5 reasons why women should go into IT

women in tech 1

We know that girls can code and we’re big on inviting more women into IT. With 9 speakers from 3 European countries, our Women’s Day event shone a light on the value and importance of women in tech. Check out the insights and immerse yourself in the topic.

women in tech 1

Looking at the digital world today, we see a strange combination of amazing progress and prolonged change.

On one hand, digitalisation happens at an impressive rate everywhere we look, especially since the pandemic hit.

On the other hand, we still have fewer women in tech training and IT jobs than men. Though it’s clear as day that women make amazing programmers, the gender gap is still very real.

On 8 March 2022 we’ve  sat down with a group of inspiring people to discuss hard facts, top trends and their personal stories:

  • Christine Antlanger-Winter, Country Director of Google Austria 
  • Tanja Sternbauer, Co-Founder & Head of Community at the female factor in Austria
  • Hauke Hinrichs, CEO of SMATRICS in Austria
  • Claudia Tamasi, Country Manager at Codecool Romania
  • Lydia Jeschko, Business Development Manager at Codecool Austria
  • Iulia Iacob, Head of Mentors at Codecool Romania
  • Dalma Csernok, Full-stack Developer Student & CoderGirl at Codecool Hungary
  • Eva Szalai, ex-Codecool Student &Test Automation Engineer at Cap Gemini

Let’s recap this uplifting discussion and explore the key takeaways, along with the 5 main reasons for women considering IT as a career option.

The moderator of the event was Sigrid Hantusch-Taferner, Country Manager at Codecool Austria.

1. You can learn to code

Dalma Csernok, current Full-Stack Developer Student & CoderGirl at Codecool Hungary recalled her first experience with coding: “After I graduated university and studied theatre, I was unsure what to do, so I started working as a receptionist at a hotel. It was quite fun for a short period, but I soon lost motivation and started to look for other challenges. One of my colleagues mentioned a website where I could learn basic coding. A few lessons later I realised that I was writing code that worked, and I enjoyed it. After 2 or 3 months, I decided to switch career paths.” 

It seems that Dalma is not alone with her insecurities. When it comes to tech, women can be quite unsure of their capabilities. And it seems that these insecurities are mostly rooted in childhood experiences.

Female applicants usually have more questions about the basic abilities needed for coding, the requirements for the school, and the job market in general.” – confirmed Lydia Jeschko, Business Development Manager at Codecool Austria. Studies on gender differences show that young girls already judge their competencies in domains such as mathematics lower than boys. Likewise, studies on the self-efficacy theory have shown that boys are more confident about their performance in maths and science.

Hauke Hinrichs, CEO of SMARTRICS added his thoughts. “The problem starts in kindergarten where we start to socialise girls differently than boys, destining them for a different career path. I’d love my daughter to become an engineer or scientist. We should start treating girls in a way that allows them to live out their fullest potentials, without any type of discrimination or predestination.”

Eva Szalai, Codecool graduate mentioned the one skill you’ll still need to be successful in tech. “You still need to have abstract thinking. That is a must. But if you have that, the field is wide open. Companies are very happy to have female developers.”

2. Your previous experience will not be lost

Claudia Tamasi, Country Manager at Codecool Romania mentioned a key insight. “When a woman decides to take a new path, there is always the thought that she must start again from zero. But it’s not true. We had a student, who had 10 years of experience in a bank’s back office. She was worried that she would have to start from zero, too, but her experience became a great advantage. She now develops banking applications, making good use of her previous experience every day. Everything we do adds to our personality and our skillset. Our experience will not be lost, we just add new things to it.”

Tanja Sternbauer, Co-Founder & Head of Community at the female factor in Austria continued the thought. “With coding, you will gain a new skill set and you’ll have a brand new combination that will open doors for you. Also, you won’t have to code 12 hours straight every day. Coding doesn’t even have to become your career path because you’ll probably need this skill for different types of jobs in the future. If you can code, nothing will stop you in the next couple of years, no matter what type of job you take.”

Another option is to transform your previous job into a side-activity and pursue it next to your new, flexible job.

Eva Szalai used to be a professional musician and music teacher before starting Codecool. Today she is a Test Automation Engineer at Cap Gemini in Hungary, but she hasn’t given up her previous career either. “I’m a pianist and I still give concerts… I can work from home with flexible working hours, which is a great help. Sometimes I have a rehearsal in the middle of the day, and it’s okay, I can do it, and still keep up with deadlines.”

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3. Diverse teams are more effective and fun

Eva enjoys working in her new team at Cap Gemini. “In my team of 8 there are 3 women, so the gender ratio is quite good. There is mutual respect. Advancement is knowledge-based, and it’s measurable, which is a great advantage in comparison to art. We can learn from each other. The most productive teams have been the most diverse ones at Codecool, too. Men and women in tech have different approaches and different affinities. And men appreciate having women on their team for a varied approach and new perspectives.

Claudia Tamasi added her thoughts. “We’re built differently by nature, but when we’re collaborating, we complete each other.”

Hauke opened the topic of diversity and continued with his insights. “Not just gender diversity, but all kinds of diversity are important in teams, for example religious, racial, social-economic, and age diversity, too.”

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4. Companies desperately need more IT professionals

Discussing the topic of career prospects for women in tech, Claudia Tamasi mentions the following: “When women decide to work in IT, they can pursue whichever field they’d like, there are no barriers anymore. Front-end, back-end, full-stack development. Project management. There’s a new world out there. At Codecool Romania, we have young ladies and mothers learning development, too. This sector is expected to grow around 20% in the next decade so it’s lucrative to enter now, no matter your background or gender. You just gotta have the courage to start.”

Hauke Hinrichs adds that the demand for women developers is quite high today: “We’re searching for 20 new additions to our IT department this year. The lack of qualified labour is quite a challenge, and there are a lot of companies fighting for the best talent – especially for young, talented women.

According to our speakers, it’s important to have women where products are born and to involve both genders in business decisions.

“50% of the global population is female. If you serve women, you have to have women in your management too, to drive business decisions.” – says Tanja Sternbauer. – “Your business will do better financially too. I wonder how this aspect can still be overlooked sometimes.

Diverse skills are needed to build great things. The mix of voices, ideas, cultures and skills leads to better discussions, better decisions and better results for everyone. Teams work and perform better when they are gender diverse.” – says Christine Antlanger-Winter, Country Director of Google Austria. 

5. A tech job could be your dream job

Some women miss out on a fitting role or their dream jobs just because of preconceptions or a lack of support.

“Women tend to value different sides of the programming profession such as the independence and freedom that a programming job offers, as opposed to the high salary.” – said Lydia Jeschko, Business Development Manager at Codecool Austria.

Working in tech is a fast-paced road and some of the highest-paid professions can be found here, so it’s super lucrative to start. And there’s an opportunity to have a real impact with these professions; you can move to roles that deliver on a purpose. And women in tech tend to value this aspect a lot.

“Women aren’t driven by status or a fancy office location. They’re more interested in fulfilling a purpose and making an impact. They want to contribute to society and give back. What is the impact I can make here and how can I contribute? These are the questions women often ask when considering a job. – says Tanja Sternbauer

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How to get started in the world of IT

Starting fresh in IT isn’t easy, but our speakers had great insights for all young women who’re considering an IT career. The number one factor is confidence according to the panel members.

“Be confident, and just write an application. The worst thing that can happen is that you’re not ready for it and learn from it. But be confident and give it a go. Apply to jobs, go to a programming school like Codecool, and start a great career.“ –  says Hauke.

“To extend your knowledge you have to get out of your comfort zone. I learned later on that staying in that zone won’t help you. So don’t overcomplicate things and try to leave behind your insecurities” – adds Dalma Csernok

The second most important factor would be to have a mentor you can rely on.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mentor when I started. That’s exactly why I wanted to become one for others. To share my knowledge and experience to make it easier for others than it was for me.” – says Iulia Iacob, Head of Mentors at Codecool Romania. – “ My advice to women seeking roles in the IT domain is to be confident, self-aware, and to find a mentor who will support them. They can share valuable past experiences and insights about navigating the tech industry.”

Last but not least, staying curious and open to new things is also key to succeeding for women in tech.

Be open to everything. If you learn a lot you can have different solutions for the same problem. There was a lady who was resisting alternative solutions often, and she got hired several months later than she expected. You must ask questions because it’s okay not to know everything first. The biggest difference between senior and junior colleagues is often that seniors already know that they don’t have an answer. They are always searching for the answers.” said Eva.

codecool berufsbegleteind

Why Codecool?

