David Basarab is a hiring manager at Cinemassive in Atlanta who works with the Software Craftsmanship Guild to hire talented .NET developers. Find out what he's looking for in a junior developer, how his relationship with SWCG is structured, and why he sees bootcamp-grads better prepared for his workforce than even recent college grads.
Tell us about Cinemassive. What does your company do?
Cinemassive is a visual solution company that primarily sells video walls to corporate and government agencies so they can visualize their data better. Our primary use cases are conference rooms or if you think about NASA’s command and control center. Each problem is slightly different for each of our customers- we have software that we customize to their needs.
What is your role at Cinemassive?
I’m the software development manager, and as a result, I’m a direct hiring manager.
When did you hear about SWCG? What attracted you to them?
I knew their founder, Eric, before he started the guild. Eric was an ex-director of software development and I’ve been a software development lead, so we both knew the problems with college graduates- they don’t learn the right lessons. The bootcamps, and the Guild in particular, teaches the right lessons. The proof is in our hires- We actually hired someone from SWCG, Anna, and she’d worked out tremendously. She came in right off the bat and was starting to contribute very quickly. She’s been very valuable to our team.
If you can write code in a maintainable way, then you’re extremely valuable to me. One of the biggest problems is that a lot of people can write code, but you get to a curve where you can’t ship anymore because you’ve written code in an un-ideal way. The Guild teaches the right way from the beginning, so students don’t have those bad habits.
On your site, I noticed that Cinemassive is generally looking for CS degrees, or even a masters in CS. How do bootcamp applicants compare to others from a CS background?
In my opinion, I think they’re equivalent. I’ll actually put applicants who went to a bootcamp higher than someone potentially coming out of college. I know that Eric tests intelligence to make sure the students have the capability to write software. Also, it’s an intensive 13 week course which is similar to working for 12 weeks- I’m a believe that you learn more from working than sitting in a classroom all day. They’re not just committed from 8-5, they’re committed afterwards as well. You have to put in those extra twenty hours a week, or else you’ll stay stagnant. Someone with a nice degree from a nice university may not have the right attitude to write software in the way it needs to be written and agile enough to support our business.
Do the bootcamp graduates that you hire start as interns with Cinemassive?
They’re full on in the team, we call them Junior Developers. I don’t believe you have to work for X number of years to be promoted. Once you’re doing the skills of the job, I’ll give you that job and the money that goes with it. We have five levels of developers. The woman, Anna, who we hired from the Guild, came in after Christmas Break, then went into full-blown testing. She’s done a better job at QA than our other full-time QA person. She has a very methodical point of view; she doesn’t let anything slip by. And she’s only been in the software world for 13 weeks- before that, she was teaching English in China and nowhere near the software world. Eric also teaches the students communication skills, which is something that college graduates may lack, and teaches them to conduct themselves professionally.
What is the starting salary for a junior developer?
For junior developers, they start at $50,000. The next tier is $60,000. Then mid-level engineers will be paid around $80,000, and seniors are $100,000. We’re taking a little bit of a risk on junior developers, but we quickly move them up if they’re working out, within 6-12 months.
What is the hiring process like? Is there any interaction with students throughout the camp?
In the Guild, you pay to be a member, so you get first choice in hiring. Eric will usually give you a quick assessment of the student- he’s a very good judge of talent. A good bootcamp will have an instructor who interacts with the hiring partners, because you don’t want students in a role that’s not right for them. I was looking for a QA person and software engineer- a bridged role. 2 or 3 weeks from the end of the program, we interviewed Anna over Skype.
Do you recruit from any other bootcamps?
No, there aren’t any other .NET in the Atlanta area. Actually, the owner of our company is looking into getting Eric space to open a SWCG here in Atlanta. His methodology is better than some other bootcamps and he teaches .NET and Java, which is unique. He gives students rockstar fundamentals.
In addition to paying the membership fee to the Guild, did you also pay a recruiting fee when you hired Anna?
We paid an additional $5,000 that went back to the student.
What are your new hires working on now?
They’re mostly writing automated tests right now. It’s a really important job, but it’s also a great way for someone without a ton of experience to cut their teeth without becoming too overwhelmed.
Does it make a difference to you as a hiring manager that SWCG is accredited in Ohio?
Nope, not a huge difference. I’m looking more at the student- are they smart and can they get things done? I can teach certain things, and I know that I’ll have to teach someone from the Guild some things, but I’m willing to make that investment. You can find some really good talent that makes your software and business sing, just by teaching a little bit. Too often, companies get caught up in years of experience rather than noticing that a person is really bright. You can’t teach smart. And anyone coming from the Guild is smart. Once we have room for a next junior developer, the first place we’ll go is to the Guild.