One year of codebar Sydney 🎂

Earlier this month, we celebrated codebar Sydney’s first birthday, which was sponsored so kindly by Deloitte Digital. On the day, we celebrated with cupcakes, and had some of our students and mentors do some presentations on how they started coding and what they had learned at codebar.

A room with rows of desks, with people seated, and a woman at the front giving a presentation alongside large screens
It was less than we expected, but we had a pretty good turnout for our first birthday event

📸 Geoffrey Chong took all the photos in this post and put in the extra work to help get Deloitte Digital to sponsor our event! 🙏

codebar (yes, it’s stylised lowercase) is a one-on-one (coach and student) workshop style meetup, aimed at helping underrepresented groups in tech learn to code. Coaches volunteer their time to help students learn their preferred coding language. We pair students up with a coach, but many choose to work independently and ask questions if they get stuck. codebar started in the UK and now has many chapters in various locations worldwide.

Our codebar story

For me, my codebar journey started when I met Charlotte at a nodegirls workshop last year. We were both friends with Mike, and Charlotte brought up the fact that she wanted to bring codebar to Sydney after running the Brighton chapter of the meetup in the UK. To be honest, I put my hand up to help organise it because a little flame inside me had always wanted to start a meetup – but my ideas were either too far-fetched or ambitious for a one-person group at the time – so any opportunity looked like a bright one.

Our first meetup was at the company I work for, Campaign Monitor. It ended up being a huge hit, and many people turned up. Although CM provided food, some of the attendees were still hungry, so we ordered pizza, and we accidentally ordered double the amount we intended, so we were there trying to finish the excess. 🍕

We had a few other organisers help us in the beginning but they have since dropped their organising duties. It was just Charlotte, Mike, and myself for some time. A few months ago, Charlotte decided to step down because she had taken on a more important role at work, and she nominated Geoff and Phuong to replace her. Geoff and Phuong are two of my friends whom I invited to codebar in the early months, and they showed a great passion for helping people and teaching people how to code, as well as inviting people they knew who they thought might enjoy the workshop. I am really glad to have these two on board. ☺️ We announced their addition to the team of organisers in August.

The birthday event

A white cardboard box with twelve miniature cupcakes. They are brown and on top have a circle with a logo on it. The logo is comprised of the overlapping outlines of shapes
Happy birthday codebar Sydney!

Although I help organise the meetup, I have used codebar as an opportunity to also learn, and there have been times I’ve helped students or chatted with students who might have had questions about working in the technology industry. We had planned to do short presentations (5–10 minutes) for our birthday event, a few quick show-and-tells, and then actually do some codebar-ing. The presentations from various students and mentors were incredible. I hadn’t worked with a lot of them one-on-one, and I hadn’t spoken to many of them about what they thought of codebar. So I was pleasantly surprised and kind of touched by the presentations.

I guess I underestimated how much codebar meant to some people, and those doing presentations – I suppose I was surprised that they had such nice things to say about codebar. I will never not have warm fuzzies when someone tells me about their appreciation for something I’ve done, or something I’ve worked on. I felt really good about the fact that we built a community where people actually learned, got help, or felt inspired.

Estelle has been coming to codebar regularly, and she did a presentation on her journey learning Python. Anna also did a presentation, and she had only attended codebar once but had a great impression and loves it. She smashed her presentation! Donna has been an incredible coach at our events and she had a short presentation to share; Carmen is a software engineer and preferred to be a student rather than a coach at codebar – she built a web scraper!

Similar setting to the other photos in this post, a different woman at the front of the room giving a presentation alongside large screens
Anna smashed her talk! We can’t wait to see her at future events.
A woman wearing glasses, holding a microphone, standing next to a whiteboard and a large screen presentation
Carmen shared with us how students can make the most out of codebar (some preparation required!)

When someone asks, it’s difficult for me to say who inspires me because it’s no one particular person. It’s the people around me, and seeing people try their best and really work hard, that in turn motivates me to keep going and gives me the inspiration I need for my own work. I saw a lot of that at codebar – people trying really hard to learn, working on something that they enjoyed, and many of them attending the sessions despite whatever other commitments they might have.

A woman wearing glasses, holding a microphone, standing next to a whiteboard
Donna is our star coach 🤩

We ordered mini cupcakes for our birthday event and got the codebar logo printed on them. I’m glad they were a hit! 🙌🎂 We filled up most of the time with the presentations, even though we were initially worried we wouldn’t have enough content. We had enough time to socialise and eat, and even after presentations finished, we went up to a record 9:30pm doing the regular codebar thing. 😊

Honestly I’m not sure what the future holds for codebar and we don’t have any super exciting plans, but I am so happy seeing the same faces return, and seeing some new ones too. Somehow I expected a lot of stress from running a meetup but it hasn’t been that bad. I also didn’t have a lot of expectations for what codebar would be like. It’s lovely having a great team of people to organise with, we let the events grow organically, and many attendees invited their friends or people found out about us through word of mouth. Other than the usual no-shows and a couple last-minute changes here and there, the response and feedback we’ve received over time has been really rewarding. Personally, I do a lot of things out of passion and the good of my own heart, but it still pulls my heartstrings to hear when people appreciate something that I’ve worked on or been a part of. 💖

If you’ve come to codebar Sydney before, thank you for coming! We really appreciate you joining us. If you attend our events regularly, know that we always look forward to seeing you next time. ✨

If you would like to help us at codebar Sydney, we can be contacted on Twitter @codebarSyd. If you would like to email us directly, our email address is We have our upcoming workshops on our website or on Meetup.

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