Our speakers have discussed what sets Codecool apart and why it’s worth learning to code at Codecool’s Full-Stack Development course. Eva mentions the Full-Stack Development course’s length: 

“What sets Codecool apart for me is the duration. Some other schools are too intense, fast-paced and heavily condensed into a couple of months. As an active musician, I couldn’t have done that type of course. ”

Still, with such an ideal length, there’s a wide palette of knowledge being taught at Codecool, not just frontend or backend.

“It gives you more confidence for the job interviews and more options afterwards since you get a complete set of skills. I could have applied for test automation, Java development or even frontend jobs, too.” – Eva adds.

The flipped classroom method has also added a lot of value according to Dalma and Eva: “I really enjoyed it and it makes total sense since I used to be a teacher. The first thing is that you get a task. And then you get the background materials that you can study. But it’s not set in stone how you have to handle a task. If you can find the solution some other way, then you’re done. There is never one universal solution to a problem at Codecool.”

On this note, Claudia adds: “We’re practically teaching our students how to learn because being a developer means to be in a lifelong learning process. We’re serious about quality, too. Our job is only done when we found you a job that you like. And you can also come and try us without paying for the first 10 weeks.”


Looking for the next addition to your developer team?

It’s never too late to add talented women developers to your teams. If you want Codecool to help you find the next female developer who can start to work right away in your IT team, get in touch!

We’re looking forward to helping you build a more diverse team.

Cool leaders: Miklós Beöthy, Codecool Hungary

Miklos Beothy

In this blog post series, we’re sitting down for a chat with people making the Codecool vision happen. Please meet Miklós Beöthy, Country Manager of Codecool Hungary.

Miklos Beothy

If you want to meet inspiring people, Codecool is a great place to be. Every day we meet hundreds of smart, ambitious and cool students that study with us to change their careers and our shared digital future. And we meet innovative, great leaders with a vision from hiring companies that employ our students to build a digital future.

But it’s not only our students and partner company leaders who inspire us. We also make sure to work with colleagues that are equally amazing and make the Codecool mission and vision come to life.

We had the chance to sit down with one of our colleagues to talk about his current goals, challenges and outlook on the future. Please meet Miklós Beöthy, Country Manager of Codecool Hungary.

Miki, how would you introduce yourself, if you were not allowed to mention your work?

My name is Miki, I am 40 years old, I have a two-year-old son, Bazsi, and I love mountain biking. 

I started to bike 5 or 6 years ago. At first, it was just a leisure activity, then I began to participate in amateur competitions. Last year, after loads of training, I completed the Salzkammergut Trophy B distance, which is 120 kilometres long with almost 4000 metres increase in level. I am not planning to stop here, my aim is to complete the A distance as well, which is about twice as long as the B one. 

And I can’t wait for Bazsi to be old enough for us to bike together in the woods.

What is your work now actually? What are you responsible for?

I’m the Country Manager at Codecool Hungary. As the operating manager of the Budapest campus, the online courses and the corporate business here I’m basically responsible for the success of these.

What did you do before?

I studied computer science and engineering at Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) and as a sophomore I was a full-time programmer. I have quite a versatile experience, I worked at small IT companies, media outlets and agencies as well. 

For about 8 years I worked at Digital Natives, a startup company. I arrived a few months after its formation, later I became a co-owner, and I was the leader of a developer team with 12-15 members. It was an extremely exciting period for me, but in 2014 the inevitable career crisis that everyone experiences from time to time, hit me. 

A couple of years after the financial crisis of 2008 all of a sudden IT was blooming, and everyone had an “excellent” idea for a startup. At DiNa we were implementing such ideas of the clients through consultation, development and operation. Of course, there were many challenging tasks, but I often felt even during the first discussions with the partners, that it will be another project that lands in a drawer written on a DVD, because it is not going to be a huge success.

One day I woke up and said to myself: “I don’t want to do this anymore.” So, I left the company to look for new adventures.

Meet cool leaders I Miklos Beothy

Why did you decide to join Codecool?

After I broke off from DiNa, I had a one-year sabbatical. I didn’t really work except for a few side jobs, I was travelling for a while in Southeast Asia, and I started to think about what to do next career-wise. 

I loved developing. It is one of the few activities during which I can often be in a flow, and it can really pull me in. Technology was always my cup of tea. However, in the meantime I wanted to get closer to people. 

In the summer of 2015, I was a volunteer at Skool, where I worked as a mentor throughout the summer camp, and I was teaching programming to 8-14-year-old girls. It was an amazing experience. I still remember biking to the Grund (where the camp was held) with a smile on my face every morning, despite the fact that I was exhausted by the end of every day. It occurred to me during that summer that maybe I could do this as a job, not just as a volunteer thing. 

I don’t really believe in destiny, but strangely enough a few weeks later Tomi Tompa, who was my colleague at DiNa, reached out to me saying that there is an IT school in Miskolc, called Codecool, and they would like to expand, and open a campus in Budapest, which is why they are looking for mentors. We sat down with the founders, and a few meetings were enough to convince me that this can be something awesome, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so we started to build the school in Budapest with Tomi. 

When we launched the first class in 2016, we had 4-5 team members at Codecool Budapest. Today we have more than 50 colleagues. Since 2020 I have supported the growth of the school as a Country Manager.

What do you like most about Codecool?

No matter what position I hold, it is always the mission of the school that matters to me. 

Throughout the years I have worked with several hundreds of students, and I ran into amazing stories. Many students eventually find their career path after completing Codecool, and they thrive as IT specialists at renowned companies. While I was a mentor, I loved when students had “eureka” moments with my help, and I managed to get them through situations where they were stuck. It is great to see the spark in their eyes, and suddenly they are just soaring.

My mentor colleagues have similar experiences, who hold training sessions for our partners in our corporate business. As a mentor this can be a challenging task, since the participants are often not too motivated at the beginning, because they need to find time for learning besides their job. But at the end of the courses, they give really positive feedback about our work and the outcome.

What's the biggest goal that you set out for yourself in Codecool?

As a Country Manager obviously my main goal is to make the school more and more successful, but I also treat it as a priority to have a professional team at Codecool Hungary. Our recruitment process is excellent, all of my colleagues are competent at their fields, and we have an incredible community culturally and personally. 

I’m striving to keep this vibe. In a community and team like that it is easier to reach our goals: to connect the best juniors of the market with the greatest companies, and take corporate tech training to the next level.

What do you see as your biggest challenge currently?

I think the biggest challenge nowadays is to grow our online full-stack development course by the end of 2022 similar in size to our offline full-stack course. This is key for us to be able to source our partners the best juniors who match their exact needs always in a matter of days. We want to encourage people to give programming a try and convince them that they should learn it at our school. 

I trust that we can reach our goals, because I believe that those who choose us make a good decision, and now anyone can study with us from anywhere in the country.

What global and local trends do you see in the world that impact your work at Codecool most?

In the past two years the pandemic accelerated certain processes that probably would have happened over the next 10 years otherwise anyway. Everyone needed to react to these unexpected changes quickly. 

Many people work from home now, they manage their whole lives online, like shopping, food ordering, official businesses, communication with friends, and everything else. Tons of IT tools are required to support these social needs, therefore you need tons of professionals as well.

Where do you think Codecool is going in the short and long term?

In the short term, we would like to expand, make our courses available to more people even by introducing courses in new forms, and launching completely new courses – including corporate programs and courses offered for individuals as well.

In the long term, our main goal is world domination, but we would settle for Central and Eastern Europe in the next couple of years. We would like to become the biggest and best programming school and corporate technological HR partner in the region.

Miklos Beothy

Why do you think hiring companies should partner up with Codecool?

All of our founders and mentors work in this field. We gathered plenty of experience as managers, IT managers and senior developers, therefore we know what kind of skillset a junior IT specialist needs to get a project delivered quickly and efficiently. 

We also strongly believe that nowadays a programmer needs to be confident not only with tech, but with a team, too. You can be the best programmer in the world, but if you cannot communicate well, you do not manage your time efficiently, you cannot prioritise tasks and deal with clients, then maybe you will not be a perfect fit for a certain position. 

No matter which course we talk about, our top priority is providing up-to-date, relevant hard skills and strengthening the soft skills. Codecoolers don’t have as much theoretical knowledge about programming as university students, but they have much more project experience instead, having worked more in a team and used the newest technologies during our courses.

We have more than 200 partners in Hungary only, and based on their feedback I think we’ve reached our goals. Codecoolers are really among the best juniors on the market, and they can easily compete with university students for the same jobs.

One last question: How do you see our shared digital future?

Incredibly exciting things are going on in the digital world. 

Artificial intelligence is one of the fields, which will be game-changing in the next 10 years. Technology has tremendous advantages, but besides climate change, I am personally concerned about AI, too: I’m afraid that it will have a negative influence on our lives, if we use its potential for the wrong purposes.

Also, I can’t even imagine how dramatically the emergence of blockchain will change certain areas. It’s enough to look at the spreading of cryptocurrencies to realise that there is a huge potential in the underlying technology. 

