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: Daniel King of Codesmith
- What is Machine Learning? A Primer with Codesmith
- Your 2017 #LearnToCode New Year’s Resolution
Recent Codesmith Reviews: Rating 4.97
Software Engineering Immersive Program
- Codesmith offers scholarships for talented people from underrepresented backgrounds. Codesmith also offers a small number of Dean's scholarships where Codesmith will contribute 25% of fees to candidates in need
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prior Computer science and programming skills necessary
- Prep Work
- 4 weeks
Machine Learning Alumni Program
The Codesmith Machine Learning Alumni Program is an intensive part-time program for Codesmith Alumni focused on in-depth learning of the theory, algorithms, and libraries used by machine learning engineers in the field, with a focus on developing real-world machine learning portfolio projects. Topics include: Data visualization, Data introspection and manipulation techniques, Python data science libraries, Classification, Regression, and clustering machine learning algorithms, Artificial Neural Networks, and more. This program is currently only for Codesmith Alumni.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Completion of Codesmith Software Engineering Immersive
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Precourse covering Python and Introduction to Machine Learning
- Minimum Skill Level
- Beginner - Intermediate
New York City
Software Engineering Immersive Program
- Codesmith offers scholarships for talented people from underrepresented backgrounds. Codesmith also offers a small number of Dean's scholarships where Codesmith will contribute 25% of fees to candidates in need
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prior Computer science and programming skills necessary
- Prep Work
- 4 weeks
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I am a recent Codesmith graduate and soon I will begin work there as a fellow. The curriculum is fast-paced, thoughtfully constructed, and relevant to the current job market. The instructors are experienced, eloquent communicators who routinely go above and beyond their duties. The same can be said of the rest of the staff as well. I remember visiting Codesmith as a recent applicant and asking for help setting up a linter for my code editor (exciting!) The lead instructor had just finished a meeting and was packing his things to go home for the evening but agreed to stay late to sit with me and figure out my issue. What sets Codesmith apart, and what has inspired me to stay, is this type of commitment within the community.
From the beginning of the application process there is a strong emphasis on the development of not only leading software engineers but leaders in general. This includes expectations that students, staff, and alumni look out for, support, and push one another, and the bonds that have formed as a result will remain strong long after my time at Codesmith has passed. It is amazing how we as a cohort went from a collection of individuals to one family in such a brief time. It may sound cliche but that is my most important takeaway from my time as a student at Codesmith -- I have a group of people I know I can always go to and who can always come to me for anything. That, and after more 16-hour days than I could keep track of, I am pretty sure I can do anything. Oh, and I have the skills to land a mid to senior position at the leading tech companies in the world, as one cohort after another prove through their hard work and hiring results.
Codesmith was everything I had expected it to be and more. I was very worried at first because there weren't as many reviews for Codesmith as there were for other schools, but I really liked the modern frameworks that Codesmith was teaching. I decided to check out one of their weekly Meetups just to get a feel about what it's like and immediately, I knew that this school was for me. The school is super super fast paced and overwhelming, but I can say without a doubt that I became a better engineer because of it. The community was great and very supportive. The people that I've met at Codesmith will continue to be life long friends even after the program. I couldn't have asked for a better school to accelerate my growth. :)
If you're motivated and want to break into tech as an engineer, Codesmith is an excellent option. My cohort finished in January, and two weeks later I had competing job offers with salaries and job responsibilities in line with those that Codesmith advertises.
As a qualifier, I did have some prior programming experience and studied a technical subject in school (zero web development or formal computer science, though). Nevertheless, there were others in my cohort with far less technical backgrounds who saw similar otucomes. It's been about 2 and 1/2 months now, and the majority of my cohort is hired. Still, I highly recommend learning as much as you can before Codesmith. If you come in with more knowledge, you'll probably find it easier to get a ton out of the experience.
Many of the other reviews have accurately covered aspects such as the staff's support and availability, the curriculum, the community, and the challenging time commitment -- I agree with everything that's been said there. In my opinion, there are two things Codesmith does that set it apart and allow for such good outcomes:
2) They select people who genuinely enjoy learning and are drawn to the approach I mentioned in the above point. You can make a lot more progress faster if you're immersed in a group of people who are all motivated to learn, help each other out, and go explore "under the hood" (a phrase youll hear quite often there). Codesmith excels in putting together groups of people who willl push each other to improve.
If you're interested in technology and have thought about transitioning to engineerig, I highly recommend Codesmith.
