*Drum rolls* CODE has its first graduates!

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Virtual Demo Day was a perfect opportunity to finally introduce our first graduate, Oluwatobi (Tobi) Adeyinka. CODE chancellor and founder, Thomas Bachem, remembered Tobi’s first day at CODE and the moment when we asked students to come up with three hashtags that describe them. Tobi’s hashtags were #empathy #existentialism and #positivity. Three years later, with our first graduate, we want to reflect on this journey.

We’ve said this time and time again: founding a university is not easy. Just having an idea about creating one is already crazy.

But hey, we had the vision to offer something different than traditional universities. By no means did we want to teach just software development or programming. We wanted to move away from frontal teaching and instead offer project-based learning. Then we found a perfect place for the university, the Factory – at that point, soon-to-be a meeting point and vibrant community for many startups and companies in Berlin. But what the heck is all that without students? 

They were mad enough to trust our experiment, our efforts, and eagerness to disrupt the education system, and persistent enough to push us to work more, to improve, and to challenge us, every day.

In the beginning, we went to many student fairs. We’ve seen many halls throughout Germany, carrying large white CODE letters with us, rebuilding our booth every time, wanting to answer every single question and to make ourselves visible.

Onboarding Days #firstclass
The first onboarding days back in 2017.

And then the students came. We always refer to our first generation of around 70 students as the “crazy” ones. Or crazy enough to be guinea pigs to the new way of learning and studying. They were mad enough to trust our experiment, our efforts, and eagerness to disrupt the education system, and persistent enough to push us to work more, to improve, and to challenge us, every day. The very first days and months were hectic. The Factory was still under a lot of construction work, the dust was everywhere, and to be frank, we did a lot of lectures wearing jackets hoping that the sunny and warm days were just around the corner. 

But dreaming about starting a university means that we’ve dreamt about seeing all those students leaving CODE with a lifelong, beneficial relationship between CODE and its community of students, graduates, and partners. It was hard to imagine, back in 2017 – the day will eventually come, and we will have our first graduate(s). And here we are, after existing for three years we have our two graduates, our first alumni: Oluwatobi (Tobi) Adeyinka, who studied Software Engineering, and Elias Khattar, who studied Product Management. 

Originally from Nigeria, in August 7, 2017 Tobi had his first admission day at CODE. September 1, Tobi’s first day at CODE. Three years later, our Tobi is now a successful software engineer developing his career in Berlin. 

A software engineering student and our first graduate, #firstclass, Oluwatobi (Tobi) Adeyinka, is one of the crazy ones, and we hope he doesn’t mind us saying that. Originally from Nigeria, on August 7, 2017, Tobi had his first admission day at CODE. September 1, Tobi’s first day at CODE. Three years later, our Tobi is now a successful software engineer developing his career in Berlin. 

When asked about the attraction he felt towards CODE, Tobi remembers an “efficient approach to studying Software Engineering and the opportunity to jump into real-world projects from the start of your studies.”

Jonathan and Tobi
Tobi, our first graduate and CODE co-founder Jonathan Rüth

At CODE, students start with the Orientation Semester seen not only as a transitional period but also to introduce students to the interdisciplinary study concept of CODE. Our Orientation Semester helps students to choose what they really want to study at CODE, by focusing on a combination of hard and soft skills, which we deem to be essential to study, in particular, to join a project group in a core semester — in any role. We offer them guidance, courses, personal and interpersonal workshops, and project check-ins. After Orientation Semester, comes Core Semester, this is the time when our students acquire new skills, master key concepts, and gain state-of-the-art expert knowledge by working on challenging projects with your fellow students from all three study programs. Our competence framework ensures students to work on projects that challenge them in the fields that they are currently prioritizing. Together with our partners and student teams, Tobi worked on several student projects, Tripme with Trivago and Event-Driven Warehouse with METRO, to name a couple.

Finally, in the Synthesis Semester– we challenge students to apply all the skills and competencies that they have acquired during their time at CODE. Students then create their own project from scratch and put together a team of fellow students. This capstone project will be the final stage of their learning journey at CODE – Bachelor thesis will be the theoretical reflection on a key aspect of the capstone project.

The same way we wanted to have a different university, we also wanted to have a diverse community – to build a community far away from a distanced and alienated group of people that occasionally meets in front of the lecturing rooms. Our students come from more than 60 different countries from all around the world and different walks of life. What brings the community together is a shared passion for digital product development, collaboration, and a drive to disrupt the status quo. Tobi was a big part of that community, too. “People learn in different ways, and at CODE, you are given a high-level framework of the things you need to learn for your degree. Beyond that, the way you learn these things is completely up to you. This creates an environment where people with widely varying ways of learning can still study together and also learn from differing perspectives,” says Tobi. 

Our community is growing, now counting 365 students. Still, it sounds surreal to think where we were (just) three years before. 

Today CODE looks different. We are stretching across around 1300m2, don’t have any issues with the heating, and soon will be getting airconditioning to help us get through the warm summer days (which is an unusual thing for Germany!). Our community is growing, now counting 365 students. Still, it sounds surreal to think where we were (just) three years before. 

Tobi submitted his thesis in November 2019. At the end of December, he spent five semesters at CODE altogether.

CODE campus in construction
Co-founder Jonathan Rüth during the campus construction back in 2017.

And for Tobi, things are going smoothly. He’s now establishing his career under the dynamic Berlin fintech sky. What started as a part-time student job, turned into a full-time position after graduation. Tobi’s perspective on studying at CODE resonates well with what we want to point out to future generations. There’s always a lot of things happening at CODE: new learning opportunities, talks from professionals, and networking events within the industry. As a student, he suggests being vocal about what the most valuable for an individual learning experience is. That way, students shouldn’t lose the primary goal at CODE. “I think what helped me the most was carving out a specific path of exactly what I wanted from CODE right from the start, and sticking to that path throughout my studies,” he concludes. 

We don’t want Tobi to walk away from the CODE community, and we do know for sure, graduation doesn’t mean goodbye, and just to make this official: he’s not wearing that damn academic gown! 

Lead Photo: our first graduate, Oluwatobi (Tobi) Adeyinka. Photo by: Lukas Schramm

 

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