In addition to its core curriculum, Codesmith offers an extensive hiring support program that guides Residents through whiteboarding, advanced technical interview practice, resume and profile development, and interview and networking strategies. Support continues upon graduation with bi-weekly check-ins and, after offers, negotiation support. Overall, 25% of graduates receive offers for Senior Engineer positions and above, and about 70% receive offers for Mid-level Engineer.
Graduates of Codesmith typically earn between $95k and $120k (average salary $103k), build projects that have been featured at Google I/O earning 20,000+ Github stars and are advised by top engineers from Netflix, Facebook, and Google. Graduates are transforming healthcare at Heal and Impact Health, mental health at UCLA, and drone technology at Airmap, while others work on large systems at the top technology companies in the country including Amazon, Microsoft, and LinkedIn.
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Recent Codesmith Reviews: Rating 4.93
- Minimum Skill Level
- Beginner - Intermediate
Machine Learning Alumni Program
The Codesmith Machine Learning Alumni Program is an intensive part-time program for Codesmith Alumni focused on in-depth learning of the theory, algorithms, and libraries used by machine learning engineers in the field, with a focus on developing real-world machine learning portfolio projects. Topics include: Data visualization, Data introspection and manipulation techniques, Python data science libraries, Classification, Regression, and clustering machine learning algorithms, Artificial Neural Networks, and more. This program is currently only for Codesmith Alumni.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Completion of Codesmith Software Engineering Immersive
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Precourse covering Python and Introduction to Machine Learning
Software Engineering Immersive Program
Application Deadline:May 4, 2018
- Codesmith offers scholarships for talented people from underrepresented backgrounds. Codesmith also offers a small number of Dean's scholarships where Codesmith will contribute 25% of fees to candidates in need
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prior Computer science and programming skills necessary
- Prep Work
- 4 weeks
New York City
Software Engineering Immersive Program
Application Deadline:May 18, 2018
- Codesmith offers scholarships for talented people from underrepresented backgrounds. Codesmith also offers a small number of Dean's scholarships where Codesmith will contribute 25% of fees to candidates in need
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prior Computer science and programming skills necessary
- Prep Work
- 4 weeks
CS Prep - Live Online
- Minimum Skill Level
- Suitable for beginners who are ready to level up to intermediate and advanced material.
CS Prep - Self Directed
- Minimum Skill Level
- Suitable for beginners who are ready to level up to intermediate and advanced material.
CSX - Codesmith Prep
CSX is Codesmith's free online learning platform, providing 100+ hours of curriculum and challenges, workshops and pair programming, video solutions for exercises, office hours and an active Slack community.
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I was a resident and then a fellow at Codesmith so I think I can give some quick insights on the program. If you are about growth through technical challenge and embrace deliberate practice rather than easy wins, this is the place for you. If you want to be surrounded by determined and brilliant people who genuinely care about your learning experience, you've found it. But keep this in mind, no one will hold your hand and you have to come in with 110% of focus and self-determination to make it through. This is great opportunity to excel yourself as a mid-senior software engineer, so come and earn it.
A few months prior to joining Codesmith I had quit my job with the goal of learning coding on my own in order to switch careers and create a few projects I've had in my head but never been able to act on. (I come from a technical background, but on the Electrical side - so I wanted to get SW skills in order to be more full stack.)
About 2 months into my self-learning journey, I realized I could solve problems but always felt I was "hacking" the answer together instead of just being able to immediately solve them, which I felt slowed me own drastically.
I received all of the skills that I was looking for and can now immediately reason in my head when solving problems on my projects, as-opposed to having to stack overflow every question and 'hack' together answers.
In addition, the two things I think really set Codesmith apart are 1) the culture and 2) the projects.
1) A majority of the people that join Codesmith are already solid programmers or problem solvers with technical backgrounds, and they want to take their skills to the next level. This was what was really worth the price of admission, to me. Working on my own I would sometimes hit a wall of frustration and need a break; with the community you're working with at Codesmith, if you hit a wall there is surely someone around who is happy to sit down and troubleshoot it with you. And you're on your way forward in no time. (Not to mention the network of driven people you are now a part of)
2) I don't like how some schools force boring projects on you - I don't think that helps promote true learning because you're not passionately solving through your problems and can just go through the motions. Codesmith lets you choose your own projects (pretty much whatever you choose, as long as the concept is challenging enough and clearly described). This phase was where I really solidified my knowledge because I was working on projects I cared about and that allowed me to spend the extra time to really push through difficult problems, willingly.
TLDR: I'm very happy I made this decision as I now have the skills I was looking for, in only 3 months. Now I can solve challenging problems without help.
Note: It's not easy - be ready to put in the work.
Attended CodeSmith - August 2016 Cohort 9
Background - Chemical Engineering
Currently - Software Engineer (First Job landed after CodeSmith was Nike)
*Note* - One thing that Codesmith does well, is the support. I still get my resume reviewed from time to time and Codesmith does a great job in being responsive to their student needs in regards to Job Assistance.
I learned more about relevant technologies and code production at Codesmith than I did in college with a minor in computer science.
Overall it was a great experience. I developed some awesome friendships and am now working as a software engineer at a company that I love.
I do wish there was more back end in the curriculum. I takes extra effort and studying after Codesmith to land a backend position. But that is true for any bootcamp.
I come from a background in PR and Marketing, and transitioned into a role as a UX/UI developer. I wanted to build out the functionalities of these static wireframes and prototypes, but my scope of software engineering was so narrow that I didn’t know where or how to begin. I did a lot of research on bootcamps and immersive programmes, and the amount of polarising reviews put me off any further researching. I decided to try the whole “self-studying” thing, and found myself completing algorithm after algorithm, but not really implementing it to build anything useful.
During my time at Codesmith, the hardest part for me was to discipline myself in adjusting to a “new” way of learning. The lectures give you a solid high-level overview of a particular topic, but it’s up to you to put in the hard work to further research how it’s used and how all the pieces come together. Every two days, you’re learning a new concept/framework/protocol along with a unit challenge, and I definitely put in a lot of extra time during and after the programme to ensure that I’ve understood them. During the “senior” portion of the programme, Codesmith really pushes you to explore areas that might feel like impossible to build at first, but when you’re surrounded by such determined and ambitious talent, you pick up on their energy and push through together as a team. My team and I built a real-time text editor with end-to-end encryption - still can’t believe that we worked with encryption!
The last few weeks are dedicated to outcomes and building out your network, which was one of the most important areas of Codesmith. The Codesmith team put in a lot of effort in conducting resume workshops, mock interviews/white boarding sessions, and cover letter/follow-up strategies. You’re in this iterative and refinement phase that further strengthens your technical and presentational skills when it comes to hiring day. You’re equipped with an extensive network of Codesmith alumni that are scattered across major cities, and I definitely took advantage of that by reaching out to them and they were more than happy to meet with me for interview preps. Codesmith built a solid foundation for my career, and I accepted a great offer a few weeks after finishing up the programme!
Codesmith as a program really lives up to it's hype. I was skeptical at first, as having been a software engineer for 4/5 years back in the late 90's / early naughties I was well aware of how big an undertaking it is to become a competent developer. Having not programmed for 15 yrs, thereby missing the internet/cloud era I found myself drawn to bootcamps as a way to re-immerse myself in programming. I decided on Codesmith having attended JSHP and really liking the community Codesmith was developing. My instincts were correct. Codemith has developed an awesome community, where students, alumni and the Codesmith team, all support each other fantastically. This really proved helpful during the program, where people all stayed on beyond the required 12hr days to help each other overcome the struggles of learning to code. I feel like the base knowledge the program gives you, really instills an ability to go out and tackle any coding challenge. You come away having learned how to break the problem down, research what knowledge you need in an efficient manner and apply this to any given challenge. This ability coupled with the community, I could not have asked for more.
