Making Fresh Software Developers Productive

How to make fresh software developers productive has long been a concern of mine, through various jobs in my career. At my current job, the concern is how to make tool-oriented Computer Science graduates productive. These are people that by the choice of their school or their own decision, orient their education on certain tools or technologies.

This is not good. We need them to think logically and clearly, regardless of what they studied.

They could start in school. I received this email from my alma mater, the Ateneo Department of Information Science and Computer Science (DISCS):

DISCS will have its annual planning session soon and we are trying to gather some data for this meeting. We were thinking you might have some answers/thoughts on the following questions.

1. What are the current technologies that IT students (CS and MIS) should learn?

2. What are industry trends that IT students (CS and MIS) should be aware of?

3. What do you think are the important skill sets IT students (CS and MIS) should have?

4. DISCS is exploring the idea of offering Minor concentration, currently we have something like ‘Games Development’ in mind (i.e. BS CS Minor in Games Development). What do you think of this idea? Do you think there are other areas we could consider developing a Minor in?

Notice that the questions pertain to skills and knowledge of both CS and MIS students. You may specify unique requirements for CS and/or MIS students as well.

Now this makes me feel, “the kids of today have it so much better” – they have the Internet, faster PC’s, better languages (Java, not Pascal!) But of course that will always be the case.

This is related to Winston Damarillo’s (Exist Software) lecture on global opportunities in software development – as covered by Sacha Chua. His ideas are good, but how can Philippine software companies be competitive if the talent is lacking?

Time and again, industry/academe cooperation has been full of wasted opportunities. The cause may be related to what a colleague of mine believes: that academic institutions in the Philippines are profit-making institutions. In the Western world, universities do not make enough money from tuition but get their needs from grants.

The result is that the fresh software developers need to be trained by their hiring companies. That is, if they make the grade at all. User groups can help as well. For Java developers, there’s the Pinoy Java Users Group which I help with.

This is a serious situation, but there’s still room for fun.
Jayvee has coverage of the Exist “geek cocktails”, an event I missed.


9 Responses

  1. this is all good but we still need to do more work. i feel that there are a lot of not so difficult things we can teach that would really help students when they go to work.

  2. I agree about the tool-oriented-ness of many computer-related studies. We lack the means for teaching the basics and logical thinking.

    How can this be improved? I’m now sure how the industry-academe cooperation will help that much because the industry is looking for possible hires and will result in tool-oriented teaching too. User groups might help, but a Java-oriented users group or a Perl-oriented users groups is “tool”-oriented as well.

    I’m not sure if there’s an easy solution.

  3. Why not just introduce a tool-building subject into the curriculum?

  4. Eugene,
    That’s right, most companies want a tool-oriented (or buzzword-compatible) graduate. Perhaps only a few don’t. As for our Java users group, it might have “Java” in the name but it’s not purely tool oriented. In the Java world, tool oriented discussion would be how to use development environments or application servers. We talk about theory as well.

    I think hip2b2 can tell you that it’s not that simple. But what I worry about more is when the school may encourage some progressive thinking, but then it’s the students who don’t want it.

  5. Re “The result is that the fresh software developers need to be trained by their hiring companies. That is, if they make the grade at all.”

    With the kind of education kids are getting from the so-called IT schools, making the grade is a serious problem.

  6. P.S. Migs, iba na naman location ng blog mo… Even the permalink structure…??

  7. Yeah I have more to say about IT education and skills. More posts to come.

    About the blog… you must know my old blog. I never link to it from here.

  8. the right practicum/ojt exposure comes to mind right now. for most students, this will be their first hint of what it’s like to be out there in the real world. what kind of projects do students get from the industry nowadays?

  9. imho, guts is just a step towards productivity.

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