[Melbourne-pm] Floating an idea for 'summer switch camp'

Jacinta Richardson jarich at perltraining.com.au
Fri Oct 19 22:15:32 PDT 2007

Regarding the idea, I think it's great.  We're already working with Strategic
Data to provide scholarships to a number of graduates this year:


I'm certainly willing to consider being part of further ventures like this.  We
can take classes of up to 14 attendees with two trainers, but if there were Perl
Mongers willing to work through our material prior to the course and then assist
with exercises; we could potentially expand that number a little further.

Alec Clews wrote:

> A) A shorter introductory course (5 days?) that gets them up and running. At
> this point they would should be able to handle basic maintenance tasks and
> know enough to self study to the next level. At this point they take on a
> trainee programming type role and tasks for a few weeks

I agree.  From my experience, 5 days should be fine to teach an existing
programmer the basics of Perl (syntax, regular expressions, file I/O, references
and complex data structures, system commands, packages & modules etc).  Our
basic course is 4 days but due to consistent feedback about it being too rushed,
it'll probably be 5 days (with 1/2 a day of new material on documentation and
testing) next year.  Some learn faster, most are pretty good with our pace, some
really struggle.  All of them describe their roles in industry as "programmer".

This is assuming the person can give you their full attention, and isn't being
called up by work or required to keep up to date with email all the time.
On-site courses can suffer from this a lot with various participants being
called out "just for a few minutes" every hour...  But I imagine that wouldn't
be so much of an issue in this situation.

> * Would there be any interest (or money available) in offering bursaries to
> recent graduates or unemployed programmers (e.g. home makers wanting to
> return to the workforce)? These folks are less likely to be able to self
> sponsor or attract a working sponsorship.

In general, recent graduates learn a lot faster than those in industry.
Probably because that's all they've been doing for the last 3-22 years.  They're
pretty good at remembering what they've learned too.  Training anyone who
doesn't have prior programming experience will probably need more than a one
week course.

With respect to converting existing programmers; I have to ask where will you
find them?  As far as I can see, in the job market there isn't so much a lack of
good _Perl_ programmers as a lack of good programmers.  Australian businesses
are retraining their staff.  Many of our course attendees have just joined their
given company and have been sent on our courses to get up to speed.  Not all
businesses can afford this, but when you've got businesses like REA offering
insane referral bonuses; training has got to look pretty compelling.  Graduates
are probably the most effective starting ground, unless you know of a lot of
_good_ programmers who are out of work?  And sure there are some, but we get a
fair few individuals put themselves through our courses as well, so I imagine
the motivated probably don't stay out of work that long.

I'm very happy to assist where I can with such an idea, but I can't run it.  I
have a few too many other tasks on my plate at this time!


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