I'll keep it short since I can't say much more than the other reviewers have already said:
Codesmith was the right decision for me. I graduated with a Math/CS degree and was unsure about whether any of these coiding programs would be useful for me, but I eventually decided on attending Codesmith and I'm so glad I did! The vibe and energy from the people there was always positive, always friendly, and always collaborative. I was free to ask for help and work with others on what I had trouble with and at the same time other could always come to me with their questions as well. And that was important because the program was dense and without that kind of community, I couldn't learned what I did, and I wouldn't have been able to built what I did. It felt like we were all in this together and trying to raise each other up to become the best engineers possible.
My experience in the program was incredibly valuable and I would choose to do it again in a heartbeat!
When I joined Codesmith, I was a cs grad trying to reach for roles that are typically not possible to attain by people who are fresh out of college. I wanted to have the skills and the confidence to be taken seriously when applying for positions that aren't just entry level software engineering roles. I am passionate about engineering and knew that I could do better than performing mindless bug fixes and task/maintanence level engineering. I wanted to build new systems and apply cutting edge technology to real world applications.
The community aspect of Codesmith is one of the biggest contributors to the success of all the students that go through the program. You will be surrounded by highly motivated people and learn how to work in teams, mentor others, and work through difficult and interesting challenges together (just like in a real world environment!). AND you make a bunch of really cool friends throughout the program and beyond!
I have to say Codesmith helped me attain all the things I wanted in my career as a Software Engineer. The skills they teach allows you to be able to reach for higher roles solving actually interesting problems as well as have people take you more seriously as an engineer. You get to learn how to learn, how to design solid systems by building, pick up popularly used technologies, and create real projects. There are also various levels of soft skills that you will inadvertently pick up as well as lots of tools for doing well in interviews.
Coming out of Codesmith, in the interview process, I felt that I was taken more seriously than before. Interviewers got excited when I talked about the projects that I created at CodeSmith, especially the senior project that we built as a team (a realtime subscription system for GraphQL before it was even implemented officially in the GraphQL specification and before Apollo released such functionality!). Most of the offers I recieved after the program were well within and above the range of salaries offered to most Codesmith students.
One year later, I am confident in saying that I was able to apply pretty much everything I learned at Codesmith to excel and make a solid impact here at the company I currently work at. I have been an integral part of designing and creating several new backend systems, migrating our backend to microservices, developing an in house branded UI Component library using all the latest and greatest React tooling, and building lots of new features in our product.
Was it worth it? Hell yeah it was worth it! and it was LOADS of fun! It is important that you take this time to work hard and make the most of the experience. It's not magic where you just go through the program and you come out it being able to be treated like a senior engineer. Work hard, get sleep, eat well, read lots, and dive deep into the topics that you learn (and the topics you don't learn!). If you take the time to make the most out of your Codesmith experience, you will come out of it surprising EVERYONE you talk to. I was really inspired by the growth of all my peers at Codesmith who came from non-technical backgrounds. They worked hard, grew to be excellent engineers, and many of them are making waves at the places the landed afterwards.
Enrolling in Codesmith is one of the best investments I’ve made. I had some tech experience, but wanted to make a hard turn into software development. I didn’t want to spend a year in self-study or take a junior position where I wasn’t challenged to grow beyond my limits. This program challenged my limits everyday for three months and grew my knowledge and skill to the level I needed to pursue and make that hard turn into software development.
I came to Codesmith after several stints of personal projects and self-study. A night of self-study might have included me crouching over a computer in my living room for a few hours trying to get a web server to accept requests while pretending to watch the Bachelor with my girlfriend. The first successful response would lead to an audible, “Yes!,“ at which point I’d feel a sense of a accomplishment, shut the laptop as if it were an interruption to normal life, and get back to the Bachelor (don’t judge). Stack overflow articles and trial/error would have given me a concept of what was going on under the hood, but a lot of the learning actually comes after hacking together a solution. For three months Codesmith takes over your life. There are no interruptions to learning how to code - getting to the audible ‘Yes!’ becomes the first step of solving a problem instead of the last. Instead of closing the laptop, you take it with you to the classroom and start connecting the dots of why it worked like it did and digging deeper into the underlying architecture so the next project you’re focused on optimization as opposed to just getting something working.
The program is structured from a day-to-day perspective but retains a loose and agile feel to it - include its immersive aspect and you’re forced to make the program your own. Instead of simply experiencing a curriculum, you become part of the curriculum - on any given day you can be the student, the teacher, or even the intangible glue that holds your cohort together in times of stress. Looking back at the experience, this was incredibly motivating and helped drive everyone to keep their endurance and tenacity at the crazy levels needed to conquer each day’s/week’s goals. The Codesmith staff also did a great job of bringing the experience of many previous cohorts to bear in helping students navigate problem areas.
I’ll end the review like I started it - Codesmith is a great investment in yourself. That said, it’s not for the faint of heart. This investment is not only tuition and time but also the energy and dedication put into it. The program gives you all the tools and support to succeed - and really pushes you to make the most out of it. If you have a natural curiosity and urge to learn and legitimately give it 110%, you’ll grow enormously.
Initially, I was pretty skeptical - how could I learn the skills required to change careers in only a few months? Two weeks after my cohort finished, I had signed a six figure job offer, and within my first week I felt confident about the code I contributed to the team.
At Codesmith, you're surrounded by highly motivated people, and that environment encourages growth, exploration, and learning. You'll quickly become used to the minimum 12 hour days, but also find yourself frequently working even longer. The curriculum is modern, and is frequently being updated to cover the latest frameworks and libraries.
The Codesmith team works very hard to motivate and encourage you to work as hard as you can. This is especially true during the project phase, when they set strict stanardards for building a high quality open source project. To me, this is one of the key areas that makes Codesmith stand out from the rest- it encourages you to go deep into unique programming concepts and features, giving you the confidence to speak to these in depth during interviews.
Additionally, the team also works very hard with everyone to help you build a great resume to make you stand out, prepares you for the tech interview process, and at negotiating your best offer.
My one complaint, is that (in my opinion) some of the material is not taught well. This was especially frustrating for me after going from a series of very high quality lectures to some very poor ones- however, you quickly discover the real learning is not from the instructors or the lecture material, but from learning how to learn on your own and in the small groups you work in.
A large portion of Codesmith is focused around pair programming, which really teaches you visualize a problem before you blindly start coding. Technical communication is a term you will hear a lot, and after a few weeks into the program you will become very good and articulating your strategies. Through pair programming, you are exposed to lots of different ideas from your partners, which further expands the way you think about the problem you're facing.
If you are thinking about making the jump - be sure to seriously consider Codesmith. Yes, it's expensive, but for almost everyone it pays for itself within one year. I would recommend Codesmith to anyone I know looking to make the switch. Codesmith was one of the funnest and most productive three months of my life, and all of these reviews of it being a "life changing" experience are completely accurate.
I'm going to assume you've read some of the other reviews, and you know about Codesmith's curriculumn (<3 React), it's fantastic culture (I miss Thursday drinks), and it's inclusive community. I'll focus on my journey.
Spoilers: Codesmith transformed my life too. Today, I find myself thriving at a job that felt beyond my reach only a year ago. Software development can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but my experience at Codesmith helped me learn to approach every challenge as a learning opportunity to dive deeper into how things work instead of just patch them together to get them to work. Codesmith is not a traditional learning environment where you are fed all of the information you need to learn and your only job is to absorb and regurgitate it. In order to thrive there, you need to be willing to dive into the deep end, struggle a lot, and learn how to overcome many obstacles on your own. On the flip side, if you dedicate yourself wholly to the process for 3 months, it can change your life.
Codesmith really helped foster a hunger to learn more about the software engineering field. Not only did they help me grasp full-stack concepts, I have made great friends. Their program also has great outreach and I was actually able to land my fulltime position through their "Hiring Day" event. Highly recommend it for those that are willing to put in the work.
