The Yahoo! Juku

By YUI TeamDecember 6th, 2007

By Nicholas C. Zakas and Nick Fogler

Front end web development has traditionally been viewed as rather "lightweight"engineering. Around the world, companies assumed that anyone could write HTML, and oftentimes software engineers were expected to cobble together the front end of web applications without any real training.

Around four years ago, a shift started to happen in the industry: As web applications became more sophisticated on the front end, big companies such as Yahoo! started to hire people who specialized in these skills. These early professional web developers led the way to today’s discipline of front end engineering.

As the industry has come around to recognize frontend engineering as a vital part of their strategy, the demand for frontend engineers has grown.

Big companies are snapping up the best available talent, while the talent pool has remained relatively small. Colleges and universities, traditionally teaching object-oriented programming in languages such as Java, have little (if any) formal training for front end web development. Whereas new Java developers are being churned out by schools every year, new frontend engineers are not. This squeeze has been felt industry-wide as there are far more frontend jobs than there are qualified people to fill them. At a company like Yahoo!, with a significant number of web sites and applications, this lack of suitable candidates leaves many departments shorthanded.

Earlier this year, a team was formed to investigate potential solutions to this problem. The result of this is the Yahoo! Juku.

What is the Yahoo! Juku?

The vision of the Juku program is to provide top-quality training in frontend technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP) with the ultimate goal of producing great frontend engineers. Participants are put through 3-4 months of intensive training taught by some of the best frontend engineers at Yahoo!, focusing not just on concepts, but also on best practices in terms of maintainability, accessibility, and performance. Mentors guide the participants throughout the program, answering questions, providing code reviews, and monitoring their progress.

After completing their training, Juku participants are formally assigned to a business unit at Yahoo!. Participants get to learn about various business units through a series of presentations by managers.
The placement is based both on participant preference and business-unit requirements.

The learning doesn’t stop after participants are placed in business units. Yahoo! has a broad pool of talented and experienced frontend engineers who regularly give talks, answer questions, and interact with others in the company for the benefit of everyone. Even experienced frontend engineers find that they learn more about the discipline simply by being around such a talented group of people.

The Selection Process

The Yahoo! Juku selection process is similar to that of any other job at Yahoo!. Candidates are first screened by resumes and then interviewed by a panel of frontend engineers. Since it is expected that candidates will have little web development experience, the focus is more on identifying people with native technical ability, a genuine passion for the discipline, and a demonstrable ability to learn in a fast-paced, intensive environment. Once selected, candidates become full-time Yahoo! employees whose job is to learn.

Though the immediate goal of the Yahoo! Juku is to provide qualified front end engineers to Yahoo!, the long-term goal is much more broad. Ultimately, we want to help grow and evolve the discipline of frontend engineering in the entire industry. Our vision is that the Juku will serve as one model for how this knowledge can be institutionalized, providing colleges and universities with a framework for teaching what the industry needs. We want to bring the discipline of frontend engineering into maturity because it benefits not only Yahoo!, but the Internet as a whole.

The Juku program has a rolling schedule, running several times a year. For information on the next class and how to apply, please contact juku@yahoo-inc.com.

Are you doing something similar at your company? How are you meeting the challenges of finding/developing great frontend engineering talent to meet the needs of your own web-engineering projects? We’d love to hear about your ideas and experiences in the comments.

46 Comments

  1. Wow!
    Fantastic idea!
    It’s a cry’n shame that state or community colleges have not offered this line of education yet. As a retired EE, probably too old, and definitely too far away to take a shot at a position with Yahoo!, and at the same time as an aspiring, though armature, front end engineer, I’d love to participate in a program like this.
    If it were offered on-line, and did not require an employment commitment, and was offered at a “reasonable” price (like JC courses), I’d probably jump at the chance. Guess I’ll just have to wait for the colleges to catch up.
    Keep up the great work!
    joe

  2. So do you pay your trainees on this program or do they pay you?

  3. Once selected, Juku participants are paid, full-time employees of Yahoo!

  4. [...] frontend tenemos nuestro valor y mucho dentro de un proyecto, y sino solo hay que ver el ejemplo de Yahoo con su programa Juku para formar a profesionales en HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Accesibilidad, [...]

  5. Is it a worlwide program? Can people from Brazil participate?

  6. @Nicholas – I get the punchline but I repeat my question with a qualification:

    Before the trainees are finally selected for a job at Yahoo!!, do they pay to be on the program, or are they paid whilst training.

  7. Great Idea!

    One question, Is Juku in your Santa Monica office or Sunnyvale?

  8. Hi,

    What kind of experience do you expect from the candidates?.
    Can an experienced developer apply for Juku?

  9. Carlton Dickson said:
    December 7, 2007 at 1:32 am

    Wow, sounds like a great opportunity to work with people at the top of their game…is this program only available in the US or in other countries? More specifically the UK :)

  10. Dean – The trainees are paid throughout their training. They are Yahoo employees from day one.

  11. Too bad I’m in Brazil. This seems like the perfect opportunity! Great idea guys!

  12. Is this in the US only?

  13. @Dean – Thanks for the clarification. To echo Nick’s response, participants are paid Yahoo! employees from the moment they arrive on campus. No one pays us to participate.

    @Others – Currently, the Yahoo! Juku is in the United States. Since this is just a pilot, there’s no telling where we may end up from here.

  14. It would be sweet to offer this as a paid certification course.

  15. This sounds like an excelent development for all companies to observe, and is very much needed by many.

    Are you guys aware of Peter-Paul Koch’s (ppk) progress in The Netherlands to set out an “informal certification for front-end programmers” with a professional body?

    http://www.quirksmode.org/blog/archives/2007/09/founding_a_fron.html#more

    seems he did a presentation to some of you.

