I've started looking into programming/software development jobs. I don't have a computer science or software engineering degree. I did do two years of a Computational Linguistics degree, which involved computer science modules, before switching program; that was a decade ago. Recently I did a Masters in Sound Design which involved a fair amount of programming using patching paradigms (eg. Max/MSP), and I threw myself into any other kind of programming task I could find. Basically my programming brain has been reactivated, and now I'm learning C++, algorithms, etc.


Since I don't have much provable coding experience, I've been looking at companies that offer graduate jobs where they look for transferable skills, and train you to code. I just came across one such employer which offers £35,000 starting salary with bonuses, is employing year-round, and 'promises' you'll be working on interesting problems at the cutting edge.

It seems kind of too good to be true. So my question is basically, what's the catch? More specifically:

  • What's in it for the company? How can they offer a very competitive salary to relatively unskilled employees? I get that top graduates with the right skills will flock to the big companies, but there are also so many smaller companies offering closer to £20,000 starting salary asking for a lot of specific knowledge. Is it just such a dull, unchallenging job that they need so badly to attract people?
  • Is it worth my while getting experience at such a place? I've read suggestions that places like this "need many people who have a basic knowledge to code from existing libraries using defined templates". Would a year or two of experience at such a place be valuable to other employers down the line? With my current skills, would I be better off looking for ways to prove myself to another kind of company?
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    Read what their clauses say about you leaving before X months... Will they demand you pay pack the otherwise-free training? Many such organisations do. – user34587 Feb 1 '18 at 17:17
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    That's not even close to a dupe. Sure you didn't mean it for a different question? – Chris E Feb 1 '18 at 17:39
  • There's always a chance it's just straight-up a scam, i.e. they present this amazing-sounding opportunity, but first you need to pay for some course, and then you never hear from them again. Although, if you know what to look for, and you can look at it objectively, it's easy to avoid losing anything more than a bit of time. – Dukeling Feb 1 '18 at 18:35
  • @gnat I think you clicked on the wrong question sir. – Mister Positive Feb 1 '18 at 19:37
  • Did that in France in 2000. Worked well for me, but : (1) the language taught was old and I had to train myself to newer technologies, (2) It took me years to catch up with salaries of my computer-trained colleagues, and the most important : (3) we had a lot of losses, many people proved unfit immediatly or later. – gazzz0x2z Feb 1 '18 at 21:45

What's in it for the company?

By training you to code they are in a way "investing" in you, in which case you could eventually turn into a valuable asset if you stay for a decent amount of time. Other possibility is that they are somehow desperate to hire or fill a job position. They could also have some ulterior motives on doing so, but we would be guessing what they may be.

However, I do recommend you thoroughly check and read the contract you get before committing. If you say it is too good to be true it is wise to be really sure what you are getting into, so there are no surprises down the road.

Is it worth my while getting experience at such a place?

That is really up to you to decide if the skill you will acquire there will be useful for your professional career.

After checking your contract and making sure you like what you see, I don't see why not try this job; you will be increasing your technical skills and experience, something that may prove valuable on years to come and future jobs you may seek.

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    Good answer. Some companies (imho, the smart ones) hire more for aptitude than experience. That way they get to have an employee who learns their way without the problems of "Where I used to work, we did..." In return they're likely to get loyalty. – Chris E Feb 1 '18 at 17:45

Some thoughts:

  1. It's probably "up to" £35,000 but that's probably well hidden so depending on how well you do in your training you might be earning less than that.
  2. You'll be expected to pay back your training costs if you leave the company before X years. Again, this will be well hidden on the website so it's not immediately obvious.
  3. You might be classed as self employed and given contracts through the company and the salary is what you could earn if you were working all the time. However, it's unlikely that you'll be working all the time so your actual salary will be lower.

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

However, if you investigate the firm and you think the conditions are not too onerous then it might be OK.


By opening themselves to recruiting non-programmers who are willing to learn, they can capture a lot more diverse set of skills than places that only hire experienced programmers, and that can pay off in other ways.

Suppose that I, as the company owner, got contracted to create some software having to do with music. You, with your master's in sound design, are going to have all kinds of domain knowledge that will be amazingly valuable. Even if you are a novice programmer, I'd rather have you on my team than an expert programmer who knows nothing about sound. It is going to be easier for me to train you how to program a computer than it would be for me train an experienced programmer what he needs to know about sound to finish the project. And for a salary of £35,000, which is probably a lot less than what that experienced developer makes, cheaper too.

By offering to train you to program with no previous experience, the company can get employees who have skills that traditional Computer Science graduates and experienced software developers don't have. Those skills are invaluable. Developing software is a lot more than just sitting in front of a computer typing in code. By bringing in people with more diverse skills and investing in them, the company is betting that it will come out stronger in the long run. As an experienced software developer myself, I can tell you we're all just learning on the job anyway.

(Of course, it could also be a scam, so thoroughly check out the company and read the contract carefully before signing anything)

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