There are tons of coding bootcamps, but only a small percentage of those schools have the potential to substantially accelerate your career. Codesmith is, without a doubt, in this latter category, and I'd be shocked if there's another coding school as effective as Codesmith.
Had I relied on self-study, it would have taken me at least another year to get to the position I'm in today (and I'm a relatively studious/disciplined person). The Codesmith community and resources are invaluable, and these things just can't be replicated by studying on your own. I'm extremely happy with my decision to attend Codesmith.
Me, before: Technical, non-software-engineering role at a software company. Engineering (non-CS) MS and BS from UCLA (Go Bruins). Very very little JS web dev experience.
Me, now: Software Engineer in LA. Making 67% more than I was before. Doing lots of JS web dev and kicking ass.
Thoughts: Codesmith is an amzing way to get 1000+ hours of guided, designed, supported time learning a useful, in-demand set of skills to get hired as a software engineer. It's super fun, too.
I think Codesmith's effectiveness is shown in my hiring experience. We set up profiles for platforms like AngelList near the end of the program and I got a handful of outreach messages from companies nearly immediately. Two turned into interviews, one into an onsite and an senior dev offer before I even graduated. I spent the three weeks after graduation ~50% applying to jobs and ~50% interviewing/preparing for interviews, getting 5 offers in that time. Every onsite interview I had turned into an offer. I accepted one within a month of graduating.
I think part of my success comes from my technical background and fancy degrees (I didn't put Codesmith on my resume), but I wasn't having many results from these kind of companies in my immediately-previous job search. Codesmith set me up with the skills, confidence, polish and support that made the hiring process actually kind of fun.
I will keep this short, as there are many other reviews talking about the curriculum in depth and the amazing resources that Codesmith provides. My review will be about what I gained the most during my time there.
Codesmith is a valuable investment in yourself and your future. During Codesmith, I genuinely learned how to learn and now I am confident that I will excel at any software postition that I enter. My background is in Civil Engineering and I previously coded in Java, but I had never experienced this level of intense learning until now.
Codesmith got the philosophy right and you are surrounded by people who are asking in-depth questions about the most interesting emerging technologies. A small group of students, engaged instructors, and projects that challenge you to think critically... this is what all school should be like!!
I did get a great job at a startup working on the technologies that I love (React), but what I really got was a new mindset on software that will take me far. Shout-out to the Codesmith staff, keep it up!
Codesmith will be tough to get in to and tough to complete! You will be a mid-to-senior level software engineer by the time you graduate with a production-level project on your resume. The Codesmith team will go above and beyond to provide the highest quality education and help you find an amazing job with an amazing salary. The hours will be long, but the people you will spend your days with are amazing, both personally and professionally.
Acceptance to Codesmith is an educational journey in itself. You must already have some solid foundational programming knowledge just to make it through the interview process. The acceptance rate is lower than that of most Ivy Leagues (~4%). I attended a bootcamp long before I found Codesmith, which puts me in the rare position to be able to draw from actual experience in order to compare Codesmith to other programs. Looking back, I realize that all the knowledge I gained from that bootcamp really only prepared me to be eligible to interview with Codesmith. In addition to the substantive Codesmith interview, there is also a cultural interview. This ensures that the people you spend the next 3.5 months with are people that will facilitate your success as much as the staff and curriculum will.
The curriculum that I experienced in my previous bootcamp provided me with a great coding foundation that made me a great junior developer; however, the knowledge that I acquired there was not sufficient to elevate me to the skill level necessary to join the highly competitive work force as a mid-to-senior level software engineer.
Codesmith residents are held to an extraordinarily high standard of technical excellence and communication. The curriculum is extremely challenging and vigorous. We learned the essentials of computer science (algorithms, design patterns, big O notation), as well as the latest technologies such as React and Redux. As challenging as the coursework is, however, you are not on your own. The one-on-one support from the resident fellows is incredible (think TAs, but they care a lot more). Each person on the staff at Codesmith does everything within their power to ensure success during and after the program.
During the second half of the program, we build production-level projects in small teams. These projects are the best projects coming out of immersive programs in both caliber and quality. Production projects from Codesmith have been acknowledged by the inventor of Redux, Dan Abramov (React Monocle), featured at the Google I/O developer conference (web-dsp) and, on more than one occasion, drawn enormous interest from the React community. My own team's project, Reactide, was the #1 trending app on Github and gained over 5,000 Github stars in the first week of its release. None of these projects were promoted in any significant way; they have all stood on their own merit and ingenuity.
Day to day
An average day at Codesmith consisted of a daily coding challenge, multiple lectures, a lot of pairing, more lectures, and the occasional game of nerf war! What surprised me most about Codesmith was the time commitment required to complete the program. At a minimum, we were there for about 10-14 hours per day, 6 days per week, which is far greater than the time commitment required at a traditional bootcamp. The extra time adds up to at least 2-3 weeks more than you will get anywhere else. The days passed rather quickly, however, given the high expectations and quantity of work required of each of us each day. As I said before: this program isn't for those on the fence about their engineering career!
My cohort was a really fun, hardworking, collaborative and supportive cast of characters. Completing a program consisting of over 1,000 hours together created a strong bond between us as a group. To this day, we continue to help and support one another by answering coding questions, giving one another job leads, or just solving interesting challenges together. We even go camping as a group, now and again.
Finding a job, no matter how substantively prepared you are, can be an arduous undertaking. During the last few weeks at Codesmith, there is a lot of focus on preparing for job interviews (including rigorous mock interviews and white-boarding), perfecting your resume, and developing job hunt strategies. This support does not stop when the program ends (as is the case with traditional bootcamps). After completing my previous bootcamp, I was grossly unprepared for the job hunt with absolutely no support from the staff after graduation. This is absolutely not the case at Codesmith. If anything, support in the job hunt increases post-graduation. Staff from Codesmith continued to help me research jobs, prepare for interviews, and keep my coding skills sharp long after graduation day. They even helped me negotiate my salary when I received my first offer. Codesmith students routinely receive offers right out of Codesmith that are $100,000 or more, which is anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times what you will receive as a junior developer coming out of other immersive programs. I can attest to both numbers from experience as my current salary is literally double the salary I was offered after my other bootcamp.
Not long after I graduated from Codesmith, I landed my dream job. I'm a software engineer (with a highly competitive salary) in New York City, building software to help cities and organizations provide coordinated public services for veterans, families, and low-income individuals.
If you are able to be accepted to Codesmith, go! Do not hesitate! It will be the best decision you can make for your career.
It's not easy, and you won't be spoonfed knowlege, but if you are willing to put in the work, you won't regret choosing Codesmith.
As a recent graduate of one of our nations leading liberal arts colleges, I can honestly say that codesmith, and not my undergraduate education, was the most invigorating and fulfilling learning experience of my life. Four things (listed in no particular order) make Codesmith great:
Codesmith's CEO, Will Sentance, heavily emphasizes the importance of building a warm and supportive learning community. The entire staff reflects this attitude. I moved from Chicago to enroll in Codesmith, and was initially worried about having a small support network in LA. My fears dissipated day one at family dinner, a weekly group dinner where everyone in the Codesmith community (alumni included!) are welcome to dine together and shoutout other community members for their successes and kind actions.
The engineering and teaching staff often stay beyond work hours because they enjoy helping Codesmith residents. The engineering staff have a strong and unified pedagogical approach - they subtly guide residents towards asking the right questions, but avoid directly providing residents with a specific approach to a problem. While this teaching style can be frustrating at times, it taught me to ask the right questions and is ultimately responsible for the tremendous growth I experienced in 12 weeks.
The core staff, who work on hiring support (I'll focus on this later), organize events and meetups, addmissions, and a variety of other behind-the-scenes work, are always happy to take time out of their day to talk with Codesmith residents about how they are doing both academically and emotionally. After all, such an intense program can be draining at times, and the support of the staff is instrumental in making sure every resident completes the program ready to be hired as a mid-senior level engineer.