I decided to set my expectations accordingly and wasn't really expecting much more than an internship or Jr. position out of the program. Ecstatic to report however that I am making exactly what Codesmith promised at a cutting-edge startup in Los Angeles. Don't get me wrong, the hiring process is rough, really rough. Not even the Codesmith staff telling you it’s rough will prepare you for how rough it is, however they do a stellar job setting you in the right frame of mind to survive. My advice is to treat every single interview like a practice run, because it's the only way you can handle that level of confrontation and rejection. It took me 8 weeks of aggressive job search and 6 final round rejections before I got my dream offer.
Why Codesmith is the best in LA
I have to say that the community at Codesmith is unlike anything I've ever experienced. The staff is amazing, but your cohort mates are really what bring the program all together. Being surrounded by a community of people eager to learn and teach as much as they can is contagious and an incredibly effective way of taking a crash course in something. Its also nice that Codesmith is fairly small, because you get direct access to job support, the CEO, technical leads, and technical mentors 24/7. All you have to do is approach them. This is immensely important and unique to Codesmith.
Last thing I want to say is that this review is coming from someone who was on the lower half of our cohort's technical aptitude. There were some really smart people in my cohort. Throughout your experience, you will hear success stories of former graduates. I remember thinking that I would never be one of those stories, because I wasn't as quick as everyone else, It took me 3 interviews to even be accepted into the program. Very happy with my experience at Codesmith and consider it to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made :)
Full Disclosure: I have a (rather old) Electrical Engineering Degree from USC, and have been dabbling in coding for a long time. Prior to enrolling in Codesmith, I had been teaching myself with free? on-line courses for about a year and a half, with the goal of becoming a software engineer. I used codeacademy, cousera, nodeschool, and freecodecamp, and would highly recommend completing at least the freecodecamp front-end developer certification before applying to Codesmith.
Outcome: I got competing job offers about 6-weeks after graduation and ended up with a position that exceeded my expectations.
The energy and environs do a great job of getting one in the mindset of constant collaboration and explosive growth - it's about 75% start-up, with a small side of dorm life, and just a touch of actual boot-camp via the 70+ hour weeks (if you are the type to leave early, that is). That said, the core team does a pretty consistently amazing job of doing their best to make everyone as comfortable as possible in what is necessarily a sometimes stressful and monotonous (those hours again) environment.
Be prepared to learn as much from your cohort-mates (and learn by teaching them) as you do from the instruction - not because the instruction is lacking in material, but because there is so much to be absorbed that you will find yourself creating your own mental models and comparing them to your peers on subjects that were covered in lecture, but you couldn't grok at the time. This accelerated lecture-and-self-study format is very well-managed, which brings us to…
In addition to the actual technical curriculum, the entire experience is impeccably crafted to provide the right nudges at the proper moments to catapult a particular kind of individual to heights they never thought possible. The admissions process also seem to do an impressive job of screening for the 'right' kind of person that will benefit from the program in their admissions process, which is important, because your success will depend on the success of your cohort-mates.
This is hands-down Codesmith's greatest asset. Many of the alumni still come to visit and participate, and they are all now capable, empathetic engineers who provide a great example and relate-able stories to new devs. The culture fostered by them, the fellows and LTMs, and the core team is one of unquestioned mutual support and desire to succeed - I honestly felt that everyone there believed in me and wanted to see me achieve my goals.
The real heroes at Codesmith are the core operations team for their ownership of the program and complete dedication to each and every member of every cohort. If just about anything is wrong, Victoria can and will make it right.
The star of the show, finally, is Will, who performs countless acts of voodoo to make the whole thing happen. These include a genuine, contagious belief in the mission which gives him the power to inspire almost on cue, a demonstrably super-human name recall ability, and a charmingly British fondness for giving memorable toasts when they are needed. If he is offering you kool-aid, drink it. Every time.
Codesmith is a great place to advance your coding skills to the level of a mid/senior level developer. The staff does an excellent job of pushing students' problem solving skills while making sure you are kept abreast to the latest web technologies. The community built around the institution is really fantastic. There is no shortage of former students/mentors that you can go to with real world questions and insight into life as a coder; and it seems like the CEO still knows every student's name thats ever attended the program. I think one of Codesmith's major differentiators is the quality of their hiring program. They will not stop working with you until you are hired, it doesn't matter how many days/weeks/months ago your class ended. When you get accepted into Codesmith it's not just for 3 months, it's for a lifetime. The network of excellent, smart, driven people that you become a part of will no doubt be vital to you for years to come. As an alumni, you can always go to Codesmith to work on a project, get so advice from one of the staff, or just talk with other devs.
