Best holiday gift?!

Exciting news: After multiple attempts (4) and 9 months of studying JavaScript, I passed the technical interview and was accepted into Hack Reactor!

My JavaScript self study journey included the following:

Online Tutorials
CodeSchool JavaScript Road Trip 1,2, and 3
Codeacademy JavaScript Path
Udacity Object Oriented JavaScript

Free Form Practice
Writing my own code with tests (My GitHub Code)
Learning from peers at work
Solving random higher order function problems (My GitHub Code)

Classes
Hack Reactor JavaScript Fundamentals: Scope, Closures, Higher-Order Functions
Girl Develop It JS102: Objects, Arrays and Functions
Girl Develop It JS200: JavaScript and the Web
Girl Develop It JS401: Intro to Unit Testing with Jasmine
Girl Develop It JS404: Intro to AngularJS
Hack Reactor Fulcrum

Books
Eloquent JavaScript, chapter 5
You Don’t Know JS This and Object Prototypes
You Don’t know JS Scopes and Closures

MEAN Stack Self Study:
CodeSchool Real-time Web with Node.js
CodeSchool Shaping up with Angular.js
CodeSchool Building Blocks of Express.js

Hack Reactor: Home Stretch

Hack Reactor is a tough tough program to get into. I understand why it is named one of the best quality and most prestigious by Forbes. It requires pre-course materials (aka Fulcrum) to be completed before starting the program so everyone is at the same level at the start. They estimate it takes 9 weeks for students to finish the pre-course materials. In other words, it’s a lot of work even before getting into the program. Fulcrum includes two check-ins where someone on the Fulcrum staff review your code and also challenge you with creating functioning code on the spot. This is to prepare you for the two technical interviews where you do coding on the spot with little help!

Interview #1 for me was on November 18, 2015 and that’s when I was accepted into the program (pending completion of pre-course work). This acceptance started a slew of actions at for me at my current place of work, like asking for a personal leave or preparing to turn in my resignation because this is how dedicated I am to this career path. Along with human resourcing concerns, how long health insurance will last on unpaid leave, etc. On top of that there were personal items to consider, paying the $2K deposit to hold my spot, what will I eat during the intensive program? and what about laundry? (all that for another day’s post)

This morning, I aced my second interview. I was so incredibly nervous for this because at this point they STILL could tell me I’m not ready for the program, that I have to wait and study more (I was told this 3 times with interview #1, which has drawn this out this very moment for almost a year).

But… they didn’t tell me I had to wait or study more. =)

All that is left is one exercise creating a jQuery twitter app before I’m officially accepted into Hack Reactor January 2016 cohort.

Hack Reactor Fulcrum Article

As a current Fulcrum student, I’m intrigued that this article is stating it is for people who have no experience coding. Fulcrum is a tough course (aka pre-course work for admitted Hack Reactor students) – this is coming from someone who has been around computers all their life, someone who has taken many programming classes over the years and knows the basics of building a static website, but who has also dabbled in CMS, php and databases.

I would say that the Fulcrum material bridges the gap between someone who is new to coding – but has done all of the free (or inexpensive) online tutorials, read books and has built simple pages – and someone who wants to get into an immersion program like Hack Reactor which requires you to have practiced and understand loops, if than statements, css, html, git, jQuery, test driven development, higher order functions, recursion and object oriented patterns.

During my 9 months of self study of JavaScript, I came across less than two paragraphs on higher order functions or recursion.

Hack Reactor Fulcrum – The Tipping Point

An email came across my inbox today:

We’re writing to follow up on your interview with [us] last month.

At the time of your interview, we did not have a great way to offer our educational programs to candidates that didn’t meet our technical bar. We’ve always invited people to re-apply after a study period, but we know it’s easy to get lost and discouraged when trying to follow along with online tutorials.

In order to help people like you study up and progress in your learning goals, we’ve developed a new open-enrollment online program called Hack Reactor Fulcrum. It’s made up of the material that used to be the first three weeks of Hack Reactor, and now constitutes the pre-course homework that Hack Reactor students must complete before starting the program.

Fulcrum is an exceptional way to prepare for your next interview, and, the tuition counts towards your Hack Reactor tuition if you ultimately pass the admissions process. We’re recommending it to you if you’re still interested in Hack Reactor, or in the craft of coding in general.