  16. @Nicholas – Glad to hear it. I was prepared to be sceptical but this actually sounds like a very good program. Good luck with it.

  17. Any chance the course materials and videos of lectures will be made available online?

  18. Are college students eligible to apply for this program? The length of the program just about matches that of summer break.

  19. Hi,
    Do yahoo plan to launch online course?
    It would be gr8 if we can participate online.

  20. [...] The Yahoo! Juku Amazing to see how seriously Yahoo is taking their webdevelopment. The only thing I hope is that participants get their hands really dirty and make stuff for us to enjoy… (tags: software engineering course jobs yahoo juku) [...]

  21. @Liam,

    Indeed, we’re aware of and enthusiastic about what PPK is up to. He came to Yahoo in October to give a talk about his guild Fronteers:

    http://yuiblog.com/blog/2007/10/22/video-ppk/

    Regards,
    Eric

  22. @Liam – As Eric said, we’re aware of PPK’s approach. This program is really addressing the same issue: trying to legitimize and formalize the front end discipline.

    @Paul – Some of the materials are already online in the YUI Theater. Though there is some specialized training that isn’t available currently, Juku participants review the lectures given by folks like Crockford and myself during the course of their training. Most of the training however, is not suitable for online consumption as it involves intensive instructor-led classes, giving the participants the chance to ask questions, work with one another, and have their work reviewed and critiqued by mentors.

    @Joseph – This program is designed for full-time employees, so isn’t available as a course for college students to take during summer break. We do, however, welcome applications from college students who will be graduating in the springtime and want to get into front end engineering.

    @Awahid – As I said in respect to Paul’s comment, the nature of the courses doesn’t lend itself to online consumption. That being said, there is a great deal of information already in the YUI Theater.

  23. In response to those asking about online courses and certification, I’m very interested in making this courseware public, and will be working with various folks in the Yahoo Developer Network to try and make this happen this year. Stay tuned.

  24. [...] The Yahoo! Juku » Yahoo! User Interface Blog “The vision of the Juku program is to provide top-quality training in frontend technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP) with the ultimate goal of producing great frontend engineers.” (tags: software development training yahoo) [...]

  25. I sent an email for information on the 6th and haven’t gotten a response back. Its been over a week, has anyone else gotten any more information?

  26. I sent an inquiry a week ago as well and haven’t heard anything so you’re not alone. I imagine they’re getting a lot of inquiries and it’s only been a week, so hang in there.

  27. @Matt & jmcgon

    Sorry for the delay in responding. Indeed, we have gotten a ton of inquiries and are in the midst of processing them. Thanks for your patience, we will get back to each of you.

  28. [...] called Fronteers. Now, I just read that Yahoo! is doing something even more unprecedented… Yahoo! Juku. Essentially a training program for Fronteers to learn from the top people in the field and become [...]

  29. [...] [12/7 Update: read an interesting Juku synopsis, by Yahoo! Frontend engineer Nicholas C. Zakas, on the YUI blog] [...]

  30. with all the talk of layoffs and Microsoft takeovers, is Juku (which doesn’t seem to be so focused on reaping immediate rewards) on the line?

  31. [...] Professional Ajax and Professional JavaScript for Web Developers. He’s a contributor to our Yahoo! Juku. His Maintainable JavaScript presentation is available on YUI [...]

  32. Mohan kumar said:
    April 7, 2008 at 1:25 am

    what happened to juku program.

  33. Nick Fogler said:
    April 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    @Mohan

    Juku is very much alive and well. Our next session will begin in mid-June and we’re making plans to video a large number of the sessions for public consumption, most likely via the Yahoo Developer Network site (http://developer.yahoo.com). Stay tuned to the YUI Blog for more updates.

  34. [...] the opprunity to work in the Yahoo booth at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo.  Nick Fogler of the Juku program was looking for someone to go up to spread the word.  Hopefully we recruited a few promising new [...]

  35. [...] few months ago, we posted an article describing an innovative training program here at Yahoo called the “Juku.” The basic premise of the Juku is to help fill the void of professional-grade Front-End Web [...]

  36. Is this for US people only.

  37. [...] few months ago, we posted an article describing an innovative training program here at Yahoo called the “Juku.” The basic premise of the Juku is to help fill the void of professional-grade Front-End Web [...]

  38. This is a great idea and I whole heartedly agree with the statement.

    “Colleges and universities, traditionally teaching object-oriented programming in languages such as Java, have little (if any) formal training for front end web development.”

    Most of what I know about front end web development came from my own experimenting or things I have learned as part of my job.

    Is there any chance something similar would appear in the sunny UK?

  39. [...] been sitting in on a few Juku classes this week at the Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale.   This portion of the Juku training is a [...]

  40. There are at the Juku program for germany?

  41. Hi,

    Is the Yahoo Juku Program still active ? I am a student but would be graduating soon.

  42. Nick Fogler said:
    March 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    @Rajat

    The program is still very much active, however we’re focusing for now on trainings for existing Yahoos. In the meantime, we’re continuing to evaluate opportunities for sharing the training courses externally in a scalable manner. I will post updates to the YUI blog when we have something concrete to share.

  43. [...] organizations like Opera, Adobe, Yahoo, WOW, and WaSP InterAct have been diligently working to develop curricula and outreach programs to [...]

  44. [...] organizations like Opera, Adobe, Yahoo, WOW, and WaSP InterAct have been diligently working to develop curricula and outreach programs to [...]

  45. [...] across the school/street divide is dishearteningly poor. Many organizations like Opera, Adobe, Yahoo, WOW, and WaSP InterAct have been diligently working to develop curricula and outreach programs to [...]

  46. @Nicholas
    I am eager participate in it and tried sending email to your id. Is it still active?