If you are serious about advancing your programming skills to a professional level, I definitely recommend taking a look at Codesmith.
- Moved from NY to LA to attend Codesmith
- Worked 5 years prior at home automation tech company as a software engineer
- Graduated as part of May '16 Cohort 7 class
- Accepted six figure salary job offer as frontend developer within 2 weeks of graduating Codesmith
Excellent Community & Culture
I think the two things that made my experience so great with Codesmith was the community and culture thriving there. From the very beginning, we were taught that our experience for the next 3 months wasn't going to be dictated simply by what we each of us could individually accomplish and learn. No, our experience was going to be heavily inspired by what we could accomplish and build together as a cohort. Codesmith did an outstanding job making sure that we were always thinking about how to "level up" each other via many different approaches such as pair programming to work on solving problems with a partner or simply creating a space where people could freely exchange ideas and dialogue with one another without fear of judgement.
Great Learning Environment
The academic knowledge that Codesmith teaches to get you up to speed with current technologies and more importantly their emphasis on honing your ability to think like an engineer, I think, are also what makes Codesmith a great program to quickly develop yourself into a great software engineer. The pace of learning is fast, but they also ensure that you succeed in the program. You'll become familiarized and well-equipped with the technologies and skills necessary to succeed as a developer today.
Exceptional Job Search & Hiring Support
Hiring Day was an exciting experience and a great way to conclude the program. There were many top tech companies present there including the company which I eventually joined. Codesmith was extremely supportive in this process by helping us prepare well in advance. And to top that off, Codesmith also provided post graduation support, doing regular weekly checkups of how we are doing in our job search process and providing helpful advice to guide us towards the job we're looking for.
Codesmith certainly exceeded my expectations of how much I could get out of such a short condensed program. I'm really happy to have been a part of it and to have had the fortune of meeting some really bright, like-minded, compassionate people, both the staff and cohortmates alike. If I had to do it all over again, I'd jump on it in a heartbeat.
1. pushes you to expect more out of yourself and your classmates than you probably thought previously possible or were used to in previous walks of life (students regularly work until midnight)
2. thoroughly exposes you to the mindset of a true problem-solving software engineer
3. puts you through an exhaustive hiring program full of whiteboarding sessions, mock interviews, multiple resume iterations, and Github and social media profile preparation (THEY WANT TO GET YOU HIRED), all throughout the second half of the program so that you have all the tools you need the minute you graduate. All of that is in addition to dedicated post-graduation hiring support featuring regular check-ins, follow-up lectures and on-site discussions. Though Codesmith boasts great hiring numbers, a student does occasionally struggle to get a job. I can say with certainty that this is not for lack of trying by the CS staff. In the rare case that a graduate hasn’t found employment, they are still strategizing with that person to get him/her hired months out of the program.
To be clear, this is not a program that places you into a job. They do open their expansive network to students, which includes a hiring day event at the end of the program that regularly leads to a handful of phone screens and on-sites, but the rest is up to you. They give you all the tools to succeed, and then some. You have to have the confidence, the drive and the ability to translate everything you learn over those 3 months into the career you want.
Nothing in life is guaranteed.
Codesmith is no different and they can't guarantee you a job, but they give you the best opportunity in trying to get one. They can only show you the door and show you opportunites, but it is up to you to take those opportunites, if you don't, then you miss your chance. If you think Codesmith is a program that will hold your hand the whole way, then stop now and dont apply to Codesmith. This program is only for the ones who really want to be great software engineers and make a difference in the community and to push themselves and others to be the best they can be. I will not sugar coat it, this program is tough and very intense, but what you get out of it are skills and techniques that are priceless. Having the ability to code, gives you the freedom to now take ideas and bring them to life with just your mind and a laptop (not many other skills you learn today can have that sort of benefit).
Codesmith isnt just teaching their students how to code for three months and get a job. They are trying to teach you a lifestyle of how to learn and keep learning. Since languages will always be changing and new technology will be discovered, software engineers have to learn to adapt and Codesmith helps you do just that. If you are applying to Codesmith here are some expectations that you need to keep in mind.
