One of the most exciting things I’ve been working on at Yahoo! hasn’t been public knowledge until now. As announced on the YDN Blog, I’ve been taking part in the Yahoo! Juku program, which designed to train the next generation of great front end engineers (read more: The Harvard of JavaScript Training). To me, this was one of the most exciting things I’ve been involved with at Yahoo!

A little while back, I blogged about why I don’t like the Google Web Toolkit. Basically, the problem is that there’s not enough good front end engineers to do the amount of front end work that’s currently necessary in the industry. The Google Web Toolkit seeks to fix this problem by taking something where there’s a lot of expertise (Java) and using that knowledge to output front end code (JavaScript). This doesn’t solve the problem, though, it only solves the output issue. The problem is that there’s still not enough good front end engineers. The Juku program is the real solution to the problem.

Instead of finding other ways to write JavaScript and other front end code, the Juku teaches potential front end engineers the skills that they need to be successful at Yahoo!, which means HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. The idea is that we can take candidates who didn’t quite have all the knowledge for a job at Yahoo! and teach them what they need to know. Some come to the program proficient in HTML and CSS but don’t know JavaScript, others are JavaScript wizards but don’t understand CSS; whatever the gap may be, it’s filled with instructor-led classes, hands-on projects, and mentoring by top front end talent at Yahoo!, including numerous members of the YUI team. In the end, Yahoo! ends up with quality front end engineers that are ready to step into full-time positions and be productive from day one.

This really is one of the most exciting things I’ve been involved with since I joined Yahoo! I’ve been helping with the program almost since the beginning, helping to plan the pilot program as well as interviewing the candidates and teaching/mentoring. I’m extremely pleased and excited at how the program has developed. The first class will be graduating this December, and I can honestly say that I don’t think anyone would be disappointed to have one of the graduates on their team. Big congratulations has to go to Nick Fogler, whose candidate screening process hasn’t turned up a dud yet. Nick also is primarily responsible for running the program and happens to have the right first name.

I’m very big on sharing knowledge, and I’ve always felt that Yahoo! was a great place to learn in general because of the openness of the top-notch developers we have. I’m glad we’re leveraging that with the Juku program to developer more talent. This is just another way that Yahoo! is trailblazing through the industry, and another reason why I’m happy to be a part of this company.

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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