Why you should avoid companies that advertise trainee to job placement

First of all, I am not going to reference any specific companies because I would rather not get sued. Also this information can be attributed to several companies.

There are a number of companies that advertise paid training (don’t get too excited, typically minimum wage) and job placement for new computer science graduates. This sounds great to the introverted developer who hates to go on interviews/whiteboards but there is a catch. The company will hold you to a lengthy contract. After job placement, the company will take a significant portion of your salary.

Here are two of the biggest issues I have with these companies:

  1. They value their training way too high, and if you break the contract you’re screwed.
    Some of the companies value their training around $10,000–$30,000. If you break the contract after the training, they will make you pay for the cost of the training. You should be on edge when somebody claims their 12, or 16 week training program is worth as much as a degree. My undergraduate program cost $30,000 entirely.
  2. The interview process is elusively easy.
    They will ask easy software questions. Write Fizz Buzz on the whiteboard. What does a break statement in a loop do? The guy interviewing me said and I quote “I learned more during this 12 week course than in my entire undergraduate”. Maybe you went to a university with a lackluster CS department? Don’t take these people seriously.

Here is the only upside: They can help get your foot in the door to a large company.
They can place you at a larger company, but at a cost. They take close to half your income for however long the contract specifies.

I got hired to one of these and left on the first day. I read the contract, laughed, and told HR I am not coming back. I spent the next 3 weeks applying to developer positions. I ended up with 4 offers paying double what this particular company was offering. Don’t fall into this trap. Go read up on algorithms and data structures, build pet projects, do practice problems online. Don’t sweat the rejections. I don’t remember how many applications I sent out at that time but rest assured it was 30 or more. I know how it feels to be approaching graduation without a solid job offer. But don’t sell yourself short for this. Reach out to friends and fellow alumni from your school. Just be patient, there are a lot of good developer positions out there and you don’t need these programs to get to them.

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Ed Yong
Mar 25 · 22 min read

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