As part of my job search (which has been ongoing for the last year and a half now), I’m applying to several programming and “Data Science” bootcamps. I have posted my thoughts about “Data Science” before, but it seems the juggernaut is nigh unstoppable. During this process, I have experienced a multitude of things that I need to get down.
I have also heard that there are an astonishingly high number of CS graduates, even those with advanced degrees, who cannot do simple programming exercises like the “FizzBuzz” challenge or simple algorithms. So perhaps there are a large number of mediocre CS students who are getting through the university system and are unable to pass job interviews or fulfill job requirements. In chemistry, this would be like studying organic chemistry on paper but having trouble going into the lab and doing synthesis (or if you’re a theoretician, not being able to input and optimize a model system in a program like Gaussian or Spartan properly, and draw reasonable conclusions).
The analogous situation in chemistry would be decoupling experimental and theoretical chemistry – e.g. doing organic synthesis without knowing anything about the theory. Is this possible? We’ll never know, because I don’t think there will ever come a time where the demand for synthetic chemists will jump that high, to obscene levels beyond the ability of universities to produce sufficient graduates. At the same time, safety is the big consideration when comparing computer science and chemistry. If you screw up in CS, nobody will get hurt, but if you screw up in the chemistry lab, a range of things can happen, ranging from nothing (if you’re lucky), to killing yourself (if you’re not careful). But from an educational perspective, is it possible to teach “applied chemistry” in order to reach the masses, the same way websites like Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp, and Code School have revolutionized programming education to make it more egalitarian? Chemical concepts like equilibrium, reaction kinetics, etc. can be dry and theoretical; can you teach chemistry in a way to make it more understandable by the masses, but at the same time maintain the “tactility” required to really understand the subject that can only be achieved through lab work? This is a challenge for the next generation of instructors, and one that we as chemists all must face as we strive to prove to upcoming generations that our subject is relevant!
In any case, back to the subject of bootcamps. One of my friends mentioned earlier today:
“honestly you becoming a vanilla webdev is a waste of your talents and training
a lot of people can do that job
not many people can do research in organic chemistry”
Formatting is messed up because I copy-pasted this from a google chat. This friend does bring up a valid point though; why am I trying to go into CS? I have addressed this before, but I still have inner conflicts where I feel like I should keep trying for a job in chemistry (due to the sunk cost fallacy). In any case, this friend is forgiven for not having an accurate knowledge of the chemistry job market – that last statement is completely inaccurate, as there is a massive glut of people who can do research in organic chemistry.
But the sudden rise of bootcamps has got me thinking – is this indicative of another bubble? There are so many coding bootcamps now all over the US, and “Data Science” bootcamps are also springing up all over the place. BTW, the next person who tells me “with a PhD in science, you should think about going into “data science!” is going to get a kick in a very sensitive place. Unfortunately, as I have learned, organic chemistry is not a “quantitative” discipline, and I have been rejected from The Data Incubator, Metis, and Insight for not having the correct background. Also, the programming background required for “data science” is rather steep, and it is not something that can be easily picked up if you don’t have prior training in CS or programming, which is why I’m looking into “vanilla webdev” bootcamps, as the entry requirements are easier for me to meet with my limited coding background.
As to the title of this post, today I came across this.
I have NO idea what to make of this – it’s a prep course to help you get into a bootcamp (o_O). This is like what goes on in India today – you have prep courses to help you get into prep courses for the IIT JEE entrance exam. This has me completely flummoxed, and is another indicator of how the demand for programmers is far exceeding the supply – App Academy (the company running the prep course) is simply cashing in on this trend. Is this indicative of another imminent bubble? One can’t predict the future, but it certainly does seem that way…