Codesmith is highly selective. As a result, I was surrounded by smart and dedicated engineers with a diverse set of backgrounds. Codesmith doesn't only look for technical prowess, though. They are careful only to admit compassionate and thoughtful communicators - people that will be strong team members. After all, the majority of work in Codesmith is done in pairs or small groups. This exposed me to a variety of approaches to problem solving. I learned faster as a result of my peers, and gained invaluable experience as part of an engineering team. My fellow residents would often organize informal lectures or study groups outside of class time to help bring everyone up to speed in subjects they excelled in.
Curriculum / Production project
The Codesmith core staff have weekly checkins with alumni to ensure they are making good progress in their job searches. All students go through multiple drafts of their resumes, which are reviewed by Will's scrupulous eye. Residents go through rounds of practice whiteboarding sessions and interviews with both staff and other reseidents. And in the last week of the program, each resident has the opportunity to kick off their job search by interviewing with multiple hiring partners. Additionally, Codesmith has a hiring support team member, Eric, who is dedicated to providing students with interview and application strategies and giving residents advice in negotiating better packages once they have received job offers.
I was accepted to both Codesmith and Hack Reactor (LA). Hack Reactor certainly appears to be a strong program. Yet Codesmith's emphasis on creating a community of engineers and learners, the incredible quality of open source projects produced by Codesmith residents, and the teaching style of the engineering staff made Codesmith the clear option for me.
An intense program that will challenge and push you mentally and even emotionally at times. Fast-paced but balanced with a fun atmosphere, you will grow in many ways. Check out Hard Parts to get a sense of the community and to see if it could be a good fit. Talk to a range of current students and graduates.
I am very grateful for the people I met during my time there. The best coding bootcamp experience I've ever had. Other things I miss: the patio for watching sunsets and bagels for days.
I'm going to have to keep this short, as I really need to get going to work this morning - to my full-time job as a full-stack software engineer. Codesmith, like most things in life, will give back as much as you put into it. I firmly believe it's the best program you can go to, but obviously I haven't been to any other immersive programs. However, there are a few things I can say for certain (with as much objectivity as possible):
2) The quality of the production (final) projects are better than any I've seen out of other programs. This is important, because if you are career-changer like me, this will be your most prominent item on your resume. My team's production project web-dsp was demo'd on the mainstage at the Google I/O developer conference (and they found us, we didn't contact anyone). Another team's project, Reactide, was a #1 trending Github repository for weeks.
3) They care about your outcome. The job search process is no fun for anyone, especially if rejection stings. There's support along the way even after the program is done, and the final weeks of the program are really geared towards making sure you have the tools you need to succeed.
On a subjective level, I feel like I've made lifelong friends with people from the process, which is obviously invaluable. And I had a good bit of fun while really expanding my scope of knowledge and ability each day of the program. If you're able to get in to Codesmith, just do it!
You can learn coding from anywhere, from online to books to in the classroom, but what differentiates Codesmith from the others is its people. When you go to a Codesmith class, you are given individual attention, when you ask a question, no question is too stupid, no age is an issue and no experience is an issue.
Every class I have attended the instructors spent at least 15 minutes helping students understand concepts that were being reviewed, and not just asking “does everyone understand,” but rather asking confused looking people to explain what they don’t understand then clarifying. Even technologies the instructors unfamiliar with, they would say, “Let’s look this up” and then looked up the technologies for the class and their own knowledge, showing that they are always learning too. The focus on understanding more and filling in gaps of knowledge rather than just memorization and getting though the material was what stood out for me.
Interactive > Power point > Interactive > Power point > Research > Interactive > Short Power Point > Interactive
Where Interactive can be anything from a problem to a presentation to a pop quiz to a quest speaker to a Q&A. Also questions can be asked by the instructors at any time so the classes keeps you on your toes.
One of the best decisions I ever made in my life is going to Codesmith. Back in 2016, I actually got accepted into all the top 3 boot camps in CA: Hack Reactor at SF, App Academy and Codesmith. I didn't even consider others because all the other boot camps including Hack Reactor at LA (but in reality MarketSquare) are nowhere near those top boot camps.
App Academy could be as cheap as $5k if you don’t get a job. For me, not getting a job was never an option anyway.
Did I choose Codesmith because I think I would fail at Hack Reactor or App Academy? No, definitely not. Becoming a software engineer is a choice that I made and I knew that if I worked hard enough then no matter where I started from, I would become successful.
I knew at Codesmith I would have to work hard. But if you want to become a software engineer and don't want to work hard, that is impossible. Everyone at Codesmith, even the brightest (ESPECIALLY the brightest) worked super hard every night. To me and my cohort mate, 11 pm was too early to go home. (Definitely not for the parking police).
However, if you want your job search to be a much nicer experience, Codesmith has a strong support team who will go all the way just to make sure that all of your correspondences are written beautifully. Thank Haley, Hira and all the staff who have been making my job search process much easier.
Why did I choose Codesmith?
1. A graduate from Codesmith LA with an average of 100k compared to a 100k in San Francisco is very different. San Francisco has a higher cost of living.
2. Codesmith costs less than other two.
3. Codesmith projects have reached new height. Check out Reactide with 7k stars on GitHub or webDSP. Guess where those projects were made.
4. Codesmith class sizes are much smaller than the other two. Look at Hack Reactor's video and see if every student has a seat. On top of that, there isn’t enough support from the staff after graduation.
5. Codesmith really cares more about student success than other programs, and will do whatever they can to help you. I was an out-of-state student who wanted to change my life. Codesmithhelped me and continues to help me so much that I truly believe that there is no other program who would even consider doing the same thing.
Our latest on Codesmith
The Codesmith team understands that the best way for people to learn is alongside a community. So when they launched Codesmith CSX, a free online learning platform to prepare people for coding bootcamps, user interaction was front and center. Codesmith Senior Product Manager Haley Godtfredsen tells us all about the CSX curriculum, how to navigate the online platform, how users can take part in weekly pair programming sessions, and she gives us a demo of a CSX coding challenge!
What's your background and your role at Codesmith?
I'm a Senior Product Manager at Codesmith and I’m taking the lead on our new product – the CSX online learning platform. I've also been a Codesmith coach for about two years.
Can you tell us exactly what CSX is and why you are working on it?
Is CSX just for students thinking about applying to Codesmith or can anyone do it?
How long does it take to graduate from the CSX program?
It's different depending on what background you're coming in with, and how much time per week you're going to be putting toward learning. It's a completely free online program, and people can take it at their own pace. For someone who is less experienced, it could take them up to 60 hours. For someone who is more experienced, it would take less time than that.
Can you give me an overview of the CSX curriculum?
For those students taking the free version of CSX, do they work with instructors or is it mainly solo learning?
We really wanted to bring a community to the online space with CSX. Our weekly in-person workshops are focused on community. We make sure everyone feels comfortable and able to really put their best foot forward with learning because they're not worried about being competitive or asking a silly question.
All of our CSX videos are taught by our CEO Will Sentance, who is one of the top Front End Masters instructors. If you have questions while you're going through the free program, we have weekly half-hour office hours to ask a mentor or the CSX staff questions about the program itself or about a specific challenge.
If you have any questions, you can just shoot that into the general Slack channel and one of the mentors usually answers within a couple of hours. Other students also answer questions and help each other out on Slack, which is really exciting to see.
In addition to prepping for the Codesmith application process, what is the overall goal of CSX? What will students be able to build or do when they finish?
CSX is structured around a core Codesmith value: teaching students how to teach themselves. In this world of technology, things are always changing. The next thing is always right around the corner, and it doesn't help to get yourself in a very small hole by just being an expert in one technology. You need to know how to learn new technologies and new concepts. And that's what we want to bring to CSX as well.
There’s a lot more to being a software engineer than just understanding the technology. We also focus on technical communication and problem-solving, student pair program on a weekly basis to interact with other programmers and work on those skills. One way to understand a concept is by explaining that concept to someone else. We expect students to come out of CSX with a refined ability to tackle any type of problem, whether they've seen that problem before on CSX or not.