The Codesmith program is 3 months and budget in another 1- 3 months for looking for a job. Just because you finish the program DOES NOT mean you are finished. You have really only just begun! The job search starts once the program is done and it ends up being even more time intensive than the course because of all the jobs that Codesmith encourages you to apply to weekly. This work is all for your benefit though because the main reason most people will be doing the program is to get a software engineering job at the end. So, DO NOT take a vacation after the program, wait until you have SIGNED your offer! Like I said earlier, Codesmith can't guarantee you a job, you have to put in the work like everyone else to get a job. However, you havea benefit over the competition who didn't do Codesmith, the training and coaching for coding interviews and whiteboarding that Codsemith offers on top of many other things you will have learned once you have finished the program! I felt so prepared and confident going into interviews even though I had never had a software engineering job or even job experience in software until I started the program. On top of all the hours of practice interviews and whiteboarding sessions, Codesmith also has a Hiring Day event where 20-30 companies come and watch you showcase your final projects and go through lightning interviews with you. Some students even get onsite interviews from many of these companies! Just because you do get this event DOES NOT mean you stop applying for jobs outside of the hiring partners that come to the event. This is where many people might feel discouraged if they don't get an interview with one of the hiring partners but you CAN NOT give up! You have to keep pushing through and all of your classmates are supporting you and using their networks to help everyone get jobs. Everyone in my cohort was supportive and reached out to anyone they knew who were hiring software engineers. Codesmith creates THIS community and thats what sets it apart from many of the other bootcamps.
Codesmith is a program like nothing else I have ever experienced. Being surrounded by other students who wanted to learn how to code just as badly as I did, really pushed all of us to strive for success. Codesmith gives you the best learning environment and their curriculum is only getting better due to their iterative process from cohort to cohort. If you are willing to put everything you have into this program, then Codesmith is the right place for you and your life will forever be changed.
I wanted to add more detail to my initial review.
My time as a student was stressful, but rewarding. I was constantly trying to cram info into my brain at a rapid pace, and sometimes it was overwhelming, but I had some really solid people around me to help me through it. They would constantly take me on food dates, which really helped to relieve the pressure.
Circles were also helpful. Circles are where you talk about how you're feeling with other students and a member of staff, and they help you get through whatever troubles you're having. I wish they had it more as a student, because it was always nice to vent, but I still appreciate having it at all.
Aside from the emotional stress, I loved my time here. The bonfires, the relay races, the people... I miss it all. Codesmith has really outdone itself by consistently bringing in beautiful people who are not only smart, but empathetic.
Life at Codesmith was tough, but because of that, I'll never forget it.
Wow. Just... wow. This program was something else. Before I came here I remember I was lacking confidence in my ability to bring something to life with code, as well as a sense of belonging. Now, flip both upside-down. I feel like I could code anything. I can design API's, websites, databases - everything. And if I can't right now, Codesmith trained me to figure it out. To put my head down and solve the problem. This skill is so difficult to teach, but Codesmith figured out how to do it. Don't forget about the sense of belonging, though. That piece is crucial, too.
The people I've met at Codesmith are all insanely brilliant. Not only that, but they're also extremely humble, and just good people. They'll stay up for hours with you late into the night to help you figure out that problem you just can't wrap your head around. They're family to me in all honesty.
Overall, Codesmith has given me a family I know I can always count on, and additionally, it made me hireable. That's exactly what they promise, and they kept it.
I graduated September 20, 2016 and was hired exactly one month later, on October 19. I make almost twice now what I made managing accounts at a PR/advertising firm and am immensely satisfied with where my career is and with my decision to attend Codesmith. Without the program I would never have been able to make it to where I am, hence the five star review.
That said, there are a few things I wish I had known going in. These points are meant to be helpful to potential students and are a reflection of my own experience.
Although the program lasts for three months, the time commitment that they tell you to prepare for is actually six months total -- three months of program plus three months post-graduation to find a job. So budget that in.
Throughout the course, I never felt 100% prepared or felt like I was able to complete any of the coursework to a level that totally satisfied me. The pace was incredibly fast and there was never enough time to learn everything thoroughly or in-depth enough to make me feel relieved, like ‘oh I got this’. I think the program could be more effective if it was longer.
When you come out, there is a huge gap in tech experience between the mid-level jobs you are going for and the years of experience you have. How to efficiently and effectively bridge this gap was never adequately answered, in my opinion, and depended a lot on the individual. In my case, I was able to get a mid-level salary due to the fact that the job I got specifically required agency experience, which I already had. That said, the Codesmith staff is super supportive and will be by your side through the entire process. Also, I know other graduates for whom this particular issue wasn’t a problem for them.
