Reading, Writing, Counting…and Coding
It’s universal knowledge that in order to function in the workplace, you should at least get the three Rs down: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. But there’s a fourth R that’s long been gaining relevance: algoRithms. And with tech seeing a big boom, many people are turning to code to launch or reboot their careers.
One of them is Brandi Richardson.
Formerly a talent acquisition consultant at Delta Airlines, Brandi was enticed to try her hand at coding after watching videos of tech moguls Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, both of whom swore to the relevance of the skill. In the words of Steve Jobs: “I think everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer…because it teaches you how to think.”
For Brandi, their words were enough to pique her curiosity and compel her to seek an on-ramp to the tech industry. So, she applied to Codesmith, a coding school that offers accelerated training designed to help prepare its students for mid-level or senior software engineering roles.
Brandi Meets Codesmith: Why Choose Codesmith?
If you’re going to enroll in a coding school, choose Codesmith. At least that’s what a coding bootcamp graduate told Brandi about the school. “I originally messaged her [on LinkedIn to] inquire about a different bootcamp that she attended,” said Brandi.
“However, she told me that the particular bootcamp was average at best. She said Codesmith was a much better bootcamp, and she wished she would have found out about Codesmith prior. At the time, I had never heard of Codesmith so I was anxious to see why she hyped them up.”
Fortunately for Brandi and for others on the fence about committing to the school, Codesmith has a host of free, high-quality online learning resources, YouTube video tutorials, and weekly workshops, along with a paid remote bootcamp prep course that runs for two weeks. By leveraging these, you get a headstart in coding as well as a firsthand insight into Codesmith’s immersive training approach. This way, you’re not committing to the school blindly.
“[The instructors] did not hold your hand,” she said. “But their explanations of computer science concepts were phenomenal.” Wanting to move further with the school, Brandi joined Codesmith X or CSX, the school’s fully remote and free learning platform that offers more resources and coding challenges.
Unlike the workshops, which are accessible only at set schedules, CSX is self-paced and available at your convenience. It also extends to a CSX Slack community, which houses Codesmith mentors, alumni, and current and prospective students of the school.
“It was a game-changer,” said Brandi. “I was able to meet so many other software engineers, and we worked together solving problems and preparing for the Codesmith admissions interview.”
Codesmith offers a rigorous Software Engineering program, designed to build a strong fundamental in computer science and develop proficiency in relevant skills.Apply to Codesmith today.
How Hard Is It to Get into Codesmith?
Codesmith is selective, and its admissions process is known to be tough as they evaluate applicants on both engineering soft skills and technical capabilities. The first stage involves an interview, where the school explores your interest in coding and ability to commit to grueling training. The second leg is a technical interview, where you work with an engineer to solve coding challenges.
Both interviews test your thought process, your ability to break down complex topics, your problem-solving skills, and how well you work with others. Few Codesmith applicants get through on their first try. Many end up taking the technical interview two to three times before they’re accepted into the program.
Brandi spent two months just preparing for her technical interview. “I pair-programmed with other engineers, and we would take turns solving algorithms and going through our thought process,” she recalled. “However, I ended up failing my first technical interview. And then I failed my second technical interview a few weeks later.”
Despite the back-to-back rejection, Brandi was far from feeling dejected. “Codesmith provided me with a lot of feedback as well as tips and advice in what areas I needed improvement in. The main thing was my technical communication,” she said.
An aptitude for technical communication is one of the markers of a Codesmith student, otherwise known as a Codesmith resident. To get into the program, therefore, you need to demonstrate this skill early on.
“I spent a few more weeks working on my technical communication, recording myself, and doing mock interviews with fellow peers,” said Brandi. On her third try, she passed the technical interview and secured a seat at Codesmith’s Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive. “I was full of excitement,” she said. “But I also knew my entire life was about to change.”
The Codesmith Experience: What’s It Like to Be a Codesmith Resident?
There’s a lot to be said about the software engineering training that Codesmith provides. But a deep dive into Codesmith highlights the school’s three distinct features. It’s rigorous, collaborative, and effective.
“Codesmith is not the type of bootcamp that teaches tutorials or gives you the answers,” said Brandi. “[The instructors] allow you to struggle and hit mental blocks. They do, however, teach you the necessary skills and help you cultivate a certain mindset so you can approach and solve any technical problem.”
By the end of your training, you’ll have transformed into an autonomous software engineer.