It’s cool that CSX students actually build a real project.
Yeah. We also award scholarship opportunities based on submissions of that Chrome Extension project. Recently, students had two weeks to build a Chrome Extension and our team awarded a 25% scholarship to Codesmith to the winner.
Okay, Haley – share your screen and show us what CSX looks like!
The CSX layout:
- Every unit is represented as a card on the main page.
- You’ll get an overview of which units are available, then pick and choose where to dive in.
- It's not necessarily a chronological course. If you have an understanding of one concept and you want to dive into another one, that's totally fine.
- You can watch our newly-released, professionally-shot video content and view the slides.
- Students are able to test their work from console logs. In the future, Codesmith will implement unit testing, so that students know immediately if their entries are correct.
Where should users start?
- The Overview of CSX is a great place to start out.
- The Codesmith technical interview tests certain core fundamentals – you can learn about those in sections 1 through 4 (up to the Recursion unit).
- If you’re prepping for other coding bootcamps, focus on Units 1 through 3.
- Depending on what you're using CSX for, you can pick and choose which units to attack or which concepts you really want to understand better. Once you're familiar with a concept, you can move on.
- Codesmith has plans for more content and will be releasing more features.
Watch the video to see Haley walk through the CSX unit about Variables.
It's awesome for people to be able to connect and work through problems with people around the world. Online learning can often be very solitary and it's hard to keep motivated when it's just you in your room alone. We do a lot of pair programming in our full program and in our in-person events, so we wanted to bring that to the online space.
How can students pair program on CSX?
- First you need to sign up and verify your email address. Then you can RSVP to a weekly pair programming workshop.
- You’ll rate your comfortability with the concept that will be covered in the workshop
- You’ll get a link to the challenge for that week's pair programming session. The email includes some instructions and best practices for pair programming. You’ll both go into the session knowing who the “driver” is and who the “navigator” is.
- During the pair programming session, you can use video + audio to talk to your partner.
What are “navigators” and “drivers” in pair programming?
- The navigator does the problem solving, working through how to get to the solution, and using their technical communication to relay that information to the Driver. In a navigator position, technical communication is very important. You need to know where you want to go with the problem so you can explain the steps to get there.
- It’s up to the pair to decide who wants to be the driver and who is the navigator.
- We encourage students to switch roles every 20 minutes, or every challenge so they can both get experience using the different skills that come from each position.
How is CSX different from other free online resources like Codecademy?
I'm a huge fan of Codecademy, but what we wanted to bring to our CSX is really hard learning. Hard learning isn't done best by yourself. It's easy to stop, hit a block, and not want to continue. We wanted to supplement that with live workshops that complement each unit that we have filmed live, as well as videos on CSX, weekly pair programming, and weekly office hours to give people that actual push.
If you have questions and you're struggling, you have other people to work with and you have mentors to ask questions. We think that you learn from hitting a block and working through it, as opposed to being walked through a programming tutorial like Codecademy.
How often do students actually get accepted into Codesmith (or other coding bootcamps) after going through CSX.
Since CSX is relatively new, we don't have any hard data on this. We have a lot of students in our most recent cohort who have been using it. And talking to them, it sounds like it was really helpful. I do think that it's helping our students start off on the right foot.
How else can students prepare for Codesmith?
We're releasing two new programs in March that are more structured, paid versions of CSX. The Live Online program is two weeks long, and is a version of the free program condensed into a two-week program, with three weeknights and one weekend day per week, with live instructors and office hours, and a focus on problem solving and technical communication.
Then we have a self-directed four-week program, which you can take as long as you want to finish. There's no focus on how far you get through it, but there are weekly personalized office hours, assessments, and pair programming with a mentor who can help you through if you're struggling. That course ends with a mock interview for Codesmith, to prepare you for the real thing.
There will be scholarships available for these programs. And if you are accepted into Codesmith, that tuition comes out of the full bootcamp tuition.
What's your advice for students who are considering this CSX program?
Set yourself up with goals and the achievable tasks to get to those goals. Make a plan and commit a certain number of hours per week, making sure that your schedule allows for that. Pair programming is important, and using to those office hours is super important too.
It's easy to stop when you’re learning online, so remember that there is a real community to take part in. Ask questions on Slack, meet other students on Slack, come to in-person events, or attend a live stream. Set yourself up with the expectation that it's not going to be easy. The CSX program is a really great path with a lot of support.
My best advice: be ready to hit blocks and then be ready to solve them.
What will your salary be after coding bootcamp? Coding bootcamps are judged almost entirely by their ability to find students high-paying jobs as software developers. Some schools release data about alumni jobs, others offer money-back job guarantees or deferred tuition, but how much are students earning when they graduate and how does their earning potential change as they gain experience? Every year, Course Report surveys real coding bootcamp graduates to better understand who is graduating from coding bootcamps and how successful they are in the workforce. In our second post of this series, we explore the lucrative data about salaries after a coding bootcamp.Continue Reading →
Is learning to code on your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! There will be 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020. And a coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2018 as a developer. We’ve compiled a list of 16 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2018. Most of these have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2018!Continue Reading →
Tell us about your career and education background. How did your path lead you to Codesmith?
My college degree is actually in math and physics because at the time I thought I wanted to go into research or a PhD program in either math or physics. I wasn't totally convinced, so I decided to take time off from being in school to evaluate that pathway.
While I was taking that time off, I started substitute teaching just to pay the bills and ended up really liking teaching. I ended up teaching high school physics for about six years. Teach for America brought me to Los Angeles, where I taught for four years at a public school.
How did you become interested in programming?
The last school I taught at wanted to pilot a computer science course and I was the only person at the school who had any inkling of experience with programming, so they asked me to teach it. I had never taken a computer science class, but in my physics degree, we learned a little bit of programming for number crunching, large physics calculations, and simulations. I remembered liking that work, so the idea of teaching that computer science course was exciting. In the process of lesson-planning, I found myself wanting to spend my free time diving more deeply into it.
That experience is what really got me interested in programming and making the career switch into being a software developer.
What made you take the next step from teaching computer science at a school to actually changing careers and becoming a software developer?
My background is in technical fields – math and physics – and I found myself missing doing technical work myself. Spending time learning about computer science in order to be able to teach that course gave me the itch to do more technical work myself. That's what initially got me thinking about making a full-time career in software development.
Why was a coding bootcamp the best way to achieve that goal?
When I first started thinking about transitioning into software development as a career, I wasn't necessarily going to go down the coding bootcamp route. I started to consider coding bootcamps because even though I was a classroom teacher myself, I actually found it really difficult to be a student in the traditional classroom. I knew that if I wanted to go into software development, it would be really helpful to have some coaching or mentorship as I learned.
I wanted a place to learn with other people who were interested in programming as well, but I also wanted the transition to be faster than going through a traditional, multi-year master's degree. I knew that even if a coding bootcamp was difficult in the moment, I would be able to get a lot out of it very quickly and be able to start my career as a software engineer in a really good place. To be perfectly frank, I guess I was a little bit impatient!
How did you find Codesmith?
Having been a teacher in the classroom myself, I was really impressed with how hard Codesmith worked to build community, both with the students who are currently studying there and with the beginners who were coming to that free workshop every week.
Did you research other coding bootcamps? What stood out about Codesmith?
I did look at a few other coding bootcamps, but to me, community building is really Codesmith’s secret sauce. They work hard to create the kind of environment where everyone wants to learn at a really high level, wants to push themselves to the limit, and is 100% there to support every other person who's going through the process. It really allows you to push yourself and learn as much as you can without fear that you might fall behind – you've got 20 other people who are there with you to support you along that journey.
Was it a competitive application and interview process to get into Codesmith?
As a former teacher, what did you think of the Codesmith teaching style? Did it work with your learning style?
