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.
Recent Codesmith News
- Alumni Spotlight: Brittany Miltenberger of Codesmith
- How Pair Programming with Codesmith CSX can Prepare you for Bootcamp
- Data Dive: How Much Can You Earn After Coding Bootcamp?
Recent Codesmith Reviews: Rating 4.93
- Minimum Skill Level
- Beginner - Intermediate
Software Engineering Immersive Program
- Codesmith offers 3 types of scholarships -those to students underrepresented in the technology community, Dean's scholarships, as well as scholarships to prior bootcamp grads.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prior computer science and programming skills necessary - many applicants are self taught through our free weekly JS workshops/online course.
- Prep Work
- 4 weeks
In PersonFull Time
Application Deadline:August 20, 2018
In PersonFull Time
New York City
Software Engineering Immersive Program
- Codesmith offers 3 types of scholarships -those to students underrepresented in the technology community, Dean's scholarships, as well as scholarships to prior bootcamp grads.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prior computer science and programming skills necessary - many applicants are self taught through our free weekly JS workshops/online course.
- Prep Work
- 4 weeks
In PersonFull Time
Application Deadline:July 23, 2018
In PersonFull Time
Codesmith Deep Learning
Codesmith Deep Learning (CSDL) is a structured online program that teaches the fundamentals of neural networks. In this program, we will implement sophisticated neural network architectures alongside developing the theoretical knowledge necessary for understanding how they really work. Topics include: TensorFlow, Data visualization, Data introspection and manipulation techniques, Python data science libraries, Classification, Regression, and clustering machine learning algorithms, Artificial Neural Networks, and more.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Comfort with fundamental Python concepts.
- Prep Work
- Precourse covering Python and Introduction to Machine Learning
CS Prep - Live Online
- Minimum Skill Level
- Suitable for beginners who are ready to level up to intermediate and advanced material.
Application Deadline:August 1, 2018
Application Deadline:August 29, 2018
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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Codesmith was the only place for me - coming from about 3 years experience as an AngularJS developer, I was looking for a way to quickly get my skills up to the next level. Codesmith did that not only by teaching the newest technologies (React, Node), but by making sure students also truly understand the fundamentals and principles underlying all those great technologies. The pair programming style of learning was extremely appealing and rewarding for me and has taken my technical communication and ability to program with other to a whole new level.
Codesmith's immersive program truly is a cut above the rest. There are a few things that I considered when making my decision to attend:
Material - not only is the course material relavent to the current job industry, it's extremely well structured. All of the units that the Codesmith residents work through are laid out in a logical manner that builds upon your experiences in previous units. By the time you know it, all the pieces connect and you come out with a wealth of knowledge that's highly sought after.
Instructors - as it turns out, the couse material, although important, is only a small factor in why Codesmith works. The team members here are amazing, explaining highly technical concepts and code walkthroughs with perfect technical detail and clarity - and it's not just code that they teach you. Codesmith specializes in honing your problem solving capabilities. This is a skill that trumps all others. During your software engineering journey, you're bound to run into countless scenarios where you just don't know the answer, or perhaps have no knowledge of the technology you're working with. How do you overcome those blocks? How do you tackle not knowing something? These are what the instructors are truly teaching you. As you work through the material, the team is there to help you work any blocks or challenges that you may face, all while never revealing answers so you come to solutions on your own might - adding another notch to your belt of coding skills with each challenge you've solved. Eventually, you'll have enough notches to work through scenarios you thought previously impossible, regardless of the technology you're working in.
Culture - this last one seals the deal and puts Codesmith in a class of it's own. Codesmith is not just a coding school, it's a community. A tightly knit one at that. An environment of learning and self improvement with no judgement has been established here. This is the type of place where anyone and everyone is a resource to you, a place where you can flag any random person down in the hallway and they will drop what they're doing to help you. The community here is unlike any other you'll experience, you'll be surrounded by good natured, extremely friendly and highly intelligent people - it's honestly a bit addicting.
All in all I'm so glad I attended! It was truly a transformative process and I feel well prepared for what lay ahead.
Codesmith instills great confidence and ambition in its residents, which is reflected by the quality of the open source projects produced.
