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By Elizabeth ScutchfieldSeptember 25, 2017

Alumni-Focused Events Boost Grads’ Careers & Community

As the first coding academy in the Seattle market, we launched our operations in 2013 with hopes of improving the quality of tech education and access to careers in tech.

Since we started, our students have been our first priority—their technical, professional, and personal growth during and after their time on campus. By focusing on student outcomes, strong communities, and quality curriculum, we have built a strong reputation as an industry-leading code school.

With over 850 alumni now working in the market, we continue to assess how we can serve their needs, along with the needs of our incoming and current students. In our career development curriculum, we tell students that we are not just training them to become effective software developers, but to be successful leaders in the industry. To continue to deliver on that commitment, we have been increasing our service to our alumni and seeing some great outcomes.

Quarterly Alumni & Code Fellows Community Industry Mixers

One of the things that makes Code Fellows unique is the supportive community that students experience—and contribute to—during their time on campus. We want to continue to share that amazing sense of community with our alumni and the industry, and have partnered with some amazing companies that have been willing to host our students, staff, and alumni on a quarterly basis. Through these events, we have met with their development teams, learned their products, supported networking between our students and alumni, and helped our graduates navigate the industry.

Maelle Vance, a Code 401: Python graduate, joined Ookla as a Data Programmer in July 2017 after an apprenticeship with CBRE. She attended our most recent mixer in August at Ratio, a multi-screen agency, where two of our alumni on their team—Goutham Reddy and Seth Moore—and a few other Ratio developers shared what life is like as a dev in an agency setting.

When asked what she found valuable about participating, Maelle shared, “I really enjoyed the mixer! It’s always great to reconnect with my community, see what former classmates are doing now that they are out in the field, and see how much we have grown our skills since graduating. With Ratio, I particularly appreciated hearing about how consulting firms work and how exciting that type of work can be!”

Opportunities to Give Back

Our alumni are often the ones most well-suited to give the insights, encouragement, and advice that our students need as they navigate their transition into the market. We have expanded the ways that alumni can give back to the Code Fellows community, stay plugged in, and continue their professional development. This includes serving as lunch & learn speakers, where they get to hone their own public speaking skills while refining their approach to thought leadership. Alumni are also invited back on campus to help current students by conducting mock interviews, growing their skills and comfort level as interviewers and helping their peers hone this key skill to successfully land a job in the industry.

Hugo Guerra, a Diversity Scholarship recipient and graduate from Code 401: JavaScript shared, “One thing I learned at Code Fellows is that one of the better ways to retain information is to teach it to others. I’m fortunate enough to already have a corporate background, so what better way to give back to the Code Fellows community than to share some of my experience to empower budding developers in training?”

He added, "As a busy professional, finding opportunities to give back can sometimes be tough. I am glad that Code Fellows organizes these events and reaches out to their alumni, because it gives us a chance to share some of the intricacies of our journeys to help others enter the industry with more ease.”

As for helping conduct mock interviews at Code Fellows, he said, “Since I have experience interviewing and vetting candidates, it made sense to give some of my time to conduct mock interviews with students. Mock interviews are great—they allow those of us with a bit more professional experience to help students on their journey. By sharing common questions, technical challenges, and evaluating conversational skills and overall demeanor, we can help drastically shorten the timeline to employment for budding developers."

Supporting Alumni Making an Impact at Their Companies

Once our grads have successfully landed a job in the industry, they often wonder how can they ensure they add value to their team and company, based upon the skills and network gained before, during, and after their training at Code Fellows. To support these alumni as they seek to add value to their companies, we offer workshops and events that support the industry in embracing inclusion. Dan Lombardi completed our 401: Javascript course in December 2015 and is currently working as a Software Developer at passenger1. He joined us for our event, Less Talk, More Action: Hiring Practices that Innovate with Inclusion. He shared, “I went to the Less Talk, More Action [event] in order to learn more about how we can be more inclusive in our hiring process and I trust that Code Fellows will bring helpful and fresh perspectives on this topic. I try to stay connected to the Code Fellows network, and involved with the school, because I have seen them, time and again, live up to their standard of training smart and interesting people of all backgrounds.”

Dan is not the only one who has reached out to see how the talent coming out of Code Fellows can support the recruiting efforts of their team. Lee Broxson, a Code Fellows alumnus and Software Engineer at Avalara, recently successfully referred fellow graduate Gio d’Amelio for an opening with Avalara’s team. It’s this sense of community and connection that our alumni learn and foster at Code Fellows, and take with them into the tech industry.

Alumni Looking for Their Next Opportunity

As our grads grow their careers, we support them in their first opportunity and their future job transitions. Our alumni database hosts resumes of both new graduates and experience alumni, offering an easy way for hiring companies to find the right talent for their team and for alumni to level up in their career.

Quarterly mixers, such as the one at Ratio earlier this month, are yet another way that alumni are encouraged to grow their network in the industry as they consider their next opportunity.

As an organization, we are grateful for the chance to learn and grow and evolve, seeking to increase our impact in small and big ways. We thank our alumni for the commitment that they have shown to both themselves and others, and look forward to working alongside them to continue to impact the industry.

If you’d like to learn more about getting involved with this great community of developers and entrepreneurs, get in touch!