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This post was updated in December 2017 with new information.

Today’s developers are learning to code at an earlier age than ever before. In 2016, 27% of the respondents to our Developer Survey said they had been coding for over 11 years. Similarly, 52% of developers were in their 20’s.  Because of this, some companies have started creating departments within their Talent Acquisition teams dedicated solely to campus recruitment. 

Our CEO even covered campus recruiting previously on his blog, saying, “One good way to snag the great people who are never on the job market is to get them before they even realize there is a job market: when they’re in college.”

Why You Should Use Campus Recruiting as Part of Your Tech Hiring Strategy

You may have read an article or two that said fewer people are graduating with Computer Science degrees. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that college students aren’t actually coding or interested in it (or won’t end up switching their career paths down the line).

Our Data Team recently pulled some numbers on just how many Stack Overflow users were college students. The graph below shows a fraction of the people that meet the following criteria:

  • Created a Stack Overflow profile after December 6, 2013 (we measured over a 3-year period)
  • Have a .edu email listed when they registered 
  • Whose last visit was within 50 miles of NYC/Philadelphia/Tampa/Dallas/Columbus, or is in Delaware.

stack overflow students.png

Here is some data on the larger cities. Again, this is a fraction of the total # of users. 


City & State Total # of Users % That are Students
New York, NY 78,772 4.14%
Dallas, TX 21,388 2.05%
Philadelphia, PA 18,268 5%
Tampa, FL 7,506 2.93%
Columbus, OH 6,433 4.48%
Delaware* 2,792 6.12%

*Delaware covers all cities.

As you can see, a good number of developers using Stack Overflow to either ask or answer programming questions are college students. This is great news – it means that students are using the site as a tool to learn new programming language/technologies, grow their knowledge, and help them level up in their future careers. These students aren’t just sitting around waiting to improve themselves – they are actively seeking and giving help to better themselves.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can focus on another reason: most college students are looking (or at least thinking) about getting a job once they graduate. Spolsky says, “Pretty much everyone applies for one job: their first one. Most kids think that it’s okay to wait until their last year to worry about this. And, in fact, most kids are not that inventive, and will really only bother applying for jobs where there is actually some kind of on-campus recruiting event. Kids at good colleges have enough choices of good jobs from the on-campus employers that they rarely bother reaching out to employers that don’t bother to come to campus.”

So why not get ahead of those other companies and try recruiting technical talent right when they are at least thinking about a future job?

retain developers


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