Those things aside, the program does work and I am immensely pleased to have gone through it. Like other reviews here, I’ll iterate that it’s not easy and that no one hands you a job once you graduate; the onus is really on the individual to maximize the tools they are given. But the staff is really supportive and they do a phenomenal job at proactively fostering and maintaining a positive and community-oriented learning environment. As one of three female students in a class of 17 I was a little apprehensive of a ‘bro-grammer’ culture but from day one Codesmith made it clear that there was a zero-tolerance policy for anything outside of a supportive and respectful atmosphere. I would absolutely recommend Codesmith, especially to other women. We need more females in tech!
I had always loved the problem solving and engineering creativity and freedom afforded by software, and it's hard to know what it truly takes to get it to the next, professional level. It is somewhat of a leap of faith to drop everything and go all in on learning a new skill. But if coding is something you truly enjoy, Codesmith provides an excellent environment for massively accelerating that process. That is for many reasons, and I believe the most important are the people involved there. The staff is truly dedicated to getting everyone to the next level, and just as importantly, you will learn and be pushed by the students you are learning with. This is hugely important, and I believe they do an excellent job of finding highly intelligent students who really want to learn.
With that being said, they cannot do everything for you. You must show up ready to go and ready to push yourself as hard as you ever have. Learning new skills takes time, dedication, and tons of practice along with the perserverance to keep pushing past inevitable hurdles and barriers. This will really never stop, and if you think it will, software might not be the right field for you. But if you bring that energy, you will be shocked at the things you can do. Codesmith provides an excellent engineering environment. If you love coding, building, learning, and people, I can't imagine a much better place for accelerating your personal devlelopment. I think the other reviews have accurately portrayed the day-to-day life there.
I graduated and am now working at a Bay Area company that I got into contact with through the Codesmith hiring partners. I love it there and am continuing to push myself very hard to grow as an engineer. I had multiple hiring offers in SoCal and NorCal within a few weeks of graduating and am excited about the talented, compassionate network of folks I've met in the program.
Codesmith is the real deal. It's very challenging and rigorous but you get out of it everything you put in, and more. My cohort had 13 graduates and we all were super motivated and dedicated to learning as much as we possibly could over the 3 months. Teamwork and personal drive are crucial to succeeding in this program. I not only made Codesmith my number one life priority, I made it my only priority and I now have an awesome job that I love.
The most valuable skills you learn at Codesmith are how to attack problems and efficiently search for answers. They do an amazing job of prepping students for interviews so you feel ready and prepared to hit the ground running after graduation. Their hiring day is also unlike any other bootcamp’s. They introduce students to some of the top companies and startups in the area, and many of these intros quickly turn into on-sites.
My only advice prior to attending Codesmith is to do your homework and make sure you’re truly passionate about coding because learning at such an accelerated pace is no easy feat. If you put in the work and are excited by the idea of learning with and from your peers, you will leave Codesmith with invaluable skills and the job of your dreams.
A bit of background about me. I graduated from UCLA with an Applied Mathematics B.S degree in December 2015, had a total of 2 C++ classes and that was the extent of my software engineering experience . I found Codesmith through a friend and visited JS The Hard Parts on a few Thursdays. I immediately felt the energy that people there had, I am not sure if this is just the software engineering culture but Codesmith just had that vibe that everyone wanted to be there. I now have my first job out of college as a software engineer. I graduated from Codesmith (August 2016) and I got hired two weeks after hiring day by one of the hiring day partners.
Before I go on about my experience at Codesmith I would like to add an exception. That is, this program is only for certain people and those people are the ones who are 110% dedicated to learning, growing, and giving it their all. This is not some ‘chill’ bootcamp where you can just hangout and mess around and then expect to get a job, if you put in the effort the results will come. Now saying that, I put my life on hold for 4 months (two weeks before and after the program) and dedicated more than 80 hours some weeks to my learning and my projects. You don’t need to do that but you do need to be motivated and completely bought in to what they are teaching you because if you don’t, you won’t get all that they have to offer.
Make sure to eat a decent breakfast before you get there because once you are there the hack hours starts after the 5 minute stand up at 9am. You don’t want to skip out on any of the hack hours. I was one of few that would bring their own lunch and dinner. I used my Sundays to get laundry done, make lunch and dinner for the week, and then relax a little bit. I would make sure to have some type of caffeine right before the lectures as most of the times your lectures could fall right after lunch, aka food coma. Besides that, I had a good flow and think everyone should be able to manage their time with only the one day off, like I said before you just have to be completely focused.
As a recent UCLA grad I learned from my math professors who were the genius people wanted for their research and were not the best teachers. This is not how codesmith is. The lead instructor was a very good teacher and he is also brilliant. Make sure to utilize him and any other people there, they literally are there for you so make sure to annoy them with as many questions as possible.