I think the present is thrilling, I’m looking forward to the future, and I really hope that we’ll be able to make the best of the opportunities the digital world still has to offer us.

Twice as many students and the best IT education

How could Codecool continue a steep growth in 2021? What’s in the plans for 2022? Jozsef Boda, CEO of Codecool shares the details.

When you think about just for a moment how we expected 2021 to look like in 2020 … Well, things haven’t turned out quite as we expected then, have they?

Back then, we thought that by the end of 2021 the pandemic will be long over. After the first and then several more shocks, after the first and the second wave, with the help of the vaccines our lives can get back to some kind of a new “normal”, but at least a more stable state. Well, it didn’t quite happen like that. 

Due to waves 3 and then 4 in 2021 we were “in and out” of our school in Hungary, changing from on-campus to online education several times. In Romania, it was online with minimal breaks. While in Austria, just after opening our school and our very first group of Codecoolers starting in November, we had to switch to online classes in line with restrictions. 

But there was one big difference compared to 2020: however unexpected these sudden changes were, we were already prepared for them. We have successfully overcome unexpected challenges in 2020, too, but we weren’t even surprised in 2021. And we managed to turn them to our advantage even more efficiently – for example with further improving the online version of our flagship, full-stack programmer course, reaching much more aspiring students with it then with the offline version, available only for those living close to our schools. Who would have thought in 2019 or even 2020 that we’d get there? Not us for sure.

We have never thought we’d hire new colleagues fully online, not to mention senior managers, but we solved this, too, with no problem. Obviously, most of our graduates were hired by our partners in a fully online process, too. We grew up to the new challenges together.

In the meantime, we haven’t even noticed that we’ve entered the “new normal” we’ve been waiting for – probably because it looked a little different than what we expected. It was clear in 2020 already that things will never go back to how they were before, but we were not sure what they would end up like. By today, one thing stands out as the main characteristic of our new, post-breakout world: constant, significant change. What’s also apparent is that those who are agile enough to adapt and build on change will succeed. One simply can’t afford to wait for things to stabilise. That’s a waste of time, a losing strategy.

We’re so lucky and proud to have achieved so much in 2021, too. Let me mention just a few things:

  • We’ve placed our 2000th Codecooler at one of our hiring partners. Our first students graduated 6 years ago. We’re so happy that 80% of them are still with their first employer, the one we found for them. It’s a true confirmation of our shared success.
  • We’ve launched our very first scholarship programme, the CoderGirl Scholarship. Together with our corporate partners we want to invite and motivate many more women to start tech careers. The most talented and motivated girls and women from those applying to Codecool can now get a chance to study completely for free with us.
  • We’ve opened our very first school in Western Europe, in Austria. Together with Hungary, Poland and Romania, now we’re present in 4 countries already. Another step closer to becoming a leading IT education institute in Central Europe in 1 or 2 years, and later in the wider region. 
  • We’ve launched new open courses. The one-week “Intro to IT” Course was first introduced in Vienna, while the six-month Cyber Security Specialist Course in Budapest. We’ve launched the fully online version of our Full-Stack Developer Course in all the Codecool countries, and helped more than 300 Hungarians to new, future-proof tech careers taking our short courses, fully financed by the local government. 
  • We’ve further developed our corporate re-skilling and up-skilling training services, and launched comprehensive, tailor-made digital academies at some of our corporate partners.
  • Numbers taken out of context can only tell a part of the whole story. Still, the fact that we’ve managed to grow our revenue by 40% year-on-year in 2021, might mean something. It definitely means that we’re a stable partner for our students choosing us to help them switch to a new career, and also to our corporate partners, counting on us to boost the digital skillset of their organisation in the short and long term.

What we see is that digital transformation at companies is speeding up, now in departments and functions previously requiring only non-tech, business-side competencies. More and more capacities and skills are needed in IT, as well as in newly forming, business-side digital roles, and we can’t even come  close to meeting the market demand, due to the limited number of our graduates. We’ve managed to place each and every Codecool graduate last year who chose to take our job guarantee, while developing and delivering more fully tailor-made corporate training programs than ever before.

We would like twice as many students to  start studying with us in 2022 than in 2021. But we accept no compromise on quality, what’s more, we will further improve our courses and services, just like ourselves. 

Our Full-Stack Development Course is more than a bootcamp, and better than a university. A one-year, comprehensive programming course with a job guarantee and post-payment options not only providing a wide and deep knowledge of software development, but also a real job at one of our corporate partners. We would like to make this offer to even more ambitious and committed career-changes in 2022, so we’re extending our job guarantee to the online version of our Full-Stack Development Course in every Codecool country.

We can only be efficient and authentic at the same in what we do, if we are efficient and authentic ourselves. If all our colleagues truly believe in the mission, values and methodology of Codecool, and if they can also represent them and share them with others. The way to achieve this was different 6 years ago, when we were a young, promising start-up venture, and it is different today, when we are a mature, internationally present, and still dynamically growing scale-up company.

To increase our flexibility and innovation power despite the sudden growth of our own organisation, too, we’ve started a comprehensive mid-management development programme. And to keep up with the demand for our corporate services, a dedicated professional team will be responsible for the development and delivery of our corporate training programs and internal academy solutions from 2022.

And now that I’ve mentioned our organisation and my colleagues – let me say thank you to them for their valuable work all year in 2021. Because the thing is that it wasn’t about getting lucky. Whatever we’ve achieved as Codecool is the result of their hard work. Each and every of my Codecool colleagues has contributed to our successes with their enthusiasm, perseverance and skills, and I’m personally really grateful that I have the chance to have been working on shared goals together with them every day.

As a final conclusion, I have to say that after 2020, 2021 was another year full of challenges. The successes we’ve achieved haven’t come easy. We’ve worked for them really hard together. I admit, I got quite tired by the end of the year. I needed the holidays to recharge my batteries. 

But I’m starting the new year full of new energy and motivation, I hope you feel the same. I trust that we’ll have an as exciting and fruitful year in 2022, as we had in 2021. 

I wish a happy and successful new year to all of us, and that we make even more dreams come true, by helping even more successful, future-proof, tech careers to start, together.

Meet cool leaders: Olga Zelent, CM @Codecool Poland

Olga Zelent

In this blog post series we’re sitting down for a chat with people making the Codecool vision happen. Please meet Olga Zelent, Country Manager of Codecool Poland.

Olga Zelent

If you want to meet inspiring people, Codecool is a great place to be. Everyday we meet hundreds of smart, ambitious and cool students that study with us to change their careers and our shared digital future. And we meet innovative, great leaders with a vision from hiring companies, that employ our students to build a digital future. But it’s not only our students and partner company leaders who inspire us. We also make sure to work with colleagues that are equally amazing, and make the Codecool mission and vision come to life.

Last time we talked to Sigrid Hantusch-Taferner, Country Manager of Codecool Austria. Missed the article? Make sure to catch up now.

This time we had the chance to sit down with another inspiring Codecool leader about her current goals, challenges and outlook on the future. We’re super excited and proud to introduce you Olga Zelent, Country Manager of Codecool Poland!

Olga, how would you introduce yourself, if you were not allowed to mention your work? 🙂

I’m a bookworm, a sports-addict, a theatre junkie and a yogini :heart: I respect all beings, and strongly support equality, especially equality of women in all walks of life (and also in business, IT and boards). I am totally in love with Italy, especially the southern part of this stunning “paese”. I am super happy to be a mom of almost adult teenager Hubi, and sweet doggie Chico. 

What is your work now actually? What are you responsible for?

As a country manager, I’m responsible for the general management of the local business activities of Codecool in Poland. My main duties include scaling up the Polish branch. As always, people are the most important for me so I strongly focus on my team’s wellbeing. Motivating the team and working together is crucial to meet our ambitious targets. 

My job in the end is to make sure we attract more and more talented students, and partner up with more and more corporate partners in Poland, who focus on innovation and digitalisation, looking to either grow or re-skill their teams.

What did you do before?

Originally I’m coming from a totally different area: I am a lawyer by education and I have a background in the pharmacy market. After learning everything I could about the field in sales, operational and general management positions for 10 years, I felt I needed a change. I found information technology and the idea of taking part in shaping our digital future super exciting, so I decided to start anew in this new area. And I never looked back since. 

Why did you decide to come work for Codecool?

Before joining Codecool, I already gained experience in IT at a big digital service provider, and also as a scaling-up expert. I spent some years working for one of our competitors, another Polish programming school as well. I made my decision to join Codecool in July because I saw that my experience could come just at the right time for the local business, and also because the Codecool mission really impressed me.  

