretty much all the time ▧ Group discussion ▧ Pretty much everyone
  42. 42. @hilarysk Feedback loops Tech ▧ Code review ▧ Demo ▧ QA analysis ▧ User response
  43. 43. @hilarysk LESSON 5 Empathy is everything
  44. 44. @hilarysk We are not our users. Bootcamp grads are more likely to already grasp this concept.
  45. 45. @hilarysk 43% women and nonbinary 6 years Non-programming work experience1 38%people of color
  46. 46. @hilarysk Ensuring success
  47. 47. @hilarysk Some best practices Mentorship Structure Hire in pairs
  48. 48. @hilarysk Set clear expectations. (See for how we did this at Ten Forward.)
  49. 49. @hilarysk Be patient. Foster environment where questions are encouraged.
  50. 50. @hilarysk And, because it bears frequent repeating ...
  51. 51. @hilarysk Empathy is everything. Help the folks you work with (or hire!) to help you.
  52. 52. @hilarysk Citations 1. t-size-research 2. 3. ng-bootcamp/ 4. 5. -stem-career-choice-today/fulltext 6. r-skilled-tech-workers-rises-while-optimism-for-finding-talent-shrinks 7. s-created-a-demand-for-216000-more-tech-workers-report-finds 8. Survey-of-tech-professionals-shows-new-forms-of-education-are-helpi ng-address-Canada-s-skills-gap.html 9. t-size-research 10. d-for-Skilled-Tech-Workers-Rises-While-O.aspx
  53. 53. @hilarysk Thanks! @hilarysk