Codesmith’s Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive programs prepare residents to break into the...
Snapshots of Culture at Codesmith: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Daily Activities that Define Codesmith Culture
When I started Codesmith six weeks ago, I expected to learn to be a software engineer – but I’m slowly realizing that I’m also learning to build a more inclusive tech industry.
If that sounds like a little much, hear me out. Before Codesmith, I spent 8 years in many different roles across the tech industry – as a financial professional, management consultant, and venture-backed founder. I absolutely love working in tech. Even so, there’s no denying the cultural issues in the industry, especially regarding diversity and inclusion.
Culture at Codesmith stands out – not only against the tech industry, but also against any other educational experience that I’ve had. I’d like to share a few observations to show you why I hope Codesmith’s culture spreads far and wide.
My amazing cohort at Codesmith prom!
MEET THE RESIDENTS
On the first day of Codesmith, I met my cohort of 24 incredible people from all walks of life. It took some time, but every person had a chance to share their story. They came from all kinds of jobs. Some had winding paths through challenges like unemployment or homelessness. A musician who wanted to send his mom to Paris. A French teacher who fell in love with code. Geologist. Defense contractor. College student. College dropout.
It was amazing to see so many different paths converging in one place, unified by a commitment to reinvent ourselves and learn.
We all know that the tech industry has challenges with diversity, but Codesmith makes me optimistic about change. Of course, 24 residents will not change an industry when thousands of people enter the field every year. And there’s always more to do – while Codesmith is diverse in most respects, I still wish there were more women in each cohort. (They are making progress with an incoming class of nearly ⅓ women.) However, if Codesmith and other programs keep educating diverse engineers and achieving impressive outcomes, I can see how the industry can shift.
GETTING TO WORK
I loved getting to know everyone on that first day, but our cohort – and Codesmith at large – really shined when we got to work.
Codesmith students are the most motivated students that I’ve ever seen. Never before have I been in an environment in which every single person wanted to be there. Don’t let the ping pong table and Thursday night drinks fool you! Those breaks are only a tiny sliver of the time we spend at Codesmith – 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, with many students putting in even more time. But it isn’t the time commitment that is most impressive. It’s the enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and growth mindset that every single person brings each day.
Take one delightfully nerdy moment early on:
Friend: "Hey Abby, we’re thinking of doing a ladies’ lunch today, do you want to join?"
Me: "I really do… but one of the seniors was going to do a talk on React Hooks that I wanted to join.."
Friend: "Oh okay, that sounds great. (pause) Actually, can we join?"
Precious, no? And honestly, this was a pretty ordinary response at Codesmith. Half a dozen other people set aside their lunch plans for the talk, despite the fact that we were already learning and coding all day, every day. And I remember thinking to myself, when was the last time I saw this kind of universal enthusiasm for learning? Easy answer – never.
GOING THE DISTANCE
After bringing together this extraordinary group of people, how do you sustain the enthusiasm and energy?
Codesmith has an impressive set of practices that make it especially warm and welcoming. From the way Phil, our head instructor, demystifies scary technical terms like “DOM manipulation” (it’s actually not scary at all) to the dedicated workshops on imposter syndrome and implicit bias, it’s clear to me that creating a safe learning environment is a top priority at Codesmith. When you add on weekly family dinners punctuated with shoutouts of gratitude, mentorship pairs, and slow claps for every resident’s tech talk (yes, really), it’s no wonder how each person is able to make leaps and bounds in just a few short months.
As I look forward to going back into the tech industry, armed with a much deeper technical toolkit, I can’t help but hope that I bring the Codesmith culture with me. I think a tech industry with more diverse backgrounds, more of a humble beginner’s mind, and more inclusive and supportive practices would be a better one.
Family dinner at Codesmith
Scholarship blog written by Abby C. during her time at Codesmith NY in Cohort 12.