I wanted to be part of changing people’s lives for the better by providing them quality, accessible IT education and helping them land their first tech jobs. I already knew the market, I knew what it meant to grow the company from a start-up to a scale-up, and I was excited that I could contribute to closing the digital skill gap in Poland.

Olga Zelent Codecool
What's the biggest goal that you set out for yourself in Codecool?

We’re working on making Codecool the first choice for people who want to learn coding really well, but without having to study for long years. Codecool is more than a bootcamp and better than a university, and we want to grow it bigger to bring this ground-breaking type of programming education closer to even more people and companies. 

I couldn’t do all this without a great team, so my first task here was to strengthen the stability and motivation of the local team. Our next, shared goal is to make Codecool a leader in the alternative tech education market in Poland.

What do you see as your biggest challenge currently?

Our biggest challenge on the market today is to show that our offers are not empty promises, but true propositions. We offer a real job guarantee, actual post-payment options, and high quality, project-based education for our students.  And we offer quality candidates with agile project experience and advanced programming and soft skills for our partner companies. Our competitors are fast to repeat all our promises, but they fail delivering on them. The result is a loss of trust impacting the whole market, and Codecool, too, obviously. 

We are doing our best to show Polish people and companies that we can be trusted to deliver on all our promises and make no compromises about keeping our end of a learning or partnership agreement. I know it all sounds too good to be true, but we really managed to come up with a unique business model that works, and when we promise something, then we truly mean what we say.

What trends do you see in the world that impact your work at Codecool most?

We see that the pandemic brought a significant change of attitude in big companies. They’ve started to see more value in re-skilling and up-skilling their existing workforce instead of letting go employees and hiring new ones to grow the digital skillset of their organisations. They are now trying to build stable, loyal, strong in-house digital teams by retaining and  motivating their best people, as well as enriching their skillsets through quality tech training. 

Codecool is not only about open trainings, we can be valuable allies in building digital skills in-house. We have a solid track record of quality corporate re-skilling and up-skilling training programs, as well as full-scale internal academy solutions. Our courses are always tailor-made to the exact business needs of our partners, because every organisation and every digital strategy is different.

Why do you think hiring companies should partner up with Codecool?

We’re quick, flexible and effective. We offer great junior programmers that we ourselves would be happy to work with. Who have the motivation and skills to deliver value in the jobs from day one as proactive members of any team. The hiring process of Codecoolers is fast and painless, too, while our corporate solutions are tailored to our partner’s specific needs and exact requirements. Internal academies powered by Codecool have a proven track record of re-skilling and up-skilling existing employees to work together in highly effective digital teams. 

Where do you think Codecool is going in the short and long term?

In the short term, we’re becoming the first choice for more and more people thinking about a career change to IT, and for more and more companies with ambitious digital strategies and a mature approach to tech talent recruitment and digital skill development. 

In the long term, we’re growing into being the leading programming school, and digital educational and hiring partner in Europe.

How do you see our shared digital future?

I see a bright future with our lives, economy and markets entirely built on digital solutions. And I see teams of digitally skilled people building these solutions in cooperation, using not only advanced technology, but also strong soft skills for a better, fairer, more inclusive digital future.

Your top 5 favourite Codecool blog posts from 2021

man reading blog post on mobile

Read again and get new inspiration from your favourite articles by Codecool about training, recruitment and management from last year.

man reading blog post on mobile

It’s almost the end of the year, a great time for some nostalgia. We thought we’d look back and see which of our articles you enjoyed the most last year, which ones generated the most heated discussions, and which ones inspired you most. It was great reading back all your thoughts in comments on LinkedIn under some of them, or just see how many likes and other emojis each got. 

Here goes the top 5 of your favourites. Enjoy (re)reading them!

This was by far your number one favourite post this year. It’s about what we found to be the biggest obstacles to closing the ever growing IT talent gap. The fact that it was so popular shows how important the topic today is, and how many companies struggle with the gap.

4 of the 7 main reasons we found about why it’s still there were:

  1.  Going digital beyond IT, or the fact that more and more digital positions are opening outside of IT, too, in business departments
  2.  COVID-driven digitalisation of not just those innovation areas in previously defined digital strategies, but also forced, quick digitalisation of further, business-as-usual processes
  3. Inflating prices in some countries raising salaries of anyway-not-cheap tech professionals, too
  4. Growing EU and VC funding creating more-and-more IT jobs to fill, especially from 2014 on
Curios about the remaining three? Read the article now, and get inspired about the complex background of this global challenge.

We found that quite an intense discussion started under this post on LinkedIn. It seemed that everyone has an opinion about this controversial topic, and loved seeing your arguments and examples.

Our view,  explained in the post in detail, is that university education has many values, and there are positions where it’s absolutely necessary to have as a background, but there are many more, where it is not. We looked into some statistics from a related research, looked at reasons why we’re biased towards university graduates, and how it can be harmful. We also gave practical advice on how to adjust your selection criteria, if you decide to drop the university degree from your list of primary filters for a candidate.

The article was posted last January, but it still does have its relevance. Open to consider its facts and arguments? Read it (again) here.  

Have you seen the meme, where a woman jumps from a burning building with a sign saying “2020” down into a huge round sheet stretched out by firefighters, only to bounce back and fly into another burning building through the window, with a sign saying “2021”? Well, let’s just say, 2021 didn’t really bring the relief of the pandemic situation and it’s effects that everyone hoped for in the beginning of 2020. 

Recruitment faced its own challenges, after the initial freeze in 2020 through gradual revival, but complete overturn to online and remote operation. The difficult part of writing this article wasn’t the collecting of the challenges, it was to show the opportunities. But we managed, and this became one of your favourites from our blog posts this year.

Wonder how the impersonal, tech-dependent online recruitment process can bring advantages? How the insecurity of jobs in 2020 resulting in lower number of candidate open for a change could work for you? How the digital skills gap can shake your HR strategy up in a good way? Give the article another go, and collect fresh inspiration.

Besides closing the tech talent gap in general, getting more women into tech has been a major focus for companies all over the world in the past years. Since we wanted to do something, too, we created the CoderGirl Scholarship in Q3 2021. The scholarship allows talented and determined women and girls to learn tech for free with us with a guaranteed position in the end,  matching their new skills . We even started a whole new Cyber Security Specialist Course solely for women, with scholarship places only, in November.

In the article, we brought you some facts and figures about the gender gap, as well as some interesting examples when digital product launches went bad only because there were no women involved in the development. We also asked you be part of the change and join us in inviting more women into tech. 

Doesn’t ring a bell? (Re)read the article and be inspired.  

This las one on our (your) list was actually our very first post in 2021. It was a very personal look back at 2020 and look ahead at 2021 by Jozsef Boda, global CEO of Codecool.  It’s quite interesting to reread it and see how we realised our plans (like our series B expectations and the opening of our newest campus in Austria). 

How does he evaluate 2021 and what are his expectations for 2022? You can soon find out from another similar post to come early next year. 

Until then, read (again) this article for a bigger context and some nostalgia.

The above are just a few examples, of course. There were quite a few other blog posts you really liked, like our collection of inspiring podcasts, a success story of one of our graduates featured in a BBC StoryWorks video about our school, and a behind the scenes guide to how we put our company values into practice in tech training.

If you’ve enjoyed reading our blog posts this year,  make sure to subscribe to our Codecool Business newsletter for more.

Stay with us and keep getting inspired for a better digital future in 2022, too.

Scrum in programming training – Tips and benefits

Businesses go agile for better quality products, happier customers and more productive teams. But agility and frameworks like Scrum are super advantageous during the learning process too. We’ll take you behind the scenes to show you how we implement Scrum into our teaching method, and why this is good for you.

The agile way of working is not just a buzzword in the world of IT. 

Today, more than 70% of companies worldwide use agile methods in IT or for their business processes. While IT was the first sector to implement agile values in software development, companies saw the perks, and started rethinking their whole organisation using agile principles, in the scope of large-scale agile transformations.

In software development, most companies made their pledge to the Scrum framework to implement core agile values. Scrum can be a useful addition in the learning process, too, and we’ve decided to make it an integral part of our teaching method.

But what is it about agile that makes it so effective? And why is it so beneficial to use it to teach programming? 

First, let’s see what it really means to go the agile way.

 

A quick recap on agile

Agile relies on self-organising, cross-functional teams, and it’s a more reactive, more flexible way of organising your company. 

The 4 basic agile values are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile prioritises the human element and holds your customer’s satisfaction above all. And we just have to look at the numbers to see that it’s really working. From the 70% of companies that adopted agile, 98% said that it helped to achieve their previously set business goals.

Why? Because agile frameworks can enable your team to create better products by changing specifications and designs on time. They can get up-to-date feedback from customers, and test parts of the product as the process goes. Mistakes or changes in business needs can peacefully coexist with initial plans, and everything can be dealt with on time.

