Most programmers at Table XI ended up here because, at a young age, we started tinkering with technology. Like many computer science majors, our programming careers started way before our 18th birthdays and freshman years. The trick to developing programmers is to get them young, before they've "learned" that programming is too hard to attempt—to catch them while curiosity still overpowers beliefs of intellectual limitations.
For this reason, we're big fans of Happynerds.net, a collection of resources that helps kids learn to program. Kids interested in computers see programming as digital legos—a creative outlet rife with instant gratification and intellectual stimulation, where you start with a blank screen and build anything you can imagine. By the time we reach adulthood, those who've never tried programming have been taught that it's too difficult, and best left for the mathematically gifted and socially challenged.
This is having a big impact on the state of the industry. Computer science programs across the country have seen a 40% reduction in enrollment over the last decade, leaving a talent drought for programmers. Despite high national unemployment, in 2009, computer science grads from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign averaged 2.3 job offers with an average starting salary of more than $72,000. So parents, if your child shows an interest in computers, check out the links at Happynerds and see if you can find resources to help encourage it.
If you're already an accomplished programmer, we're hiring! To inquire about our job listings, shoot us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.