An article in the Washington Post gives a good summary of Hungry Academy, LivingSocial’s experiment to train 24 motivated people to become fully-functional developers in just five months. They worked hard and all graduated last week, starting as official developers over the next week.
The benefit, if all goes according to plan, however, is a fleet of engineers that can be hired en masse with a commitment to work at LivingSocial for at least 18 months. Unlike fresh hires, the academy students are already familiar with the company’s products and culture.
The 2-3-week-long projects they delivered over the course were impressive enough, but given that many of them didn’t have any professional programming skills beforehand, their progress has been amazing to watch. The first half of this grand experiment is over and it was a rousing success. The second half - how well they succeed in the actual work environment - begins now. I’m optimistic.