Daniele from Brazil studies the B.A. Software Engineering at CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, Germany. This young and modern university was founded in 2017 by successful tech entrepreneurs, with around 100 students today. Daniele chose CODE because of its results-oriented approach to education, which is vastly different from traditional universities. Read the interview to find out what she thinks:
You have a background and work experience in Arts & Literature. Why did you decide to instead go for a career in tech?
I believe in interdisciplinarity. Technology has always been deeply connected with arts, especially music, which is one of my passions. I started getting into coding through visual programming when using music software such as Max for Live, in order to customize audio plugins and virtual synths.
That’s when I started thinking how powerful coding could be. Coding and creativity are deeply connected. There are many studies in the field of artificial intelligence and music, for instance. I follow a project called Magenta created by the Google Brain team. I’ve always been fascinated by technology and have been thinking of learning to code for years.
If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you are curious and you are proactive, I believe CODE is the perfect place to advance your knowledge.
How does CODE University differ from other institutions?
At CODE you learn to collaborate from the very beginning. You’re always communicating your ideas to your peers as well as negotiating expectations. We get the opportunity to have a close relationship with fellow students as well as professors.
It’s an environment that embraces interdisciplinarity and diversity. Although I’m a Software Engineering student, I am encouraged to join design-related workshops as well as product management ones. For example, last year I joined a Typography workshop, which was amazing. We also have the Department of Science, Technology and Society which offers lectures and debate clubs, so we’re encouraged to discuss as well as read books about the impact of technology on our lives.
CODE University’s tuition fee system is fair and gives an opportunity for the ones who cannot pay upfront.
At CODE, we’re free to choose which modules we want to attend and how we want to develop our learning journey. What does that mean? You can also get lost at the beginning with so many possibilities. But CODE trusts the students. They trust that we can find our path and not be told what exactly to do. At this point in time, telling students they should only focus on Java or any tech-stack would be very limiting and not effective since things change all the time in the technology sector.
We’re invited to leave our comfort zone and make choices on our own and we count on the team for help and support. It’s a totally different concept. So, if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you are curious and you are proactive, I believe CODE is the perfect place to advance your knowledge.
What do you learn in the Software Engineering programme?
We learn how to collaborate by using tools such as Github from day zero. We also learn how to make decisions depending on product demands. Professors don’t tell us what tech stack we should choose to solve a certain problem, but they encourage us to investigate why such and such would be the best fit.
What are your classmates like?
Most of my classmates are Germans from all over the country. We have students between the ages of 17 and 40, however the gross majority is between 20 and 25. There is a growing number of international students. In the first year we were only about 10% and now we’re about 30% international students. The number of ladies in the program has increased as well. So the goal is to be a diversity-friendly space, with people from different nationalities exchanging knowledge and passion.
We’re about 30% international students.
How do you like Berlin? Is it a good city for foreign students?
Berlin is international and very vibrant. Foreigners are welcome, especially within the city’s central districts. It’s one of the few affordable cosmopolitan European cities. You don’t need much money for the very basics (food, transportation, entertainment).
You don’t need to speak German in the central areas of the city, but ideally you should know the essentials. I guess this is true for every country. You don’t want to live in a country and not even learn how to say a couple of words, right? I think learning German is key for integration and for more opportunities in Germany later ahead, if you want to work here after your studies.
Nightlife in Berlin is probably the best in Europe. You can party every night, if you want, but you shouldn’t: You have a lot to do when studying at CODE, including parties organized by our fellow students!
And remember: Learning to code, how to design or manage a product is no easy task. You have to study hard.
CODE works with many corporate partners. What impact does that have on your learning experience?
It has relevant impact. Corporate partners remind us to keep our feet on the ground so we understand how the market really operates. In most universities you learn the theory, but then reality is quite different. Corporate partners are invited to give us talks to share their experiences. They also come up with interesting ideas for real-life projects. In that way, we can test the knowledge we acquire in a real-life setting. Also, it’s a great opportunity to network and get to know people in the industry.
Berlin is an international city, very vibrant and welcoming to foreigners.
As a private university, CODE charges tuition fees. But they offer a “pay-later” scheme for those that cannot afford the fees immediately. Can you explain how that works?
So, you can either pay monthly or later. I chose the pay-later system, an income-based delayed tuition model. How does it work? Well, after your studies, when you get a job and if your annual income is over €21,000, 6.5% of your income is deducted to pay your study fees. That happens annually for 10 years.
I believe this system is fair and gives an opportunity for the ones who cannot pay upfront. That promotes diversity and equal opportunities to all students. To my knowledge, this system is unique, especially because even non-Europeans can choose the pay-later system, at the same level of tuition fees.
Do you have any advice for students who want to apply to CODE University?
If you want to apply to CODE University, be open to experiment. You’ll be invited to the start-up entrepreneurial world. You’ll be encouraged to try out different technologies and interact with different kinds of people and personalities. You’ll be encouraged to be sociable and interact with a community of people who have dreams and want to build things that have an impact in the world.
Be open to fail, because you will fail many times. Not always will your beautiful plan work out. But you will learn that behind every failure there is a lot to learn and you’ll be stronger and more knowledgeable than before. And be humble. You can never know everything about technology, since it’s always changing. Be humble to learn and to teach your peers. It’s a community. Be ready to share.
Learning to code, how to design or manage a product is no easy task. You have to study hard.
You are now in your second year of the 3-year Bachelor’s programme in Software Engineering. What is your plan for afterwards?
The options are quite open. I would like to land a job as a developer for some time, to better understand systems and businesses. But in the long run I would like to take a Master's to deepen my knowledge in the field of Artificial Intelligence applied to Arts. Another option would be to develop my own app. I have some ideas, but would need partners and investors to make it happen. Who knows?
This article was produced and published in cooperation with CODE University of Applied Sciences.