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 roles.
Recent Codesmith Reviews: Rating 4.86
Recent Codesmith News
- Increasing the Visibility of Women in Tech after Codesmith
- What is AWS? A Guide to Amazon Web Services for Beginners
- New Year, New Career? Learning to Code in 2019!
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- June 24, 2019
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- If you pass the CS Prep assessment you are guaranteed a technical interview with our full time Codesmith Program. Refunds for the course are available and distributed on a case by case basis.
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- Suitable for beginners who are ready to level up to intermediate and advanced material.
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- We recommend some familiarity with the content in the Precourse Unit on CSX - our free online learning platform - https://csx.codesmith.io/.
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More Start DatesJune 24, 2019 - OnlineApply by June 24, 2019
CSX is Codesmith's free online learning platform, providing 100+ hours of curriculum and challenges, workshops and pair programming, video solutions for exercises, and an active Slack community.
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- Online, New York City, Los Angeles
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In PersonFull Time60 Hours/week12 Weeks
- Start Date
- June 3, 2019
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- New York City, Los Angeles
- We have financing partnerships available as well as case by case payment plans! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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- Prior computer science and programming skills necessary - many applicants are self taught through our free weekly JS workshops/online prep course.
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Steer clear of Codesmith if you're not ready to be challenged! Over 12 grueling weeks, you will be primed to tackle algorithmic challenges and pick up new web technologies (React/Redux/SQL/noSQL) at breakneck pace. The fact that each member of my cohort was able to hold his/her own - despite the unrelenting pace of the curriculum - is testament to the dedication of and empowerment fostered by the instructors and teaching staff who give the program its momentum. Career-wise, the support I have received from Codesmith (in addition to the numerous networking opportunities during the course of the program) has been invaluable and will be very encouraging for those seeking opportunities in the software dev market for the first time.
I'm writing this review as I finally cleared my background check for my mid-level offer after 1 month of graduating from Codesmith in order to shine light for those who are in my position 4 months ago.
In that sense, I'll speak to what I wish I would have read before making the leap to Codesmith. If you're reading this, you've probably narrowed down your choices to the top bootcamps - Fullstack, HR, App Academy - but maybe you've heard of Codesmith or went to JS the Hard Parts. That was me and I was ready to go to Fullstack until I went to one workshop and immediately changed my mind.
To me the big 3 differentiators of Codesmith are:
In the end, that's what we care about right? Codesmith has been consistently getting its graduates 6 figure salaries and now they have the audited data to prove it. If you go to CIRR, you can see their average salary way over any bootcamp in NY, and I believe the US. Some bootcamps even started leaving off their results because of how bad it's gotten. As I recently interviewed, I can speak to why - the industry is getting fierce as bootcamps and colleges are churning out more and more grads. While other bootcamps stayed complacent, Codesmith innovated - as the hiring program is phenomenal and is not comparable to anything else offered. Other bootcamps just tell you to make your resume look pretty and give you mock interviews but Codesmith's hiring program seriously prepares you to not only pass the interviews, but to get the interviews - which is the most important part. Coming out of a bootcamp, especially with no experience, you're already going to have a hard time getting interviews but not Codesmith grads. Some people in my cohort had to disable their notifications because they were getting spammed with interview requests by recruiters.
Well, now you're probably wondering if Codesmith has such great results, why aren't they as well known as all the others? Well, its because Codesmith doesn't go for guerilla marketing like others. When I was googling coding terms, and even now, I couldn't go 5 minutes without seeing a Fullstack Academy ad. When I finished Hack Reactor Prep, I couldn't go 5 days without seeing an email reminder telling me to sign up for the next cohort. Why? Because those bootcamps were acquired and are incentivized work to increase their bottom line and churn out grads. I didn't want to feel like I was just another face in a sea of students. Codesmith doesn't do guerilla marketing and keeps its cohorts small, having only 2 in person running at each time. One in their senior phase, to mentor the juniors, who are in the beginning phase. That way education quality is upheld, more individual attention can be given, and everyone forms lasting relationships.
If you check out the Codesmith projects, you'll realize why grads get only mid level offers or higher. Instead of building some slack/airbnb clone or some random thing no one will ever use, grads are building developer tools that people actually use. Trust me - when your interviewer hears that your project was starred by core team members of the framework you're USING - I promise you they'll be impressed.
In the end, if you work hard enough, you can join the Codesmith family of software engineers, all whose lives have been changed by this experience. I encourage anyone out there learning to code to keep working hard, and come to a Thursday night workshop at Codesmith and see what it really is all about!
As many other have noted, Codesmith’s 12-week course is both an extremely challenging and extremely rewarding journey. The aspect that made it possible was the unbelievable assistance from the community. The unflagging support from both the staff and fellow students make the long hours (10-12 hours day, if not more) manageable — enjoyable even — and it never feels like you’re alone during any part of the marathon.
The structured pace is fast, but at no point did I feel left behind because there is always someone willing to review curriculum material. The onus of mastery falls on the initiative of the student (additional long hours or weekend work), but Codesmith mentors and teachers do an amazing job of making themselves available.
The production project portion of the program forces students to think outside the box and interact with their team in a similar way that they might in the real world. The graphQL migration tool my team built was a crucial learning experience and huge talking point during my job search and interviews.
With so many bootcamp options available, it can be difficult to gauge the flavor of each and whether a course might be right for you. Codesmith’s CS Prep and free CSX course is a great way to get a sense of the culture and curriculum. I would heartily recommend Codesmith to someone looking to level-up in fullstack development and it was one of the best educational/career decisions I’ve ever made.
To define Codesmith as just a coding boot camp would be an understatement. It is a software engineering residency. The first six weeks of the program are the junior phase where you learn new topics in two-day units. The units consist of about 10% lecture and 90% programming with a partner. I was a little put off by this idea at first, but as the days went on I realized that the best way to learn is to struggle through the material together with less hand-holding as possible. You can still request help from the existing fellows and seniors in the program if you ever get stuck but they are there to help you think and guide you rather than blatantly give you the answer. The topics that are covered are always current with the latest and greatest. During my time we covered algorithms, data structures, DOM Manipulation, React, Node, PostgreSQL, Mongo, and Testing, to name a few. Near the end of the junior phase, you will have an opportunity to work on different projects using the technologies you have learned thus far. In addition to all of these units, we had a number of extra activities like weekly family dinners, circles, hackathons, and Thursday night drinks. This all helped bring the cohorts together and made it feel like we were all part of one team.