Also my experience from my math classes was that everything was based on a ranking and if you did better than your classmates you received a higher grade. The one thing that was so different and amazing was that there was still the competitive nature at codesmith, you always wanted to show the best projects or get as far as you could on all of the modules. But never was there a time where anyone wished a classmate wouldn’t do as well as them, but everyone was held accountable and we all pushed each other. This was by far one the the best aspects of Codesmith.
If you don’t know already, Codesmith hosts JS The Hard Parts on Thursdays and they are also becoming one of the biggest meet ups in LA for React and Node. There is great opportunity to meet a whole slew of different people with different experiences and endless amounts of networking. Definitely take advantage of this but do not make this your priority while in the program because you should be focusing on learning and retaining everything.
I can honestly say I would not have been able to get any decent job without Codesmith’s help with my job prep. The mock interviews and resume building were the best help I have ever received in terms of job prep. The job search process is just that, a process, and they did an incredible job prepping me for that process. As long as you’re a hard working, compassionate, empathic, and personable person, you won’t have a hard time getting a job even if your experience is low, i.e. I have never had a real job before, and now I am a software engineer making 6 figures. Incredible to be able to say that and I owe it all to Codesmith.
Who are you?
I’m an EMT, Berkeley grad, and returned Peace Corps volunteer that joined the Codesmith program at the end of my 2-year service in the highlands of Guatemala.
Did it work?
I’ll be starting as a front-end web developer with a Codesmith hiring partner in Santa Barbara next week. I received two other offers some time after I accepted my current position.
There are a number of reasons, but a lot of them are already covered in previous reviews. Rather than echo, I’ll pull a Steve Jobs, get obsessive and detail-oriented, and try to cover topics that are smaller in scope but provide insight to someone who hasn’t necessarily attended the school.
There are benefits to having a CEO that is a strong and constant presence. Besides frequently handling business at the school:
Will was there to set the cultural tone of our class on day 1 -- as a cohort, we succeed together or not at all.
He gave a variety of different lectures on topics like object-oriented programming, technical blogging, and interviewing expectations throughout the weeks.
Will was with us to give a kick-off presentation for our first hackathon together.
He was there halfway through the program for one-on-one sessions.
He was there on our Hiring Day to open the floor for our thesis project presentations.
Two weeks after the program concluded, Will was there personally answering questions when the school brought our cohort in for job hunt updates.
Granted he’s not there every single day, he is available to you. Will might be encouraging a tech firm to attend hiring day or interviewing with journalists to discuss Codesmith’s philosophies, but I won’t hesitate to say that if I were to email him now as a graduate 3 months out, he would respond within a day.
CULTURE & COMMUNITY
It’s that moment when the fellows have been gone for hours. It’s 1:30 AM. You’re hammering away at a chrome extension with a partner and neither of you know how to proceed. Or maybe, you’ve invested an hour and your map method still isn’t working in Cheerio (protip: read docs and check the parameters). You know everyone’s exhausted and short on time, but you need the help, and you have to ask for it. These stressful situations are when culture really comes into play.
The community is focused on unconditional support. Expect to have it here, and expect to give it here. Let me give you a few examples.
I was working on a module with the avid surfer / Boeing engineer of our group, and we nail another exercise together. It’s looking like we might be on track to finish early. Get home. Break from the 80ish hour weeks. The first thing he asks is, “How do you feel about checking up on everyone else and seeing if they need a hand? It won’t take long.”
For a hackathon, we’re given about 6 hours (including lunch) to ad-hoc something functional. An experienced software engineer in our cohort has his eureka moment, bypasses problems with CORS and network requests with some proxy workaround, and has an hour and a half to make his project work. He then gets peppered with questions by cohort-mates. “Hey, how’d you get that proxy to work?” “Could you give me a hand with flexbox?” He carves out even more of his time to help. So much so that he presents an unfinished project (which I know for a fact he could’ve completed).
I could go on and on about the small details that made the culture so magical, but it really is a matter of seeing it in action for yourself. Visit the campus. Have a conversation with a few current students. You’ll understand.
FEEDBACK ON FEEDBACK ON FEEDBACK
If you bring up a concern, it will be considered. During the first 6 weeks, feedback is given to Victoria, director of operations. Every two days as a group, you’ll review the recently completed core modules and lectures. “Please split the testing and build tools module into two separate days.” Lo and behold, the next cohort has two days for the two modules. “Can we get more cheez-its in the kitchen?” And like magic, it appears. “Reviewing our React module with ES6 syntax when we learned with ES5 syntax? BAD.” You get the idea.