This overall philosophy leads to more productive teams, higher quality products, and satisfied customers

 

Transform your business with the power of agility

Agile stopped being the IT sector’s secret ingredient a long time ago. So whatever your business profile may be, you can start an agile transformation to make your organisation respond to change better and faster. 

Going agile just for the sake of it will by no means be a guaranteed solution to all your problems. But it could break silos, and enable a more collaborative way of working within your organisation. For example, your IT, HR, and Sales departments could be working together in a more connected way to solve problems and deliver amazing products.

To go agile, you could:

  • transform one section of your company with agile and build a supportive, more traditional business structure around it, or
  • apply agile values to your entire organisation, and all the different departments within.

To start the transformation you should do a detailed assessment of your business.  And if you’ve been wondering, there’s absolutely no need for an already existing agile team within your organisation, and you might as well start from the ground up.

 

Go agile in programming training, too

To implement agile values in software development, there are a lot of different frameworks you could use. The most well-known and widely-used is definitely Scrum. To implement Scrum effectively in IT, you’ll need a team of developers who’re clear on agile values, Scrum roles, and ceremonies.

And that’s exactly why we made Scrum an integral part of the Codecool way of learning, too. To make sure that our juniors will be well-prepared for individual and teamwork in any Scrum project, as well as continuous learning in their future careers.

Codecoolers learn and work with Scrum from day 1: they do sprint planning, take on the role of the Scrum Master during sprints, and even work with Product Owners (acted out by our mentors) and real customers (representatives from our partner companies). 

Through lifelike projects and real-life inspired user stories, they also learn valuable soft skills, like teamwork, time management, effective presentation, conflict resolution, and assertive communication. They continuously give and receive constructive feedback, and learn what it takes to study on their own. 

But let’s see in detail, how we do all this.

 

Scrum in action at Codecool

At Codecool we use the below elements from the Scrum methodology in our flagship Full-Stack Development course:

  • the Scrum Master and the Product Owner roles,
  • sprints (with ceremonies, like planning, standups, reviews, retros, demos),
  • the Sprint Backlog and the Product Backlog.

Let’s see how we incorporate these in our learning methodology for the best results!

Scrum Master

This title belongs to the person who facilitates Scrum to the team. A Scrum Master is committed to Scrum values and principles and ensures that the framework is followed. 

At Codecool, students select a Scrum Master from among themselves while planning their tasks and priorities for their next sprint. This role rotates by sprint so that everyone can try their hand at it.

It’s the Scrum Master’s job to administrate the team’s progress and to keep in contact with the Product Owner. If there are questions emerging or unexpected difficulties, the Scrum Master moves things further. Scrum Masters in Codecool teams also do hands-on development themselves.

Product Owner

The Product Owner acts as the project’s key stakeholder who has a clear vision of where the team should arrive at the end of the project. They’re the ones communicating with other stakeholders and the ones that understand the market, the customer, and the business too.

At Codecool, mentors act as Product Owners, and usually they create and maintain the product backlog

Sprints

A sprint is a time-boxed period when a Scrum team aims to complete a set amount of work. 

Just like professional development teams, our students work in one or two-week-long sprints to deliver projects

On self-instructed weeks, they deepen their knowledge on their own with available help from mentors. This setup supports our mastery-based learning method because it improves individual learning and teaches how to take ownership. 

On alternating, teamwork weeks students work in Scrum teams to get closer to the demands of a workplace. That’s when they actually act as any software development team in a Scrum environment.

Sprint planning

Development teams do the detailed planning of the sprint together to kick off the project. During the planning, the team defines what they can deliver in the sprint and how they will achieve it. Codecoolers do the planning, create the sprint backlog and appoint the Scrum Master on Monday.

Product backlog / Sprint backlog

A Product Backlog is a list of deliverables derived from the project roadmap and the high-level business requirements. The most important tasks are shown at the top of the product backlog. At Codecool, mentors act as Product Owners, so usually they create and maintain the product backlog. 

Sprint backlogs list tasks to be carried out in the specific sprint, taken from the Product Backlog. Sprint backlogs at Codecool are created by the student Scrum teams.

Daily standups

From Tuesdays to Thursdays students have their implementation days when they get to do the development planned out for the sprint. Each morning, they have daily standups, facilitated by the Scrum Master, where they align on daily tasks and discuss any obstacles keeping them from going on with their tasks.

Sprint reviews

During sprint reviews, development teams have a chance to check the sprint’s product, and demo the working app or feature to the customer.

Fridays are Demo Days at Codecool, and these days provide an opportunity to have the sprint reviews, and reflect upon the work that has been done during the sprint. Students demo the result of the sprint in the morning in front of teammates and real customers, who are actually guests from our hiring partner companies. 

The focus at demos is always on practising presentation skills, giving detailed, constructive feedback, and discussing learnings.

Retrospectives

Retrospective meetings are held to reflect upon what and how went down during the Sprint, facilitated by the Scrum Master They give teams a chance to learn from the setbacks that they encountered, and an opportunity to improve for the future. 

The retros at Codecool usually happen after the demos, on Friday afternoon.

Looking for your next agile developer?

After going through a year-long learning journey organised around Scrum projects, our junior developers are at the top of their game in Scrum teamwork and practices. Due to our super-fast sourcing process, your next junior agile developer could be in your team in just 5 days after you contact us. 

We are also here, if you’re rather interested in up-skilling or re-skilling your existing colleagues in Scrum software development.

If you’d like to hire new teams, and get them through an onboarding training in Scrum software development, then an internal training academy, powered by Codecool, tailored to your exact needs might be the best option for you. 

But why not visit one of our Demo Days on a Friday first, and check out the skills and capabilities of our students yourself? We’d be happy to have you.

If you’re interested, or have any questions, please contact us. Can’t wait to talk to you!

What to expect from your junior programmer – 5+1 things to look out for

Junior developers on the job market today can possess amazing skills, and can even show up to an interview with great references. To make your hiring process easier, we created an outline on the skills and hallmarks of a great junior developer in 2021.

Defining what type of professional you need in your growing IT team can be a challenge. Do you need an experienced veteran who is able to make quick decisions or is ready to mentor their colleagues? Or maybe you could achieve more by hiring a motivated junior professional, who’s willing and eager to deliver high-quality work under supervision. Your business needs both juniors and seniors to thrive because they add value on different levels.

There’s a catch: one company’s definition of “senior programmer” could be the next company’s ideal junior developer. For example, one developer could be considered “senior” with respect to Java development, but at the same time be considered “junior” at HTML5. So categorising and labelling applicants according to their experience is not a cookie-cutter process. Plus, there are many more things you can expect from your next junior colleague apart from having some experience. 

On another note, age-old hiring practices are becoming outdated. For example, university degrees are becoming less and less of an expectation, and you can expect juniors to have some experience nowadays. Plus, more and more companies are opening up their positions globally, even overseas due to the changes that the pandemic has brought. You have the option to recruit junior developers from all over the world and offer them remote positions.

But before we dive into the topic of juniors, let’s quickly explore the skills and capabilities of a senior developer for some context.

What can you expect from a senior developer?

Programmers in a senior role usually have 5+ years experience at a certain technology.

Seniors should be critical thinkers and practice full ownership. They are the ones you can trust in an organisation to keep the big picture in their minds as challenges and problems arise. Seniors ideally place responsibility on themselves first, whether or not their team is succeeding. Apart from being responsible, seniors are generally experts at:

  • Liaising with internal and external customers and stakeholders
  • Leading and mentoring teams
  • Driving projects and keeping the big picture in mind
  • Having an innate understanding of software systems and architecture 
  • Advanced understanding of frameworks, technologies, testing, and troubleshooting methods
  • Analysing business needs and user expectations
  • Ability to lead and mentor teams and drive projects

There are a number of areas where a seniors excel. However, having a team full of seniors could be an over-kill, because junior developers can also be a great addition to your organisation.

So what exactly can you expect from a junior developer?

When we talk about a “junior developer” we usually think of someone who has 1 to 3 years of experience in any given technology. 

As a general rule of thumb, we can say that juniors should be able to perform technical tasks independently,  but they will need some governance and consultation on a general basis. They should focus more on the code and sub-tasks assigned to them by seniors, and less on the big-picture, architecture and strategy.

In short, these are the things you can expect from a junior developer in the year 2021:

  • 1) Have a basic understanding of technologies and development
  • 2) Have demonstrable, relevant experience
  • 3) Understand agile practices
  • 4) Deliver high-quality work under supervision
  • 5) Possess great soft and interpersonal skills
  • +1) Have a strong drive to learn and progress

Let’s dive deeper into each point, and explore why they are important to have in a junior developer.