There are so many things that Codesmith does right, pedagogically speaking. Most impressively, their entire focus is where it needs to be: on the students’ learning. Students work on projects that are intended to help them learn a certain topic, and these projects are large in scope and open-ended; they're typically too large to be completed within the allotted time. The ultimate example of this is the Production project, where students spend the last six weeks of the program working on large, cutting-edge software project of their choice. My team and I decided to create a library for testing WebRTC applications, and as far as we know, we were the first people in the world to do so.
Since the projects are so large and open-ended, the point is that students dig into it and work as hard as they can. It’s not about finishing the project because, in the real world, you're never finished. Instead, it’s about taking away an enduring lesson. At Codesmith, learning is the most important part of the process. Instead of telling you how to solve a tough problem, the instructors gently nudge you in the right direction. In the moment, that can be frustrating, but you're really learning the most when you struggle. It's by fighting through confusion and overcoming barriers that we become stronger as software engineers. That's really what engineers do in their day-to-day work.
This style of learning was definitely cultivated at Codesmith and it's something that they emphasize and articulate as much as possible. Going through the program helped me to articulate those principles to myself more clearly. Working in education for the past several years, I had some frustrations with aspects of the traditional educational system because I felt it was too task-oriented and focused on the solution instead of the learning itself.
How did Codesmith prepare you for the job hunt?
The job search mostly happens within the last few weeks of Codesmith, and then during the next couple of months after you graduate. Codesmith does mock interviews, whiteboarding sessions, resume writing workshops, coached us on negotiating salaries, and exercises to build our confidence as we go off into the job market and start applying for jobs. There’s also a Hiring Day where they invite companies from the Los Angeles area to do interview speed dating with the graduating class. It's not uncommon for many students to get called back for onsite interviews due to Hiring Day. After graduation day, once we’re in the actual job search, Codesmith did regular check-ins to see how we’re doing on the search.
Codesmith was always very open and receptive. If I wanted to talk one-on-one to the Codesmith staff, they were very open to that as well.
How did your first technical interviews go for you?
I thought doing technical interviews was fun. It was a little nerve-racking at the time, but I always find that once I'm actually in the middle of the interview, talking about a programming problem or some technology or something about the company, that the fear goes away and I just start enjoying the conversation.
One of the things that was interesting about interviewing with several companies in a short timeframe was getting to talk to various people working in different environments. It was good to hear about the company cultures, and really get a sense for the type of environment I wanted to work in since I was so new to the tech world.
What have you been up to since graduating? Tell us about getting your first job!
I found the Codesmith alumni community to be really helpful and supportive in the job search. Now that Codesmith has been around for about 2 years, there’s a pretty significant alumni network. We have a very active alumni Slack channel and people are pretty frequently posting jobs on that saying, "Hey, my company is looking to hire a full stack engineer. Private message me if you're interested." That’s how I ended up getting my first job at MedCircle. I went for the interview and I really enjoyed the company and the team.
MedCircle is an online health education company in LA. It's a very small startup company – less than 10 people on the whole staff.
I worked at MedCircle for about 10 months and got to build the team workflows from the ground up, which was pretty cool. About two weeks ago, I started a new job at Google in San Francisco.
Congrats! What are you now working on at Google?
My official title at Google is Web Solutions Engineer. I'm primarily working on internal software tools that the sales and marketing organization use to do their jobs better. It's pretty exciting because, at MedCircle I worked on a small, agile, flexible team. My team at Google is similarly small and flexible, but it's within the context of the Google organization, so I have access to all of these resources and incredible world-class software engineering.
How did you make the move from MedCircle to Google? What was that process like growing into your next job?
I actually interviewed with Google back in December 2016, during my first job search after I graduated from Codesmith and before I was hired by MedCircle. Evidently, if you interview and they don't hire you but still like you, then Google keeps your name on their short list. In August, I got a message from a recruiter at Google saying that they had a Web Solutions Engineer position open up and asked me if I'd be interested in applying for it.
How do you feel you've grown as a developer? Where do you feel you are in your learning experience?
No matter where I am in my career, I always want to push to learn and grow more. One of the things that Codesmith does really well, more than just emphasizing learning one particular technology stack, is that they emphasize learning how to be confident technical problem solvers and engineers. Even straight out of Codesmith, I was pretty confident in my ability to solve difficult software problems, even if I wasn't necessarily familiar with all of the technologies being used.
Now, having been in the industry for a year, it's given me a lot more depth of knowledge in the kinds of tools, best practices, and higher level problem-solving techniques that it takes to really write high-quality software that is robust, that lasts, and that does its job well.
I’m also growing in different contexts. Google is such a large company; in order to accomplish anything, I have to learn a lot about the infrastructure of the company as a whole. It’s been pretty exciting to see how software engineering can really work at a massive scale.
What's been the biggest challenge in your journey to becoming a software developer?
What’s most challenging about software engineering is also what’s most exciting: there’s basically an infinitely deep pool of things to learn. In order to really be able to perform at the highest levels, you need to be willing to put in the time and effort to keep learning, whether you're on the job or not.
I've put a lot of hours and energy into trying to improve my skills even outside of work hours. But as I said, there's always interesting problems to work on, always new technologies to learn, and always new products to imagine. Because with software, anything that you can imagine you can create as long as you're willing to stretch your imagination and embrace the possibilities.
Would you advise other bootcampers to go into a small startup first like you did?
I think it was the right decision for me, but it depends a lot on the person and on the company. What’s more important than the size of the company is really understanding the company's culture during that interview process. For me, I like having a lot of flexibility in what I work on and being able to work on different projects, so I knew that working at a small company like MedCircle would give me that. Being forced out of necessity to wear different hats really made me into a more well-rounded engineer. I’m more confident when I have to tackle problems in a variety of different domains.
For your first job after a bootcamp, choose a company that will bring out the best in you and a place where you can continue to learn at the same rate that you were learning while at bootcamp. That can really vary a lot from company to company whether it's small or big, so feel out their company culture and choose based on that.
You have a background in Math and Physics – is it true that you need to be “good at math” in order to be a great software engineer?
I took Codesmith’s Machine Learning class after I graduated, and that topic was exciting for me because machine learning does involve a lot of math. My background in math gave me a good foundation to learn more in that area.
However, you definitely don't need to have a background in math in order to be good at software engineering. In order to be a strong software engineer, you need to be a strong problem solver. Being good at math is just one possible way to acquire those problem-solving skills. My background in math has definitely helped me, but I don't think it's the only way to get the skills needed for software engineering.
When you look back at the last two years, do you think you would have been able to get to this point by self-teaching or going back to a traditional school? What kind of role did Codesmith play in your journey?
I honestly doubt that I would’ve been able to make it to where I am today this quickly if I had gone down a different path. If I had done a master’s degree, I probably would’ve gone back to school in the evenings and continued teaching full-time, which would’ve drawn out the process and not allowed me to focus all of my attention on learning as much as I could. That would have made the career transition a lot more arduous.
When you teach yourself, it's easy to end up stuck in your own bad habits because you don't know best practices and how to get to the next level. Learning within a community of other people who are passionate about software engineering means that you can all help each other. You can push your thinking to the next level and get unstuck when you hit a roadblock in your learning. You always feel like the work that you're putting in is reaping benefits, because you can see the growth day by day and week by week. That rapid growth is really what allowed me to reach my goals so soon after deciding to make the transition into software engineering.
What advice do you have for our readers who are considering a coding bootcamp like Codesmith?
Your time at a coding bootcamp is very short, so it's important to really squeeze the most out of the experience that you possibly can. It's not enough to just go to class during the day and then go home. It's really important to get to know your classmates and help each other grow. It's rare that you're surrounded by so many other people who are this passionate about the same goals.
Codesmith works so hard to build community, not only between current students but also between professionals by hosting meetups for local software developers. If you can really take advantage of that community, then that's where you'll see the most incredible growth in yourself.
