Hacker schools or bootcamps are getting more and more popular. You’ll learn a programming language in 2–3 months, and you’re more or less guarantied a full-time well paying job.
If you compare this to signing up to a four-year degree at a University and getting tons of study loan, the short-cut through a hacker school is obviously tempting.
But what are the incentives to attend university, and does a “degree” from a hacker school limit you in any way?
We asked the experts.
“If you want to work go to a hacker school, if you want to work at Google, go to University”
The big pro about hacker schools is obviously that the distance from the school to work is a lot shorter, but is a person well prepared to work in a startup after graduating from a 2–3 months program?
“You can not become a CTO with just a bootcamp experience!” (Marc Alier, UPC)
CEO and co-founder at Codeworks a Barcelona bootcamp, Alessandro Zanardi, acknowledge that universities are vital for training specialists in more complex computer science areas:
We need engineers that have stronger theoretical experience. If you’re dealing with big data or artificial intelligence you need developers that have a university degree. If you want to work at Google with AI, get a Ph.D.
The university problem
Marc Collado is director at Iron Hack Barcelona, a bootcamp that also have campuses in Miami and Madrid. Even though Collado now represents a bootcamp, he himself went through a five-year University program at IQS:
The universities are too embedded in society. At Iron Hack we analyze the job market, and work towards creating a program that actually helps businesses hire a much needed workforce, and gets people into jobs.
Ludo (Marc Alier) hopes universities change the way they treat their professors and teachers, and agrees with the bootcamp hackers that there is a lot to be improved with the institution stretching thousands of years back:
The problem with University is that the professors are incentivized to be researchers, not to be good teachers. You get promoted if you’re good researcher, not if you have experience from tech companies or do a great job as a teacher.
Bootcamps do not build CTO’s
Professor Alier is grateful that bootcamps fill a whole and a demand in the market, but he wants to make one thing very clear:
I have seen examples where people have finished bootcamps, and they’re told that they can start a company. I’ll tell you this, they always screw up, always!
You can not become a CTO with just a bootcamp experience!
Zanardi at Codeworks does not like the negativity towards the concept of screwing up:
This is a classic example of the difference between bootcamp mentality and university mentality. The best people from all sectors and industries are people that know what it’s like to fail hard.
Also Iron Hack’s Collado weighs in on the CTO statement:
A CTO needs more soft skills than hard skills, it’s about experience, recruiting, mentoring, but yes of course the guy needs to be technical, that’s for sure.