Flash’s eager young minds

There’s a shortage of Flash/Flex talent right now. Everyone knows it. And those of you that really ‘know it’ are capitalizing on it. Let’s face it though, there is PLENTY of work to go around, and we need more people. As someone who is responsible for hiring, I see the shortage of talent as a huge problem in getting projects up and running. The more projects, the more adoption and the more adoption, the better we all look. 

Lecturing at BU, I met the eager young Flash minds of tomorrow. Nearly everyone in attendance, faculty included, was on the edge of their seats as I presented some of the most effective uses of Flash today. Their questions were super intuitive, asking (begging) for information on how to get into the industry. 

When the most anyone can put on there resume is 10 years of experience, I explained, just by putting in 6 months of time puts you in mighty contention for at least a junior role. My suggestion was to go get a book on Flash, learn it to the max, work out every example and lesson and publish what you’ve done in some portfolio. Take it to the next step and put your own design to it, make the example do something unique to your liking. This shows you know it and that you can do it. 

As a strong believer in internships (the two I participated in personally while attending BU were huge in shaping me), I suggested they position themselves in high profile companies, where possible, ASAP. Networking in ‘our’ Flash community is key, where it’s not so much who you know that helps, but who knows you. Internships give you real world experience, but also allow you to associate yourself with proven professionals. Those same pros will guide you and later vouch for your abilities to your prospective employers. 

It’s a developers market and I sure hope it stays that way. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embrace the next generation of talent, especially when they are so eager to learn Flash and code. The conference circuit is saturated. Let’s break away sometimes from the current models, be it corporate or the new developer to developer low-budget ‘camp’ approach. 

Start holding conferences on college campuses, engage the educational community, beef up educational version distribution and make sure college tracks (both CS and Communications) are integrating thorough Flash courses. 

Let me know your ideas and let’s see how we can embrace the eager young minds I presented Flash to today!




Personally, I see the Flex market being flooded with exceptional talent in the next 12 – 24 months. When the wider developer community starts to see the UI that can be easily built with Flex there will be big numbers of Java and Javascript developers (who will have no trouble coding in Flex at all) moving to the flash platform. With Apollo due to be released soon this will also help get many seasoned developers interested. I don’t think its the UNI kids that will flood the market it’ll be the more experienced developers leading the charge!

Rob Toole

Great post Chuck,

As someone who is a hiring manager at Fidelity, I can’t echo your statements more. Getting involved on the community through blogging and user groups is a great way to meet people and get your name out. I’ve been very successful (and lucky) in recruiting young talent from local universities and most of them have experienced tremendous growth in a realtively short amount of time. The truth is the talent is out there waiting for mentoring and good candidates will always gain insight from lectures like yours. Sometimes all you need is a push in the right direction.

And even though I’m a Boston College graduate, I’m be more than happy to help out my capable contemporaries at that other school 🙂


Well put. However, the market belongs to 12 and 13 year-olds. What I mean by that is kids now have access to more tutorials, source code, and free software than ever before. And they get it. Its not as hard and abstract to them as to old dogs trying to learn new tricks. I truly believe the Flash/Flex market will become flooded in the rising decade. If these kids obtain a solid foundation in “how to make stuff” then hopefully their untainted fresh minds will help ignite the next creative revolution. The current development community is still building the tools and infrastructure for a more knowledge-accessible world. The educational community is becoming available to anyone that has an internet connection. But while we’re bringing conferences to college campuses, why not bring them to high-schools and younger minds. Put the tools in the hands of young Jedi-knights before their motives become too skewed with business demands and pyramid marketing schemes.

Josh Tynjala

If Flex Builder found its way onto computers in university CS labs, that would be huge. However, CS programs generally stick to Java, C/C++, and a little assembly. If a student wants to learn other languages, it’s on their own time. Lucky for them the Flex 2 SDK is free. 🙂

Ryan Unger

Great post. I couldn’t agree more.

A small point that I wanted to add is that even more scarce than seasoned Flash developers are jaw-dropping Flash designers. It’s a resonable assumption to think that it should be reasonably easy for a programmer (JavaScript, C++, etc.) to read a book and do the tutorials. However, fnding quality design talent (such as those who have obtained a 4+ year visual communication degree) who can convert that knowledge of aesthetics into “designing with code” is a nightmare. I have met many great visual communicators—but very few (literally less than ten) who can utilize best-practices of object oriented ActionScript when designing with code.

David Grissett

Glad to see Adobe and Macromedia came together to further simplify our developing lives.
The more simplified and powerful applications will obviously bring more competition.

The cost of production will drop and those living in small rural towns will see an opportunity to get into the development field too.

New personal businesses will spring up, along with new ways of Spamming/hacking…
But the new risks, I hope, will help educate people about system vulnerabilities. Perhaps Apollo AIR files will drive home the security concern to the average user.

Charles Freedman » Ketih Peters, The Da Vinci of ActionScript Code

[…] As I lectured students and faculty at Boston University a few weeks ago, I spent an entire slide talking about Keith and his role in the Flash community. To Keith, giving back to the Flash development community is a very important thing. It has helped him put together an impressive catalog of Flash books and an equally impressive roster of conference appearances. Those lucky enough to be in Toronto this weekend can see Keith speak at FITC. He’ll be no doubt dazzling the audience Tuesday morning as he covers “Apollo Outside of the Box“. I saw Keith present first hand at the last two FITC’s (Toronto and Hollywood last October) and? it’s? easy to see why he continues to be a marquee event at these conferences. […]

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