Why universities should offer a programming interview prep elective course
October 2015 (perspective of an assistant professor)
Four years ago I went through the programming interview prep process (which I wrote about in Programming Interview Tips) to get a software engineering job at Google. Since on-campus hiring season is in full swing right now, a bunch of students are asking me about how to prepare for interviews. Here's a thought:
University CS departments should offer a programming interview prep elective course.
Why? (Listicle warning)
Great, so who's gonna teach this course? That's a hard question. Pre-tenure faculty like myself don't have any personal career incentive to do so. Tenured faculty, by definition, have been deeply immersed in academia for at least seven years and probably don't care to teach a so-called vocational course. Adjunct faculty and lecturers are hired to directly serve department needs, and this course is unlikely to gain administrative support without someone strongly vouching for it. (Who's gonna vouch for it? Same problem ... pre-tenure faculty don't have an incentive to do so, and tenured faculty likely have other priorities.)
Perhaps the easiest way to make this course a reality is to have it be student-run, with light faculty supervision. Students currently run their own hacking groups, maker groups, hackathons, and programming competition clubs. The main required change is to officially recognize this activity as a credit-bearing course rather than as an extracurricular.