1) Have a basic understanding of technologies and development

A junior shouldn’t focus on the big picture, and should rather get busy with working on specific features of a product. But having a knowledge of what processes are involved in creating a software will make everybody’s life in the team easier. So a junior should ideally know how the development cycle goes, and it’s more than ideal if they’ve been through the entire development process a couple of times before. 

Technology-wise, your business will define what skills are most valuable, but you can expect a good junior programmer to know around 4-6 programming languages. Juniors should be excited to learn the technology stack that’s relevant for your business, so expect them to be eager and willing to learn new things. 

Top junior developer candidates will have an innate understanding of the development cycle and will know their way around the processes and the roles. So expect your junior to understand the software development process and where they fit into the big picture.

2) Have demonstrable, relevant experience

In terms of hiring, experience is still golden in the eyes of companies– but the type of experience someone has is a game-changer. Experience can be gained through personal projects, at a programming school, during an internship, or at university. So experience doesn’t always have to come from a full-time job. The bottom line is to see relevant experience on your candidate’s CV because you can expect any junior to be able to demonstrate some type of work.

You can expect junior developers to show up to the interview with a solid project portfolio and relevant programming experience. 

3) Understand agile practices

Agile software development is the universal best practice in software development right now, and around 92% of business owners think that the key to their company’s success lies in agile.

Hiring a junior developer who knows their way around sprints, or is up to make a team-based decisions will prove to be a great pick when your team works in agile. Of course, you can’t expect every candidate to have worked on a live project with agile methods, however, you can expect your new junior colleague to have a basic understanding of agile practices.

A great junior candidate will be well-prepared to start working in any software development team. You can expect them to understand what Scrum, daily standups, sprints, retrospectives, client demos, and collaborative work are. 

4) Deliver high-quality work under supervision

A junior should be able to work independently, but will need some supervision, guidance, best-practices and mentoring from senior colleagues from time to time to be able to progress and deliver the best quality of work. It’s a more senior colleague’s place to make decisions and to mentor junior colleagues, but a junior should demonstrate the motivation and the energy to learn and progress. Still, you can definitely expect a junior to be able to work on their own and to find solutions to smaller issues by themselves. Having a great work ethic and a keen eye for details will prove to be amazing features in your new junior developer.

An ideal candidate will be a confident, self-sufficient professional who won’t shy away from putting in the work to solve a challenge. Still, it’s great if they know when to ask a question or look for support from their peers. You could ask your candidate: “When was the last time you had to ask for help, why, and were you able to solve the challenge then?” Expect junior developers to have a great answer to this question, and to have an inner drive to learn and excel at their work.

5) Possess great soft and interpersonal skills

Your new junior colleague should be able to adapt to your company culture and team dynamics quickly and seamlessly. This process will be a whole lot easier with a colleague who has great social skills and who possesses certain soft skills.

Imagine a scenario where your new junior developer is expected to demo their work, but appears  to be uncomfortable presenting themselves in a professional way. Or think about initial conflicts that can arise during a colleagues onboarding and first few months. How will your new junior handle constructive criticism, communicate with their colleagues, and adapt to the changes that are bound to happen?

We know that soft-skills are in the focus of many hiring managers today, and they are just becoming more and more important by the day. Skills like presenting, feedback giving and receiving, time management or conflict management will all be invaluable in your new junior colleague. So expect them to have great soft skills, and you’ll have a faster time onboarding and integrating them into your team.

+1) Have a strong drive to learn and progress

Companies work in a changing environment, and digital transformation comes with a continuous change in processes and technologies. A great junior sees changes not as a threat, but as challenges to solve. They are happy to learn and implement new technologies, processes and ways of work. 

Personality-wise, look for a demonstration of motivation and genuine energy, plus a willingness to learn from mistakes when you’re interviewing juniors. Apart from the points on our upcoming list, expect your new junior to be open to constructive criticism, and have a real drive to progress at their craft. By paying attention to these qualities, you can make sure that your new colleague is excited and ready to learn and work in your team.

During the interview, you could ask your candidate to tell a story where they were able to learn from a mistake and get them to explain how they handled the initial criticism. Or you could ask them to tell when they supported their team, even though they did not 100% agree with the direction the team wanted to take. Hearing these stories could give you a great general idea about the type of person your candidate is, and about the level of support and commitment they can give.

Ready to find your next junior developer?

If you’re looking for a candidate who has a checkmark next to every item on this list, consider partnering with Codecool. Codecool graduates are great junior developers that can tick all the boxes on your list of expectations, and help your organisation grow. Our motivated junior professionals can deliver high quality work from day 1 in your projects.

Interested? Get in touch with us and let’s talk business. We’re excited to hear from you!

One step ahead in closing the IT talent gap – the ESSA skills report is out

ESSA (European Software Skills Alliance) looked into missing skills necessary to fill about 1.6 million digital job vacancies in Europe until 2030. Codecool is on mission to close the tech talent gap by disrupting digital education, also as a working member of the ESSA Consortium.

Today in Europe, developers are the most wanted professionals in the software sector and this trend will accentuate. The companies of tomorrow will also need people that have a good understanding of the day-to-day business activities. 

That’s why soft skills and business knowledge need to be integrated — in the way we train individuals for software roles, but also in the way we think and embed software in our organisations.

Developer is the most popular software role

In its 2020 The Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum listed the top 20 job roles where the demand will skyrocket. Almost all jobs on that list are ICT related — with developers firmly holding the 10th position. A trend largely confirmed by our recent findings where 45% of organisations estimated they will need extra developers in the next five years.

ESSA graph 1
2021 ESSA Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills report “Need for extra people per role profile”

Programming and professional hard skills are in high demand

The ESSA report goes further and tentatively identified the skills in highest demand among software professionals.

Needless to say, hard skills like programming are the most in-demand with Java, Javascript, SQL, HTML, PHP, C++, C#, and Python being the most needed programming languages. But what is important is for software professionals to have a solid understanding of programming principles, so that they can quickly and more easily adapt to new languages.

It has been discussed that profession-related skills are also to be developed.

“Even more important than teaching particular IT skills, like IT framework or programming languages, is teaching how to understand the business. Only if you are able to understand the purpose of the software solution that you are building, you can deliver a valuable product.”

In this regard, our report findings show that security management, agile project management, and software development lifecycle skills are needed and that software professionals with an understanding of the business are the assets organisations are looking for — now and in the future.

Soft skills are key

Again, looking at the predictions of the World Economic Forum (2020), we can only confirm and strongly advise people with software roles to not only grow their hard skills, but invest in non-technical (transversal) skills like personal soft skills or interpersonal skills: critical thinking & analysis, self-management, teamwork, and communication skills.

2021 ESSA Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills report “Soft and other skills for developers”

Of course, soft skills are harder to assimilate when only relying on theoretical knowledge. Thus, it is important to introduce more systematically real-life projects into learning and training curricula.

It's about the details

In October 2021, ESSA released a full report exploring current (and future) needs for software skills in Europe. During the next step, together with the rest of ESSA members we will contribute to addressing the conclusions of the report in a comprehensive document — the European Software Skills Strategy. Visit the ESSA website for more details about the initiative.

In the meantime, we at Codecool are already working hard on bringing better digital education to Europe. Already in 4 European countries, in Austria, Hungary, Poland and Romania, we’re offering mentor-led, project-based developer and other digital skills courses. We’re building on our mastery-based learning methodology and tried-and-tested curricula, and putting an extra focus on developing soft skills, both in our open courses and in our tailor-made corporate solutions. We make career changes affordable and change lives with our job guarantee, post-payment options and the CoderGirl scholarship. 

Learn more about who we are and what we do, and reach out to discuss how we can help filling your software skills needs.

The Codecool Way: 4 Core Values we Follow to Disrupt Tech Education

Company values are important: they can define a company and its brand, help communicate corporate identity and keep everyone aligned with the agreed strategic directions. If done well, they have a direct impact on core activities, shaping the way everyday work is being done at the company.

We at Codecool have been trying to follow 4 simple values for years in our everyday work:

  1. Courage – to explore new things and push limits.
  2. Transparency – sharing information and expressing ourselves, not just when comfortable.
  3. Quality – in whatever we do.
  4. Fun – to also enjoy what you do, so that you become even better at it.

But words are just words. They may sound cool, and we may check out an invisible to do list with them as any serious organisation that should have a list of core values does. But if there is no action behind them, they mean nothing.

So the tricky part about values is not even defining them  – especially that you better define them based on what you really believe in and what you actually do. It’s much more challenging to be always true to our values. How to apply them in different situations, with everyone and at all times. Even when it would be faster, cheaper or simpler to just not bother.