For me, this was achieved by focussing on technical communication - a core part of the Codesmith experience. Only by having a solid understanding of foundational concepts and what’s going on ‘under the hood’ is it possible to effectively communicate complex problems in an articulate manner. This is an invaluable skill for interviews.
Building on this foundational understanding, the second half of the program helped develop my skills as an autonomous problem solver. In requiring residents to engage positively with the open source community, it helped address the inevitable imposter syndrome head on, and validate ourselves as software engineers.
It is a combination of deep understanding, excellence in technical communication, ambition of projects undertaken, and the culture and enthusiasm created by the Codesmith team that has led to the success of so many graduates, myself included, as professional software engineers.
I'm a graduate of Codesmith who has been working as a software engineer now for about 4 months. I'm a naturally skeptical person, so I went into the program with a healthy dose of caution, trying to dampen my expecations on the promise of the program. I was so happy to discover that I have nothing but good things to say about the program. I was very surprised that Codesmith not only met my expectations, but exceeded them. The community is what makes it -- it's simultaneosly friendly, encouraging, and very supportive. The leadership and instructors set a wonderful tone for the whole program -- they're approachable, fun, friendly, and super knowledgable. It's such an amazing experience to be surrounded by driven, intellectually curious people non-stop for 12 weeks -- the dynamic is always so supportive, even during later weeks when everyone is burnt out, tired, and stressed to hit the next deadline. Sounds cheesy, but this place changed my life. I came out of the program with a whole new set of friends, and a job/career that I love. I couldn't recommend Codesmith more highly to someone who is cut out for it.
I think it's useful to provide some context with any review - I have an engineering (not computer science/engineering) BS from UCLA with a non-engineering career prior to my career change. That said, the majority of the people in my cohort came from entirely non-technical backgrounds.
Going through the program has prepared me for such a role for the following reasons:
1. A ton of hours pair programming - not only does this teach you to be a better technical communicator, but it also gives you a better in-depth understanding of core concepts and troubleshooting approaches. Not to mention - it also makes you better at reading other people's code (something that you'll need to do in your career)
2. Projects - the point of this program isn't to showcase how you've completed a 3-month immersive program to somehow justify that you are now qualified to be a software engineer. The point is to show that you’re able to perform and contribute as an engineer in a meaningful way. A reputable program should encourage you to come up with ambitious projects that directly impact other developers and contribute to the open source community (i.e. not CRUD apps). This signals to employers that you’re capable of tackling problems that real developers face.
3. Learning how to learn - part of learning to become a proficient software engineer is to be confronted with difficult and challenging engineering problems where the struggle is the norm rather than the exception. Codesmith goes out of its way to make sure that they're not just spoon-feeding you the answers for good reason. Make no mistake - it will be hard work before, during, and especially after the program.
The outcomes? Most people in my cohort (who, again, came from non-technical backgrounds) are gainfully employed with the salary expectations that were presented to them. The great and unexpected side-effect of this program is that I made friends and connections with awesome people who I would not have otherwise have met or bonded with. Work hard but don't forget to take the time to make those connections!
I debated about whether or not to attend a coding bootcamp for over a year before finally making a decision to attend one. I knew that I wanted to change careers, but I wasn’t sure if coding bootcamps were worth the high price tag. I already had a graduate degree and felt like I couldn’t afford the time it would take to go back to school for to get another degree in computer science.
Attending Codesmith was a last-minute decision for me. I had been accepted into Hack Reactor, and was all set to attend. However, due to Hack Reactor’s fairly negative reviews at the time, I was doing some last-minute research before paying my registration fee. That’s when I discovered Codesmith, and decided to attend Hard Parts.
After Hard Parts, Will Sentence (the CEO/Founder) followed up with me personally to see how my experience had been. I thought that was great, and appreciated the personalization, so I started looking into Codesmith more deeply and it seemed like graduates’ starting salaries were higher than Hack Reactor or some other bootcamps I was attending.
I decided to apply, and was also pleased to find that the admission process was more challenging than Hack Reactor’s had been. I wanted to attend a program that would allow me to leave with the most advanced skills possible, so I felt like this was a good sign. I had both a cultural and technical interview, and was admitted on my first try, although I hear this is not the norm.