The six weeks of the course focus a big production project that you and your group come up with during ideation week of the program and hiring support. During this time you are encouraged to include technologies that you have not learned thus far to include in your project. It was a bit overwhelming at first to apply new technologies to our projects, but the first six weeks taught me a very valuable lesson which is learning how to learn, knowing what to do when you get stuck. Through our research were able to overcome any blocks that we encountered at a much faster pace than I thought we could.
Comparing myself to before I started this program and I realized how much I have grown as an engineer, a mentor, and just overall being okay with not knowing everything but also having the ability to overcome blocks. Now I'm not saying it's easy, there were very long strenuous days and a lot of material to go over, but if you're committed to growing as an empathetic and confident engineer then there is no better place than Codesmith. If you're still on the fence I would recommend attending their JavaScipt the Hard Parts classes and I will promise you will not be disappointed.
Given that one understands the personal commitment required, I reccomend Codesmith wholeheartedly. Five reasons why:
1. There's a hiring day. Nothing compares to sitting down and doing a real interview. Eight companies came by. A hiring day gives you incomparable experience.
2. I got to work on specific cutting-edge technologies. Of note: testing with Jest and Enzyme. Dockerization. Learning to navigate AWS.
3. The production project. The project ideas come from the students themselves. The teachers approve ideas, but do not supply them. I worked on a testing and mocking tool for gRPCs. I worked at least 13 hours a day, six days a week, for 5 weeks. Usually about 15 hours. I learned a ton, and I'm proud of what I made. We self-learned about RPC systems, protobufs, HTTP2 - all sorts of nonsense. There is no course for these things. Only documentation. Reading it gave me depth and experience. We wanted a professional, responsive UI and our team broke our backs make it clean and fast.
4. The people. I put in an insane amount of time. My teammates matched me hour-for-hour. The level of dedication and commitment is very very high.
5. Sensitivity is valued. There is strong support for underrepresented groups in tech. Codesmith tries very hard to foster a positive environment for its students, and I think it shows. Instructors and staff explicitly make themselves available when students feel uncomfortable or stressed. Staff check in with each student individually on a regular basis.
You get what you put into the program. It is not for everyone. There was laughter, tears. It was usually fun and very hard. An absurd experience, and intense. For me, absolutely worth it. For most, the Codesmith system works. People are getting good jobs coming out of the program.
Some cons - the program is getting too large. Cohorts in LA are much too large, in my opinion. It is too loud and they need more bathrooms. You need a certain amount of self-reliance. The instructors do the best they can, but they can not be there for everyone. The program heavily benefits people who thrive in situations where questions are vague and demand that people seek their own solutions. You are paying 17k to be asked questions - not to be given answers. This seems like poor teaching practice. As someone who has real, formal training in the classroom - I vouch for approach to teaching, with reservations. It fosters creativity, but it is badly frustrating, and it feels awful to fail constantly.
A very high reccomendation with strong reservations.
I was pushed to my limits and beyond. They taught me data structures, React/Redux, Node/Express, SQL and NoSQL databases, and much more. It's crazy how far I've come from no technical experience to now being a fullstack Software Engineer. I'm grateful for the opportunity I was given here and will never forget the experience.
This is not a typical bootcamp - it's literally a residency. I've gained invaluable skills here and developed a close relationship with each of my classmates in my cohort.
Their hiring program is amazing - they really want you to get the best offer possible - and as with everything else they teach, it's a very in-depth program.
Looking back on the last 3 months, I can safely say that joining the Codesmith community has been one of the best experiences of my life. It was a remarkable journey of rewarding challenges that taught me so much not just about programming, but about myself.
I found a community of supportive, passionate people who fostered an environment of collaboration and growth, the likes of which I had never seen anywhere else.
When I was accepted into the 3 month program, I found the excitement and passion for problem solving to be infectious, and I felt invigorated every day to push myself harder, and learn as much as I possibly could.
The instructors are amazing. Not only do they have an incredible wealth of knowledge, but they also possess the ability to dynamically teach it to others, and I think that’s very important to note. The most important thing you gain from your Codesmith residency though, is the tool chest to learn anything. You are fundamentally trained to be able to figure your way through any technical block, and this is an invaluable skill.
Maybe you’re wondering… does it really work? Can I really get a job afterwards? The numbers don’t lie, and the answer is yes. The average salary is around 120k and my cohort is seeing these offers and better ones already. It’s only been a few weeks since we graduated.
My advice to you: Go for a visit on a Thursday evening and meet everyone. You’ll see what I mean. I can’t recommend it enough!
Sometimes it's hard to know if you made the right choice until you look back on it and I can say for 100% certainty that going Codesmith was one of the best decisions I made!
Of course, I didn't go through all the other schools/bootcamps but I did a lot of extensive research on all the options before deciding on Codesmith. Why I ultimately decided Codesmith was the right fit for me was... 1. The smaller class sizes allow you to receive more attention and bond with classmates 2. The production project (building projects that help the developer community) 3. Phil, Will, Dave, and all the other Instructors/fellows... you can replace curriculum but you can't replace great instructors!
When I was initially interviewing for other bootcamps, I felt like I was one of just another person of incoming students. Phil and Will, on the other hand, made me feel like I was part of a community and I really felt they cared about my personal growth above all else.
The curriculum was amazing but more than that the community was the best thing about Codesmith! I've learned a lot from my fellow classmates and the energy that everyone brings is what Codesmith strives to cultivate.
Was it worth the price? Well, whether you find a job or not, you grow in every way possible. So in short answer... yes! What are you waiting for? ;)
If you're in a rush here is the information you want:
After completing the residency at Codesmith I received multiple offers of which the lowest was $120k. This is an objective fact. No smoke, no mirrors.
Another objective fact: my first offer was 13 days after I entered the market.
