While hip hop may have ‘too many mc’s and not enough mics,’ in tech, there are too many startups and not enough seasoned technologists. Over the last seven years, hopeful entrepreneurs have flooded the market, looking to cut their teeth in the hopes of building the next billion-dollar business.
Many (probably most) of these recent business ideas should never be funded, nor affix themselves to the firmament of the web. But in reality they are… unceasingly.
If we agree that even the least fundable companies will continue to be funded for another few years, then we’d better come up with solutions for introducing new budding technologists into the field to support the ever-growing need for more social networks and photo sharing apps.
The current quandary is that our education system is inept at preparing students for jobs in the modern, web-related industry. The current liberal arts curriculum, while well-intended, focuses on softer skills. Though better, computer science-oriented degrees are still built on dated client-side syntax that leaves much to be desired when trying to transition to the web.
The solution: the rise of the 4-, 8- or 10-week pop-up product and engineering school. These schools promise to take the eager technologist to the forefront of the startup community. As with everything in life, especially in the startup space, there are no shortcuts to getting good jobs — even with the markets being as lopsided as they are.
At the end of the day, software and everything around software is still really hard.
We have too many underserved startups and not enough technologists.
While I fully endorse continued education (we have our own), I believe it’s critical that we begin implementing longer-term transition plans for graduating students to get the working skills needed to actually get jobs.
Here’s the problem. Learning technology-related skills in 8 weeks is really, at best, the tip of the techberg. We’re selling students an unrealistic short-term outcome.
Because of this illusion, we are saturating the market with students who understand very little about products or engineering, yet still expect to get jobs that require years of experience. As any experienced product or web engineer will tell you, it takes at least a few years to wrap your head around how the web and business work together.
If we were to look at finance as an industry we could actually learn from, we must start implementing formal summer programs that provide real learning opportunities to the right candidates. Finance has built an entire business on bringing up youngsters through the ranks, developing young professionals with few real-world skills into bankers, hedge fund managers, etc.
We’ve seen similar opportunities in law, as well as medicine. With all the opportunities in technology, companies big and small need to begin creating programs that can bridge the gap.
Our education system is inept at preparing students for jobs in the modern, web-related industry.
Larger technology companies have offered similar summer programs (namely Google, Facebook, Microsoft). However, if the largest opportunity for economic growth is in small to medium businesses, we need to begin implementing similar programs into the startup community. After all, that’s really where everyone wants to work.
While many of these more focused startup programs are still in their infancy, a long-term effort to develop interim programs for recent graduates to bridge the gap from school to the working world will no doubt help fuel the economy and provide opportunities for greater short-term growth.
It’s critical that all schools, but specifically pop-up bootcamps, evolve their programs to support the transition from classroom to working world. Similarly, startups need to better utilize junior people where possible.
The short-term pain points will create long-term opportunities that otherwise will continue to suffer. We currently have too many underserved startups and not enough technologists.