Throughout the program, I never felt like I was learning. I was constantly afraid that I would never be able to learn enough (or learn fast enough) to land one of the amazing jobs that I had read about from other graduates, and I never felt adequate enough to call myself a developer.
However, 5 weeks after graduation, I received an amazing offer from one of Codesmith’s Hiring Day partners, one that is in line with Codesmith’s advertised graduate salaries. Not only that, but I LOVE my new job, the company and the team I work with. I honestly couldn’t have asked to land in a better situation.
Were there things I didn’t like about Codesmith? Sure. But at the end of the program, it landed me exactly where I wanted it to be, and for that reason, I would do it all over again. Could you learn everything Codesmith teaches on your own? Definitely. But in my experience, I would never have landed at the company I did with the salary I was offered in such a short amount of time without Codesmith. If you are considering Codesmith, I would say that the price is worth it if only for the career services aspect of everything. The resume building, personal narrative critiquing and Hiring Day opportunities are worth the price tag.
I’ll also say that throughout the program, Will, Haley and the rest of the staff were always ready and willing to listen to my concerns, work with me to shape the program to my specific needs and encourage me not to give up. I almost quit about halfway through the program, but I am so glad that I didn’t, because I know that I would NOT be where I am today if I had chosen to walk away.
I took a risk and moved all the way from San Francisco to attend Codesmith's August 2016 cohort. At the time, Codesmith was still a relatively new Software Engineer program and trying to build its reputation as the best in the nation. There were already well established and reputable programs like Hack Reactor and App Academy. I got into all 3 programs, but I chose Codesmith for the following reasons:
1) Small, intimate cohort size (15-20 students max). You will get a chance to pair with everyone in your cohort and connect on a deeper level beyond the curriculum. The staff and peers will not let you fall behind.
2) Very selective. Codesmith only admits smart, motivated, empathetic, and thoughtful peers. You will meet amazing people from all walks of life and build relationships that will last beyond the 12 weeks.
3) Projects. You build challenging and ambitious projects you are proud to put on your portfolio and speak passionately about when you are job seeking.
4) Curriculum. Modern tech stack with emphasis on best practices.
5) Support. Routine check ins , interview practice, job search tips, algorithm practice, soft skill practice, etc.
6) Hiring day. 20ish companies come out on the last day to hire you! What other program even has hiring day anymore?
Be prepared and committed work 8-12 hrs a day for 6 days a week.
Continue to work just as hard when the program has concluded. Remember nothing is guaranteed.
You will have the confidence and knowledge to become a mid-level developer.
Imposter syndrome is real. Just know it happens at every level. The more you know, the more you don't know.
It's been 1.5 years since I completed the program. I made a choice, and it paid off. Codesmith was one of the best experiences of my life and I would do it many times over.
The hours are long, but there is a method to the madness; your future co-workers will be astounded by your work ethic! I was particularly impressed with the job-preparation elements of the course; they share with you the tools to package and present yourself as a capable engineer (even with no previous experience). The mock-interviews and practice white-boarding sessions were a great preview to the interview process. The emphasis Codesmith puts on pair programming is also fantastic, as learning to work well with others will serve you well down the line.
Two months after graduation, and about 5 or 6 on-site technical interviews, I wound up as a full-stack software engineer for Rotten Tomatoes. It's important to not slack off after graduation; the job-search is your job. During the day you should be either interviewing or applying, and in the evenings, you should be learning/coding. Don't forget to take care of yourself, eat well and exercise if you can.
Like others have said on here, trust the process. The curriculum is spot on. Practice algorithm challegnes daily, I particularly like Codewars. Also, try to have a personal website that showcases some completed and deployed applications you built; this was something I had from General Assembly coming into Codesmith that some of my peers didn't have, and I feel like it made things a bit easier for me, although as far as I know, all of my classmates have jobs now.
Will and his team lay out everything for you, they give you the knowledge and the tools to get what you want, it's just up to you to walk the path and put in work.
Could I have gotten to the place I am now without attending Codesmith? Probably. Could I have done it in such a short time frame, and would I have same the confidence in my ablities I do now? Absolutely not. Codesmith is an amazing software engineering program that is designed for and depends on your success. I could not reccomend it more, both as a Career accelerator, and probably the most fun (and stressful) few months of your life. Worth every penny and more.
