[LRUG] Juniors

Ed Lepedus ed.lepedus at googlemail.com
Wed May 21 13:01:05 PDT 2014

I'm not the most qualified to give an opinion on this - I certainly have never hired anyone - but I think some observations from the other side of the fence might help inform the discussion.

Firstly, the word 'junior' has been thrown about so much as to be utterly meaningless. The difference between a keen amateur, someone who has a couple of years experience but just 'fell into it', a CS graduate who just scraped a 2:1 and a top-of-class 2nd year undergraduate is HUGE. Yet they all fall into the same category.

For example, I am a mature student about to embark on a year-long industrial placement as part of my CS degree at Kent. Over the last couple of years I've made a point of getting to know as many of the 400 or so students in the School of Computing, and I can tell you they can be worlds apart - even within the same university studying the same course. I know Stage 2 students who have set up their own businesses or have created multiple cross-platform games on their own from concept to app-store, and others who have the likes of Goldman Sachs and CISCO in California competing to offer them industrial placements. I know final-year students who can't set up their machines to use SVN, while others have built Erlang IDEs for their final year project.

This is all within a single university, and all these people would be considered 'junior', along with others from different courses at different universities, or people with no qualifications or experience etc.

By far the best thing we, as an industry, can do is abandon the label, and look at the individuals. Take fifteen minutes out of your day to have a chat on the phone. Sure, you'll find a lot of people who do this because the 'like computer games', but you will also find many others who will blow your socks off.

Also, keep this in mind when offering unpaid, or minimum-wage positions: the best candidates (i.e: the ones you probably want) will have options, and no matter how much they like you, will struggle to justify taking 10-15k less just so they can work for you. 

If you are in central London and offering 15k (yes, I'm not making this up), you will probably not attract the best candidates, and might be tempted to think that there are no decent juniors about, when in fact, they simply aren't wasting their time with your advert.

I hope my candor doesn't offend - I've found this whole discussion very interesting.


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