In my adult years I’ve tried to live by the quote “don’t talk about it, be about it.” Seek the work and the results, not the spotlight and the megaphone.
But, at the same time, it’s not enough to “not-be” the worst of us. It’s not enough to not-be racist. It’s not enough to not-be sexist. Ableist. Xenophobic. They’re all versions of the same story. I’m scared that people unlike me are coming for the people like me. They’re coming for my job, my potential mating partners, my rights, or my kids. They’re coming for me.
We know that standing on the sidelines isn’t good enough. We can’t undo the evils of hate through non-participation. We can’t judge in silence and hope for better. We have to be about it and act about it, talk about it, vote about it, donate about it, protest about it, and even write about it.
The history of the internet is littered with good intentions. “I’m starting a photo series” someone says. “I’m going to post my results from a recipe” once a week. And, maybe the single most retread line, “I’m going to get better at writing regularly.”
I’m going to get better at writing regularly.
We’ve been building and running this Turing School experiment for five years now and there are a lot of learnings to share. There are great stories to tell. There are failures to explore. There are trends we understand and some that we don’t. There are a long list of things I hate about Turing, the training industry, and the tech industry. There are some ideas of how to make it all better.
My hope is that there are people who will find value in it. Maybe you’re part of the Turing community already, and you want to understand how things work under the hood. Maybe you’re in the industry and want to develop your own understandings to be part of the change. Maybe you’re insane enough to want to start your own thing, big or small, and I can save you from making some of the same mistakes I have.
All these learnings, stories, decisions, and outcomes are interconnected and complicated. But one of the things I’m most proud of is that every decision is made with intention. There’s a reason for it. Often we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong. But if we start with intention, work with humility, listen carefully, observe critically, and brainstorm broadly, then we can find the next great ideas.
There’s no place I’d rather live than in a culture of inquiry. The place where we are always welcome to ask “why?” That’s where I want to take this writing project — start with a question: “why,” try to answer it, see what we unearth along the way, and look for an even better future.
We’ve experimented with doing some live Q&A’s over the last few months. When people asked questions directly in-person, they were mostly softballs. But once we started taking them anonymously, there was some bite! I’ve got a backlog of questions worth exploring, and I’m happy to take more anonymously or with your name at https://forms.gle/7o4yektJ7XGy2HXe8 .
I’ll select questions that:
- Are interesting to a broad audience
- Have non-obvious or controversial answers
- Help explain our mission, method, and decisions
- Provoke further conversation and exploration
Let’s get started!
Why is it apparently easier now for Turing students to find work outside of the Denver area? Is the school flooding the available market with too many junior devs? — Anonymous
Short Answer: Yes!
Long Answer: When I started my first program in Denver in 2013, this was a huge concern. The tech community in Denver was small. It was very clearly the little sibling to Boulder, which had a rich ecosystem with a diverse mix of companies.
Over the last six years that’s changed significantly. Denver has incubated some small tech companies into significant players (ex: Sendgrid, Ibotta) while some large companies have started to act more like small companies (ex: Comcast, Charter Communications). From my perspective, the market is still not particularly healthy for early stage companies with less than five people and, notably, has very few software consultancies of any size. But there are jobs and the ecosystem is growing.
If everything were perfect with enrollment, promotion, and graduation, then we could see Turing graduate over 400 people per year. Right now it’s closer to 250. Denver tech companies can’t yet absorb 250–400 junior developers per year.
Folks need to go. I frequently have conversations with students that go like “I’d like to stay in Denver, but I’d also be up for…” and whatever place comes out of their mouth next is the place I want them to go. Wherever it is, there are fewer Turing grads. If it’s some place that isn’t flooded with young professionals (see Seattle, Portland, SF, Austin, NYC) then yes, they have a good shot at finding work there and finding it faster than they would in Denver.
One part that frustrates me is when people tell me “I need to stay in Denver.” “Why?” Here are some of the responses I often hear:
- I have a lease
- I don’t have a car
- My friends are here
None of these are need reasons, in my opinion. You’re welcome to stay, but you don’t need to. Here are some need-to reasons that I’ve heard:
- I have a kid with a person who I’m not together with anymore, and leaving the state means giving up parental rights.
- My mom is sick and it’s important to me to help take care of her
- My husband just started med school here
If you need to, then I want to leverage what availability we have from hiring partners and job leads to make sure you find your place. If you’re in the first group, I’ll encourage you to negotiate yourself a nice relocation bonus and head on out of here.
Lastly, there’s an important topic of network fatigue. Everyone we know in Denver has been hit up 100 times for coffee meetings, mentoring, and potential jobs. But when you say “I’m up for Nashville,” all-of-a-sudden you unlock fresh people we can introduce you to. Head to Chicago and there are a great collection of Turing alumni and a plethora of jobs available. If you’re willing to go to places like Pittsburgh, Jersey City, or Charlotte, there are jobs that have specifically said “we’d love to hire a Turing grad, but we can’t find anyone willing to go.”
Moving is not easy, but it’s just temporary. Once you have two good years of experience as a software developer, you’ll have job opportunities in any place you want to go (or go back to). The key is to get that two years. Think of it as a tour of duty, not a permanent life choice. We’ve had many people go away for a few years, then come back to Colorado as mid- and senior-level developers. With that experience, you can do anything.
So, yes, if you can leave Denver then I want you to do it.
I’m the founder and Executive Director of the Turing School of Software & Design. When I’m not writing silly blog posts, I’m probably having a 1-on-1 or stressing about how to run a non-profit in a for-profit world.