The Hard Parts sessions also include pair programming time (again, emphasizing communication and working in teams) and an opportunity for problem solving that might be from a different perspective. After trying online resources, a handful of books and other in-person bootcamps I found JS Hard Parts to sync best with my learning style, meet other people with my level of experience and interest, and the best overall explanation of the concepts being reviewed. This is in part because the classes are in depth, but the engagement of others in the room means more people ask questions I may not have thought to ask, and in turn gives me a better understanding of the subject.
6 months later, I'm writing scalable web apps and front end architectures using bleeding edge technology and I've got data structures and algorithms practically oozing out of my fingernails. I wouldn't be the Software Engineer that I am today without the support of my cohort mates who struggled with me through the program and the staff who guided me throughout the process.
Codesmith isn't a bootcamp. It's a community of people who are extremely passionate about learning and building new things- a truly special place I'm so thankful I was able to be a part of.
Thanks to Codesmith, I was able to land a job as a GIS Software Developer.
Curriculum - 5 Stars
The curriculum extensively covers the basics to advanced topics in Software Engineering and everything inbetween. There are lectures, review sessions, and everything that else that you would expect from a traditional teaching approach, but what I believe separates Codesmith from any other program is their heavy focus on project building and exercises that have real world applications. There is a lot of hands on experiences which is honestly wonderful because it provides opportunities to solidify the materials that have been taught.
Instructors - 5 Stars
The instructors genuinely care about a student's success. I'm the type that will ask a lot of questions if I don't understand something. I don't know how many questions I have asked, but all I know was that each question was treated with equal importance. So if you are like me, don't be afraid and ask away. Every single one of the instructors are highly approachable and they will do whatever it takes to make sure you understand even if they literally have to sit next to you hours on end.
Job Assisstance - 5 Stars
The job assisstance aspect of the program is exceptional. They do everything like mock phone and on-site interviews, whiteboarding sessions, resume builders, and follow-ups. The staff do their best to make sure you are ready and confident to go through the entire job hunting process.
Overall Experience - 5 Stars
I have nothing, but praise for this program. As a warning though, you will only get what you put in. Codesmith is amazing and provides you with the foundation and skillset to succeed; however, if you don't put in the work, you won't get much out of it. This program is not a walk in the park.
I'm very grateful to Codesmith as it accelerated me from junior to mid level in my time there and provided me the tools and mindset to jump from mid level to senior at my first full time job in the time span of 2 months. YMMV but you will at least be a mid level developer out of Codesmith.
From what I know, the hiring support and tips and tricks to get mid level positions even without any developer experience puts Codesmith head and shoulders above any other bootcamp out there.
The only downside is having to listen to the CEO's speeches every Thursday night. But in spite of that, it still makes Codesmith more than worth the cost and the 12 weeks of intense learning.
From day one, the support from the staff and fellow students was outstanding. Whether there be a technical issue or something else there was ALWAYS someone there to pick you right back up and steer you in the right direction. I really loved hanging out with my cohort mates and to be honest asked myself more than once if I was enjoying it too much. Don’t get me wrong, long nights and stress were part of everyday life but it really helped knowing that everyone had your back.
Overall, my 12 weeks at Codesmith was a life changing experience and I am incredibly proud to be part of the Codesmith family.
I was a Front-End Developer in the Bay Area before Codesmith, but wasn't getting the exposure to Back-End technology that I desired. I tried teaching myself, but couldn't find reliable resources to get me where I wanted to. At this realization, and also knowing I wanted to level-up my career, I started looking into "coding bootcamps" that could get me the fulfillment I wanted. I had money, so I intended on going into the best one I could get into. I particularly looked into the LA area because I had family over here. My choice ended up being between Hack Reactor and Codesmith for me. I chose Codesmith because not only were they doing better in LA, but they showed such an exceptional care for their residents, including the aspiring residents.
There are many work places, clubs, bands, and organizations that claim to be a family, but very few that claim to be actually are. At least, this was always my experience. Because of this, I was very surprised in experiencing that family feeling over at Codesmith. Seriously, no BS zone here. It's clear they are very careful in not just selecting the brightest for the residency, but the best for the culture at the residency as well. I can honestly say the people in my cohort are some of my best friends today.
