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By Marika Daniel, '22, North Carolina Central University

First-year student Niam Kothari learned about the Code+ summer program through his computer science professor.

“After a bit of research, it seemed like a great opportunity to get hands-on introductory experience in the tech field,” Kothari said of the 10-week program geared toward Duke undergraduate students with little to no experience with technology.  

But Kothari had no idea that a non-academic program could have such a huge and lasting impact. 

“Working in a group (outside of academics) will teach you a lot about how you fit in on a team and give you a lot to talk about in future job interviews,” Kothari said. “You will experience what it would be like to do this type of work professionally and learn from some amazing mentors in Duke’s OIT.” 

Duke’s Code+ program exposes students to the latest industry technologies and provides introductory skills in a peer-to-peer learning environment. Students focus on projects in web and mobile application software development and learn real-world coding and product development. 

“I can gladly say that Code+ not only let me explore my interests, but also solidified my passion for technology. I’m now certain that I want to work in a tech-related field, whether  as a developer, project manager, or anything in between,” Kothari said. 

Kothari currently works as a developer for FIND Surgical Sciences in Boston. Being a part of Code+ equipped him with skills including problem solving and communication, skills he may not have gained otherwise in an academic setting. 

“Sifting through heavy API documentation to find a solution to my problem is something that now feels like second nature,” Kothari said. “Additionally, the program did a good job of peeling back the curtain of what life as a developer is like, and I felt I’d gained valuable coding skills that I couldn’t get from the classroom alone.”  

Kothari said he also learned other “soft skills,” an unexpected bonus.  

“Beyond the developer work, Code+ also provided great resources for improving my ability to present and communicate. These skills—and the opportunity to practice them by presenting to project stakeholders—have been essential in my development,” Kothari said. 

Last year the Code+ program was virtual for the first time, but that didn’t interfere with Kothari and his team planning their project across time zones. 

“It was an excellent experience for me. I gained invaluable skills like coordination, planning, and efficiency,” Kothari said. “Because my team and I couldn’t meet as often as we would’ve in person, we learned to meticulously plan ahead, which has helped immensely in other facets of my academic and professional life.” 

Code+ helps students interested in technology figure out the best path for a rewarding career. 

“For students considering the program, it’s a great opportunity to see if this industry is right for you,” Kothari said. 

The Code+ program is open to first- and second-year students with limited or no experience with technology.