Building genuine connections and community during an intense learning experience is important for reasons both short-term and long-term – and both personal and professional.
An emphasis on community-building creates the conditions for transformational learning, according to Cohort Lead Annah Patterson, who’s worked in a student-facing role at Galvanize for 5 years.
“When students feel safe, welcome, and supported by their peers, they’re more likely to take risks in their technical decisions and try new strategies,” she said. “By nurturing a strong sense of community, we’re not only helping our students learn the technical skills they need but also preparing them to be well-rounded professionals in the tech industry.”
In this post, you’ll read more from Annah and others on our team who work hard to build community in our virtual classrooms. Find out how the support we provide — plus the support you’ll build amongst your peers — can positively impact your learning experience and help you launch your new career.
Building coding bootcamp community in a remote classroom
We’re proud to have a large team of people supporting every student’s learning journey, no matter which of our coding bootcamps you choose. A strong community fosters collaboration, empathy, and effective communication, which are all essential skills for software engineers.
In each coding bootcamp cohort, you’ll interact with:
- Instructors who come from diverse backgrounds with years of both teaching and professional software engineering experience.
- Cohort Leads who guide you through day-to-day program operations, foster community, and address student needs.
- Software Engineering Immersive Residents (SEIRS) – recent graduates of the program who are on hand to help you with technical questions and provide encouragement.
- Career Services Managers (CSMs) who help you build your resume, interview skills, job-market readiness, and more.
“We’re one of the best in the industry in terms of the support we offer our students,” said Mike Rudinsky, our Vice President of Product. “Remote learning can be challenging and we know this is what it takes to make this a good experience.”
Our team prioritizes group activities, discussions, and projects to create opportunities for students to learn from one another and appreciate each other’s strengths from day one of the program.
“We set the tone and expectations for collaboration by emphasizing the importance of mutual support and respect,” said Annah. “I encourage students to get to know each other and build rapport, as well as instill a sense of responsibility for each other’s success.”
Building community through collaboration and projects
Professional software engineers need to be able to collaborate with different types of thinkers, as well as understand (and believe in) the value of diverse perspectives. This starts in the bootcamp and extends – never-ending – into your career, according to Bootcamp Instructor Candice Haddad.
“It’s important to be resourceful and work autonomously, but more often than not, you’re working on a team,” she said, adding that collaboration on projects is one of her favorite parts of her own professional software engineering experience. “I’m a social person and I like working on problems with people right alongside me.”
Daniel Billotte is another Galvanize Bootcamp Instructor, and he agrees that collaboration is key, particularly when thinking about group projects as a way to get career-ready for a field that requires teamwork.
“We spend a lot of time coaching teams on how to work as a team. Difficulties arise, but these aren’t problems, they’re educational opportunities,” he said. “We deal with these things in real-time, so we can become better humans in the process, working well with other humans.”
Building community through technical support
Sandy Chu graduated from our Intermediate Coding Bootcamp before joining our team as a SEIR, similar to a teaching assistant. In this role, she provides support to coding bootcamp students as they work through technical software engineering problems and projects, using her own recent student experience as a way to connect with and encourage them.
“As a student, my SEIRs were fundamental in my growth as a software engineer. Their positive energy and willingness to troubleshoot and stick with me while I tried to resolve my code errors stuck with me,” she said of her time in the bootcamp.
That experience has enabled her to provide that same support to others.
“As a SEIR now, I hope to provide the same kind of support to the students, and to instill the same confidence in them as they continue through the course,” she said.
The instructors also provide support throughout the bootcamp. The program structure contains lessons, lectures, and project time, along with plenty of built-in time for Q&A sessions.
“When questions come up, we can talk through them. There’s also the ability to plan times with instructors. We’re always around, and with the help of our teaching assistants (SEIRs), we can handle everything effectively,” said Daniel, who also emphasized the value of having access to multiple instructors during your time in the program.
“In the course of your time with us, you’ll encounter various instructors,” he said. “You’ll have access to a lot of different teaching styles based on different experiences and backgrounds, which is something we aim for.”
Building community by celebrating wins
Jerid Woods is now a Program Lead here at Galvanize, overseeing operations for multiple cohorts. Before, he was a Cohort Lead, and during that student-facing experience, he always looked forward to graduation – not because he wanted the cohort to end, but because he loved the celebration and the sense of both individual and group achievement.
“Working to ensure as many students make it to the finish line as possible involves a certain intimate connection to student struggles and triumphs, and graduation provides the space for students to communicate their appreciation for the community,” he said. “After graduation, I always laugh because we never want to click “end meeting” on Zoom. We want to stay together.”
According to Annah Patterson, every cohort is unique. But the one thing they all have in common is that during the students’ time together, a true community was formed.
“I have witnessed many inspiring examples of community-building within our cohorts,” she said. “Each group of students brings its unique sense of community, and it’s always a joy to see them grow together.”
Building community that lasts beyond graduation
A coding bootcamp should be a well-rounded experience that includes building a community that lasts beyond graduation.
As you move through your program, our Career Services team provides workshops and lectures, complete with assignments that help you set and meet goals related to building your resume, networking, salary negotiations, and preparing for interviews, among other topics.
Toward the end of the bootcamp and afterward, you’ll work with your Career Services Manager (CSM), who helps you with practice interviews, finding the right roles, and providing all-around job search support.
Additionally, our Alumni team works hard to foster post-bootcamp connections. The day you graduate from your coding bootcamp, you become part of an alumni network of more than 12,000 graduates who stay in touch through events and active Slack channels, and who help each other by sharing job openings, tackling on-the-job challenges, and more.