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EL Passion's 2022 Bootcamp — Why We Did It, How We Did It, and What's Next. Interview with Michał Warda

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    11 May 2022 by Patrycja Paterska

    We're talking with EL Passion's CTO, Michał Warda about why bootcamps are cool, but the satisfaction after a job well done is the coolest.  

    What was EL Passion's bootcamp about?

    EL Passion’s 2022 Bootcamp was an initiative aimed at helping aspiring programmers gain knowledge of: the basics of coding and the industry’s best practices such as pair programming, CI, and cooperation in a truly Agile way. The bootcamp was composed of multiple stages with 3 major levels that allowed us to find the top 2% of talent. The bootcamp graduates possess the technical skills required to become accomplished developers, but also have necessary communication skills, understand Agile principles, and are able to cooperate in a team.

    We talked to EL Passion’s CTO, Michał Warda, who was the main bootcamp contributor, mentor, and teacher. He is a big advocate of knowledge sharing, but he also embraces the humane side of tech and a holistic approach to creating digital products.

    EL Passion 2022 Bootcamp w/ Michal WardaEL Passion 2022 Bootcamp in action

    EL Passion 2022 Bootcamp — Interview with Michał Warda

    Patrycja Paterska: The bootcamp’s tagline was “You’re the next big thing” and what do you think? Are they the next big thing in the IT industry?

    Michał Warda: If I remember correctly we got around 220 submissions for the bootcamp and our Recruitment team did an insanely good job eliciting the best of the best candidates for the next stages: the workshop and then the actual thing.

    One thing worth mentioning probably is the fact that throughout each stage of elimination we were using blind resumes to get rid of any possible bias. So we had no clue who we were eliminating and we were only basing our judgment on their skills and the tasks they delivered. That being said, I am incredibly proud of everyone participating and happy we got to do this. We couldn’t accept every one of course, but I think all participants gained something from this bootcamp and their approach to coding is more holistic and they know what they need to work on. The feedback I received was really positive overall.

    Can you share some of the feedback?

    Yeah. There were a couple of things that definitely stood out. Firstly: “Wow, how come I have never found any of this information online”, secondly: “before coming here I thought being a developer is about coding, but now I realize it’s only part of the job.” And I remember someone’s comment about Agile and effectiveness at work: “I didn’t know there are places where you can work with that kind of structure”. It seems that nowadays not many people teach you how to work in a team-oriented way. 

    The first point’s interesting — “No one’s writing about any of this online”, how come?

    Well, I think that in the IT industry we’ve come full circle in terms of knowledge sharing. There’s so much knowledge you can access online that it becomes increasingly difficult to find comprehensible and reliable sources. I’d even go as far as saying that learning programming in a given technology online is much harder than it was 5 years ago. We have incessant SEO wars and, sadly, a great deal of content focuses on simplifying solutions to, sometimes, vast and complex problems. This mechanism produces somewhat a perpetuum mobile of readily available solutions, where you don’t learn the true programming must-have: logical thinking and drawing conclusions on your own. There’s nothing wrong with StackOverflow, it’s just really helpful to know the programming basics when you are coding complex applications and that got lost in translation somehow.

    EL Passion 2022 BootcampEL Passion 2022 Bootcamp

    So this bootcamp was aimed at finding talent before they enter this machine?

    Exactly. At EL Passion, and generally, at companies caring about both: programmers’ skills development and code quality, we care about the basics. There’s also another element. When I first started working in the industry, companies were hiring Web Developers, and not Front-end or Back-end developers or even React Developers, like they’re hiring today. For some time now, developers are specializing in a given technology almost instantly. Even the entry-level employees. But you won’t change the market, even if you try. So the goal is to find people willing to learn the basics first, and technologies later. Because knowing the first one also eases out the latter.

    The talent pool of junior developers is big. You can see posts everywhere that finding their first job has become harder, especially in the last two years.

    Yes. This began with the pandemic when companies were trying to hire experienced talent and move their resources from tutoring. But in the long run, the developers’ pool overall is finished, and companies are competing against each other for candidates, and this also has its effects: lower employee retention along with bigger pressure on increasing the industry’s salaries. This is yet another reason why we wanted to organize our bootcamp: to help elicit the top junior talent and help them grow holistically as future mid and senior developers. And we found them. We found a curious, talented, communicative bunch that possesses a wide range of skills. They are not scared of peeking outside of their specialization into design, devops etc., because they already perceive digital products as a whole. This is crucial in their further development and this mindset will grow with them as they become mid and senior developers. This benefits them individually and the clients equally — developers with a holistic approach are equipped to deal with the project’s risk better, and they understand the value of communication and iteration.

    EL Passion 2022 BootcampersEL Passion 2022 Bootcampers with Michał Warda, CTO at EL Passion

    Can you unveil some details about the bootcamp itself?

    We covered the basics of SQL, code reviews, tools you need, databases, and algorithms. We took our sweet time to talk and learn about testing which I deem indispensable, for juniors, mid, and senior developers alike. There’s this false supposition that testing is hard, and complicated, especially for juniors. I wanted to break this myth in their heads to make their lives easier in the future. We did some pair programming and TDD as well. Bootcampers were also building both simple and more complex apps on their own, we did almost a dozen of them, from a to-do list to fitness monitoring app, banking, mailing, and more. Along the way, they were cooperating and learning soft skills, mainly how to cooperate in Agile self-managing teams, so in real-life-like circumstances, we have at EL Passion.

    So what’s next for the adepts of EL Passion’s 2022 Bootcamp?

    Although we only hired the top 2% of all applicants, I feel like everyone participating got something they were looking for out of it. And I’m happy, because all of them understood the simple truth about coding: that it’s not as much about coding as it is about solving problems, effective management, and cooperation.
    People we hired are 100% ready to become part of our commercial projects and they are now being onboarded as a continuation of our strategy of implementing Junior-Senior developer setup in our projects. It feels weird to say the bootcamp was a success since I was facilitating the process from the very beginning, but it really was. We invested a lot of time, preparation, and resources, and it all really paid off. I’m excited to see what’s ahead.

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