Learn how to code for free in Berlin
14 February, 2020 - 10 min read
Where can you learn how to code in Berlin?
There is no shortage of Berlin learning groups and meetups if you want to learn how to code. If you are not in Berlin, similar resources can be found by heading to meetup.com, and choosing the "tech" meetups in your city. Many of the listed resources have chapters in different cities worldwide. I hope you find something that fits for you.
- I will mostly stick to free options as bootcamps are not accessible to everyone.
- Many meetups start at 18:30 or later, which is helpful if you are working. Unfortunately many of my favourite meetups often clash, so you will have to pick your focus.
- 90% of the events are in english, but you will usually find a tutor who speaks German if you prefer that
Women who Code Berlin Women Who Code is the largest and most active community of engineers focused on inspiring women to excel in technology careers. They often have full scale workshops that take place over a few weeks. I will be heading to their Intro to SQL workshop soon. They also have biweekly hack evenings, where you can work on your side project, online course, tutorials etc. It is not language specific and there are more experienced people who can help you if you get stuck. Website: Women Who Code Berlin Meetup: Women Who Code Berlin Meetup Tip: Set up notifications for their meetup page and rsvp as soon as you can, as there is often a waiting list for their events.
Heart of Code A hackerspace for women and those who identify as a women. They also have various open learning and working groups, for example, topics focused on Python, data visualization, 3D printing, IT security, cycle tracking app, Java, hardware & flashing and many more. Website: Heart Of Code
Women who Go A study group for women that want to learn the Go(also known as Golang) language. You do not need to have experience to participate. Website: Women Who Go Meetup: Women Who Go Meetup Study resources: Go Study Group
Open Tech School OpenTechSchool is a movement aiming to offer free tech education. Their events are open to technology enthusiasts of all genders, backgrounds, and experience levels, willing to coach or learn in a friendly environment. They have learning materials that are shared and collectively improved by the online community and anyone is welcome to use it to organize new OTS chapters anywhere in the world. Website: Open Tech School Meetup:Open Tech School Meetup Learning materials:OTS Study
GDG Berlin Android They are the Berlin Google Developer Group (GDG) focused on Android development. They host a weekly Android Co-Learning event which is a mix of experienced developers and beginners. Meetup: GDG Meetup
Open source coding in Berlin An open-source coding workshop aimed at those who are curious about programming. Meetup: Open Source Workshop
Less frequent events
Rails Girls Berlin They organize free workshops for women without prior experience in programming. The workshops are led by skilled Ruby on Rails programmers. They are focused on keeping the group sizes small to be able to focus on the student and stick to one dedicated coach per two or three learners. I was lucky to attend a workshop and in a few hours, I had created a basic website that had some crud functionality and I learnt how to deploy it to Heroku. That experience led me to play around with uploading projects, and eventually my blog. Website: Rail Girls Berlin
Django Girls They host free, one-day workshops for beginners that will teach you how to create a website using Python and Django. Unfortunately the workshops happen every few months, but you can subscribe to their mailing list to be notified of the next one. Website: Django Girls Berlin
ClojureBridge Berlin ClojureBridge is a free workshop introducing women and non-binary people to programming and the local technology community. Unfortunately they have not had a workshop in a long time, but I suggest signing up to their mailing list for updates. Website: ClojureBridge Berlin
Geekettes A community for women in tech. They host talks and organize workshops to teach and refine skills. They also host a unique hackathon . They have a mentorship program that pairs ambitious tech professionals and entrepreneurs with experienced mentors. Website: Geekettees
Paid bootcamp events Bootcamps like Le Wagon, Ironhack and Wild Code School often have workshops as part of their marketing strategy to attract students, some of the classes are fun and can be a way to try out coding. Do attend the graduation events and talk to previous students before you decide to join one. Take your time researching them.
Co-up space co.up is a community space that provides affordable event and workshop spaces in Kreuzberg. They also provide free space for public and free events in the local tech and creative scene. They host a lot of meetups, so follow them on their accounts. Events: co-up events Calendar: Events
Free coding "bootcamps"
These options below are similar to a bootcamp structure, where they take you from a to b. I am familiar with all of them and I think they are a good alternative to paying for a bootcamp.
CodeDoor CodeDoor is a non-profit organisation that provides refugees and migrants with the opportunity to learn to code. Participants receive a scholarship to a course such as an Udacity Nanodegree and you also have access to mentors. You will have to go through an interview phase to be accepted. They meetup every Monday afternoon around 4pm in Charlottenburg, Berlin for learning support, additional training and exchange. I highly recommend them. Website: CodeDoor Meetup : CodeDoor Meetup
ReDI ReDI School of Digital Integration is a non-profit digital school for tech-interested locals and newcomers in Germany. They have different programs available and the one that is similar to a bootcamp structure is their 4 month career program that consists of two weekly evening classes (two hours each) taught by volunteers. They are selective and you will need to go to their career information day first before being sent the link to apply for the program. Sometimes their response is really slow, but I think they are a solid option. Website: ReDI School
Frauenloop FrauenLoop is an evening program that trains women with resident, immigrant, refugee, non-science, or family-status backgrounds who might otherwise face obstacles to starting or re-entering professional tech roles. They teach 9-month tracks of progressive full-stack web development, data science, and software manual testing and automation, but the registrations are split into 3 months. It is not entirely free, I had to pay 200 euros for the 3 month program I attended. It was hosted by Microsoft Berlin, and was a great experience.You will need to supplement it with another course (for example, an online course) if you want to learn more as it is only once a week. It was not the perfect fit for me because I was a bit advanced for the track I joined and I found it too slow, I should have spoken up to join the intermediate group. Website: FrauenLoop
Alternative options : Paid bootcamp funding
If you are unemployed or at risk of unemployment the job center can pay for your coding bootcamp. You need to be registered in Germany to be eligible.
What is a bildungutschein? A Bildungsgutschein is an Education Voucher issued by the Agentur für Arbeit (job center). The aim of the Bildungsgutschein is to train people with new skills in order to find a new career path or job. Once you’re issued with the voucher, you’ll need to take the course within the timeframe specified. The voucher is valid for 3 months.
How to get a Bildungsgutschein
- Contact your Agentur für Arbeit and set up an appointment.
- Contact the bootcamp and ask for their information packet. It will include their syllabus in German, a report of the job market, and their "registration number"
Prepare a motivation letter for your job agent explaining why you want to learn to code. You can use the following questions to build your motivation letter:
- Where did you work before?
- Why do you want to change your career path or why do you need the coding skills for the future?
- Where do you see yourself after the bootcamp with your new coding skills?
Reality Be prepared, and you will be fine. I had a stack of documents, and my advisor was impressed by the fact that I knew details about the course I wanted to take, and issued me the voucher. They want to see that you have done your research.
What happens after your appointment at the Agentur für Arbeit/Job Center?
- If you received a positive outcome, you need to go to the bootcamp for them to sign a contract with you and mail the documents back to the job center.
- If you are rejected, try again. Ask the bootcamp for advice.
You can also attend other IT focused programs that are listed on the Bildungsgutschein website. I do not speak German yet, so that did not work for me. These are the popular bootcamps that have a Bildungsgutschein option available.
Tip If you go this route, time your appointment with the job center well. It can take up to a month to see an advisor who will issue you the voucher. You also need to contact the bootcamp and go through their application/interview process.
Conclusion The organizers take their job seriously and offer safe spaces to learn, do not be intimidated to attend the events. The events follow the Berlin code of conduct. Make sure to read it before attending them.There are many different routes you can take on your journey to learn programming. I hope this guide helps you as a starting point.