The Miami Effect and Developer Recruiting

The Miami Effect: Developer Recruiting

In the 1980's Howard Schnellenberger knocked door to door in neighborhood homes in Miami-Dade county. Recruiting football players that nobody wanted. He took a chance on the local community and built a dynasty that dominated football in the NCAA.

Not only was the University of Miami unknown as a private college, their primary focus was trying to be part of the Ivy League of the south. Coach Schnellenberger knew he had no chance getting the top talent to not sign with Oklahoma, Texas, or even Florida and Florida State.

His thought was to grab the unwanted talent from the neighborhoods you would drive your Miami Porsche Convertible through. Most prospects had troubles that the top schools did not want to deal with and despite that Miami was able to build and grow a team from their very own community. The result was this simple change in recruitment turn the community into die Miami fans, because the boys from the neighborhood all played for the school, which increased ticket sales.

In addition to the increase in increasing fans, The team began to win. A new form of untapped talent was accessed and developed into a NCAA powerhouse. Another pro to this recruiting style, was the talent became virtually endless because the younger brothers and fans eventually grew up to play for Miami because of their loyalty to the neighborhood.

Miami went on to win 4 National NCAA Championships in only 8 years after being relatively unknown prior.


Why so much talk about Miami?

I read an amazing blog post from Ashley Nelson-Horenstein that gave a simple answer to the metaphor that you should check out. Everywhere you look you see post for Senior Developers, recruiters are bending over backwards to catch the big fish out there while completely ignoring the junior-mid level talent.

Their efforts are very understandable, Tech companies want to win championships and build products quickly. The opportunity to make money in tech is huge and there is a huge sense of urgency for companies to iterate and hire quickly, but what happens when a company drops everything to obtain these talented individuals?

Look at the Miami Heat; no longer a powerhouse they once were.

What if tech companies put more effort in recruiting and developing the potential talent eager to learn and hungry for growth in their career? I am sure in return they would receive the same loyalty from that same home grown talent, the way Miami received.

There is an overwhelming thought that there is just not enough developers out there to do the work that needs to get done, but there is a whole opportunity to teach new people. The framework I work in, Rails has reached the stage of maturity where people can now be taught how to build a blog in 15mins or with enough experience, craft a MVP in a weekend.

I believe that there could be potential in the local community for more growth. If a focus is put in helping the self awareness of the under represented groups in tech to lead the charge in encouraging their communities to take the opportunity to learn such a coveted skill.

Rails has actual done a great job in leading the charge in closing the Gender gap with organizations like RailsBridge and RailsGirls. Making sure that the overall community is one that is inviting and accepting of people of all walks of life.

I began learning how to program in 2013 and decided as a way to keep myself accountable, I kept this blog of my efforts. I also re-emerged myself on twitter. Previously I was a twitter lurker, but I found it was a great tool to engage actual established developers.

As time went by and while I continued down my journey towards proficient programming, I started noticing people reaching out to me and asking me questions, like what do you think about this or how do you do this… sort of thing. I of course answered them and moved on. I eventually started noticing something similar between the majority of the people that reach out to me and it was they were a majority black males.

My hope is to reach other minorities in Rails and encourage them to share their story to encourage others, but also reach out to the community as a whole to let them know to encourage minorities who might not necessarily speak up due to impostor syndrome or other false limitations.


The Pitch There is a great deal of work closing the gender gap, and it has been accepted into the community with open arms. I believe the community ready to talk about closing the cultural gap in tech now. As Black male I am encouraged to share my experiences to others, and hold myself to have the personal responsibility of being my own spokesperson.

I hope to also encourages to reach out to their community just as DeVaris Brown in theTenderloin.

What happened to all of the Black and Hispanic computer scientists out there? Are our struggles, voices, and efforts now irrelevant, because we don’t have the notoriety of a Steve Jobs, Zuck, or Larry and Sergey? Aren’t each of us the best representations of how to not only survive, but thrive in a field where the odds are against us from the start?