The Search After
Because let's be honest, this is probably the most important part. I probably could have been done very quickly, but because I wanted to get into either full-stack or back-end engineering, I bit the bullet and chased what I went to CS for. As mentioned, I was a Front-End Developer before CS, and seriously had recruiters emailing me several times every day for Front-End positions. On top of that, I wasn't interested in working in the Health Care industry, and I didn't even go to my previous employer during my search. Fast forward to decision time, I ended up with 3 offers, two of them being full-stack, and one of them back-end. Much of my thanks has to go out to the staff for helping me sell my skills, chilling out my type-A personality (often times I had the desire to followup too fast), and giving me mock interviews on whatever topics I felt like I needed polishing on.
I made an unregrettable decision to change my life. I put a lot at risk by quitting my job and moving to LA. I joined CS to level up, and I got exactly what I wanted. If you're considering CS to level up like me, or change careers like most, it's definitely worth it.
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!
TL:DR: I had an amazing exprience with Codesmith. Although my program ended a few months ago, I feel I'll always be a part of the Codesmith Family.
Like most of you, I did my share of research before I applied and committed to Codesmith. You can read all of the reviews, compare all of the other programs, but nothing compares to actually attending the JS The Hard Parts classes and meeting the folks that you might spend the next couple months with. Like many of my classmates, I was offered a seat at a couple of the other popular coding programs, but the family-atmosphere at Codesmith is what ultimately brought me in.
The program itself was very challenging to say the least. I definitely felt overwhelmed at times, but it really helps that you're surrounded by other engineers that are just as passionate and just as driven as you are. As some of the staff would say, "The challenges will be there to push you down, we'll be right here to lift you back up".
Unemployment can be a dark time for many, but I was tremendously fortunate to have the Codesmith staff to help me every step of the way. From the emails to the phone calls to the negotiations, Eric, Hira and Haley really showed me how to succeed.
Codesmith by far is the best bootcamp out there. Plenty of bootcamps teach you how to code, but only one brings a family along with it. The Codesmith family is what brings you to the next level as an engineer. They push you to solve problems and challenges you never thought you could achieve. They give you the tools to find problems and solve them on your own, all while teaching you how to learn better, and faster. But it doesn't stop there. They work very hard to prepare all of their students for their life after a bootcamp. Codesmith really will prepare you to be an incredible engineer.
All the instructors are very kind and helpful. You can tell they want you to succeed but they also don't just give you the answers. They make you work for it and are more mentors than teachers. That is good though because now I feel prepared to learn anything coding related on my own with maybe a little help from someone more experienced than I am. They really simulate the working environment where you won't be 'taught' per se but more mentored by an more experienced manager.
I was also very impressed by the social aspect. I was at Codesmith for about 80 hours a week, which sounds crazy but honestly it wasn't that bad for two reasons. One, I knew it was only for 3 months, and two, the social aspect of Codesmith was amazing. They plan fun activities to make sure we don't get burned out and they also make sure to only accept people who won't be jerks. The second is really important because when you're spending that much time with people, you want to make sure you enjoy the people around you. Everyone from every cohort I've met has been a really nice and supportive person. That's pretty incredible if you ask me. They take culture very seriously there and it shows.
They also take engineering very seriously and if you don't believe me just look at the types of projects Codesmith grads produce. That is really the best predicter of how well the program is if you ask me. I looked at the projects of grads from other schools when I was deciding where to go and they didn't even come close to what Codesmith grads create.
Codesmith is an amazing community of passionate, like-minded, software engineers. Kudos to Will, the visionary leader, who is orchestrating this life changing movement in the Los Angeles and now New York area. JS the Hard Parts Prep is a another example of the Codesmith organization giving back and creating opportunity for those aspiring to grow more in this field or considering coding bootcamp.
Everyone has a different journey. JS the Hard Parts really took my understanding to a new level. I can personally say, JS the Hard Parts is the best place to start and will add value, skills, and useful tools to your plate. It is an excellent place to sharpen your skills to get into coding bootcamp. From my own experience, the knowledge and skills I have gained attending JS the Hard Parts and being a part of the community has contributed to me landing an entry level role in the Software Engineering Industry.
Codesmith provides great programs that not only focus on coding, but the necessary communication skills to be successful and get hired as a Software Engineer. Every program I have attended has shown how important CodeSmith considers communication. Many programs have centered around the correct way to express highly technical concepts in a clear and concise manner utilizing proper parlance.