Everyone seems to be talking about Machine Learning. But what is Machine Learning, and do you really need a PhD in Math to master it? LA coding bootcamp Codesmith has recently added a machine learning unit to their core program, and will soon launch an entire Machine Learning Bootcamp. We asked Codesmith’s Director of Machine Learning, Weylin Wagnon, where to spot machine learning in everyday products, why knowledge of machine learning is useful for software developers, and what the job market is like for developers with machine learning skills.
- Machine learning is a subset of AI, where a computer uses data and previous experiences to predict outcomes
- Machine learning tasks include those which used to be done by humans such as fraud prediction and ad placement
- Any task that is currently tedious for humans but still requires some creative decision-making is a target for machine learning software.
- Codesmith is teaching machine learning with a code-first attitude, by introducing the concept to students as a new tool and a new library
- Software engineers who know how to interact with machine learning systems are future-proofing their skills
What’s your experience in machine learning?
I run a cryptocurrency mining farm, where we manage mining for our clients who want to invest in cryptocurrency. It’s very complicated to set up and do at scale, so we streamline the machine learning process.
What is machine learning?
In general, Machine Learning is equal parts math, statistics, computer science, and voodoo. Machine learning is very different from the traditional software engineering or programming paradigm. In computer science, you provide a set of rules and input data to make some kind of output. In machine learning, you switch that around. You input data and input the answer you want to see, and the machine figures out the rules required to get that answer. It is a little bit magical, it’s pretty challenging, but with a clear approach to understanding machine learning, it is possible to do extraordinary things with these tools.
How is machine learning different from artificial intelligence?
The standard general purpose computer is not intelligent. Artificial intelligence gives the machine some automated behavior that we consider “smart.” Machine learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence and requires learning from previous data. As humans, we use our previous memories to influence our future behavior; machines can learn from previous data to do the same thing. Overall, AI doesn’t imply data alone, whereas machine learning is all about data.
Where do we see Machine Learning in the real world? Can you give us some examples?
Anything that is currently tedious to do for people but requires some kind of creative decision making is a target for machine learning software. Most of the cutting edge machine learning projects are coming from large companies that have huge data sets. For example:
- Google Photos and Apple Photos dynamically identifying faces in pictures and auto-tagging people.
- Shazam, which identifies songs, has been greatly enhanced through machine learning.
- Speech systems like Siri, Google Home, and Alexa, are all good examples of machine learning ability.
- Fraud reporting, which used to be done by humans perusing financial records, but is now accomplished with algorithms.
- Some core business uses have been around for a while – 10 years ago, machine learning was used to predict which advertisement a user would click on, and we still use advanced neural networks for the same task today.
How can machine learning be useful for a software developer?
Machine learning exists in an application ecosystem (like an API). So even if a developer doesn’t want to touch the whole backend of an application, they are still going to have to interact with some of these systems. Having at least an understanding of the concepts behind machine learning can be valuable in the long run when designing systems.
Any exposure to machine learning is a really good mark on your resume. Having interacted with such machine intelligence systems shows that you have a strong competency with current and future technologies.
Why has Codesmith decided to add Machine Learning to the curriculum?
Google I/O’s last conference (and every main stage) was fully focused on AI and machine learning at all times – it’s a significant trend.
You need to be able to work with large amounts of data, be a smart programmer, understand neural networks, and have machine learning skills if you want to build the next generation of tech products. And if you don’t, you’ll be left behind over the next 10 to 15 years. It’s hard to observe the future of jobs and not be scared of how machine learning is taking over; I think the best way to stem that tide is to get into the field yourself.
Tell us about the new machine learning unit at Codesmith and how you came up with the course.
We are now offering an entire unit within Codesmith’s core software engineering residency, plus a six-week stand-alone course for alumni and experienced coders. I just finished teaching the unit. It’s not a complete course, but it does give students all the tools they need to go forward in machine learning. We ran a beta-version of our six-week course for alumni, got a lot of feedback, and are iterating right now for our public course. It’s exciting to push software engineers on the right path. Machine learning is something that will be hard to avoid in the future so it’s really valuable to get into the space right now.
I spent a long time researching before writing the curriculum. I paired up with Kush Kumar, part of the USC Machine Learning Department, who is a stellar expert in the field. Combining his expertise with my teaching background, we forged the content together.
Can you really teach machine learning at a coding bootcamp? How do you fit such a vast topic into a short course?
We teach machine learning in the last quarter at Codesmith, so that students have the most experience and can gain the most from it. As we go through Codesmith, the pace of students’ comprehension accelerates, so they get used to picking up new information fast.
The core Codesmith unit is focused on teaching students about general machine learning ideas, providing a framework to think about machine learning, and defining terms that we’ll see a lot. We are focused on coding best practices first. Then, we’re fitting machine learning into the curriculum as a new tool and a new library, and not as a fundamentally alien concept.
We do a deep dive into re-engineering some machine learning algorithms so we can see it’s not just magic. But on this level, you don’t have to engineer everything yourself. We teach libraries like Pandas to enact a lot of complex behavior very quickly. The program is mainly project focused as we go through, and we also practice pair programming.
Students also learn some DevOps, neural networks, and Tensorflow. By the end of the unit, they’ll have covered the vast majority of the machine learning field and will be able to autonomously create projects.
What is the job demand like for machine learning skills?
In LA, job listings mentioning machine learning often offer salaries 10% to 30% higher than regular software engineering roles. The goal of our program is not to produce data scientists, data analysts, or data engineers – we’re aiming to graduate engineers who can build advanced programming products and meet the needs of a “machine learning software engineer” job listing. Companies are getting very competitive as the demand for machine learning engineers grows faster than the supply. The main source of machine learning talent comes from master’s degree or PhD programs, so it’s a challenge for companies to find enough engineers to rapidly prototype machine learning products. In addition to being in great demand, machine learning skills are a great accent to any software engineering role.
Is there anything you’ve had to leave out of the Codesmith machine learning curriculum?
We don’t cover neural network libraries in our Codesmith unit, but we can provide resources for students who are interested in learning more, and we highly encourage alumni to take the full machine learning course.
We always hear that you don’t have to be a math whiz to be a good programmer, but do you need math skills to do machine learning?
In the machine learning unit, we don’t focus a lot on math. People get the idea that machine learning is only about math because of Andrew Ng’s popular Machine Learning course from Stanford, which is all focused on the calculus derivation of different algorithms, and how to implement them. But that knowledge is not required to build machine learning projects – most of it is already wrapped up in libraries. So your math ability doesn’t impact your ability to implement machine learning systems.
However, at some point in your career, you may want to develop new machine learning processes, and then that math and algorithms research will help you. But in general, it’s not as big of a requirement as people think.
What’s an example of the sort of machine learning projects that students would work on at Codesmith?
At Codesmith, we mainly focus on portfolio projects. Having a significant portfolio of work is so important to getting hired in machine learning. Students work on projects which involve making graphs that convey information, getting insights from data, and then presenting the insights in a way that’s understandable for less technical people.
Who is teaching this new unit? How will you train your instructors to teach this new machine learning unit? Or will you hire new instructors?
So far I’ve been the sole instructor along with our advisory member Kushaan. I am hoping to continue contributing as long as I am able, plus we have some super talented engineers who have been studying machine learning on their own and have attended all of our machine learning courses. We like to take a multifaceted approach – we have really talented teachers, engineers, and people with math backgrounds, and it’s through all of us working together that we can make it work. It’s a community approach.
How often does the Codesmith team update or add new units to the curriculum like this?
We reevaluate the curriculum after every graduating class and talk about whether topics are still relevant, and whether we can improve. We add content often, like new lectures, or individual focuses, but rarely whole units. So this is exciting!
Can students in both LA and NYC campuses learn machine learning?
So far, we’ve only taught machine learning at the LA campus. Our first NYC cohort starts in two weeks, and we hope to also offer machine learning there eventually. Stay tuned for our separate machine learning course, which we are hoping to launch in the near future.
