Software engineering alumnus expands computer training program

Miguel Angel Zavala, graduated in 2017, created Codubee as an alternative to canceled internships

In March, ASU alumnus Miguel Angel Zavala noticed that many students were posting on Reddit asking for advice after their internships were canceled due to COVID-19.

At the end of April, he created Codubee, a skills development platform designed to mimic the experience of remote IT internships.

Codubee focuses on teaching students how to use and apply software systems commonly used in the computer engineering industry, such as React, NodeJS, and Amazon Web Services, to build their own web applications in team.

“COVID has really changed the way businesses hire,” Zavala said. “Right now they’re looking more at your CV and making sure you have relevant experience… I think a platform like this sets itself apart from students who might not fully understand these tools. “

Students from several states, including New York and Illinois, were among the first to participate in the program. Zavala said Codubee also included students from Turkey and Egypt in its initial launch.

“It’s really fun working with people who are out of the country, not only for me, but I think it has been very beneficial for my students as well,” Zavala said. “It gave them an idea of ​​what it was like to work with children in the United States and outside its borders.”

Olivia Escousse, a sophomore computer science student at Northwestern University, joined the program after reaching out to Zavala on Reddit.

Escousse said she only learned computer science and coding basics in her first year and had never been to a computer project before.

Through working with Zavala and her peers at Codubee, Escousse said she learned materials and practiced teamwork that would not otherwise be taught to freshmen.

“As a student and trying to get into IT, they don’t really teach you those soft teamwork skills or even those technical skills that you see a lot in practice,” Escousse said. . “It definitely gave me a boost in that direction, because when I get into my first job, I won’t be completely lost. “

Zavala said he created Codubee on his own, including building the website and program, mentoring students, conducting conferences and meetings, and doing email outreach.

“It was really fun, to be honest,” Zavala said. “While some people might say things like, ‘Dude, did you start this program on your own? “It must have been very difficult, ‘I’m just helping these students because it’s something that I really love to do.”

Ryan Friedman, a computer science student at Hamilton College, said he joined Codubee in search of a more hands-on and interactive experience than his previous internship lacked.

He said his relationship with Zavala and his peers worked in their favor as they were able to be professional and have fun together while working on their projects.

“It’s something I want for my career,” Friedman said. “I want to be able to be in a position where I’m going to work well with people and we work together effectively.”

In addition to offering general education, Zavala said he acts as a mentor for his students. Through this mentorship, the students bonded with Zavala and relied on his willingness to help them develop their skills.

“That’s really the goal of this business,” Zavala said. “Show my passion for how much I care about students and their future goals. I really want to help people achieve the goals they want to achieve.

Although it has only been up and running for less than six months, Codubee made it among the STEM finalists in the Austin Fast Start competition for new entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas.

In October, Codubee will expand to the University of Texas at Dallas and is expected to continue each semester thereafter. Although it only had four students in its initial phase, the program received 94 applicants from UTD this fall and will accept 30 students into the program.

Prior to expanding to UTD, Zavala contacted career centers at several colleges and universities in Texas.

“Having that validation, not only from (the career consultant) at UTD, but from UTD students that they see the benefit of it, makes me feel wonderful,” Zavala said. “It’s something I created and now someone else wants to use it. This is so cool.”

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Gordon K. Morehouse