With that said, I want to be very clear about the end goal here. It is not about money. The end goal is mastery of your craft. It just so happens that companies will pay well for people who can demonstrate dedication to their craft. I couldn't command a 100k+ salary before completing the Codesmith residency. Afterwards I had a few options to choose from.
Codesmith is about finding your limits and pushing past them. If you can consistently do that every day for the duration of the program and continue doing so in the job market then you can expect great offers. You get out what you put in. If you don’t put in the effort don’t expect stellar results.
With that said, there is no version of the universe where I earned as many offers without the team at Codesmith. From the top down Will and his team will prepare you for the demands of a job market that wants mid and senior level engineers. Codesmith is three-fold; it is one part becoming a better engineer, another part becoming a better person, and third part becoming a better interviewee. Each aspect of that is assessed before you’re admitted, and each part is worked on during the residency. You have the opportunity and the support to improve but again it is up to you to act on it.
Secondly, Codesmith is not a bootcamp.
I know because I went to a bootcamp prior to Codesmith, as have many Codesmith residents.
The day to day at codesmith is: you show up at 9am and keep coding until 8pm. It is not uncommon to see people stay even later and in fact most do. You get practical hands on experience building scalable applications and even more important you get hands on experience collaborating with other engineers with varying degrees of experience. It is truly a transformative experience.
At a bootcamp you spend 75% or more of your time observing or coding along to something. Of the 1000+ hours at Codesmith less than 5% of that is spent in a lecture setting. You are actively building products the entire time. There is support for when you need help but the majority of the time you are working in pods to build scalable applications. The goal is to overcome problems yourself with the help of your team, just how you would in the real world. That may sound intimidating or intense but know that the team at Codesmith is incredibly supportive.
From the beginning they are highly selective about who is allowed into the program. Codesmith doesn’t just screen for determined and talented engineers, it also screens for nice people. A very talented engineer who is rude or hard to get along with will not be able to join a cohort at Codesmith. This is something that makes the 3 months in this environment not just bearable, but outright enjoyable. The staff go above and beyond to make sure the environment remains a positive one and there are activities built into the schedule to help prevent residents from burning out.
So how are the results overall?
Well, from my Cohort of 12 only 3 have spent more than 3 months looking for jobs.
Compare that to my bootcamp experience where I had a cohort of 23 and after 6 months only 4 people had full-time jobs in tech. Nobody from my previous bootcamp cohort got offered more than 70k. Not one. The lowest offer from my Codesmith cohort was 80k and that same person also got a 90k offer.
I don’t want it to seem like I am only focused on money. I bring it up because Codesmith costs money to join, it is an investment in yourself and I want to show that it pays off financially.
Beyond the financial payoff my confidence to create, collaborate, and contribute as an engineer have increased exponentially. Before Codesmith I had some difficulty learning new libraries or technologies. I didn’t know how to get information from documentation. If I had to learn something new I had to watch somebody on Youtube or Udemy teach me and then try my best to replicate that. Then once I replicated it perfectly I would branch out slowly until something broke and then I’d have to watch more youtube videos until I figured it out. Now I just read the documentation and figure it out in a few minutes.
Everything is excellent from start to finish. Once you finish the program at Codesmith there is unparalleled support. There is staff available to polish your interviewing skills and even negotiate offers. There is nothing else like it.
I remember being in my previous bootcamp and talking to alums who were in the market after graduating. Some of them had been in the market for months. The bootcamp I attended said the job search could take up to a year after finishing the program. The grads I talked to were looking for junior roles in the 60- 80k range. Anything higher than that was unheard of and many, fatigued emotionally and financially from the long job search, were willing to go even lower than that.
My first Hard Parts meetup was on recursion being lead by the Senior Engineer at Codesmith. At the time I had a vague idea about how recursion works but by the time I walked out it was clear as day. I knew I had to learn more. I started talking to some of the residents and graduates and they started talking about their job processes. Some of them were getting offers the same week they graduated for more than 100k. I didn’t think that it was possible but the more people I talked to the more I kept hearing the same things. At that point I decided to apply. I figured if I didn’t get in then at least I knew that I tried. I was rejected on my first attempt but on my second attempt (a month later, studying the whole time) I was offered a spot in one of the cohorts.
Before starting the program I thought that Codesmith residents must have been super-human engineers. But now that I've completed it I know they weren’t, they were just dedicated to their craft. Being a part of my cohort at Codesmith was the first time in my life I was surrounded by people equally as driven as I am. I’m a little spoiled now as a result.
Shoutout to Will, Phil, Ryan, Olivia, Jac, Dave, Sam, Schno, Haley, Jenny, Mircea, Saim, Chris, Alesi, Ryan, Christine, & Joel. 10/10 would recommend.
If you are planning to join a coding bootcamp, consider CS Prep course seriously!
I'm writing the review I would like to have seen here before making my decision. If you're skeptical about the idea of attending a three month program like Codesmith after graduating with a technical degree, I hope this review helps you.
Before attending Codesmith at NYC, I was a fresh graduate looking for work. I studied Computer Science as an undergrad and I had finished with a general set of skills. However I never learned about software engineering or the ways to approach building a project on my own. I never learned about best coding practices. I didn't have a body of work that showcased what I had been learning for the past four years.
After the first six weeks, we get to ideate on a production project idea with a team. In my opinion this is the most important phase in the course. You spend the first six weeks learning all about and using web libraries like React, Redux, MongoDB, Node and Express, and you’re given an opportunity to use those tools to build an application from scratch. Most importantly, you do so with the cohort mates you’ve been growing and learning with. I learned the most during the production phase because it provided me with experience of being on a team, and working in a Git flow. For my team, we had common disagreements about the problems we wanted to solve, the technologies we wanted to use, and our workflow. Meeting up as a team, discussing these issues and resolving them are important experiences that both help you grow as a developer, and as a team player.
You can only learn so much by sitting at home and developing projects on your own. I’d say the most important things I got out of the program were the experiences I had with other developers that I could speak to. I believe that being able to talk about problems you were introduced to with other people and how you overcame them as a team can take you a long way. Codesmith was definitely the right choice for me. It definitely provided me with exactly the components I needed to land the job that I have now. Even after graduating Codesmith, I have the support of the mentors and the students I’ve built relationships with during my time there.
