Hacking the future of developer skills with Johnathon Gottfried

“An ideal environment for learning provides a transformational experience, builds strong bonds and unlocks potential with very few resources…”

Jon and I discuss everything from history in high school to hacker communities. We discuss the shift of perspective you can get from going to check your assumptions of what skills are and how they are done. We also discuss the future of developer skills, and how building powerful communities to ensure impact can help. A ‘democratisation’ of access to developer skills and intentionally developing the system for them to be successful through education, awareness, communities and learning contents is key to growing these communities of transformational learning and skills development.

Jon shares his own story of how he came to be involved in Major League Hacking and his mission to empower hackers, create a different and more visible system to access developer skills and build a sustainable business to serve this community.

Main insights you will get from this episode are :

–       The role of developer evangelist has changed: it used to be an educational role to help developers via student workshops, conference talks, blogs, videos, etc. but it has evolved/ matured and become more structured.

–       There are more expectations associated with it (e.g. to justify the existence of the role within an organisation), and it is more specialised (e.g. content creation, Developer Relations/ Marketing), but evangelising is still a core responsibility and the most important on a daily basis.

–       There is no need for a tech background to become a developer – MLH programs exist to teach code/real-world skills to everyone, regardless of experience and involve lots of peer support and mentorship in a product-agnostic field; eclectic skill sets and profiles are valued.

–       MLH uses qualitative and quantitative elements to measure success in their fast-moving, community-based environment: How many people do we serve in a year? Do people get value from what we do? It is a holistic idea of success to build a financially sustainable but mission-oriented business.

–       Rather than a specific methodology, organised chaos rules! There is no prescriptive approach to how things are done, e.g. creating design processes, writing code – everyone can be successful on their own terms.

–       Self-organised teams working across ecosystems make communities powerful. The most successful communities form longer-lasting relationships and can give rise to larger communities; or communities come together to work together.

–       Developer evangelists must be invested in the success of other people and help them achieve their goals – community leaders are enablers for their peers (e.g. servant leaders) and can change people’s lives.

–       2030 vision for the industry is to connect people more effectively with career opportunities; change the recruitment/hiring mindset by giving students a way to showcase their skills and differentiate themselves, demonstrate what they are excited about.

–       Companies on the bleeding edge think radically differently about talent and give people the time, space and absence of risk to experiment (e.g. hackathons); companies must look in different places for new hires, invest in the next generation and be future-focused in their thinking.

–       Computer science education is overly reliant on individual work and does not reflect the often abstract and open-ended collaborative work that prevails in the industry – tech and software are a means to an end and can have incredible impact and reach with relatively little effort.

–       An ideal environment for learning provides a transformational experience; is dysfunctional; is anti-best practices; forces creativity; builds strong bonds; and unlocks potential with very few resources, and without structure or guidance.

–       A good starting point is to engage with existing communities, either in-person or online; go outside your comfort zone and take the first step, people will be excited and supportive.

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Suzie Lewis

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