The feedback doesn’t end when sessions end either. After graduating, when I saw staff at a tech fair, I started chatting with Victoria. We were talking about the implications of increasing class sizes, and she said, “It’s great that you care. What do you think we should do?” She and her coworkers are open to criticism and change not because their job tells them it’s important for company development from 9-5. They sincerely want what’s best for students.
With all of that in mind, obviously not all suggestions will be implemented (there are still parts of the curriculum in ES5 and parts in ES6, there still might be grammatical errors in exercises, etc.), but it will be for a combination of reasons -- other low-hanging fruit to take care of, impact of changes, etc.
It’s interesting that the website doesn’t immediately mention this, but there is a support network when the program finishes.
A week after graduation, the entire cohort is brought back to campus for school updates, discussions about job-search apprehensions, and personal meetings with Hira.
There are check-in calls with Hira every two weeks after the on-campus meeting. She reaches out to track your progress, mental well-being, and again, answer any lingering questions. And the best part? She always follows through. “You’ve got an offer? I’ll get you in touch with Eric.” And the day after, I’m having a conversation with Eric. “Ah! AngelList messages can be tricky. Send over some of your examples and I’ll check them out.” A day after I send them, she replies. Here’s part of the email.
No problem Jeremy, that's what I'm here for!
Some notes on your messages:
The personal touch is great. You're really highlighting your passion for what the company is doing, I wouldn't change anything there.
Ultimately, the company wants to know what YOU can do for THEM. It's great that you have a learning mindset, and seek first to understand, but try to throw in a phrase about why you're qualified. Is there a particular stack they're working in that you're a boss at? Did you work on a technical project that is somewhat similar to what they're focused on?”
You aren’t the product of some easy-bake oven. Codesmith doesn’t “set it and forget it.” The job hunt was one of the more difficult parts of the journey, and it's genuinely nice to be able to rely on staff for solid guidance.
Bro. Now I have even more questions.
Feel free to get in touch!
I'm a recent graduate of Codesmith, became a Codesmith engineering fellow, and am now getting ready to start a full-stack position with a wonderful company. I can say without a doubt that Codesmith is a transformative experience. I have honestly never worked harder in my life and it absolutely paid off.
The program is rigorous and designed to not only teach you core concepts, but also how to learn, find an answer, and problem solve. As a result, I felt prepared to enter the job market having learned in-demand skills while also feeling confident in my ability to continue learning and adapting throughout my career.
The projects you work on and community support are what really drew me to Codesmith - and I was not disappointed. The projects you build are technically challenging and are often directly addressing an issue in the developer community. I learned so much during the project period - not only about web development but also how to approach problems, debug, and coordinate with a team of engineers.
I also became extremely close with my cohort. These students were successful prior to Codesmith while also being caring and supportive, who I genuinely enjoyed spending time with (for 14 hours/day). The staff is also approachable and truly invested in your success - going out of their way to help however they can. They offer advice without hand holding through topics - forcing you think about concepts more deeply and giving you a personal sense of accomplish it when you figure it out.
I wouldn't be where I am today without Codesmith. It was a truly incredible experience.
In addition to the instruction the job placement was such a huge help. Within a month of finishing the program I had two job offers, one of which was through Codesmith's job fair. Although coders are high in demand right now, it always takes a lot of work to get a new job, and the job support from Codesmith (interview prep, resume iteration, job fair, weekly check-ins) made the process so much less difficult.
All that being said, if you are seriously considering attending Codesmith you need to be ready to bring it. I was no stranger to hard work and long hours before I attended but those were 12 of the most challenging weeks of my life. Getting through the program, and landing a job on the other side, takes a lof of grit, determination, and most importanly you have to love to code. Attending Codesmith, and being employed as a software engineer, is really hard work. The high saleries won't be enough to get you through the day. You must also have a passion for it.
If you do have that passion Codesmith will provide everything else you need.
Codesmith is the type of program where every student leaves as a transformed version of the person he/she came in as. The most obvious transformation is one’s exponentially expanded software engineering knowledge and experience, but students also leave with a radically broader grasp on empathy, the kind of empathy you gain from intense pair programming sessions and grinding through 12+ hour days with your Cohort-mates.
Attending a coding bootcamp is a major life decision, and I have not once regretted choosing Codesmith over any of the other options in LA or elsewhere. You receive full devotion during and after graduation and I wholeheartedly believe there is nowhere better to begin the next chapter of one’s life.
