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Random thoughts on formal education

I’ve met a friend today, and we were talking about education. My friend is in the business to help people land great jobs. He told me a few stories how he worked with graduates of various coding bootcamps, and how naive many of them were. There was often a clear expectation that one is entitled to a job once they finish the coding bootcamp. It’s perhaps a helpful idea to break these kinds of expectations in the society.

I remember my grandparents talking how life was more predictable in the USSR, especially in regards to careers. You go to school, then through an apprenticeship or a university, and after that there will be next steps for you pretty much prepared. The most well-connected students would usually land jobs in their city or in another big city, but it wasn’t unusual when students would have to move to a smaller town or a province. And USSR was like very big, so sometimes these moves were across several timezones.

It seems like we don’t have similar predictability even in the not yet enough saturated programming industry. I’ve hired several people in my life, and most of the time I didn’t even ask them about their formal education. I usually care mostly about what they did at work.

If I’m being asked what kind of formal education should somebody undertake to become a proficient software engineer, I usually don’t even know what to say. I often mention that one has to be passionate and determined enough to try developing their own projects.

I liked this idea that I saw today on Twitter, and yes, I’m kind of got hooked on the social media stuff again:

Given that the main function of universities these days is filtering and signaling, the best move is to get admitted to Stanford and then drop out.

You can probably learn most of the things they teach at Stanford on your own while working part time. You will not get the same benefits as students at Stanford get, but you might get some other benefits that they won’t.

I think what education comes down to these days are being determined, interested and disciplined.

I think that Jacob from ERE has some interesting ideas on education.

My wife is an amazing self-taught software engineer, and that she has learnt it mostly using online courses and books. The best investment she has made so far was into getting a Safari Books Online subscription.