17 December 2012

My Advice to Future Hackbrighters

Dear future Hackbrighters:

Congratulations for making it into Hackbright! It will be one of the most life-changing experiences you will ever have! I have some advice for you, and it goes like this:

  • Go to any measure to finance Hackbright. You WILL be able to pay it back with your new career, and it will be worth it no matter what you end up doing. Don't be afraid to ask your company to pay for all or some of your tuition, if that is possible. 
  • Study as much as you possibly can before the class starts. No matter what, you will feel behind since the class is so high-speed. If this involves coding with me on Saturdays or sending me a multitude of emails, so be it.
  • Reach out to as many people as you can. It was miraculous to me the way the tech community likes to help each other.
  • Attend meetups and hackathons, even when you're bone tired at the end of the day, and exchange contact information with as many people as possible.
  • Recruit others to join Hackbright and tell other women who might possibly be interested in tech about your experience.
  • Don't compare yourself with others. As Lydia says, "Comparison is the killer of joy."
  • Write notes in complete sentences as if you were writing a manual. Otherwise, your notes may not make sense later.
  • Review said notes often. 

Hackbright's Girl Geek Dinner
Getting ready to demo at our Girl Geek Dinner. (There's more advice below. Sorry.)

  • Hackbrighter Ashley Lorden told us to put off spending any time on our friends and family for the duration of the class. It sounds harsh, but she's totally right. Every time I took off more than a couple of hours, I felt like I'd missed my chance to learn more while I still had access to a great resource. With that being said, I suggest you tell all your friends and family members why you won't be contacting or responding for at least 10 weeks (to avoid trouble).
  • Have someone change your Facebook password so you don't get distracted.
  • Start studying for technical interviews early--memorize string and list and dict functions and learn to code on command in front of people.
  • Work out logic problems on your phone when you can't be looking at your computer.
  • Hog the instructors. I was too wussy to do this most of the time, and it was my loss and others' gain. 
  • Ask as many questions as you can.
  • Google errors.
  • Since most documentation will leave you scratching your head, read it through several times, try to explain it to your imaginary friend, and if that still fails, ask a teacher to explain it in English.
  • Be as ergonomically friendly as you can--stretch frequently, take breaks, sit high enough for your arms not to dig into the table, etc., because you are going to be spending a boatload of time at the computer. 
  • Make a techie vocabulary list and add to it any time you hear a word you're not sure about. Look up the words and get a good understanding of them and drill.
  • Split up your studying--an hour of this, an hour of that--so you don't go crazy and so you get a little of everything (you'll never have time for it all).
  • Get enough sleep. You are going to be exhausted anyway, so I would suggest doing what I did: go home after class, eat dinner, and go to bed. 
  • Use Twitter and connect with as many techies as you can--they will pull you out when you're stuck in muddy code. :)
  • Figure out git and practice, practice, practice pushing all the time. 
  • Keep your Github account clean and organized as you go so that you don't have a big mess of shameful code like I do.
  • Stay tuned for more advice as I dive into this career with my new skills.

Questions? (Comment or email me with my first and last name at gmail.)


  1. Yep, this sounds right to me!! Future Hackbrighties (as I like to call us) listen up! :)

  2. Wow Thank you! I thought I was a thorough student. Taking notes. Applying for Summer 2016 cohort and this post as me fired up!