The Ultimate 5-Step Code First Girl’s Degree Application Guide

A guide to conquering the Code First Girl's Degree application


8/14/20236 min read

Code Fisrt Girls Application Guide blog post
Code Fisrt Girls Application Guide blog post

When I was applying to the Code First Girl's Software engineering degree, there wasn't much out there regarding the application process, how to prepare for the degree, and what it actually entailed. I remember having to search on LinkedIn for graduates and message them individually for their insights. This is what has pushed me to make a one-stop-shop CFG degree series where I talk about my experience from A-Z and impart useful tips (Disclaimer: this is not affiliated with Code First Girls). So to start things off, let's dive into Applications!

So you've decided you want to do the Code First Girl's (CFG) Degree, but have no idea how you're going to get through the application process? Look no further! The competition for coding bootcamps is at an all-time high. For my cohort, there were over 1,600 applications for only 226 places. This makes having a strong application so important.

As a result, I have created an in-depth guide on how to conquer the Code First Girl's Degree Application, drawing from my own experience as well as that of other successful applicants.

If you have no clue who Code First Girls are, they offer free coding courses to women with the aim of closing the gender gap in the technology industry. You can learn more here.

Before you start applying

Is coding even for you? Do you enjoy coding? These companies are investing thousands of pounds into you and therefore, want to ensure you are committed to learning how to code and are enthusiastic about it. Being able to demonstrate some prior knowledge is a great way to show them that you’re an eager candidate. Take some classes beforehand and create simple projects using these. Coding a portfolio displaying these projects will also show that you are able to apply your learnings. Code First Girls have a range of introductory coding classes as well as MOOCs which will make you stand out. Enthusiasm can also be demonstrated through any volunteering you've done in the tech industry, participating in tech communities, or exposure to coding you may have had in your undergrad course. These experiences are great to talk about in your application.

The Application Process

  1. Online application form

    Answer basic questions about yourself and your experience on their webpage.

  2. Online Tech Assessment

    Complete (and pass) an online technical assessment in a language of your choice.

  3. Video Interview

    Record yourself answering a series of questions under timed conditions.

  4. Interview with your company

    Have a face-to-face, virtual or telephone interview with your sponsoring company.

  5. (Hopefully) GET AN OFFER!!!!

It's going to be a (justifiably) long one so bring your notebooks out and get a cup of coffee! Incoming the gems...

  1. Online application form

    The purpose of this initial form is to see if you are a team player (which is a key attribute required for the course and as a software engineer in general), identify past coding experiences and understand why you want to work for your sponsoring company.

    Explain your coding journey so far, any self-learning you've done, and why a career in tech interests you. List any previous coding courses you’ve taken, why you enjoyed them, and most importantly, how you APPLIED them. This can be done by creating projects or even teaching someone else. This shows that you are capable of learning how to code and are enthusiastic about doing so. My tip would be to create a simple portfolio to showcase any past projects you’ve done, it will really help you to stand out. Share ANY tech experiences you have including volunteering, teaching and attending tech events.

    Draw from a range of experiences using the STAR technique.

    Lastly, research the company you’re applying to. Understand their core values and the influence of tech in those companies.

black laptop computer on round table on a Surface Laptop
black laptop computer on round table on a Surface Laptop
woman in white shirt using Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 in Platinum
woman in white shirt using Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 in Platinum
black and gray microphone on black and gray microphone
black and gray microphone on black and gray microphone
  1. Online technical assessment

    These assessments will test your coding knowledge thus far. They are at a beginner level so you don’t need to worry too much. Nonetheless, I’d say prepare. Go over the basics of the programming language you have chosen. Know the basic data types, conditionals, variables etc. Review concepts such as sequences, iterations, methods and functions. I used Youtube to do this. Get comfortable reading and interpreting code. And practice! You only get 7 days to complete the tech assessment after you’re sent the email so practise beforehand!

    The assessment is comprised of definitions and reading code to identify the expected outcome.

  1. Video interview

    This was my favourite part of the application process. It is the time when your personality can really shine through, setting you apart from other candidates. Prepare answers to basic questions such as ‘Introduce yourself.', Why do you want to do the CFG degree?’, ‘Why have you chosen this sponsoring company?’, ‘Tell us about the time when you have ‘xyz’' etc. For this, practise competency-based interview techniques, including using STAR. CFG have some great videos outlining this, which they will share with you when you get to that stage.

    The degree is no walk in the park and will get stressful at times. Therefore, you have to demonstrate the ability to be organised, handle stress, and balance other commitments with the degree.

    Ultimately, at this stage, show off your personality. Practise by videoing yourself talking to the camera. You need to get comfortable doing this. Maintain good eye contact, use a lot of energy, make your vocal range dynamic, limit the use of ‘urmms’ and ‘aaand’ and ‘liiike’. Smile, be confident and enthusiastic.

  1. Interview with the sponsoring company

    Each company interviews people differently. Some people will get one interview, others will get multiple. Some people will get an in-person group assessment day, others will get a 30-minute phone call. They will tell you what to expect, but the turnaround time can be quick, making the interview tricky to prepare for. I would say, do a little research on all types so you are prepared for whatever is thrown at you. Ultimately, at this stage, you need to show them that you understand what the company does, you relate to their core values, and you can make an amazing contribution to their projects and the company culture. Do this by having a good knowledge of the company (you should’ve done this in step 2) and using your existing skills and values to demonstrate how you'll fit in at the company. Be enthusiastic and friendly too! (trust me, it goes a long way!). Be prepared for a technical interview. This is one thing I wish I could go back and tell myself. Despite being told and trained for competency-based interviews, the company may throw a technical one at you too. I had NO IDEA how to carry out a technical interview. I didn’t know that you should ask clarifying questions or take a high-level approach before coding a solution. Or that communication is the key thing the interviewer is looking out for. Anyways, just be prepared for this (do let me know and I’ll make a blog post dedicated to technical interviews as I’ve had my fair share).

  2. Getting the offer!

After following this guide, you should (hopefully) get an offer. You’re excited, and you deserve it after all the hard work you’ve put in. There's some prep work to do which you can find out about in my next blog post. And if you don’t get an offer, CFG have three cohorts each year, so you can always apply to the next one and by that stage, you would’ve gone through the whole process so will know what to expect.

Good luck with your applications!

Look out for next week's post when I provide practical tips that will help you thrive whilst on a coding bootcamp. Do let me know if you have any further questions!


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