We follow our values in internal processes and ceremonies, among ourselves “in the background”, the way we talk to each other and do our daily work. We follow them when we meet external parties, like our business partners, and they experience them first hand, too, when they welcome graduate Codecoolers in their organisations.  And that’s because we also follow these values when we work together with our students, in the way we facilitate their learning and help them restart their lives in brand new tech careers.

But how exactly do we apply our core values in our training and make them work for everyone impacted?

Let’s dive in.

1. Courage: We step out of our comfort zones

Having courage to explore new things and break conventions is very attractive, but failing can be scary. So pursuing new challenges comes with a price: if we want to stay true to ourselves, we can’t always go the safe way.

You can’t have innovation or deep learning without trying new things. And trying new things naturally comes with failing a few times first. On the upside: the earlier you fail, the earlier you can fix what went wrong, and with the smallest cost possible. 

So we encourage learning by doing and learning from mistakes. We appreciate each failure together. We always give feedback and do a positive reinforcement on failures, as they are a valuable part of the process. For example: “It’s great, that you tried this option and found out that it doesn’t work. What have you learned from this?” 

To achieve innovation and learning via natural failure, we focus on processes rather than outcomes. We aim to create a supportive, fail-safe environment, where real growth can happen, so we also focus our feedback on behaviour, not on personality traits.

For a start, our mentors (we call our trainers ‘mentors’) cultivate a growth mindset. This means that we make sure our students understand and fully believe that with a growth mindset, their skills and abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Not by talent, luck, good grades from high school, or an IQ test’s result from last year. It depends on how much they believe they are capable of learning to code. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments. To achieve this, we rephrase “fixed mindset” statements. For example, instead of saying “I’m not good in solving math problems” we suggest: “You might not have found your way in solving this math problem, yet. But have you tried … ?”

Learning new things can be intimidating, too. Once in a growth mindset, we finally dare ourselves to move out of our comfort zones to change and to grow. When defining challenges for our students, we concentrate on the “learning zone“, or the Zone of Proximal Development. The learning zone is between the comfort zone and the panic zone – neither of which is a place for learning. In the comfort zone there is nothing new, but in the panic zone there’s way too much. In the learning zone, however, you have the right amount of challenges to tackle. The Zone of Proximal Development inside the learning zone is where the learner gradually moves from learning the first steps with support (of a mentor or peers) towards learning further steps without help (or without ‘scaffolding’).

During the learning process, we make sure to always go step-by-step (sometimes in baby steps). We start routinely questioning ourselves, our beliefs and ways. We turn old stones, reinvent the wheel, understand how and why things work or don’t work, and then most of the time come up with ‘lousy’ new ideas – or at times, with truly ingenious ones. And in the meantime: we analyse, we open our minds, understand how to tackle problems, grow our confidence and learn. We grow – and have a lot of fun in the process.

Besides all this, we do follow-ups and retrospectives regularly. Our mentors also take the courage to face any feedback from our learners, and admit if anything went sideways – then, they focus on these areas of improvement, and turn the feedback into learning opportunities.

 

2. Transparency: We share and express

Transparency for us means more than just being honest. It means telling the truth at all times and sharing as much information as possible for everyone’s benefit – also with the learners during the learning process.

To support transparent communication, we first establish psychological safety, an atmosphere that facilitates mutual trust and growth.  In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone for admitting a mistake, asking a question or offering a new idea.

To achieve this we:

  • strive to recognise our own tensions and notice tension in others, that distracts us from being present or feeling comfortable, 
  • communicate tensions in a way that doesn’t hurt others,
  • give a context or a greater perspective about a decision or a behaviour to further enhance involvement and trust,
  • organise ceremonies (sharing/syncing) outside our daily work for bringing up questions or information transparently about things experienced in various situations.

We basically set a good example by communicating transparently, also to encourage others to start communicating transparently, too.

We can use this principle in the following situations:

  1. We give upfront information about the trainings, workshops, etc. We don’t hide any useful information from learners. We tell everyone what will happen, when, how.
  2. We clarify rules, roles and expectations. Then we have a ground to say “no” to learners, if they ask something beyond our agreement.
  3. We consciously avoid having secrets or taboos. What, how and why the mentor/trainer does what she does? It has to be clear for everybody. For example “Why are we doing this exercise?” We give context to the learners – with careful timing of the information, so it helps their learning.
  4. We do regular mappings. We map out our day, the next hour, exercise and even the whole course for everyone in advance. Learners always have to understand the process and where they are in it.
  5. We express our feelings. When our mentor has any tension, they also express it freely. The mentor is not perfect, either, they are a human being with feelings, emotions. For example when learners don’t pay attention, the mentor expresses their feelings about the situation and then asks them to pay more attention.

3. Quality: We put extra work in providing real value

We pursue quality and craftsmanship in everything we do or expect from our students or partners.

For a start, we significantly increase quality of learning outcomes by maximising learning time efficiency through guidance, support and motivation provided by our pro mentors. As opposed to self-paced learning, instructor-led course students are much more likely to finish their studies, and to end up with usable, practical knowledge and skills they can actually implement later in a work environment. They also have much more fun.

One way Codecool mentors engage students and partners for even better result is empowerment. As a start, we define quality together and how exactly we’ll get there.

We follow the principles of subsidiarity – which may sound complicated, but it only means that we tackle problems on the lowest level where information is available to solve them. Meaning that if there is a solution available for the students already for a certain problem, based on their previous project experience, then their mentor will encourage them to find the solution themselves and will not hand it over to them.

Solution focus is a technique we borrowed from Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. It requires future-based thinking and resource consciousness and builds on the notion that “the solution doesn’t care about the problem”. Instead of analysing the problem, we analyse the preferred outcome together with available resources, and derive the possible ways to get there from “top down”, rolling it out backwards from the desired state of final outcome.

The agile methodology is a no-brainer go-to toolset to use in software development context, and we use it extensively, too. We actually go as far as to build our learning schedules around agile ceremonies, and have our students demo their projects in front of real-life “clients”, represented by our hiring partner companies every Friday, from week 1 in their learning journey.

We also believe in efficient, goal-focused meetings and learning sessions. We respect each other’s time, arrive on time and keep timeframes at all times – but that’s only one side of the story. 

We start every meeting with a check-in round where we discuss how everyone feels, so that we can “arrive”, that is put outside problems behind by acknowledging them and sync the mood of the team. This may sound like an overkill or waste of time, but skipping it is just not worth the 10 minutes it saves. People tend to focus and participate more actively and efficiently after this short routine, and the time saved indirectly is a lot more than how long the whole thing takes.

We also do a check-out in the end, to share how we feel then and if there’s anything more to share, to make sure we maxed out our time spent in the meeting together.

Apart from these generic meeting routines, we also do short attendance meetings each and every morning with our students.  At this meeting everyone (including mentors) answers one simple, casual random question generated by a bot (like what’s the one TV show that always makes you laugh, or who is you favourite superhero and why). We don’t react to replies, we just share and listen. The purpose is to kick-off the day on a positive tone and consciously bring in the human element into our work and learning every day, which is also a key tool for building a teal organisation with high standards for quality.

And last, but not least, we build on the 4 principles of doing by non-doing, which in our case is basically a coaching attitude pursued by mentors. The principles are the following:

  1. We don’t know the one single truth: The mentor/trainer doesn’t know the truth, only shares knowledge by her experience. Everyone can challenge the mentor’s or others’ thoughts, ask open questions and start a constructive debate.
  2. We don’t judge: We give specific feedback on behaviours, and we don’t apply labels to people.
  3. We don’t take over responsibility from others, especially from learners: The one who is working hard is actually learning by doing. If the mentor/trainer works hard, it means they learn a lot themselves, but not necessarily the learners. For example that’s why the mentor cannot touch the keyboard of a learner as a rule. We also say: learners should spend most of their time practicing, communicating, elaborating on a task. The main responsibility of the mentor/trainer is to facilitate learning, but the ownership is with the student – they own their own learning, for the best possible result. 
  4. We don’t give solutions: We don’t tell the tricks and give final answers. The learning process is more important than the final answer. Our approach is coaching – we help the learners with questions, guidance, motivation.

Some people intuitively interpret ‘non-doing’ as something passive, laid back or lazy. But if no action is needed, then doing anything may already be ‘overdoing’. In fact, sometimes action can do more harm than good.

If we are growing a plant and we have created the right conditions for growth with healthy soil, sun and water, there comes a time when the very best way to ensure the growth of the plant is simply to leave it alone. More water, more sun, more fertiliser won’t help, in fact, too much of any of these may stifle the growth of the plant. We remain attentive, connected to the plant’s needs but for the time being, doing nothing is just what is needed. 

We do our best not to kill our plants, but let them grow and reach their highest quality.


4. Fun: We make sure everyone enjoys the ride

Choosing Codecool is a life-altering choice for both our day-time course students and our colleagues – so we always put fun high on the list of priorities. If you enjoy something, you’ll become better at it. It’s that simple.

