For the very first time this November, CodeControl gathered our community of freelance talents and invited other top freelancers in the disciplines of software development, product management, and UI/UX design in Berlin for two days of building connections, exchanging knowledge and addressing the challenges and possibilities in the Future of Work.
“Berlin is our number 1 city for freelancers and it was a natural decision to host the event here.” – Margaux Pelen, Head of Talent & Community at CodeControl
What started as an idea in late summer to gather our freelance talents from across Europe in one place quickly evolved from concept to reality, with the process driven by community feedback from the very beginning. From how this gathering should be formatted to what kind of content would be relevant and valuable for them, what eventually came to be known as the CodeControl Talent Summit was built from the ground up by the community, for the community.
“CodeControl Summit allowed me to meet like minded people, hear their experience and share mine.” – Simon Vukovic, CodeControl talent since 2017
Originally envisioned as an event exclusively for talents in our community, we decided to open it up and invite top freelance talent in the region to join us on the first day in order to broaden the opportunities for exchange and spark serendipitous encounters.
Hosted at The Drivery, Europe’s largest mobility innovation & community marketplace situated just south of the former Tempelhof airport field, the program on day one featured a mix of inspiration, knowledge exchange, actionable takeaways, and a little playful reflection thrown in for good measure. We kicked off the morning with a speed-dating exercise to break the ice and start seeding new connections, then dived straight in with an introduction to CodeControl from our founder Marc Clemens.
Marc shared a little about the history of the company and how we got to where we are today, with a community of over 580 vetted freelance talents that we help connect with exclusive projects from our clients, including Lufthansa Innovation Hub, BCG Digital Ventures and Roland Berger. He highlighted our mission which from the beginning has been about enabling professionals to realise fulfilling work, with the Talent Summit being a natural extension of the value and services we provide for talents in our community.
Another part of our mission is to evangelize the Future of Work, a topic we live and breath here at CodeControl, which is why we were thrilled to welcome Scott Chacon (ex-GitHub co-founder, currently leading Chatterbug) for a fireside chat with our very own Margaux Pelen, Head of Talent & Community. Scott shared his insights on how he helped build two companies that have since become leaders in their respective verticals, and connected the dots between his approach to offer his coworkers to design a life of their own with full flexibility and collaboration.
“Great opportunity to meet like-minded people, share your experiences and get a piece of very nice knowledge.” – Lukas Nowak, CodeControl talent since 2018
We followed Scott’s chat with a series of lightning talks that explored Future of Work topics with actionable takeaways for freelancers, including a rousing session from pitch trainer Bianca Praetorius (biancapraetorius.com) on building a personal brand in the digital age, a presentation from CodeControl talent Lukas Nowak on his challenges and learnings as a full-time digital nomad, and an eye-opening talk from Abbey Titcomb (Radicle) on decentralized code collaboration.
“A great chance to meet other similar minds, learn some, share some.” – Alessandro Pedori, CodeControl talent since 2017
One of the highlights of the first day was the unconference in the afternoon, which truly encapsulated what we were willing to accomplish: bringing freelancers together to connect, collaborate and share knowledge. For those unfamiliar, an unconference is a participant-driven format where the framework is predetermined but the topics are proposed and led by anyone who is taking part. Some of the topics that were discussed in self-organized groups included how to build a sustainable work culture, how to get started as a product freelancer, setting your hourly rate according to the country of work, as well as a session on storytelling and influence.
“Didn’t expect the day to be so much fun, while being quite useful too. Definitely left with a smile on my face.” – Marija Vlajic
After a full day of content we wrapped day one up with an activity to stimulate playfulness and reflection facilitated by experience designer Mark Magellan. Participants were asked to sit facing a random partner along a 15 meter long table strewn with art supplies, and over the course of the activity they had to write, draw or colour something about their companion based on the facilitator prompts. The outcome was a tapestry of insightful messages and silly sketches that helped bring break down barriers even further among a group that started the day as relative strangers.
On day two we kept it more intimate and invited only the members of our vetted talent community to our cozy CodeControl HQ in Prenzlauer Berg for some workshops addressing topics relevant to their freelance work. Pitch trainer Bianca returned to guide them through an exercise to help develop a personal pitch in front of their peers, which some found uncomfortable at first but ultimately everyone came out of it with a more refined approach.
Drawing on the expertise and knowledge within our very own CodeControl team, we were able to offer our talents some actionable takeaways to enhance their work prospects. Emile Baccaïni from the business development team lead a session on how to ace client interviews, which emphasized the need to display a growth mindset and to go into the meeting with a prepared narrative about why you make sense for both the client and the project.
Joe McBrien, our talent acquisition manager, shared his insights on what he’s looking for from a recruitment perspective when reviewing profiles on LinkedIn. Particularly for freelancers, he suggested optimizing your profile for remote jobs by mentioning it in your experience, and ensuring you have a presentable profile picture. Fortunately, we had a photographer on site at our office that day to offer professional portraits to our talents for just that reason.
Addressing the business side of freelance work, we had our interim CFO Julius Bachmann on hand to offer concrete advice on setting oneself up for success, such as considering the client acquisition cost and ensuring you take care to separate your personal from your business expenses.
We closed off the two day summit by inviting our talents for a community lunch at our team’s favourite local ramen spot. Over a warm meal we had the opportunity to reflect on the learnings and new connections formed within our talent community, and also take in feedback about their experience at our first-ever Talent Summit. As we approached this first edition very much as a prototype, it was important for us to learn what we did right and what we can improve for next time.
“Impressed and inspired. Every moment I think of it, I catch myself smiling. :)” – Viktor Nesterenko, CodeControl talent since 2018
Overall, the feedback we got from our talents, invited guests, speakers and the wider CodeControl team was overwhelmingly positive and constructive, giving us a solid base to work from as we plan to iterate and expand the summit in the future.
For those talents in our community who joined us this year, thank you for coming and helping make this first edition such a great one. We hope you’ll take advantage of your new connections and keep those conversations going on Slack!
If you’re a freelancer just reading this and curious to join our next Talent Summit, or be a part of our talent community of top vetted freelancers, feel free to reach out at any time to our Talent Team at email@example.com.