30 January 2013

Hackbright Q&A with Katherine

After a full night with two tech events, one of which included Guido van Rossum (author of Python), here are my answers to Katherine's questions about Hackbright Academy

Question number one:
Do you remember how long your interview with Christian was? It sounds like these interviews with David are only 15 minutes long, so I'm a bit nervous about having enough time to settle into it, if you know what I mean.

My answer:
My interview with Christian was probably 15-20 minutes, 30 minutes tops. Just be casual and friendly and do all of your thinking out loud. That way he can see how you think and guide you through the logic.

Question number two:
Also, my impressions from what I've heard is that Christian does more on the teaching side of things and David does more operational stuff, so do you think there's any chance that this 15 minutes might be more like the typical "what's your greatest success" kind of interview? The logic questions that you mentioned don't sound too bad but I'm not very good at those fuzzier "sell yourself" kind of interviews so I should probably practice for those a bit over the weekend.
My answer:
I think it is awesome that interviews in the technical field don't usually have those ridiculous questions like "Which animal would you want to be?" or "What is your best personality trait?" I don't feel like you have to sell yourself, because everyone who applies is going to be wanting to learn, so I think Christian is looking for people at levels that could fit together the best in a classroom setting. I mean, obviously any interview will feel better if you feel like you made a kind of personal connection with the interviewer. Christian probably won't really let you that close. He's brilliant but busy, and will cut to the chase during the interview.

Question number three:
Lastly, currently I work at [a tech company] in a group that partners closely with engineering, which is how I got interested in programming in the first place. Do you think it might actually work against me that I already have a position at an established tech company, albeit one that isn't fully technical? I was just wondering since it seems like most previous Hackbright graduates go on to work for start-ups but if I were to attend Hackbright, I would most likely return to my current role at [my company], at least for a little while, and only later slowly try to make the move to the engineering side. However, I'm not sure if that would fulfill Hackbright's mission to get more women into programming since it wouldn't be as immediate a transition as someone who goes to work for a start-up, if that makes sense. What do you think?

My answer:
As David told you, internal transition should be fine. I actually hope that more women will be able to have their current companies sponsor them or at least support them as they become more technical so they won't have to be so worried about money as I was. You weren't a programmer before, and you would be after Hackbright, so I think that totally counts, though I would encourage you not to go back to your current position and to slowly transition, but to ask them to immediately put you into engineering so you can keep up what you've learned. I know that it seems scary to us women to ask to do something we don't feel really, really good at, but engineers are paid to figure things out/learn, and you could be so much better off financially and in your professional development.

I am by no means an expert, but feel free to ask me more questions!

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