We do believe that learning and work can and should be a fun, light-hearted, and possibly a flow experience, too. We don’t take ourselves very seriously either. We make sure to be able to laugh at ourselves as much as possible.

Our students learn technologies and new skills via life-like, but still playful and fun project assignments, instead of boring, heavy textbooks and frontal lectures.  

A fun learning experience will bring a better end result because of the positive association:

  1. We experience how we all (including the mentor) are just human beings. We all make mistakes, and we laugh at ourselves, together.
  2. We focus on the journey, the experiment of learning something new. This adventure, the discovery can be very enjoyable, genuine fun.
  3. We share interesting small details, fun facts, all related to the topic.
  4. We do more interactive, practice-oriented sessions, and fewer frontal sessions and presentations. Learners will remember the “experience” most: when they were moving, talking, practicing, laughing, etc.


That’s basically it – and of course a lot more. But listing all the ‘secret’ ingredients of our learning method and routines is just not possible in one article. 

We know that every company is different, and your values at your company must be different, too – not better, nor worse, just different. Hope you found this insight to the Codecool values and our ways of working with them inspiring, and that we made you think about yours. 

What core values do you have at your company? What do you do to follow them every day?

Stop and think about them sometime, and find more creative ways to be true to them. It will be well worth your time.

Coding a Better Future – Codecoolers Win Silver at Morgan Stanley’s Hackathon

A team of Codecoolers developed an innovative learning support app, that might change the lives of children with a chronic desease.

Morgan Stanley and the Amigos for Children Foundation asked young developers to help non-profits building innovative learning tools for children and teenagers with chronic diseases, in the scope of a three-month virtual competition.

We’re super proud that the Codecooler team – Zsofia Szonja Kassai, Barnabas Urmossy, Balint Molnar and Kristof Murai – came 2nd place in the Hungarian competition, in an all-university team lineup.

We asked them about their experience at the hackaton and their studies at Codecool.

What motivated you to sign up for the Code to Give hackathon in the first place? Was this your first hackathon?

Zsofi: Yes, this was our first! We were curious about the challenge, we wanted to try ourselves and learn from a longer project. The idea that we might help a nonprofit was very attractive, too.

Barnabas: I wanted to know what it would be like to work together with a client on a project which is much longer than the usual 1-2 projects we are used to. Plus, I knew that we’re a really good team, and wanted to see us as a team develop, besides individual development.

Balint: For me, it was a no-brainer. I’ve never participated in anything similar, and I loved the concept that we can help kids learn languages, sponsored by a huge multinational company.

Kristof: I was also driven by curiosity in the first place. I had no idea what to expect. I wanted to see what we can do being in the 2nd part of our one-year full-stack development training. The idea that we can help kids in need was obviously a huge plus.

You named your team LazyLlamas. Where did this crazy name come from? 🙂

Barnabas: We realised that we shared an interest about llamas at our very first meeting. Then we just sat back like we had nothing else to do until we sign up. We added the “lazy” when we realised that we have just 15 minutes left until the deadline and we still haven’t registered the team in the competition, which was so us, actually.

But it felt good when people mentioned a few times, later, during the competition that based on the way we work we must have meant “lazy” as irony.

What kind of learning support tool have you developed? Can we see it?

Zsofi: Our app has 2 parts, one for students and one for teachers. The part for students is a learning enhancing tool with 6 types of tasks. The part for teacher, or the “Amigos” makes it easy to create tasks, monitor students’ progress and give feedback.

Barnabas: The basic idea was to create an app with templates that help creation of new tasks. And we also wanted to support the communication between the students and the Amigos, so that they can align on tasks and evaluation. On top of this, we wanted to create a gamified system for collecting points to enhance students’ motivation.

Balint: The biggest benefit of the app, just like Barna mentioned, are the templates. We created templates for memory game, word – image coupling, interpretation of written and spoken text, substitution and organisation into categories. We made all of them available on all the languages the Amigos work with.

Kristof: We’re very happy to demo the app to anyone who finds it interesting.

What was it like to participate? How did it feel to get in the finals?

Zsofi: For me it was an amazing experience! We spent the whole time sleeping much less, collecting creative ideas all the time, working together really smoothly as a team. Our original goal was to learn, but we’re so happy we got this far in our first hackaton. And it was super exciting to present our idea to the jury in the finals.

Barnabas: On top of what we have expected, the whole thing required a lot of organisation, project management, copywriting and presentation rehearsals. I really enjoyed being able to practise all this in a real-life development environment. And the experience helped me decide that I want to be a front-end developer after Codecool. Plus, getting into the final showed that we were capable of performing well in such a complex project, even before finishing course.

Balint: The competition was a blast and I was especially happy that I could refresh my web skills, plus learn CSS at the same time. I was really curious how we’ll perform among the university teams, but after the meetings of round2 it was obvious that we’d make it to the finals.

Kristof: I just loved everything about the competition. It was great to see what it takes to organise and put together an app from scratch. We started out super motivated and the ideas just kept coming to us. Then, after we successfully presented our ideas, our motivation got another  boost, and then we just had to fight time to actually deliver on our idea. Getting into the finals felt like a dream come true, and assured us that we did a good job.

What was the biggest challenge in the competition?

Zsofi: Racing with time. We had so many ideas, but it was almost impossible to deliver on them in such short time.

Barnabas: In the last days I found it really difficult to let go of some of our ideas and my maximalism, just like Zsofi. We had to decide what to implement in the prototype and what to put on the next steps slide in the final presentation.

Balint: For me it was CSS! 😀 And as the project kept growing, refactoring. It was really challenging to create and put each task type together, but the end result turned out very organised, thanks to Zsofi.

Kristof: For me, too, the biggest challenge was time, because we just kept getting newer ideas about how to make each task type even better and fancier. We had to draw the line somewhere eventually.

What skills could you use in the competition that you got at Codecool?

Zsofi: Like everything. 🙂

Barnabas: There were 1 or 2 technical solutions that were so specific that we haven’t seen anything similar during the course. But since we also learnt at Codecool how to find new solutions on the internet, we managed to find and apply those, too.

Balint: We had a huge advantage in the finals because we pracised so much already at the Friday demoes in front of clients at Codecool. As for hard skills, for me the hackaton was like “and add-on” to the web modul of the full-stack course. Our app turned out a Flask based, JavaScript-heavy website, with a complex database structure.

Kristof: I got all my coding and developing skills from Codecool, so I used what I learnt there. And when I got stuck, I could always turn to a Codecool mentor for help.

Where are you now in your Codecool studies? What are you learning about now?

Zsofi: We’re at the end of the OOP (Object-Oriented Programming) module, which is the 3rd or the 4 modules of the one-year full-stack development course. We signed up for the hackathon at the beginning of this module.

Barnabas: Yeah, the competition lasted the whole time of the module. Let me take the opportunity to send our thanks to our teammates who put extra effort into our shared Codecool projects, so we could focus on this challenge. 🙂

Balint: It was refreshing to work on something totally different while also coding in Java (but obviously the last weeks of OOP were also about web based stuff, databases and such). I’m actually just about to start my last module, I’ll specialise in Test Automation.

What are your plans for after Codecool?

Barnabas: I will start looking at web app front-end developer jobs with real confidence after this competition.

Balint: Precision planning is far from me, I have always been going with the flow. I’m curios about the Test Automation specialisation at the moment.

Kristof: I liked the web modul best so far and especially after this result I’m looking forward to become a web developer, too.

What will you do with with your prize? You’ve got some EMAG vouchers.

Zsofi: I haven’t decided yet. I want to make good use of it.

Balint: I killed my laptop a few months ago, so I got a new one from my prize.

Kristof: I have always wanted a smart watch, but I’ve never came around investing in it. Now I have.

What is the biggest learning for you from the competition? Is there anything your would do differently in retrospect? Would you ever enter a hackathon again?

Zsofi: The biggest learning for me, how much I actually learnt during the ride. I’m satisfied with our performance and would definitely go for another hackathon, too, sometime.

Barnabas: In the beginning I haven’t even realised how big of a task we took on. It even started to get a little scary after a while. But seeing that we can do all this, I started to come up with new ideas and challenges in the last days. I would definitely do something like this again.

Balint: i would do a lot of things differently, for example I would stick to naming conventions form the very beginning, and make SCRUM standups regular. But we all did our best, and I would definitely do this again.

Kristof: Since this was my first hackathon, I would do many things differently. But it was an amazing experience and I would definitely be up for the challenge again.

Inspired by this success story? Want to work with juniors like these amazing Codecoolers?

Our fresh graduates are waiting. Reach out and let’s discuss how we can help you.

We can’t wait to talk to you!