This summer, we decided to try out something a little different to our usual courses. We invited students who had already done a CF: G course, or had some programming experience, to come along to Campus London and build whatever way they liked! They spent three weeks building on their own project or idea, with our instructors on hand to give help and advice. So, what emerged from these three weeks?
The first session started off with introductions to familiarise everyone with each other. We got to know everyone’s spirit animal (yes - spirit animal! Which included lynx, penguin, tiger, and… owlfish?!) as well as initial project ideas.Then, without further ado, everyone was let loose and began to build. Some people began mapping user journeys, aided by our UX- guru instructor Elizabeth Chesters, while others teamed up and refined ideas.
Throughout the bootcamp we also had some brilliant guests and speakers along to meet the class. Rupert Whitehead from Google Developers told us that not only are we learning to code - we’re also taking the first steps into the fast-growing world of ubiquitous computing. We also found out about Google’s interesting Women Techmakers programme, which gives the essential role models and routes to women wanting to get involved in the industry.
Savs Tan from EF kicked off one of our sessions by giving us the low-down on their fantastic tech incubator programme,warmly encouraging our students to get involved if interested.
We also had a lovely visit from London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan MP, who had come to Campus to find out a little more about the tech startup space as well as seeing our tech skills development model in action! We also made the amazing discovery that the giant CAMPUS feature in the room lights up, which was very aesthetically pleasing.
After each visit the CF:G's seemed inspired and worked on their projects with renewed vigour
Our final session was truly a last hurrah, as we welcomed three fantastic guest speakers who also helped us to pick out standout projects. We kicked off with Leanne Kemp, founder of Everledger, a revolutionary startup that uses blockchain to combat diamond fraud and theft. She shared her own wisdom on how to grow - key points being to a) think big and b) be persistent: “literally stalk people on LinkedIn”.
Ioana Serban (software tester for eBay Inc.) then gave us some heartfelt advice on working hard and getting that cheese, passing on her feelings of inspiration from meetups and conferences she attends. Thanks for reminding us that our “dreams will come true!”
We also heard from Joe Ros, founder at Howcloud, the innovative edtech platform we use for our coding classes. He took us through his story from spurning an investment grad job in favour of working in tech, from the gruelling online game industry to developing Howcloud on the EF programme.
Then came the exciting part where when everyone gave a short presentation of their ideas. These are just some of the cool ideas that people had been working hard on!
Sarah’s fish conservation project used SQL databases to prioritise fish species based on noise levels.
Lydia’s website scrapes information from wholefood retailers for parents looking for healthier alternatives to feed their kids.
Laura used Java to build an entertaining game called “Being a Groan Up” and also had ideas for scaling the project in a really unique way too.
Many of them were still works in progress but we can’t deny that every single one of them was fascinating and original. It was great to hear about the resources everyone used to build, and the highs and lows of their journeys.
Our judges, settled in their beanbags, helped to pick out some of the standout projects for our mini-prizegiving (although everyone who came and took the course is, of course, a winner). Goody bags were distributed and without much further ado, we headed to a nearby pub for a last celebration of our amazing summer coding sessions. To everyone involved: Campus, students, instructors, guests, you all helped to create something special over these few months.
The next instalment of our Hack Your Career series took us to GoCardless, a fast-growing fintech company that started up in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. Now operating as the UK’s leading direct debit provider, it was fascinating to hear directly from the people behind this highly exciting brand. Our panel consisted of a diverse mix of employees from different departments, which made for a very interesting discussion.
We kicked off with introductions from Maria Campbell (GoCardless Head of People) and Clarice (our Programmes Manager) both of whom coordinated the event. Then, the audience and I posed a few questions to the panel, who responded with fantastic anecdotes, insights and advice.
Natalie Hockham, the resident Data Scientist, emphasised the importance of learning by doing, and teaching ourselves new skills by simply getting stuck into projects (either work or personal). When she was originally looking to enter the industry, she learnt about the career options waiting out there by attending lots of meetups, and encouraged us to do the same.
Head of Design, Tom Petty, highlighted how user journeys are so important, as users are like unique snowflakes (no two being the same!). He also talked about the different ways people get work done - in his case, his need for impending deadlines to motivate him to get things done – I think many of us can understand that!
Also on the panel were two CF:G alumna/ success stories, Jenna Brown (Global Expansion) and Jutta Frieden (Country Lead Germany). Both gave us a great insight into their journeys, with Jenna having moved from the world of corporates to the more dynamic start-up landscape. Jutta shared her experiences of moving from edtech to fintech, and told us about how different interest groups in each industry made for very different landscapes. She also used German slang “Vitamin B” (for “Beziehung” or “relations”) to describe the importance of using a network of connections for job opportunities.
We also got to hear from product engineer Max Murdoch, who like many of our CF:G community moved from an arts-based academic background to front-end programming. He raised the point that while his liberal arts degree may not have taught him the technical skills he currently uses, it did help him discover how he learned new things in general – a valuable and underrated skill to have.
Grey Baker (VP Engineering - who by the sounds of it worked in every single GoCardless department before settling on the engineering team!) gave us his insights on how the culture grows naturally with the people who join. He also encouraged us not to be afraid to try out multiple disciplines, as he did, in order to discover our most comfortable fit.
All in all, everyone learnt a whole lot about the ins and outs about GoCardless, its incredible people, and the journeys they took toward their current techie careers. From different learning techniques to recruitment advice, each panellist was keen to share their valuable wisdom. We finished off with some relaxed networking where everyone was able to generate some “Vitamin B”, not only with the panellists but also with each other!
Big thanks to everyone who came along, to GoCardless and our panellists, and Maria who helped to organise them as well providing some incredibly tasty nibbles:
Code First: Girls