Simply put, Codesmith is a cut above the rest.
More than just teaching you how to use the most in-demand languages/frameworks/libraries, Codesmith teaches you how to solve problems. It builds that muscle for walking up to a wall of code and/or problems that you may have no idea how to solve, and teaches you to calmly dissect it, piece by piece and solve the problem at hand. Doing this over and over, time and time again, is what prepares you for that mid to senior level engineering role.
Codesmith is extremely effective at curating a group of residents who are passionate and willing to make this their top priority. It is not easy to get into Codesmith, and this careful vetting process shows. My cohort was filled with brilliant engineers who were not only driven to improve their skills as engineers, but equally invested in helping to grow the skills of all those around them. In turn, the result is that everyone levels up together, and lifelong friends are made in the process.
The hiring program at Codesmith is one of the main aspects that sets Codesmith apart from any other coding residency I looked into. A strong emphasis is placed on considering not just what technologies you know, but why you specifically chose to use these technologies over other available options, what the tradeoffs were, and strengthening your technical communication to effectively communicate these decisions in a mature and thoughtful way. From whiteboarding and mock interviews, to SDI's, one-on-one salary negotiation, multiple resume and online profile reviews, and a unique, results-driven approach to applying for jobs, Codesmith sticks with you when it gets real after graduation. Lifetime hiring support is provided - I did two mock-interviews after graduating that were both instrumental in helping me to land the offer in LA I just accepted for a full stack engineer position.
Lastly, I would like to speak on the lifelong friends and colleagues I met at Codesmith. Upon graduation, two of my cohort mates and I decided to form a slack channel to hold each other accountable and check in with each other throughout the job search process. We made sure to touch base every day, and shared things we were learning throughout each technical interview we encountered. I am proud to say that all three of us have landed 125k+ positions within a month and a half of graduating.
It is possible! Make the sacrifices, make this your top priority, and you can do it! Codesmith has the roadmap laid out - you just have to make the commitment, work harder than you ever have before, and make it happen. If I can do it, so can you 🤘
I graduated from college in 2017 where I majored in Finance/Economics and minored in CS. I tried management consulting for a year, but realized that the parts of the job that excited me the most were related to computer science, so I self taught myself HTML/CSS/JS as far as I could.
But when it came to applying to jobs, I found that my experience just wasn't enough. So I applied to Codesmith on a whim, and it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. I was making $75k as a consultant, and was interviewing for junior positions that would have paid ~$80k, but even these positions I wasn't passing the phone screens.
After putting in a few months of hard work at Codesmith, I received a contract offer with JPM for $60/hr! And now, a few months later, I've leveraged my experience here into a full time position with American Express for $130k, and I have another final round interview with Amazon for $160k!!! (omg)
These numbers are absolutely not something I ever ever ever thought I would be making but its all been possible thanks to Codesmith.
Going into the program, I was already fairly comfortable with web engineering since I had self taught and I studied CS in college, but the breadth and depth of the Codesmith experience let me take that to the next level.
This place changed my life.
I spent a lot of time trying to decide which school to attend to become a software engineer. I looked at General Assembly, Hack reactor, and Thinkful. None of these compared to the Codesmith learning experience offered in just their free lectures (JS Easy parts and JS Hard parts).
I would strongly reccomend this school for anyone who really wants to understand practical applications of computer science to the core. Their curriculum is challenging and will probably be one of the hardest things you'll learn, but the reward in the end is worth it.
Ryan Trontz, the teacher for CS Prep, has a long history of teaching subjects from Economics to Mathematics to Programming. He HIMSELF is a relatively recent product of Codesmith's SWE immersive. He's able to both zoom deeply in on topics to give you a step-by-step understanding of how the JS Engine works AND zoom out to give you a contextual understanding of where X tool fits into a SWE's workflow. If you're considering Codesmith or another top-tier bootcamp, I recommend CS Prep wholeheartedly.
My experience with Codesmith started with despair and self doubt. Before interviewing at Codesmith, I have been self studying for a couple months. I reached Codewars Kata 6, I finished Fullstack Prep in a week, I completed Hack Reactor's online program, and just to add another layer of security, I finished CSX before I applied. I thought I was a shoe in, and boy was I wrong. I was completely crushed in the first interview, got close to being accepted by the second one, and I was wondering if I could ever get in, and maybe I should just go with other programs. At the end, I gave myself a hard dead line, and the rest was just the beginning.
Codesmith is going to push you out of your comfort zone. If you are naturally curious (aka console.log blobs just to see what it says, or try to use Node to build your own containers), then you are in luck. You will find other engineers who are equally curious. By the way, do you know the difference between setTimeout, IO callbacks, setImmediate, and Promises? What if I told you they go into different queues and a lot of other people have it wrong thinking there's only one? Codesmith will not teach you those things, but if you have an inquisitive mind, you will naturally gravitate to find those answers with like minded engineers.
It is normal that different people have different preference. It's not good or bad, but simple preference. If you require detailed instructions (like a classroom setting or tutorial type walkthrough), then Codesmith will be disastrous for you. You will absolutely hate it because the only instructions you get are very high level. No one will say, declare a function here with three parameters, and you loop here, then you return here. You are supposed to extend your knowledge to unknown areas like a true engineer.
Do you think building a functional CRUD app is a big achievement? At Codesmith, residents build CRUD apps as dummy data for projects. Before I began, I never thought of achieving the level of of engineering capability that I am now, but I can honestly say, if you love pushing it, if you love to break things and see what happens, Codesmith is definitely the right place for you.
Before I decided to join CSPrep I was using the CSX site offered by Codesmith to understand what's needed for their immersive program. I didn't realize that what I was lacking in wasn't my ability to learn, but how I could communicate to other developers.
CSPrep is a nine day course spread into 2 weeks. It allowed me to collaborate with others who had the same goals which made it so much easier to develop my technical communication.
The course emphasized working with others over knowing the material as the goal is to learn independently.
The instructor Ryan is also an amazing person who has a background in education which is apparent in his drive to help his students understand the curriculum and to be able to expand it further even after the course and continues to offer advice after the course ends.
I also recommend to spend the Thursday off at Codesmith's free lectures to supplement one's ability to grasp new concepts and apply them as pair programming exercises occur for each session. It also gives people the chance to meet others taking the CSPrep course.
