DevCamp is a unique software development training program and differs in a few ways from other internship programs in Bulgaria and the U.S. The program is highly-selective, highly-competitive, and highly-technical in nature.
We achieve all this by paying close attention to the quality of the participants and only accept the best of the best applicants. Only the top 3% of the software development talents enter the program and we aim at teaching them to become full-stack developers.
Apart from being highly-selective, DevCamp is also highly-competitive, once the participants start learning. There’s a moderately high percentage of people who drop out of the program because they find it too difficult.
Here’s the story of how DevCamp came to be, its benefits, and what the numbers show about the program.
The DevCamp Origin Story
Coming up with the idea for DevCamp was really an organic process. As MentorMate grew over the years, one of the things we realized we needed was the ability to train new employees on emerging technologies.
“We’ve been training people at MentorMate for many years. My earliest recollection of training programs here was close to 10 years ago when we trained a lot of mobile developers,” recollects Director of Account Management Clint Rowles.
Over the years, we’ve recognized there are more opportunities to train people. And not just on new, emerging technologies but in our established technology practices that we require additional talent in as well.
“Being able to train people is a real differentiator from many other companies. We have that talent and skillset for education and training within MentorMate,” says Rowles.
But how was the idea born?
“MentorMate’s President, Jamie Bolseth, came to Bulgaria about two years ago. He shared with us that one of his acquaintances had participated in a very intense and highly selective training program,” remembers Director of Software Development for LAMP & Front-End Krasimir Nikolov.
The company behind that program operates in hardware production and gives participants real and very complicated projects to work on and eventually solve. At the end of the six-month training program, they hired only those who succeeded.
While we usually try to hire experienced specialists who are already trained, there’s a global shortage of software engineers due to how rapidly the software business is growing. Thus, we recognized an opportunity to contribute to the industry as a whole and by training new people. Additionally, DevCamp is also a working business model.
“DevCamp started as an internship program for LAMP & Front-End. We gave the applicants impossible cases and chose the best among them. We decided not to put limits on the number of participants and hire only the best of the best, even if that meant hiring only one person,” remembers Nikolov.
Top 3 Qualities of DevCamp Trainees
Just as DevCamp is not a regular training program, its participants are not regular trainees. DevCampers are people who excel and exceed expectations. They’re given impossible tasks and only the best of the best remain in the program.
At the end of DevCamp, they are able to work on projects in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re joining dedicated teams, other times they’re joining clearly defined projects. Projects range across a wide variety of industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, retail, and many others.
Here’s how and why DevCampers differ from other professionals.
Highly-Motivated and Intelligent Professionals
DevCamp is a highly-selective training program. We focus our recruitment and screening of DevCampers on the top 3% of the young software development talent in Bulgaria. Simply put, it’s not a program where just anyone can get in.
For our most recent class, we received almost 1000 applications. 300 of those were tested with a programming task, 150 were invited to an on-site test, 80 of those were interviewed by our senior staff, and only 45 made it into the program. 50% of those 45 participants will not meet MentorMate’s standards for the DevCamp program.
All of these numbers result in training highly-motivated and intelligent individuals, eager to prove themselves in real-life situations and business cases. That high-level of motivation translates into an extremely high work ethic and remarkably hardworking individuals. DevCampers are fast learners and open-minded people, who are trained in the exact tech stack of the client’s project.
If we imagine DevCampers as tennis players, they need to know both forehand and backhand grips in order to be at the top of their game. Similarly, we train DevCampers in both back-end and front-end technologies, so they’re aware of both. One thing that makes DevCamp unique is that we want to train the participants as full-stack developers from the beginning. Participants study at least one back-end and one front-end technology.
Our logic behind that is that even if a person prefers to write back-end, they need to be able to configure their front-end in order to present a demo to the client. The same goes for the other way around. Both front-end and back-end are needed for a quality demo in front of the client. Otherwise, something will be missing.
“This is both an advantage and a disadvantage because some people think it’s impossible for a starter to learn both technologies at the same time. But the people that make it through the program find it really helpful,” shares Nikolov.
The two above points, along with the trust and loyalty developed within the team, increases participants’ creativity and improves the whole team’s out-of-the-box-thinking.
DevCampers are young, intelligent, and motivated people. They have new ideas and a fresh way of thinking. Thus, they contribute to the solution of clients’ business cases with a new perspective. What’s more, DevCampers stimulate creativity within the team through their interaction with other team members.
“It’s an opportunity to allow a young software developer to grow within a team and grow within the client’s business; to learn about their business, to learn about their technology, and to apply their skills in the long-term for their work with this specific client,” says Rowles.
The idea is to have those young people come in and be part of the team for several years. This creates a lot of value for the client because these professionals are learning at a very young age about the client’s business and their technology.
Top 3 Benefits of DevCamp
DevCamp is a partnership between MentorMate and our clients. Both sides make it work. MentorMate is highly selective and recruits people that have the right skills, the mentality to learn, and a willingness to work extremely hard to earn a place within the team.
The client brings real-life business and technology opportunities to the table for DevCamp. They get top talent that works hard and increases the productivity of the team. Our clients provide the opportunity for our people to learn and understand their needs on the job.
As a result of the aforementioned highly-selective process, our clients get highly-motivated and intelligent individuals from the top 3% of software development talent in Bulgaria. DevCampers do the work they are supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. No complaints, no delays, no issues.
“We put DevCampers on projects where there are enough seniors to handle the rest of the project and make decisions. More than 60% of the DevCampers remain billable to the client, some of them for even more than a year,” says Nikolov.
“We train DevCampers in specific sets of technology in each DevCamp class. Those technologies are chosen based on market trends or requests we’ve received from our clients,” says Rowles.
In our current DevCamp class, we’re training in React, .NET, Java, Node.JS, and WordPress. These are all very relevant technologies for the demand that’s out there for software developers right now. We chose the technologies based on what is currently in high-demand on the market.
A 6 Week Free Trial
Our clients get a free trial of 45 days (6 weeks) before DevCampers become billable. This is a sufficient period of time to see how good our trainees are, how well and quickly they learn and adapt to an already established team, and whether they can become as productive as the rest of their colleagues.
“We offer free time for our clients. We give them six weeks of free onboarding time. Many of the other young talent programs start billing for their services at day one,” says Rowles.
MentorMate is willing to make an investment in our young talent and in our clients because we bring them on and train them at our expense. We test, screen, and interview applicants, and then we also offer six weeks of free time. By the time a DevCamper ever becomes billable, MentorMate has already invested a couple of months into that person.
What do the numbers say about DevCamp?
Since the first edition of the program, the numbers continue to go up. First, we had 350 applicants which led to 19 program participants. 423 candidates led to 28 DevCampers in March 2020 DevCamp. At the start of our most recent DevCamp class in August 2020, 878 applications resulted in 44 participants making it into the program. The statistics show that the current edition of DevCamp attracted more than double the number of applicants in comparison with the first. Moreover, our target is to hire 50% of the trainees who complete the program successfully and offer them permanent employment at MentorMate.
Specialists who are good at in-demand technologies are not easy to hire anywhere in the world. DevCamp is a way to quickly teach and create a working talent pool that can be productive in new technologies. Instead of going out there and spending a lot of time and money trying to find and hire already-experienced people, we simply educate and build a team that can become proactive within weeks.
“The innovation that we bring to the table through DevCamp is very exciting to be part of. Through DevCamp, we’re increasing the value that we provide our clients every day,” says Rowles.
To learn more about DevCamp, visit mentormate.com/devcamp.