Announcing the Yahoo! Juku

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.


  1. Bill Scott

    Congrats! Much needed.

    I have one question though. What does this really mean? Both your blog and the YDN blog talk about it but there is no discussion of whether it is internal to Yahoo! whether it is open to the public. What it will cost. Whether it is night classes. Where it will be held. And so on.

    Don't tease us so and leave us hanging ;-)


  2. Bill Scott

    Ok, maybe if I had read the whole posting and not just my blog reader summary some of the questions I would not have asked.

    But still would be good to understand what this means to the general public.


  3. Nicholas C. Zakas

    Hehe, hooray for purposely vague descriptions! A Juku participant is an actual employee of Yahoo! that happens to be participating in training for the first 3-4 months of their employment; after that they begin their "official" jobs at Yahoo!

    Most of the participants this time around were new to Yahoo!, with a few exceptions being internal transfers and a former intern. That means they were found via their resumes. Participants are selected similar to other employees: we look for specific technical expertise and a passion for the discipline. All participants went through a formal interview process before being hired.

    I hope that answers most of your questions. Right now it's an internal program to grow new front end engineers, which means we hire you to be in the program. It's not possible for people external to Yahoo! to be involved...but that can be remedied by applying to the company. :)

  4. Mike Shaffer

    This is very good news for Yahoo and will do nothing but improve the overall quality of their products. I mean that, seriously.

    I'm not going to continue my usual GWT tilt...that's for another day ;-) But I will say this: GWT and Juku do not actually solve the "real" problem as I see it.

    Developing high quality UI's is hard. It's a bizarre combination of artistic talent and engineering rigor. Like watching Larry Bird shoot hoops, in the hands of a true expert, it seems easy. But it's not. And far too many developers are more like Fred Roberts.

    So Juku is an intense and a high quality immersion into a tool set. And you probably get some very talented candidates and end up with high quality developers that are head and shoulders above many of us mere mortals...and that's why Yahoo is smart. But it is (at the end of the day) just a tool set and like GWT, Visual Basic, C++ Builder and any other toolset, HTML/CSS/JS is capable of producing awesome results in the hand of an expert, and is also capable of resulting in utter dreck in the hands of a newb. So I'm not being negative, far from it. I think this is totally cool and if Yahoo is looking for someone in Colorado (can't do the West Coast thing...), I'd leap at the chance!

    And I didn't throw in the Celtic analogy to pander to the host. Boston is my team in the NBA..always have been, always will be.

  5. Nicholas C. Zakas

    I'm a bit biased but I do believe the Juku is the first step in solving the problem. No program can produce experts out of the box. Expertise is gained only through experience. So you're right, we equip the candidates with the tools that they'll need to be successful, but ultimately, it will be up to them how they wield those tools. To go back to my martial arts analogy, anyone can learn the basic techniques but it's how you apply them that can make you a master.

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