Best,
Admissions Specialist, Hack Reactor

This could not have come at a better time because just as the email eluded to, I was getting discouraged with my self-study progress and inability to pass the technical interview with Hack Reactor. I immediately signed up for Fulcrum without blinking an eye. My dream is to be a JavaScript developer and something said inside me that Fulcrum is the tipping point I need to get there.

Later on in the day, while on a run, I received a phone call from a state where I know no one. I picked up and it was the CEO of Hack Reactor. He was calling just to tell me that I was the first person to sign up for Fulcrum. Wow.

Hack Reactor Interview

Today was my Hack Reactor interview. It was onsite at Hack Reactor.

They asked about my reason for applying, a little about my background and then we went into the technical interview. I was enthusiastic and excited to be there. After the technical interview I asked some questions and they said they’d let me know their decision in less than a week.

[edit] I was asked to study more and re-apply in three months.

The First Step: Hack Reactor

Spending $18k on a full stack JavaScript immersion course at Hack Reactor isn’t crazy if everything in your body says it’s the right path. This program is 13 weeks long, 6 days a week and 11+ hours per day (9am-8pm). It will be intense for sure, however, all the 90 reviews except 2 are 5 stars.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/hack-reactor-san-francisco
http://www.hackreactor.com/program/

My gut is telling me that this is the right choice. After working in many positions in tech and always gravitating to web development, along with the struggle to develop my coding skills on the side, I know a big change is needed to advance my career along this path. This year, I’ve also made the resolution to do things my gut is 100% enthusiastic about and to not do things it’s less than 100% enthusiastic about. As soon as someone told me there was bootcamp for javascript, I was 100% enthusiastic about it and haven’t stopped thinking about it.

For the online admissions application, they have a javascript challenge, which was challenging but but by no means impossible and I felt good writing javascript code/solution. The syntax felt natural to me.

Javascript (JS) will round out my html, css, php, perl, SQL and mysql skills. Javascript is used on 88% of the websites on the web – this is a hot skill to have. What gets my heart pumping is working on websites and JS is a very visual language (user interfaces). It also taps into my desire for connecting and working with databases because it’s also a back-end language.

Over the next week, I’ll review my finances, my calendar and check in with my desires to see if all of this is all feasible and still feels like the right path. It will be tough to quit the job, lay down $18k for the course, live off savings and to ensure I have health care for 3+ months, but I think this will be a small drop in a much grander future for me.

I’ve read it’s tough to get into Hack Reactor as they have high standards. On their website the earliest start date for on-site cohort would be June 29.

JavaScript in my future – Thank you BAGGD

Last night at Bay Area Girl Geek dinner hosted by Optimizely, I was sitting around a table with 5 other girl geeks and half of them were developers talking about how they have a career as a software engineer. In that moment, these facts came to mind

  • I’ve been around computers all my life (since I was 3 years old)
  • I created my first website on geocities when I was 16
  • Self taught html, css, SQL, php
  • Informatics Bachelors degree with two semesters of Java, plus other classes in C#, SAP, and SQL databases
  • My MSIS Master’s capstone project was a Health 2.0 dashboard for Deloitte & Touche
  • In every job since completing my undergrad, I’ve ended up creating or working on my employer’s website, even when I was hired as an insurance agent

Then I questioned myself, “I have the length of experience and the skills, why am I not sitting in their shoes right now“?

After our round table discussion, one of the ladies I was talking to commented on what HackBright Academy is, “Hack Bright is a women’s coding boot camp covering python.” She waent on to say,  “App Academy and Dev Bootcamp cover the Ruby language and Ruby on Rails; and Hack Reactor covers only JavaScript”. As soon as she said JavaScript, my body buzzed inside. Something triggered me to dig deeper and find out more.

Today, I did some research and indeed Hack Reactor is a full stack JavaScript immersion course. JavaScript is used on over 80% of websites in the world. JavaScript is also on the upward trend whereas Ruby and Python are stagnant or declining. JavaScript is both a front-end and back-end language (aka it spans the full stack).

The Hack Reactor application was a small JavaScript problem that had to run to be accepted. Every second of looking up the syntax and figuring out the problem, I was in heaven.

With the help of Hack Reactor, a JavaScript Developer is the career path for me.

HackBright Academy is also the sponsor of Bay Area Girl Geek dinners.