Written By Liz Eggleston
Codesmith recently reported that 87% of their grads get full-time software engineering jobs within 6 months, with an average salary of $115,000 a year. How exactly are Codesmith graduates landing the mid/senior engineering roles that they’re now known for?
Phillip Troutman has seen first hand what makes Codesmith's coding bootcamp unique: from their admissions process to their detailed and thoughtful curriculum to the engaged alumni network. He walks us through their immersive software engineering program, how their team facilitates growth within the program, and their commitment to lifelong career support. Plus, how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted engineering jobs and how impacted alumni are still finding fulfilling careers.
What is the goal for a Codesmith student?
Simplistically, the goal of a Codesmith student is to get a great role as a software engineer.
However, rather than focusing on entry-level junior roles, the overarching goal of Codesmith is to move into mid- and senior-level roles.
How does Codesmith think about a student’s career before they’re admitted (ie. during the admissions process)?
A common misconception when people are first introduced to Codesmith is that they need an extensive professional or educational background to get in. Fundamentally, this is not true.
Codesmith students come from different professional backgrounds:
Previous professional experience before enrollment in Codesmith is not necessary. A far more accurate measure of how well someone will do in the Codesmith program (and the industry as a whole) is having dedication and commitment to one’s own development as well as the development of others.
The thing that I most enjoy about having such a diverse set of professional backgrounds at Codesmith is being able to facilitate this collaboration between these like-minded individuals that otherwise would never find themselves working together. For example, a scenario that sticks out to me from the LA immersive: Sam was a Stanford PhD student prior to entering the Codesmith program. Working alongside Sam you have Skylar, a 19-year-old recent high school graduate. These two are pair-programming in the same team in this collaborative synergetic atmosphere building really cool products. It's a special atmosphere to be working in that I've never experienced anywhere else.
It is not a requirement to have a computer science background. Many of our students come from a zero-technical background. That doesn't mean it's an easy program to get into. We set a high bar to get into the program, but we also help people achieve that bar.
Codesmith guides, motivates, and facilitates potential students to enter the program by offering public workshops & events and prep courses:
What are the core skills you’re looking for in applicants?
There are five core capacities that the admissions team looks for, regardless of an individual's background:
Everything about Codesmith’s pedagogy of teaching and structure in the curriculum is designed in a way to develop and facilitate the upskilling of all five of those capacities in the program itself.
Once a student is admitted into Codesmith, how exactly does your team structure their 12 weeks in order to set them up for their first job?
*Our Part-time Immersive Remote Program is structured differently because it’s 38 weeks long.
There are two main sections of the immersive program – the Junior and Senior sections.
The Junior Section is 6 weeks long.
The Senior Section focuses on three other major pieces of the puzzle:
When you think about a few of your students who have landed the highest salaried/most senior jobs, is there something they do that stands out during the immersive bootcamp that gets them those jobs?
We encourage students to become a “T-shaped developer”:
This helps engineers develop themselves and signal to hiring managers or other engineers in the field of the level of sophistication and problem solving they have.
What makes a Mid or Senior Engineer:
How does the Codesmith career services team work with students? When does that start and end?
The Hiring Program officially starts in Week 8 of Codesmith, just as students are going into their Senior portion, when they start to focus on the development of their resume and the pieces that take a few weeks to solidify.
The emphasis is on:
After the program, the Hiring Support Team continues to work with and guide alumni. This happens through:
It doesn’t stop there; Codesmith offers lifetime career support. Graduates can return at any time and receive help with their resume, perform mock interviews, and get insight on hiring statuses.
For example, an alumni that attended Codesmith over a year ago returned to our Career Services team after he’d been let go from his engineering role due to COVID cutbacks. We offered him resume guidance, interview practice, and mock interviews and within a couple months he received multiple engineering job offers, accepting a fullstack engineering role at IBM. In some cases, people are being let go from certain jobs only to be hired on in something better.
How do alumni impact a student’s experience?
Today, there are roughly 1200 Codesmith graduates, from LA, NY, and the Part-Time Immersive Program. We carve out certain networking events between current students and program alumni. Every half cycle of a cohort, recent alumni that are working in the field come in and do a Q&A panel on best practices and things they learned along the way. We also offer mock interviews with alumni to offer feedback.
However, the more meaningful interactions with alumni occur more naturally. For example, during my first Codesmith holiday party three years ago, I saw an Alumni exchanging contact information with a soon-to-be-graduated Senior. The Alumni worked at ESPN (the Senior’s dream company to work for) and offered to introduce the Senior to the hiring manager for their Engineering team, knowing they had jobs becoming available in the coming months. That kind of care and community stuck out to me.
At the time, Codesmith was in their 20th cohort in LA and I thought this Alumni was a recent graduate; turns out, he was from the beta cohort, the very first cohort that Codesmith ever did. I was blown away by the fact that, not only did this Alumni still want to come around and be part of the Codesmith community three years after he had graduated, but he was also actively helping current students on their job search by doing referrals and introductions.
What kinds of jobs can Codesmith alumni expect? You recently reported that 87% of Codesmith grads get full-time software engineering jobs within 6 months, with an average of $115k a year – how has that been affected by the pandemic in 2020?
When COVID first hit we saw downsizing, which unfortunately led to some graduates losing their jobs and recent grads starting out in job search having a longer than normal process as companies slowed down their hiring processes.
However, as the year progressed and the world realized that COVID was not leaving quickly, companies had to learn how to adapt to survive. Since that realization, the engineering industry has bounced back in a big way. We’re seeing the same level of incredible outcomes from graduates and other alumni who have been furloughed or laid off from their jobs who are transitioning into new roles and companies.
For example, one of our graduates, Connor, was working for Hilton Hotels for 8-9 months when COVID hit. He unfortunately was on a team that was furloughed and he lost his job. But he came back to our hiring team and since then, within just a few months, he's been able to successfully transition into another role working for a successful devshop.
There has been this transition from these hard-hit industries to industries that are boosted up due to the same pandemic. Companies will always be in need of strong, leadership-driven, autonomous problem-solving engineers. I don't think we're gonna see that change any time soon.
Liz Eggleston is co-founder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students choosing a coding bootcamp.
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