The Coding Gym

Silicon Valley has a student group for those who want to work out their technical strengths and work on their job search skills.

Lynn Shea

May 15, 2024

CMU-Silicon Valley students of the Coding Gym

Source: Justin Ventura

CMU-Silicon Valley student members of the Coding Gym turn out to see ViralMoment Founder and CEO Chelsie Hall.

In the same way that athletes train together, share workout tips, and give one another encouragement, software engineers can also improve their performance and gain a competitive edge by helping one another.

That's what Silicon Valley students in the Coding Gym do. The organization invites students to come together to help each other solve programming problems and navigate the job market they are often focused on.

Because most of the master's degree programs at Silicon Valley are completed in either 12 or 16 months and usually include professional internships, students are nearly always pursuing their next professional opportunity. While they are working to advance their technology skillset, students in the software engineering, software management, and information technology programs must also hone their job search skills in order to obtain the competitive tech jobs they hope to land.

Justin Ventura is president of the Coding Gym. The club, like many, wasn't active through the pandemic, but Ventura recognized its value, and wanted to revive it.

"I liked the idea of rebuilding a community that can help us solve coding problems and get us ready for the tough interviews we'll have for both internships and full-time jobs," said Ventura.

I liked the idea of rebuilding a community that can help us solve coding problems and get us ready for the tough interviews we'll have for both internships and full-time jobs.

Justin Ventura, Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering student, CMU-Silicon Valley

He had both the experience and confidence to lead the Coding Gym. He has worked as a tutor and was recently hired as a peer career consultant at Silicon Valley, where he has had both formal training and regular practice providing career counseling to fellow students.

Ventura earned his B.S. in computer science and mathematics at Salisbury University in 2023, had multiple internships at Amazon, and has already landed an internship for the coming summer at DoorDash.

He says there is an expectation in the group that everyone has some basic coding skills, but there are different levels of expertise, and some students are better at some computer languages than others.

"Even though I’m pretty good, we all learn from each other," said the Software Engineering major.

Student in Coding Gym

Source: Justin Ventura

Coding Gym president Justin Ventura delivers a presentation to the group.

There are no membership requirements or formal proceedings. Ventura typically has some type of activity or discussion planned for the 12-20 students who show up each week.

That number can rise quickly when speakers are invited to the meeting. Recently, Chelsie Hall spoke to the group. She earned her Masters of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley and is now the CEO of ViralMoment, a California company that helps businesses understand social video trends.

Hall shared some valuable advice with the group.

"At the end of the day, the goal of coding is to make something that people need and something they will use," emphasized Hall.

She and fellow CMU alumna and ViralMoment’s Chief Technology Officer, Sheyda Demooei, realized there was no good way to understand web content that wasn't text, which inspired them to form their company three years ago.

The fast-growing start-up now employs ten full time staff and has given internship opportunities to numerous CMU students.

"The technical capabilities of the CMU students have been unmatched," says Hall.

The technical capabilities of the CMU students have been unmatched.

Chelsie Hall, CEO, ViralMoment

But she also explains that those skills are only a part of what makes someone successful in this field.

"One of the things we’ve learned is that after you build it and get it out there, you also need to be ready to change it," she said adding that the willingness to iterate is key.

Her audience was impressed by her success and grateful for her advice. And more than a few approached her after the presentation with resumes in hand.