Growing Our Own Developers

by Kevin Lawver on July 24, 2012

We’ve (Jake, Charisse and I) been talking about running a Developer Boot Camp this fall here in Savannah to try to “grow” some more local development talent. The more I walk around the idea, the more work is involved in actually coming up with the curriculum, getting instructors/mentors lined up, etc. I’m happy to do the work, but I think it’s probably a good idea to gauge the interest of the community before we actually go through all this effort.

The idea is to do this a little backwards from a typical classroom experience. There would be homework every week consisting of screencasts, blog posts and other resources. You’d be expected to go through the homework during the week, and then the weekend classroom time would be spent answering questions, troubleshooting, mentoring and working on actually building stuff. We’re planning on running two tracks – frontend and backend (the backend track most likely being Rails) – and running it in September and maybe doing something crazy awesome for graduation.

So, if you would be so kind as to participate in my highly scientific poll and send it around to folks in the area you think might be interested (students, designers, career switchers, etc), I’d appreciate it. Please post comments with questions or suggestions and let’s see if we can pull this off!

(if you’re reading this in the email, you’ll probably need to come to the site to participate in the poll)


Hi Kevin,

I think building from the ground up is a great idea. I think it is necessary (just bad timing for me personally).

From what I’ve seen from other successful bootcamps is that you gear the camps towards an audience and choose the technology threads accordingly.

E.g. they had a great HTML5 camp for UXers in London that has hence led to some other camps that followed. It worked b/c the students were close enough together in vision that the teaching made sense to them.

Further, the “school” like style you are suggesting with homework in between I think might not work with our busy lives. The camps I have seen with the greatest success have been self contained. 2-day weekends at most. Otherwise it is a continuing ed class and not really camp.

I’m not sure what is the right answer for us here. I’m just cautious as to why someone wouldn’t just go to Code Academy or a similar system if they were really invested, no?

Just passing on some of the experiences I’ve seen from other attempts. The spirit of what you are doing is great!

– dave

by Dave Malouf on July 24, 2012 at 8:42 am. #

All good points, Dave. I think a lot of people are motivated, but they don’t know where to turn in the sea of tutorials of dubious quality. We’ll give folks a “recipe” (the curated list of tutorials) for how to learn this stuff and will be there when they hit a wall.

Honestly, if people were really invested, then we wouldn’t need to do this. They’d stop complaining about how they can’t find developers and do it themselves. But, I don’t see that happening, so we’re trying to fill the gap without that job taking over our lives completely.

by Kevin Lawver on July 24, 2012 at 9:04 am. #

In general I like the concept of an event in Savannah with developer focus that helps increase Savannah’s capabilities however,I think maybe starting off with a smaller scale event to test the waters. Like a minimal viable event to figure out what is right for the community here. Please let me know if you would like to chat as I would be interested in helping.


by Will Dent on July 25, 2012 at 6:41 am. #

Kevin, we just met at Creative Coast’s “Ask an Expert,” and you answered some questions I had about how to get started with Tumblr or WordPress. As I mentioned earlier today, I’m just beginning, and I think something like this would be extremely valuable. Please count me in, even if you go with a smaller scale event like Will suggested.

by Canetha on August 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm. #