Are there resources or meetups you recommend for machine learning beginners?
The best machine learning resource for beginners is a YouTube channel called Welch Labs. He’s a fantastic teacher and makes the subject really dynamic. You can learn about the field and the core concepts behind it, without requiring advanced math.
There are also plenty of online courses and interactive online portals. I don’t particularly like those, but some people benefit from them as an introduction to concepts. Those online courses can make you feel like you’ve accomplished and learned a lot, but you have no autonomy, and having to define a task for yourself afterward can be really challenging. I think an interactive course where you build projects is the best option.
It’s that time again! A time to reflect on the year that is coming to an end, and a time to plan for what the New Year has in store. While it may be easy to beat yourself up about certain unmet goals, one thing is for sure: you made it through another year! And we bet you accomplished more than you think. Maybe you finished your first Codecademy class, made a 30-day Github commit streak, or maybe you even took a bootcamp prep course – so let’s cheers to that! But if learning to code is still at the top of your Resolutions List, then taking the plunge into a coding bootcamp may be the best way to officially cross it off. We’ve compiled a list of stellar schools offering full-time, part-time, and online courses with start dates at the top of the year. Five of these bootcamps even have scholarship money ready to dish out to aspiring coders like you.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the October 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month we are also covering our Women In Tech Snapchat takeover! Other trends include new developments in the industry, new outcomes reports and why those are important, new investments in bootcamps, and of course, new coding schools and campuses.Continue Reading →
Will Sentance is co-founder and CEO at Codesmith, a full stack coding bootcamp in Los Angeles that launched in fall 2015. Before that, he worked as a software engineer, and started his own e-commerce platform. Will says learning to code changed his life, and he wanted to pass that experience and knowledge on to others. Will explains the Codesmith curriculum, what Codesmith looks for in students, and how to prepare for the interview. Also find out what sort of jobs Codesmith graduates are getting!
What were you doing before you decided to found Codesmith bootcamp?
I worked as a Software Engineer at Gem, which is now a Hiring Partner at Codesmith. Before that, I was CEO and cofounder of Ownly, a social e-commerce platform I started while studying at Harvard. Gem is doing some really transformative work in the Bitcoin and Blockchain space for developers– we were finalists at Techcrunch Disrupt. It's a model for Codesmith graduates– exceptional technical talent yet great communicators. I loved the team there.
Why did you want to start a Los Angeles coding bootcamp?
Coding changed my life and the lives of significant people around me. It gave us the ability to build the ideas we dreamt up. People learn to code for many reasons from aspiring doctors who want to change medical document processes to people who love solving puzzles. I love getting to see all of these backgrounds come together to support each other in the program.
Many coding bootcamps these days have been founded by graduates of other bootcamps. After attending Hack Reactor, what did you think was important to keep about the bootcamp model and what did you iterate on?
There are distinct differences. At the end of the Codesmith program, we have our hiring event where companies from across the US come on site to interview graduates. This is very distinctive and is part of why the graduate outcomes are so strong.
The community of Codesmith Los Angeles is also extraordinarily tight-knit, with cohorts of 15 (two running at the same time) selected from over 300 applications. It plays out in the average leaving time each night– most people leave the campus close to midnight, six days a week!
What is the admission process like?
We look for people who have great potential in problem-solving and communication (both technical and non-technical). Before the admissions interview, there's a basic coding challenge online and special harder challenges given out at many of the free classes each week. If you complete these harder challenges, you're guaranteed to get an interview.
Your first interview looks at your interests and commitment to supporting others. This is followed by a technical interview. There you will work through various coding challenges, and we work with you as you navigate through. It's like a mini session of Codesmith.
How are graduates performing in the real world?
The graduates are doing remarkably well. They are doing everything from developing an organic grocery marketplace at Thrive Market, to a life-changing charitable platform at Omaze, to supporting 20m+ football fans at the NFL. By the end of the year, over 200 Codesmith grads will be out building great things with code. Graduates receive offers averaging $103.5k, with 92% hired within in 4 months– mostly in LA and SF. Companies like Whisper, Hautelook and others have hired multiple grads– that's a wonderful sign of the impact the grads are having at each company.
What types of final projects have Codesmith students built?
Students build a portfolio of four projects while at Codesmith– the final being the 'Production Project'. Students have built applications for clients including the Los Angeles School District and the University of Michigan Hospital.
Some of the most impactful projects have been tools and libraries for developers like React Monocle and React-D3 library. These developer projects have trended on Github and Hacker News and are now being used by thousands of developers including Hiring Partners of Codesmith.
Why is it so important for students to actually launch their apps in the real world?
Launching a project gives students production experience– handling user issues, bugs and requiring students to work as professional developers as opposed to working on artificial 'bootcamp' projects. It really makes the graduates stand out– it's a big part of why 95% of graduates join companies as mid-level developers or above.
What is the current class makeup in terms of gender, race, background? Is it diverse?
Students come from a wide range of backgrounds. While many have STEM experience or even Computer Science degrees, there are also students who were creative writing majors or didn't attend college at all!
We have scholarships for students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in technology, and we work closely with Girl Develop it and Women Who Code on free classes and curriculum to help show people that they can aspire to Codesmith whatever their background. But we have to do more.
How do you attract a diverse applicant pool to Codesmith– is that important to you as a founder?
It is crucial. In the coming years, more and more leaders of firms will come from a software engineering background. We have an opportunity to give people from all backgrounds that path to leadership. In November, we are starting a new Women in Technology Speaker Series and new scholarships in partnership with leading technology firms– to further attract a diversity of applications.
How should new students approach Codesmith?
We have high expectations for applicants in their interviews, but we also have an extraordinarily supportive community which is ready to help you reach your potential and prepare for your application. Join us for any of the classes in person or online– whether or not you end up at Codesmith, you'll find your partners in crime to code with.
How does the CodeSmith experience prepare students for job interviews?
Companies expect a lot from Codesmith graduates. They're going to be offering six-figure salaries so they expect people who are capable of solving problems without too much supervision.
The program is designed to prepare graduates for exactly these demands. To do this, the curriculum pushes you to perform at a level that impresses seasoned engineers, both through professional engineering best practices, and a structure that is heavily project-based. This makes you ready for deep technical discussions and challenges at interviews
The second half of the program moves into dedicated job-search preparation– through mock interviews, resume and online profile development– all culminating in Hiring Day.
Tell us about your employer partnerships.
We have a network of over 250 Hiring Partners who are required to have a strong engineering culture and who hire mid-level and above developers. A select group joins onsite for Hiring Day for multiple streamlined interviews. Nearly half of our graduates get offers from companies they met at Hiring Day.
Have you been through the regulatory process with the BPPE in California? Is it important that you become accredited?
The regulatory system is outdated for sure but efforts are being made to develop a new approach. In the meantime, we have begun the process of getting officially accredited by BPPE
What’s next for Codesmith? Are there plans to expand geographically, or to expand the curriculum?
I believe we've barely scratched the surface of the number of people we can bring the ability to code to, as well as the number of organizations and industries that can be transformed by engineers who can lead. I want our alumni to continue to develop as leaders in tech after they graduate. So we're working on new ways to give our alumni all the support they need to make that happen.
Many competitive coding bootcamps require a certain level of coding knowledge or background in order to be accepted into their programs- whether they’re looking for past experience on your resume or require that you pass a coding challenge. For a beginner, it can be tough to get the experience that a selective bootcamp looks for in the application process. There are many ways to learn basic coding (including teaching yourself) but if you want to make sure you’re covering the right material and quickly, then a bootcamp prep program may be for you.Continue Reading →
Move over tinsel town and make some space in the greater Los Angeles area for some of the finest coding programs in the country. While LA once paled in comparison to San Francisco when it came to the sheer quantity of bootcamps, we've seen a surge in LA coding bootcamps this year. There is a wide choice of code schools with campuses in LA's "Silicon Beach" that all bring a unique take on web development training.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the June News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →