Though Alejandro had had some exposure to programming, when he learned about the Code2College program and its many benefits, he was eager to apply. He was somewhat nervous about participating in the program though because he felt that he wasn’t good enough at coding or didn’t have the experience necessary to be successful. “What I hadn’t realized is that the program is made to teach anyone, regardless of experience or understanding,” shared Alejandro. “I also was surprised at the amount of team building, collaboration, and professional skills that I would learn in the program.”
Alejandro thought that entering the Tech field would be perfect for his introverted personality; he thought that it would involve working independently and the absence of having to develop social skills, which can be challenging for him at times. “It turns out that teamwork and communication are actually really important skills in the technology field,” he shared. “Code2College has helped me develop these skills through our workshops and interaction with the volunteers. It has also allowed me to understand the professional skills that go into this field.”
The Code2College program continued to surprise Alejandro as he would walk away with not only programming skills, but his first professional resume, interview skills and new social skills. Last December, Code2College corporate partner Q2ebanking hosted one of Code2College’s monthly Professional Skills Workshops during the program year. “This was my favorite workshop because I created my first resume and learned so much about what employers commonly look for in an applicant,” shared Alejandro. “I also had many conversations about how Development (or Dev) teams operate, such as stand ups and sprint plannings.”
Alejandro was able to take his new resume and the skills that he learned into his first-ever internship interview with Code2College corporate partner, T3. “I was very nervous during my interview even though my interviewers were very nice and just trying to learn about me and my experiences,” explained Alejandro. “My advice to interviewees is to keep in mind that your interviewers are people too and it’s about making a connection with them. Also, stay present in the interview and try to adapt to the situation.”
Alejandro explained that when they asked about his hobbies, he was afraid to mention video games because he thought that they may look down on him. What he realized was that by not mentioning it he potentially lost out on an opportunity to bond over a common interest or give himself more character. “Don’t be afraid to tell them about yourself,” he added.
Alejandro was offered a software development internship with T3 this Summer and has been loving it. He’s spent a great deal of time learning how Dev teams track their progress on goals. “I’ve been a part of their sprint planning meetings where they set these goals but have only seen at a glance the software they use to track their progress,” he shared. “When I get back to school, I’m looking forward to implementing the technical skills I learned during my internship into projects I want to make.”
“Code2College is important for the Austin Tech Landscape because it helps expose underserved student populations to professional and technical aspects of the tech field,” explained Alejandro. This then provides a diverse group of strong candidates for tech companies, resulting in a strong, young, diverse workforce in the tech field.
Alejandro feels that Code2College helps beginners understand what programming is and the importance for developing professional skills. “Before I joined Code2College, I had no idea how developers shared their work with each other, or that planning, teamwork, and communication were even more important aspects.”
Spreading awareness about the Code2College program is important to Alejandro. He wants potential students, parents, corporations, and volunteers to see how much the program can help students in their education and career. “I think it’s far more valuable to have experience in professional communication, which Code2College has a major focus on.”
Alejandro will be entering his Senior year this Fall at Akins High School, and is interested in staying in Texas to pursue his undergraduate degree. Thus far he has been looking at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Texas State University to study Computer Science.
In his final thoughts, Alejandro shared, “I thought a coding career was all about being good at programming, but it turns out there is so much more, and Code2College will guide you through it!”