And to conclude, I strongly urge to look into the scholarships they offer as the tuition will be transferred to the immersive program so there's nothing to lose when taking CSPrep and if anything, the people who take the class will grow regardless of the initial skill level.
The 12 weeks are very intense: there's no doubt about it. But you will learn. A lot! The staff will make sure of it. If they see you're falling behind, they will work with you one-on-one for whatever amount of time it takes to make sure your understanding is up to speed. There's no falling through the cracks here.
It's also one of the most supportive and welcoming communities I've ever had the privilege of being a part of. From the CEO, Will Sentance, on down, every single person truly cares about seeing you succeed, and will do what's necessary to set you up for success before, during, and after the program.
I can’t say enough good things about Codesmith. If you have the opportunity to enroll, then I suggest you take it!
Overall a great experience. I had previously taken another boot camp which wasn't as immersive or as in depth. This program pretty much felt like part 102 to their 101. It is a lifestyle for those 3 months. It is high demand but comes with a great return if you dedicate yourself to it. Prep is big, the testing to get accepted is very stringent but the more you can cover before going in the more you will take out when you walk away. This is due to the massive amount of material you go over while you are there. I would recommend it to my closest friends and have...
As a recent Codesmith graduate, I can say with certainty that spending the past 3 months in the challenging, immersive, and transfomative process that Codesmith provides was one of the best decisions I have ever made, both for my personal growth as well as my career. They have a meticoulously crafted program that continously iterates upon itself to make improvements with every new cohort. The staff truly care about the success and well-being of every resident, and do everything in their power to help you get the absolute most of the program that you possibly can.
The application process is not easy. I personally had to spend a lot of time studying, and interviewed multiple times in order to get accepted to the program. If you see this as daunting, I would lend you the perspective that this ensures that once admitted, you will be surrounded by a group of dedicated, hard-working individuals who are commited to the success of the group and themselves.
All-in-all, Codesmith was an amazing experience and I could not recommend it enough to anyone who is considering attending an immersive program.
Codesmith’s Software Engineering Immersive was one of the most demanding, rewarding, and unique experiences of my life. I entered the program after 10 years as a professional musician, with no technical background, and am leaving with the skills and confidence to work alongside seasoned software engineers.
In my search for a software engineering immersive, I went through considerable research to find the ‘best’ option. For options in Los Angeles, the search led me to Codesmith and Hack Reactor. To evaluate these programs I worked through their respective online prep materials, attended in-person info/coding sessions, and spoke with company representatives. While I experienced Hack Reactor as high-quality and professional, Codesmith was a cut above. In the areas most important to me, curriculum and culture, Codesmith impressed.
My time at Codesmith as an engineering resident was intense, in the best possible way. The pace moved quickly through advanced material. As students, we were constantly being stretched to the edge of our ability, which served to accelerate our learning. Every two days we were assigned a partner to pair-program through various units on Algorithms & Data Structures, React, Redux, Node, and SQL databases. We were provided high-level lectures and support from Engineering Fellows, but much of the learning came through reading documentation, struggling through prepared challenges, and collaborating with other students. This helped me to see that Codesmith has designed its process to not only teach software engineering, but to build meta-skills of collaboration, navigating uncertainty, and learning how to learn.
Codesmith balances its academic rigor with a supportive, inclusive learning environment. Prospective students are screened for cultural fit and soft-skills like empathy and cooperation. It shows. My cohort consisted of brilliant, driven people who supported each other through the process. In a setting that might easily become competitive, my peers were humble, team-focused, and committed to helping others.
Lastly, Codesmith’s hiring program is incredible. Hiring lectures are thorough and battle-tested. Students receive detailed feedback on resumes, online profiles, and outreach strategy, along with one-on-one support for salary negotiations. CEO and co-founder Will Sentence personally reviews and signs-off on each resume. I was so impressed by his investment in the success of every resident!
I realize a review so positive might be met with skepticism, but I’ve found Codesmith to be exceptional at every turn. (Time and again I felt the value provided far exceeded the cost of tuition.) For those who are determined and willing to push through every obstacle, I’d recommend Codesmith without hesitation.
On-Time Graduation Rate
180 Day Employment Breakdown:
Notes & Caveats:
For transparency, here are the starting salary breakdowns of our graduates from 1/01/2018 - 6/30/2018:
- $110,000 - 119,999: 17.5%
- $120,000 - 129,999: 17.5%
- $130,000 - 139,999: 10%
- $140,000+ : 2.5%
Our latest on Codesmith
Alex was interested in coding throughout college but initially dismissed it, thinking that coding just wasn’t for her. But seeing the potential of technology while working for nonprofits, she decided to revisit software engineering, and loved it. Alex won the Edie Windsor Lesbians Who Tech Scholarship to attend Codesmith coding bootcamp in New York City, and now works on a team that values diversity. Alex tells us about her experience learning in Codesmith’s supportive environment, how she landed her new role as a Software Engineer, and why she’s happy to be increasing the visibility of women in tech.
Tell me about your career and education background – how did your path lead you to Codesmith?
My interest in engineering started when I was an undergrad studying Linguistics and International Studies. As part of my linguistics major, I worked on a project which involved building a website to document indigenous languages in the Oaxacan region of Mexico. That's where I learned that technology can be used in all these interesting ways, and there are all these interesting problems to solve.
After college, I had a hodgepodge of jobs, including jobs at nonprofits. In every job I had, I found ways to do engineering challenges, whether it be building small scripts and applications for a startup, or working with different content management systems.
I moved to New York and was feeling unfulfilled in my career, so I really decided to focus on software engineering. I was mostly self-taught at that point – I had only taken a couple of computer science classes in undergraduate, so I started teaching myself via online courses. I was just having so much fun with it.
How did you decide to go to Codesmith?
I started going to the workshops every week, and then I decided to apply to Codesmith’s immersive program and spend three months of my life devoted to learning. It ended up being one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Did you consider other options like other bootcamps, or going back to college?