From my observations, the cornerstone of CodeSmith is to make their graduates as marketable as possible. I recently attended the presentations of the latest group of graduates capstone projects; I was blown away. Many of the projects presented used a combination of very popular technologies and a few of which I had never been exposed. Every project would impress any hiring manager, and will be powerful tools in assisting the graduates acquire great employment opportunities.
My life has changed so much since I started Codesmith. I can confidently say that I grew more in the past 3 months than I had in the past few years. Before Codesmith started, I was incredibly anxious. I was worried that I would’t be able to keep up with such an intense program. Being on the other side of that, I feel confident in my ability to pick up new things. Not knowing something is no longer scary. I know that I can figure it out, and that has been so empowering. One of the reasons for my growth has been the amazing community at Codesmith.
Codesmith attracts driven, smart, and empathetic people. I believe the community is one of the driving forces behind student success. It’s easy to stay and put in long hours when the people around you are just as driven. It’s an environment where everyone pushes the people around them to be better than they were. Even when it gets to be past midnight, there are still people around to work through some code with.
The teaching style at Codesmith is not at all like a ‘hold-your-hand-tutorial’ Codesmith focuses on fostering problem solving ability and independent learners. Struggling through the material is where the learning happens. Sometimes that feels overwhelming, but it works so well. If you come to Codesmith remember to trust the process, because it works.
But the real impact is felt through the passion and genious of the instructor himself - his style ensures the information will stick and is well understood, and you feel as if you are going down this new road together with him. You leave the workshops feeling like you want more.
I've attended each several times. Despite having been a software engineer for over a decade, I still learn something new on every visit.
Are you stuck in a career that you aren't passionate about? Are you thinking about making a career change? Are you skeptical that a 12-week immersive coding bootcamp can transform you into a software engineer that is capable of being hired after graduation? Well, until I made the best decision of my life by attending Codesmith, so was I.
I had no prior experience in Computer Science aside from a basic computer class in high school. I even failed my first interview at Codesmith after studying my butt off for several months. But my determination went a long way. I cut nearly everything out of my life (would take time to stay physically fit by going to the gym, which I highly recommend after gruling programming sessions) to focus on my career change. I knew these sacrifices needed to happen in order for me to succeed.
If you are considering to do it, be fully ready to live and breathe Codesmith for the duration of the program. If you do not fully commit, you will not succeed. I am living proof that, as long as you give it everything you got and don't look back, anyone with no expereince in the field can come out of Codesmith with hirable professional programming skills. After graduating and accepting an offer at the current company I'm at, I doubts that I wasn't smart or knowledgeable enough to pick up new technologies and/or be able to keep up with the demands of the job. To my surprise, that was not the case. Codesmith does a great job of training students to be able to go into any environment and find solutions.
My time at Codesmith was very enjoyable. They do a good job of screening prospective students during interviews, which is why the Codesmith community is so awesome. Everyone is enthusiastic and excited to be there. Engineering fellows are extremely helpful for students. Intructors are top notch.
Codesmith provides all the tools necessary for your success. Even after your graduation, you are able to seek guidance on things such as salary negotiations and referrals for new opportunities.
Overall, this is an outstanding program and I am very happy and satisfied that I went through with it!
Our latest on Codesmith
Even after Brittany Miltenberger earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and worked professionally in software (QA, Release Engineering, and Front End Web Development), she felt she needed to go to coding bootcamp to learn more advanced, full-stack web development skills and technologies. She chose Codesmith in Los Angeles, because she thought it would be a challenge and enrolled in the two-week Live Online CS Prep course to prepare for the technical interview. Find out how Brittany enjoyed learning remotely with others before she moved to LA, how difficult the Codesmith technical interview was, and her plans for the future!
Walk us through your career and education background. What did you do before Codesmith?
I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. My interest in coding actually stemmed from my original major – music and audio production. Recording music with computers piqued my interest in software and UI/UX design. I found that I enjoyed deconstructing and building the software more than recording the music, so I switched my major to computer science.
