Want A Job, Write Some Code

Aaron Saunders
3 min readDec 19, 2016


At Clearly Innovative Inc, we are a development agency that has been built on the foundation that we are a learning organization looking to increase inclusion in the tech field by hiring passionate non-traditional developers. What that means is that you don’t need a Computer Science degree to get a job, you need to demonstrate the ability to learn to be a good developer, not a ninja, rockstar or whatever cool adjective we are using today to describe developers.

We have been doing this for the last six years, way before the huge rise in dev boot camps and immersive programs appeared. Now that the boot-camps are here, we use them as a training ground and then recruit developers from the programs and help them dive deeper on a specific technology, specifically JavaScript & AngularJS. So we get access to pre-qualified developers and the developers get an opportunity to enhance their specific skill and get paid on the job training.

The Job Interview

Recently we have started to ask the candidates to come in and spend four hours or so solving a problem in code. I don’t believe in whiteboard quizzes and since these are entry level positions we keep it pretty simple; sit in front of a computer and build something.

The two problems we have asked recently with moderate success

  1. Build a simple application that has two screens, first screen has a button which when clicked displays a window or modal with an input form. The input form has a text field and an option select field. There are two buttons on the form, “ok” and “cancel”. when the user selects “ok”, return the data as a JSON object and render the values on the first screen.
  2. Build a sample application with two screens, first screen displays a list of objects and second screen displays the details of the specific object that was clicked. The data included in the sample application comes from Firebase so the developer must make an HTTP request to get the data for the list and the specific node data for the detail page.

We have had individuals who have been through web development boot-camps specifically stated that they were comfortable with AngularJS, understood HTML, CSS and were comfortable with APIs & HTTP requests that were unable to complete these tasks in four hours… this was an open book test, my team was available to answer questions and googling was permitted.

Outcomes over Optics

At the end of the day, I believe the primary objective of the new “vocational schools” now called “Development Boot-camps” should be about creating job ready individuals, more of a focus on “outcomes” and less on “optics”. As an adjunct professor working at Howard University teaching software development, I focused practical development and more of a focus on project based learning. The student needed to build solutions from a blank page, not a predefined template that has been used multiple times. I find the biggest challenge when learning development is the blank page of the IDE staring at you when you first start your project so overcoming that obstacle creates a level of confidence that will hopefully push the student beyond multiple challenges that are yet to come.


Before I get spammed by people talking about all of the great things that development bootcamps have accomplished please understand I am only talking about my personal experience when working with diverse developers, mostly people of color, who are not your traditional dev bootcamp target audience.

Which according to the Course Report is mostly educated males…

from “2016 Course Report Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Study”