I did, actually. I considered going back to college for a Master’s in Computational Linguistics. I also considered and tried some of the online learning platforms. But in terms of the learning environment that I wanted to be in, I know I learn better with people in a classroom or group environment, as opposed to learning online on the side with other jobs, or in the evenings. So I knew I wanted an immersive experience.
I did a paid, week-long prep course at one of the other bootcamps in New York. I liked it and doing that helped me decide that this path was right for me, instead of getting a Masters which is really expensive. Bootcamp programs aren't cheap, but compared to a two-year program, the bang for your buck in three months versus two years is pretty amazing.
When I went to Codesmith’s free workshops, I found the level of instruction was equal, if not at a higher level than the course I paid for. And so, I thought, "This is a no brainer, I'm definitely going to Codesmith." Also, I met such wonderful people at the meetups, and I was really impressed by Codesmith staff. It just felt right.
When you decided to go to Codesmith's bootcamp, what was your goal? Did you have a specific role or job or company in mind?
During the program, I was drawn to back end development. I'm not a very visual design-oriented person. I don't want to decide what a website should look like – I want to build it. Maybe I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone to Codesmith. Getting the chance to try out different parts of programming was really helpful for someone like me who was new to the professional side of the industry.
Congratulations on landing the Edie Windsor scholarship! Can you tell me about what the process was like to apply for that?
The Edie Windsor scholarship is a scholarship given by the Lesbians Who Tech organization, an organization which helps LGBT people, women, and underrepresented voices get into tech. They offer a really amazing scholarship which covers 50% off bootcamp tuition. For the application, I wrote two 500-word essays, then they sent me an email to say I was a finalist. The final email said, "Congrats, we've chosen you." So the process was really simple.
The scholarship is only one part of the work that Lesbians Who Tech does. They paid for my registration for the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco, which was really exciting. I'd been to tech meetups, but it was my first full-blown tech conference and it was amazing. They do such incredible things for LGBT people and for women in tech. It's an awesome organization, and I feel incredibly grateful to not only have received the scholarship but also to be in this community of people. They have a Slack group, volunteer events – it's an incredibly impressive organization that I feel really grateful to have stumbled into.
Can you tell me about the Codesmith application and interview process?
It was not easy. It was definitely a little nerve-wracking. But the staff, the instructors, and Will Sentance, the CEO, were always incredibly supportive. That's a theme of Codesmith; everyone's incredibly supportive and is really rooting for you. It feels like a really positive space and energy.
I actually didn't pass my first technical interview. I was incredibly nervous because I hadn't taken a test since I was in college. I was being evaluated and it was really nerve-wracking, so I think I froze. They gave me feedback and let me come back for another interview a week later and I did a bit better. By that time, it felt more comfortable, and luckily they let me in! I got a call from the CEO, Will, who's a fantastic guy. He said I was ready to start in the April cohort, but I actually deferred to the June cohort, because I was so overwhelmed, and felt I needed to practice more. It was a good experience all around. Nerve-wracking, but ended up being good.
What was your Codesmith cohort like? How many people were there, and was it diverse in terms of gender, and race, age, and backgrounds?
It was definitely really diverse in a lot of different ways. There were 12 of us in my cohort. Four of us were women, which was great. It could have been better, but in the tech world, we take what we can get at the moment!
In terms of experience, there were some people who had been to a bootcamp previously, who decided to come to Codesmith because it was like the next level up. There were people who had never worked in the engineering industry, people who had worked in design or done some programming, people who had been going to hackathons for years, and others like me who had tinkered but never dived super deep into things. It was a great mix of people, which was really helpful because we were able to draw on each other's experiences. I met some of my best friends there!
How does that compare to the diversity at your job today?
I'm really lucky to work at a company that is trying to close the gender gap in their engineering team. The engineering team is about 30 people. Inside of that team, I’m in a group of four developers, two designers, a product owner, and a scrum master. I'm the only woman developer in my group, but we have at least 10 women developers in the whole team. But I can see the difference at this company, compared to places I interviewed where I would have been either the only woman engineer. So I feel really lucky to work for a company that is really committed to having an inclusive and diverse workspace.
Can you tell me about the learning experience at Codesmith?
There's a Junior Phase and a Senior Phase. During a typical day during your Junior Phase, you start with a daily warm-up exercise. Each learning module was organized in two-day sprints. So during the first day of a learning module, you have an intro lecture about a topic such as Node, React, or data structures. Then a big chunk of the day would be spent working on a problem set. On the second day of the module, you go over the answers to the problem sets with an instructor. Everything you do in your junior phase is with a pair programming partner, which I think is an awesome hallmark of Codesmith. It shows how much they invest in technical communication, to make sure that you're not just understanding the concepts, but you're also understanding them well enough to explain them to someone else.
The Senior Phase is the project portion when you build a developer tool. You're taking what you learned in your junior phase, and applying it to something that you think will be helpful to the developer community. People in my cohort built things like a Lambda orchestrator, a dev tool to help with GraphQL. I built an AWS metric visualizer, which was really cool.
How did Codesmith prepare you for the job hunt? What sort of career guidance did they give you?
The second part of the Senior Phase is the hiring phase. You work on your resume and do practice interviews. It's a whole other skill to learn and it's nerve-wracking, but definitely fun. You're working with people collaboratively, practicing out loud, doing mock interviews with your cohort-mates and alums. Then there's a hiring day where Codesmith brings in companies that really want to hire people. It's almost like speed dating. About 10 or 12 companies came to our hiring day, and we got to choose who we wanted to talk to. Then if they're interested, we could continue in their interview process. It's an amazing way to start to understand what kind of jobs are available and what people are looking for.
Can you tell me about your post-Codesmith experience and how you landed your current job?
I really hit the ground running after I graduated in September 2018. I spent about two and a half months applying for jobs nonstop. It was putting in the time and effort to follow up with the employers that I met on hiring day, reaching out to companies I was interested in, digging into my network, seeing who I could talk to, and going to networking events. My whole process lasted about two and a half months, where pretty much 9am to 5pm I was applying and interviewing.
What were your job interviews like? How did you do in the code challenges?
The interview process generally was a phone screen then a coding challenge with one of the company’s engineers. Then, depending on the company, there might be another coding challenge, or an onsite interview, where you would do a coding challenge, a culture interview, and meet different people who would be on your team.