After college, I became a Quality Assurance Engineer for a music production software company in Boston. It was a perfect fit and I was so fortunate. I was so thrilled to blend my interests in music and software. As a QA Engineer I was primarily conducting test scripts, then I got promoted to a Builds Release Engineer, a more technical role maintaining automated software builds, scripts, and creating installers.
Recently, I've been working professionally in front end and interactive web development. Over the past four years, I've built software for many aspects of learning – creating, developing, designing eLearning courses.
You had those technical skills and a computer science degree –why go to a coding bootcamp?
What made you choose Codesmith over other coding bootcamps?
I began by searching on Google, and comparing and contrasting different programs. I came across Course Report and read different reviews. Codesmith had stellar reviews; in particular, I liked that Codesmith prepared students for mid-to-senior level programming careers, which was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to enroll in a program that would be challenging for me, where I would learn a lot.
In my last job as a Front End Web Developer, I worked remotely, so I wanted to do something in-person with other classmates. The two-week CS Prep program was remote and was excellent, but for the actual bootcamp, I wanted to do something in-person (Codesmith is 12-weeks, in-person). I live in Washington, DC now, but the Codesmith classroom is in New York and Los Angeles, but I was really eager to pursue Codesmith and relocate. I chose Los Angeles because I lived there a few years back, and it’s a great tech hub, especially in the Venice area and Silicon Beach.
Why did you decide to do Codesmith’s CS Prep program before applying for the 12-week coding bootcamp?
I enrolled in CS Prep to prepare for the Codesmith technical interview and to boost my confidence. I was so set on going to Codesmith, but since I wasn't in LA, I figured that enrolling in a prep course like CS Prep would be a great introduction – I could meet some of the fellows at Codesmith and other applicants. I was 99.9% sure I was going to enroll in the full program and CS Prep helped me confirm that.
I attended CS Prep from April 16th to 29th from DC, then interviewed for the full-time program in May. I flew to Los Angeles to do my interview and I got accepted. I start the full-time academy in LA on July 23rd. Right now, I’m starting a lot of pre-work and I'm so excited!
How was the application and interview process for the Codesmith CS Prep?
CS Prep does have a selective admissions process. At first, I thought, "am I even going to get in?" But actually, I found it to be a wonderful interview process. It was pretty stress-free. There were two parts to the application process. First I participated in a non-technical interview, to discuss my coding background and software engineering goals.
After that, I had the option of submitting short essays about my coding ambitions or completing a coding challenge. I chose the coding challenge. I’d been working through a lot of Codesmith's free online resources and I figured the challenge would be a good indicator of my readiness.
How did you feel about the prep course remote learning experience?
I did the live online CS Prep course alongside a group of other students. It was really cool because we used the video conferencing software Zoom, so for each class I could sign on and say hello to everyone – it was like I was in an actual classroom, but virtual. It wasn't a passive lecture learning experience – everyone could see each other and talk to each other so it was interactive. I always had to make sure I was listening and staying on track because, like in a classroom, I could get called on to answer questions. I found the whole experience to be so immersive. It was really like we were all there in person – it was awesome.
How many instructors helped you during the Codesmith CS Prep program?
We had four different instructors over two weeks, which was really cool. Some of them were Codesmith Fellows and had been through the program, so they could give us great guidance. It was nice to have a variety of instructors because everyone has different teaching styles. It kept the learning fresh and made it a rich learning experience.
Did the prep course teaching style match your learning style? What did a typical day look like?
It definitely did. Each of the instructors taught differently, but each was really excellent. I got so much out of each class. The overall class structure was very consistent, so that helped. We would start each class with a 30-minute coding challenge. It was a great way to warm up and get our gears rolling. Then we would go into a lecture on a new topic where the instructor would share a PDF and go through slides.
Another really cool aspect, and excellent virtual learning tool, was that we used iPads as whiteboards. In a lot of coding classes in real life, you'll have a whiteboard where the teacher writes some code on the board, and you walk through it together. But during our class, they would switch to the iPad view, and they draw with the stylus and walk through the code that way.
How difficult was the CS Prep Program?
It was honestly right in the middle of my expectations. It definitely wasn't easy. I put in several hours each day before class to review material. Although that wasn't required, I did it to keep on track. But at the same time, it wasn't crazy difficult, I wasn't beyond stressed and staying up all night studying. I felt like it was a really good middle ground.
