Rory Franklin

Makers Academy

21 March 2013 - London

I recently met the people at Makers Academy through my role at ChilliBean and I’d like to take some time to distill my thoughts about what they are doing there and why I think it’s great.

Who are they?

Makers Academy are essentially a company who provide an intensive 10 week training course teaching web development. They teach their students to create web applications and sites using HTML, CSS, Javascript and Ruby on Rails, but they also teach a whole lot more.

The focus of the course is not to teach specific tools, but to teach concepts that are transferrable across different languages - they just happen to use Ruby. At the end of the 10 week course the students should have a solid grasp of good software development practices (TDD, agile, <insert other buzzwords here>).

After the 10 weeks, Makers Academy transform in to a recruitment company and try and place their students at companies that they have built a relationship with.

Why are they good?

I first met with one of the guys working at Makers Academy who explained who they were and what they were doing. Hearing this immediately made me think that what they are trying to achieve is great. However, being told about it is all well and good - seeing it first hand actually confirmed this for me.

I had the opportunity to go and visit their first intake of students about 3 weeks in to the course. Meeting with them and hearing about what they were learning and talking with the teachers about what they are trying to achieve gave me a real sense of what is actually happening. I sat in on their end-of-day round up meeting and it was incredibly interesting hearing them discuss the problems they had been having and what they had learned.

Turning in to a recruitment company at the end of the 10 weeks is a very smart thing. I hate recruitment companies. They spam me with emails and phonecalls with CVs for candidates I have no need for. What Makers Academy are doing is different though. I’ve had the opportunity to come and meet the students and will go back once or twice more before they “graduate” which means I get to know them, get a feel for each of them and see who may or may not fit in at our organisation. This is huge. I will already have essentially interviewed candidates in some form and their is no pressure on us to actually hire anyone.

Because they are selective with who they allow to take the course, the quality of candidate is already pretty high. I know what they’ve learned and I’ve seen them put it in to practice first hand. This makes the hiring process so much easier!

Final thoughts

I think Makers Academy are on to a great thing. There is a real need for high quality junior developers in the London tech scene and they are going to be providing it. University graduates are great, but a lot of what you learn at University just isn’t relevant or is outdated - I know this first hand!

It’ll be great to see them ramp up and start introducing more and more people to companies in London who will really benefit from the increase in quality of their junior devs.