Best Coding Bootcamps interviewed Osheen Chavhan, the CEO of newly launched She Loves Code. This bootcamp is based in India, and we conducted the interviews via Zoom. This is the first in Best Coding Bootcamps “Bootcamp Leadership Series,” interviews with the executives who lead companies in the tech education space.
Best Coding Bootcamps: Tell us your “how I got into tech” story first, because the mission of your bootcamp seems exactly what’s being asked for at the moment, at least here in the U.S.
Osheen Chavhan, CEO, She Loves Code: My story goes back to 2015-2016 when I applied for the Microsoft student partner program. (MSPs are very prevalent in us as well.) [laughs] So I owe my career to Microsoft, I can clearly say that on record.
I was one of those super hyper enthusiastic students who would go for every community event, you know, participate in coding competitions. And because I was coming from a “Tier 2” campus, I was constantly looking to get associated with the brands like Microsoft, Facebook, Whatsapp, etc. But I felt that you know, Microsoft was doing a good job. So I just made sure that I contributed as much as possible to the community.
Then got a lot of recognition from Microsoft India. I was recognized as one of the most prominent MSPs of that particular year. So I received the MSP of the Year award. They have some awards here, you know, in India there were 700 MSPs. And I received the top one.
So then, I was also given an opportunity to travel to San Francisco through the government of India to explore the startup ecosystem. I traveled with 28 boys who I’d never met, and I was the only girl in that trip. I clearly remember. That was my first trip to the U.S. They were all just amazing folks, and I really enjoyed working with them. But then that trip sort of rewired my brain. Yes, I aspired to be a part of Microsoft, Facebook, – any one of these big fours.
But I was young and wanted to try something a bit more entrepreneurial. So I said, “Okay, let me give myself a chance to do something and take a risk.
I come from very humble beginnings. My mom’s a teacher; my father’s a small business owner. So it was a big decision to not take up any offer (Ms. Chavhan was offered a position at Microsoft). But then I decided, okay, something I want to do something of my own.
Best Coding Bootcamps: Your bootcamp focuses on reducing the gender, wage, and representation gap among women in tech. Can you talk a little about the systemic issues that create demand for female-centered bootcamps?
Osheen Chavhan: So there's a smart India hackathon, which is the largest hackathon in India, wherein you are supposed to participate in a group of six people at the max, okay?
They had to literally mandate that one of the six members of the team would be female. So you have to form a team with a girl, otherwise, you are not allowed to take part in the competition. So the government’s intent is good, but what happened is the girl who is actually chosen for the team is either going to be a presenter, or the team would ask her to do absolutely nothing. So her coding opinions didn’t matter, and many are not even given a particular module to work on. She’s there to check a box, but not really working on the code.
Best Coding Bootcamps: So it sounds like your bootcamp is being designed to ensure female developers are given both a figurative AND a literal seat at the table. Tell us about how you structure the learning.
Osheen Chavhan: We expect these students to differentiate themselves through the actual projects. Our student journey starts with training the students on the basics of coding different languages with weekly assignments and daily quizzes.
Once they have completed the basics of the theory, they’re asked to work on the capstone project. They're encouraged to work on the kind of technology they’re most attracted to and encouraged to build something which fits a profile of a job they would want to go for.
The total course duration is six months, for the last one month, we would expect these students to also do an internship along with some mentors. We’re going to connect the students with industry mentors who are already full-time developers.
They're going to be working on the real project so that they get an understanding of the entire system design and not just you know a few parts of theory here and there. We’re simultaneously going to be taking them through mock interviews and soft skill training.
Best Coding Bootcamps: How would you say you’re differentiated from other coding bootcamps outside of gender? Tell us a bit about how the women graduating from your program have an advantage over not only other female developers but developers in general?
Osheen Chavhan: Great question. We are the first coding bootcamp in India to launch a course in cloud computing, okay?
Best Coding Bootcamps: Wait, really?
Osheen Chavhan: We’re the first ones. The reason is that for cloud computing - for you to get the necessary hands-on experience on the tech - actual credits in dollars are required for certification, and a lot of coding boot camps are not willing to take on that particular cost. And there’s a reason this becomes relevant.
In India, because of the number of graduates and different preparedness levels of universities, companies want to see official cloud certificates, like the Microsoft certifications, or the AWS certifications.
So here, you're going to be hired only if you have that sort of certifications in place. And a lot of these courses online just offered the course material. The video lectures for because you know, these certifications come with $100 cost at a minimum. That's expensive for many of the students to take on. So what we have done is that we have included the cost of the certification in our tuition, as well as virtual labs, which we are going to be providing to the students. And that's how we have shaped the course.
Best Coding Bootcamps: Wow. Details like this are missing from so many bootcamp reviews, and this is exactly what we’re trying to pass on to the students who are looking to research and be matched with other coding schools. Last question: What do you see as the main attractions for students in bootcamps in India?
Osheen Chavhan: Job placement and cost for sure. However, we’re seeing students ask more and more about remote placement opportunities.
We’re observing in the bootcamp industry in India, that students also want remote jobs to after the boot camps, and they can get compensated a little higher. That's a trend that we are observing and it’s particularly interesting for women in India. They’ve historically been discouraged to get out of home or just simply work demanding jobs - 12 hours, 14 hoours, all of that. The disparity is there, most of them find it really comfortable working from home and taking care of their families.
Osheen Chavhan: This is so encouraging. And, you know, I appreciate you taking an interest in something which is so newly launched in believing women-centric initiatives. I really appreciate you for having me here.