I consciously resigned from my job, so I had the luxury of having time to study. But several students in the class were working nine to five jobs. If you are working nine to five, they have evening and weekend classes as well – so there's definitely a balance. You could go to a job all day and then go to CS prep, and I don't think it would be too overwhelming.
Can you tell me about the project that you built during the prep program?
The game’s source code is currently stored on our REPL account, but my team members and I are creating a shared GitHub account so we can actually publish it and share it.
Did you feel ready to apply to the full-time program at the end of CS Prep?
After the CS Prep program, my confidence level was boosted. Learning remotely can be intimidating because you may miss that sense of community. But one of the reasons I felt so prepared for the technical interview was because of the other students in CS Prep. We did so much pair programming, and that experience helped me with my technical communication. It's one thing to be able to code something yourself, but to be able to explain it and talk someone through it is of equal or greater importance. That was a big takeaway.
After you finished CS Prep, what was the admissions process like for Codesmith’s 12-week coding bootcamp?
It was a two-part process. The first part was a non-technical interview to assess my background and goals and to see if I was a good culture fit. It was definitely a longer interview and more in-depth than the CS Prep interview. We talked more about coding, my experience, and pair programming.
Part one wasn't stressful, but the second part was a technical interview, and I was definitely nervous. I did not need to fly to Los Angeles for that interview, but I wanted to check out the Codesmith headquarters in LA, and I felt that I may perform better in-person.
I coded each day for several weeks before the technical interview to make sure I was ready. That interview was challenging, and at some point, I hit a wall where I didn't know the answer. I had to take a deep breath, use technical communication (which I learned in CS Prep) and break down that problem, piece by piece. I had to show my knowledge, even if I didn't perfectly answer the question. Even though interviews can be stressful, Codesmith is really welcoming so I still found it to be a positive experience.
Could you have gotten into Codesmith without doing the CS Prep course?
I think I could have been accepted, but I would not have been as prepared for the technical interview. I would’ve been way more nervous. My experience with technical communication and pair programming at CS Prep built a really good foundation for a technical interview because I hadn't done a technical interview for a job in several years. CS Prep got me motivated and improved my confidence.
What are your plans after you graduate from Codesmith?
My familiarity and interests still lie within front end web development and design. But that could change as I work through the Codesmith curriculum. I'm really eager to learn more about full stack development, which is something I’ve never done professionally. For now, I just want a challenging job in a mid-to-senior level position.
I've worked for startups as well as huge corporations. I really dig the startup vibe and I’d like a job where my work has a direct impact. I'm trying to keep my options open when it comes to the industry I’d like to work in. I still have interests in music so it would be cool to combine art and code together again. I'm also aiming to work LA.
Do you keep in touch with anybody from the prep program? Is anyone going to the full-time program with you?
I've definitely kept in touch with several students from CS Prep. Some are interviewing and some have been accepted, which is awesome. Once CS Prep completed, we still did study groups a few times a week, and that was so valuable. Fortunately, we kept in touch.
When I went to LA a few weeks back, I met up with some of my prep cohort in person, so that was really nice. A huge part of the value I found in CS Prep was networking with other students who were applying, so I didn't feel so alone in the process.
What advice do you have for people thinking about attending a coding bootcamp? Do you recommend attending a coding bootcamp prep course?
I had a technical background before Codesmith, but for those who don't and are curious, I highly recommend a coding bootcamp. I was amazed with the other students – when I was pair programming and chatting with them about their lives and backgrounds, students who I thought had been coding for years, had just picked it up a few months ago. They learned fast! Computer science and programming can sound intimidating, but I've seen students excel so quickly. So if you are motivated, organized, and ambitious, it's totally doable.
Also, for those new to coding, it might be difficult to know what area of coding you want to go into because there are so many different sectors – back end, front end, full stack, etc. But there's a wealth of online resources for tutorials, so see what areas pique your interest. If you're still not sure, enroll in a bootcamp that can teach you various technical skills so you can figure it out.
In terms of Codesmith’s CS Prep, I highly recommend it. It was such a fantastic way to be welcomed into the Codesmith community. And there’s a great incentive where students who complete CS Prep get the tuition cost credited towards the full-time Codesmith tuition.
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.
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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 →