Hired: Yes (In Los Angeles)
Salary: 100k+ and Equity
Graduated: June, 2016
I was hired by a company that Codesmith brought to hiring day. I make a salary equivalent to a mid-level developer in San Francisco because that's the kind of quality engineers that Codesmith makes. Prior to this I dropped out of graduate school for Landscape Architecture, and I worked in construction before that.
Codesmith teaches you the fundamentals in data structures, algorithms, and web technologies. You will learn the "whys" of how things work, which will make you a better engineer. Every day you're challenged with an algorithm(which is important because companies will test your problem solving abilities). You learn the current trending technologies that will assist you in getting a job. (I currently work with a front-end framework called React). Then you build a project that proves you are a capable engineer, and people will be like "Ooo" and "Ahhh"(that means they'yre impressed). Then they assist you in finding a job by throwing a huge party(well both an actual dinner party, but also a hirng event, which is pretty sweet). After graduation, you will have weekly meetings that checks your current progress on your hiring status.
It all sounds shiny, but it will take a lot of work to get you from an unemployable world of warcraft player into an employable professional software engineer. However it's a lot of fun, and Codesmith creates the culture and curriculum that gets you to that point. I'm glad I decided to go to Codesmith, now I can be an employed world of warcraft player(I kid, I work pretty hard at my job). On a serious note, Codesmith's curriculum and staff is top notch. I enjoyed my time there and I hope you do too.
Best of luck to anyone who's read this review, and you can do it!
I am a former student, former engineering fellow, and current employee (Software Engineer) at one of Codesmith's hiring partner companies.
The staff at Codesmith was quick to respond to inquiries and setting up appointments for both the cultural and technical interviews was a breeze. There was a good amount of emphasis placed on learning JS fundamentals on your own before applying, and as a hard worker, I appreciated knowing that I would be surrounded by other hard workers if I got into the program.
Something that really stood out to me during the application and interview process was how passionate the Codemsith community was about cultivating a positive engineering environment. I was deciding between Codesmith and another prominent bootcamp in LA that I was also accepted at, but the culture at Codesmith is really what solidfied my decision to go there.
The program seemed to be academically challenging for all students despite people's varying levels of technical experience and background. It was well-paced, and although I was constantly challenged, I never felt like I couldn't handle the amount of work, and I certainly never felt bored.
As a working software engineer now, I realize how relevant almost everything we learned in the program was. My employer seems to always be surprised by the amount I already know despite this being my first engineering job.
Also, I'd like to add that getting into the program was a competitive process, but once you're in, you really develop a strong rapport with your cohort. I still keep in touch with my cohort mates and it's inspiring to see how much we've all grown and accomplished since the program ended.
I applied and was selected to stay on as an engineering fellow after my session ended. I stayed on for an extra six weeks (though it's typically twelve) to assist with solution and approach lectures, guide students as they learn new concepts, and help debug students' code.
I was really able to solidify the material I learned as a student in the program having to explain it to new students and answer their unexpected questions during the fellowship. Being able to explain technical concepts in great depth really set me apart from other applicants when I started interviewing.
Job Placement Experience
I met my current employer at Codesmith's Hiring Day around six weeks into my fellowship. They noted that they were impressed with my communication skills and dedication to technical excellence, which wasn't surprising since both qualities are constantly emphasized at Codesmith.
Even after getting traction in the interview process with a few different companies, the Codesmith team stayed involved and were always checking in to make sure I had the support I needed to be sucessful as I was getting close to landing my first software engineering job. I couldn't appreciate them more for having helped me get to where I am now.
Before I joined Codesmith, I thought it would be near impossible to become a software engineer without a major in computer science. Codesmith not only gave me the training, but also the confidence and network that allowed me to become a working software engineer today. 10/10, would do it again.
Two things set Codesmith apart in my opinion.
1. The people: There are hundreds of coding bootcamps out there and it was difficult to figure out which one was the best for me. I visited as many as I could, and tried to figure out what was differnent about each one, and what schools existed to just take my money. I attended JS The Hard Parts at Codesmith's headquarters in LA, and was blown away by everyone's willingness to help me learn. That continued after I started as a student. Everyone at Codesmith, from the instructors, to the fellows, and even the students was willing to stay late and help me become a better developer. On top of that, the students at Codesmith are exceptionally gifted and talented people who previously have gone to the worlds best universities and have been very successful in other careers. You can't help but learn faster when you are surrounded by such talented people all day.
Our latest on Codesmith
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 →