It was a pretty grueling process. But I found it a lot of fun because I was also still trying to figure out what position would fit me best. So I really felt like I was interviewing them as much as they are interviewing me – and got to treat it as a fun conversation. My process with the company that I'm currently with included a phone screen, a technical interview, and an on-site interview. Then luckily, I was offered a job!
Congratulations! Can you tell me about your role and the projects you're working on?
My parents have no idea what I do, but I can tell them, "Go to that website, and click that button – I did that!" So that's kind of the fun side of web development. But then I'm also working with database queries, and different server-side problems, which has been really fun.
What’s been your biggest challenge or roadblock in your career change?
All things considered, things are going very well. But I think I do struggle with imposter syndrome. It's not that I didn't like math or consider myself interested in science or STEM topics in college. I put coding to the side as something that just wasn't for me a little too early on. Then I started to realize that coding is more about problem solving, finding patterns, and learning a new language. I wish that had stuck with me a little earlier. I'm glad I eventually got there. But I think the challenge has been my own confidence in myself, and thinking that "This stuff isn't for me, I haven't been doing this since I was 10 years old." And that's just not true.
While I'm definitely confident in my abilities, sometimes it can be really intimidating when an experienced colleague gets his tickets done much faster than I do, because he knows the code base better. There are days where I get frustrated with myself or frustrated that it's taking me longer to work out a problem. At the same time, I feel I'm able to hold my own in terms of learning new things. Luckily, I'm in a workspace where questions and collaboration are really encouraged. So I don't think I've ever felt like I couldn't ask someone if I get stuck. One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with my coworkers. This is an industry and a job where I'm constantly learning something new every day.
What is it like being a woman in tech now that you've graduated?
I'm still learning what it means to be a woman in tech. Again, I'm really lucky that the company I work for is cognizant and intentional about hiring women and diverse candidates. But it's always in the back of my mind, “Am I not speaking up because men are talking too much? Am I not speaking up because I need to learn a bit more?” I’m always thinking about the different power structures in the room and what effect that is having on me. I've made a conscious effort to speak at least once in every meeting to practice, so when I have something really important to say, I'll be used to speaking up.
Also, I'm part of a Women in Tech group at my company. It's about creating community, supporting people, and being visible. I'm really inspired, not only by some of the women in my company who've been there for a little bit longer, but also by the tech community in general. I'm always really excited when I see a woman speaking at an event. Visibility and representation are really important in all aspects for inclusion and diversity in tech.
Have your background and your college degree been useful in becoming a software developer?
The more relevant degree to coding is linguistics. Often when I say I studied linguistics, people will say, "Oh, that makes sense that you're a software engineer now,” because linguistics is focused on syntax, breaking down language into its smallest parts, and seeing how it fits together. And that's a lot of what coding is – logic, syntax, and how things fit together. So it makes sense that I found my way here because I enjoyed looking at and learning new languages.
But also, in the work that I did in the nonprofit world and the startup world, I learned how important communication is and how important it is to see the big picture. I'm really grateful for those experiences because that was where I learned how to work on a team, and communicate problems to people who might not be technical. I feel really grateful for having that experience, even if it wasn't directly engineering work.
Have you stayed involved with Codesmith?
Unfortunately, my job took me to a different city. I don't live in New York anymore, which is a bummer because I really miss all my friends from Codesmith in New York! But we do have group chats and there is an active alumni Slack channel – there’s a vast alumni network.
Anytime there's a call for grads to do mock interviews with current students, I like to do that because I remember how fun it was to talk to grads who returned to Codesmith. Anytime anyone is interested in talking to someone with a background like me, or interested in the Lesbians Who Tech scholarship, I'm happy to talk to people. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the Codesmith community and know that there are smart, exciting, amazing people who are willing to help me and I'm willing to help them.
What advice do you have for other people, especially women, who are thinking about making a career change through a bootcamp like Codesmith?
You can do it. If you're waiting for someone to give you permission, here it is. Do it. It's hard to over exaggerate how much Codesmith changed my life. I never thought I'd be making as much money as I'm making now. I just never thought of myself as an engineer, even if I was doing things that were related. I met amazing people. It was really hard, it was really challenging, but it is the best thing that's ever happened to me. So if you want to do it, do it.
In today’s world, understanding the ecosystem beyond coding can be the difference between a junior and a senior software engineer. One part of that ecosystem is cloud computing infrastructure like Amazon Web Services (AWS). Schno Mozingo, Head of Curriculum at Codesmith, walks us through the basics of AWS, how companies and developers are using it, and why understanding AWS can help bootcampers land higher-level engineering positions. Listen to the podcast or read the article!Continue Reading →
Is learning to code on your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! The average coding bootcamp graduate gets a job in tech and sees a 49% salary lift. A coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2019 as a developer, so we’ve compiled a list of 18 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2019. Most of these coding courses have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2019!Continue Reading →
In the last week at Codesmith, students take part in Hiring Day, where employers visit the campus looking to hire new software engineers. Students interview with employers and show off their final projects. We visited Codesmith’s New York City campus and spoke to one student about his experience at Codesmith, what he built after 12 weeks, and how his ambitions have changed after Codesmith! Find out if Codesmith was worth it for Reynolds Colon.Continue Reading →
So you’re thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp. What should you expect in the application and interview process? And how do you ensure you get accepted to your dream coding bootcamp? We invited representatives from 7 coding bootcamps to ask all the tough questions about getting into coding school. In this live panel discussion, hear tips and advice about coding challenges, prep programs and more from Flatiron School, New York Code + Design Academy, Fullstack Academy, the Grace Hopper Program, Hack Reactor, Galvanize, and Codesmith! Watch the video, listen to the podcast, read the summary or transcript.Continue Reading →
Am I ready to apply to Codesmith? Do I need to have programming experience? What happens if I fail the technical interview? How do I improve my “technical communication?” Will Adamowicz just graduated from Codesmith’s 12-week Academy and spills the details about the application process (he’s now a Codesmith Fellow, so he knows the ins and outs). From basic steps to interview questions to preparation tips, Will answers all of your questions!
What are the steps of the Codesmith Application?
- Fill out an online application or attend a workshop at Codesmith to get a challenge code. That code sends you to a special application that guarantees you an interview.