How Rigorous Is the Codesmith Software Engineering Immersive?
Here’s a rundown of the Codesmith junior resident experience.
- Morning Standups. A day at Codesmith begins with standups where instructors and students go through the schedule for the day.
- Hack Hour. To set you up for the challenge of the day, you’ll start by solving small coding exercises within an hour. This is where you get to sharpen your algorithm and problem-solving skills, both of which are critical to any software engineer. Once the time is up, you’ll go over the problem with the entire class and talk about your solutions.
- Lectures and Pair-Programming Sessions. Your day will revolve around lectures about a new technology or concept, followed by multiple pair programming sessions. These sessions hone your understanding of the lectures, challenge you to communicate your problem-solving approach, and expose you to the perspective of others.
Once you become a Codesmith senior resident, you’ll be stepping into the project phase where you’ll be challenged to build five major projects using all the skills you acquired throughout the program. “I believe 70 percent of my learning came from all the various types of projects [apps] we built,” said Brandi.
“Codesmith pushed us to develop apps that were far more technically advanced than traditional apps like a to-do list or a weather app. They pushed us to build apps engineers and developers could actually use on their job…We built apps for TDD [test-driven development], GraphQL, Redis, React prototypes, and a lot more.”
“It was challenging and exhausting, but we gained a plethora of knowledge that prepared us for software engineer interviews at companies,” she said. The rigor of the entire program lent to Brandi describing the entire learning experience at Codesmith as somewhat akin to “drinking from a firehose.”
“The program was intense. We moved really fast, and the hours were long. Most of the residents invested at least 80 hours a week at Codesmith because we were either learning or studying.”
Meeting this intensive curriculum is Codesmith’s supportive community.
What Support Can You Expect from Codesmith?
The sense of belongingness at Codesmith starts even before you join the immersive program. Like Brandi, prospective students can join the CSX Slack community and build connections with their peers and Codesmith alumni.
Once you’re in the program, the support you get increases tenfold via one-on-one bi-weekly check-ins with Codesmith instructors, weekly gatherings and team-building activities, and career services. “I believe one of the amazing things about Codesmith is the community. I learned a significant amount from the instructors, fellows, and definitely from my peers and residents in my cohort,” shared Brandi.
“A lot of the residents were always willing to stay later to ensure everyone was caught up on the material. We had study groups before and after the program started in case anyone needed to go over previous lectures or just needed a refresher.”
Codesmith steadies students from the work and grit that’s demanded of them with a strong support system. In doing so, the Codesmith community moves as one and always toward the same goal of seeing everyone succeed.
Codesmith Outcomes: Can You Get a Job After Codesmith?
Codesmith tops the list of job placement rates among coding bootcamps, according to the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR). CIRR is a third-party organization that reviews the veracity of a school’s outcomes report.
In numbers, the school’s 2019 CIRR-certified outcomes report reveals that 80.6 percent of Codesmith Los Angeles graduates secured jobs in software engineering 180 days from completing their training. Codesmith New York graduates meanwhile logged an 86.8 percent employment rate within the same timeframe.
It wasn’t just the employment rates that were high. Codesmith graduates also earned the highest median starting salary among all CIRR-member schools at $120,000, an impressive feat for a school that deviates from the type of education that’s traditionally been favored by employers.
Codesmith’s impressive graduate outcomes speak to the value of the training the school provides. A testament to this is Brandi who found the job search as “not too challenging”—not the typical sentiment you’ll hear from anyone who’s done a job hunt.
Brandi also credits the Codesmith community and its career services team for the smooth transition from the structured learning environment at Codesmith to a turbulent job market. “Connecting with other Codesmith graduates and alumni alleviated some of the stress because we were able to hold each other accountable and help each other prepare for interviews.”
After graduating from Codesmith, Brandi secured full-time employment at Microsoft as a software engineer. Her journey to the company marks a full circle. From the novice who spent her time watching videos of and getting inspired by Bill Gates, Brandi is now an integral member of his company.
In the words of Bill Gates: “[My] introduction to computer science changed the course of my life.” And it certainly did the same for Brandi.
Build Your Software Engineering Skills with Codesmith
“The journey to becoming a software engineer is extremely challenging,” said Brandi. “But the way you face each challenge will determine a lot.” Codesmith helps through this process by equipping any learner—whether a student or a free user—with the skills that every software engineer needs to thrive.
If you’re up for a challenge, apply to Codesmith. You could be the next Codesmith success story.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.