欢迎来到硅谷“新兵训练营”。这些新兴的职业学校以编程为主要学习内容，课程包括Dev Bootcamp、Hackbright Academy和Hack Reactor等加速课程。它们为期9至12周，可以让学员们掌握与工程师们竞争所需要的基本技能。学习这些课程并不要求编程经验，再加上被抑制的人才需求，因此，课程的申请者们来自各行各业，既有三十多岁的保姆，也有四十多岁的律师和银行从业人员。
杰西•法莫尔是Dev Bootcamp的联合创始人，她解释说：“我们的许多学生都是30岁、40岁甚至50岁的人，他们意识到自己目前从事的工作不适合自己。”Dev Bootcamp为期9周，2012年初开课。另外一家新兵训练营的联合创始人解释得更加直白：“人们希望过上更好的生活。”
Hiring a good software engineer in Silicon Valley these days can seem almost as daunting as creating the next big thing. Just ask the companies.
"I think this might be the worst engineering market ever," Jess Lee, CEO of the style community Polyvore, told Fortune recently. A former Google (GOOG) product manager, Lee now finds her profitable startup vying for talent alongside Facebook (FB) and Twitter. Added Lee: "The kinds of offers they're giving out are astronomical."
Indeed, the average annual salary for Google software engineers now hovers around $143,000 and skyrockets to as much as $550,000, according to job site Glassdoor, and that's beforefactoring in generous signing bonuses and company perks. (Larger companies like Facebook and Apple (AAPL) aren't far behind.) While the talent vacuum remains problematic for Bay Area companies, it presents a huge opportunity for candidates. And filling that void may be easier now more than ever.
Enter the Silicon Valley "boot camp," a nouveau vocational school for the coding-inclined. Such nine- to 12-week accelerated programs, including Dev Bootcamp, Hackbright Academy, and Hack Reactor, arm students with the fundamental skills needed to compete as engineers -- no previous coding experience required. That, coupled with pent-up demand is why program applicants come from all walks of life, from thirtysomething nannies to fortysomething attorneys and bankers.
"We've had plenty of students who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s and realized that whatever they were doing wasn't working for them," explains Jesse Farmer, co-founder of the nine-week Dev Bootcamp, which taught its first class in early 2012. Another boot camp co-founder puts it more bluntly: "The promise is the promise of livelihood."
Getting into a program can prove a challenge. The average acceptance rate averages below 20% and can go as low as 5%, as is currently the case for Hackbright Academy. The $12,000 10-week engineering fellowship for women is full-time, with classes taught Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in San Francisco's Financial District. Hackbright's current class includes 26 students winnowed down from 400-plus applicants. And while previous coding experience isn't required, CEO and co-founder David Phillips explains that Hackbright looks for people who have some sort of demonstrated interest in becoming software engineers. That includes applicants who have attempted teaching themselves the basics, whether via free or paid online resources or college courses in computer science.