- Attend a non-technical interview (can be done in person or over video call)
- Attend a technical interview (can be done in person of over video call)
How long does the Codesmith application process typically take? How long did it take you?
From the moment you apply to the moment you complete your non-technical and technical interviews can be as short as a one week. This is rare, though. Most students will plan several weeks – if not months – ahead to apply. In my case, I had a particular start date in mind and planned about two months ahead of that start date.
Codesmith accepts students on a rolling basis, though the process tends to depend on how much demand there is for a particular cohort. You’re definitely welcome to apply to a cohort several months in advance and you can also defer an acceptance up to three months.
What goes into the written application? Does Codesmith require a video submission?
The written application is fairly straightforward, just logistical info, a few essays about your background and passion for technology, and an optional coding challenge. There is no video submission required.
Can you give us a sample question from the non-technical interview?
One of the questions in my non-technical interview was: “What are your long term goals in software engineering? What do you want to do with it down the line?”
Is Codesmith looking for a specific technical background? What types of backgrounds have successful Codesmith students had?
About 50% of students at Codesmith come from engineering backgrounds and 50% come from non-technical backgrounds. Codesmith doesn’t look for any particular kind of background. I’ve seen everything from actors, school teachers, grad students, hotel managers, EMTs, and the list goes on. Having a technical background can help, of course, but there are so many factors that go into being a good engineer that it is not really a significant indicator of how successful you’ll be.
I had no coding background but studied logic and mathematics which definitely helped me in the admission process. Since I didn’t know anything about programming, I prepared for about three months before applying to Codesmith, doing three to four hours of study every single day. I had just come out of grad school writing long papers about analytic philosophy so I got accustomed to working alone and staying disciplined, but if this were a few years earlier I would have definitely signed myself up for a prep course to have some kind of accountability while studying.
Does every applicant get a Technical Interview?
Some candidates may not be a good fit for the program – in that case, they won’t get a technical interview. As a Codesmith Fellow, I interview candidates, and we generally look for excellent communicators who are also driven and passionate about wanting to become software engineers. We also want to accept team players. You’ll end up working very closely with a small team, so being able to work well with others is one of the biggest indicators of whether you’ll be a good candidate for Codesmith.
What can an applicant expect from the technical interview? Is there a coding challenge?
The technical interview involves answering a series of increasingly harder coding challenges. There is an endless list of challenges, so the goal is not to simply race through and try to get to the (imaginary) end. Much more important are things like technical communication and how you approach a problem that you don’t know how to do.
The engineer conducting the interview will stop after one hour and then send their notes off to the admissions team.
Can you give us a sample question from that technical interview?
Can I apply more than once if I fail the technical interview?
I think the current Codesmith acceptance is about 5% – I rarely see someone pass the technical interview on the first try. You can do the technical interview up to three times (if you fail the first and second). If you don’t pass, then the admissions team will give you feedback and resources to help get you up to speed. They’ll recommend a number of weeks for you to prepare until your next interview but you’re welcome to reinterview whenever you’re ready.
Most people fail the first interview, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t pass. Many people who fail their technical interview have even gone on to become Codesmith Fellows. More commonly than not, you’ll need to work on technical communication, so pair programming is one of the best ways to learn to talk through your ideas as you code them.
How do I get better at “technical communication?”
One thing that worked really well for me was recording myself doing algorithms and rewatching my problem solving. It was definitely painful at first but it helped me learn how to discuss a higher level strategy and talk about my implementation while going through a problem, which is an entirely separate skillset from the analytical thinking involved in solving a problem.
What resources do you suggest applicants use to really ace the technical interview?
The CSX platform (Codesmith’s online learning platform with instructional videos and coding challenges) is very good for preparing you to get in. Go to the Hard Parts weekly workshops or attend online – that’s one of the best ways to start working on technical communication. There is also a paid two week part-time online course called CS Prep that focuses on everything tested on the Codesmith technical interview and other qualities the admissions team looks for.
I would also recommend using websites like FreeCodeCamp or Codecademy to get the basics down, and to practice algorithms on coding challenge websites (Codewars, Leetcode, HackerRank). I’m also a big fan of this website, ReactiveX, for getting more accustomed to using higher order functions. It’s just a single tutorial but I found it very helpful in preparing me for the interview.
When do you think a Bootcamp Prep program is worth it?
Getting experience with pair programming is super helpful, so I would definitely recommend going to a prep program like Hard Parts or CS Prep if you think you’d have trouble sticking to a daily routine and want a little more guidance on the kinds of materials to study.
I was working in a kitchen in Kyoto in Japan when I started studying to get into Codesmith and soon realized I couldn’t get any productive work done after my shift, so I was getting up at 4:30am every day and practicing algorithms for a few hours every morning. I actually got my first opportunity to pair program by attending Hard Parts online and ended up being roommates during the program with my first pair programming partner. He was in China at the time while I was in Japan and next thing you know we were both in Venice, Los Angeles in the same cohort.
As a Codesmith Fellow, do you take part in the interviews? How do you evaluate an applicant’s future potential? What qualities are you looking for?
Does Codesmith accept international students? Do international students get student visas/tourist visas to do the program?
Yes, there have been several international students who have gone through the program with tourist/student visas.
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.
What will your salary be after coding bootcamp? Coding bootcamps are judged almost entirely by their ability to find students high-paying jobs as software developers. Some schools release data about alumni jobs, others offer money-back job guarantees or deferred tuition, but how much are students earning when they graduate and how does their earning potential change as they gain experience? Every year, Course Report surveys real coding bootcamp graduates to better understand who is graduating from coding bootcamps and how successful they are in the workforce. In our second post of this series, we explore the lucrative data about salaries after a coding bootcamp.Continue Reading →
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 want you to have some programming knowledge 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 →
How much do coding bootcamps cost? From students looking for free coding bootcamps to those wondering if an $18,000 bootcamp is worth it, we understand that cost is important to future bootcampers! While the average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,906, bootcamp tuition can range from $9,000 to $21,000, and some coding bootcamps have deferred tuition. So how do you decide what to budget for? Here, we break down the costs of coding bootcamps from around the USA.
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 →