29 January 2013

Hackbright Q&A with Kelley

More great Hackbright questions! (Of course, the answers are my own opinions.)

Kelley's 1st question:
The application emphasized a project; did you feel that Hackbright more emphasized the process/coding steps behind building this or the holistic product? I guess I'm using this to ask how much focus the program has on straight coding and how much focus it offers to other concurrent skills (i.e. you mentioned project management).

My answer:
A lot of us didn't really know what we wanted to do at the start of the program, probably because we didn't have much of an idea of what could be done, and that was fine. It was the coding process that was most important, and when we did come up with/share our idea for our projects, our teachers let us know if they thought it was too grandiose or too simple for our goal of solidifying what we'd learned and, of course, picking up new things. Most of the program is focused on coding, coding, coding. Project management pretty much came just from our guest speakers and networking events.

Kelley's 2nd question:
You've spoken about how overwhelming the 10 weeks were, but did you ever get a chance to debrief and do something for yourself? I know you said your family and friends can wait 10 weeks while you learn, but that's still quite a time to go without indulging in something for your personal sanity!

My answer:
Honestly, I did take some time for myself, but every time I did, I felt mad and sad later, because I could have been trying to catch up on curriculum or re-doing lessons to really learn what we'd been doing. That doesn't mean I didn't occasionally cook dinner or bake something (which I like), and Sundays always consisted of three hours of church and a looong nap. When I said that friends can wait, I meant that this time is very important for your future, so limits need to be set. I decided that asking friends to wait for a few months was the best way for me to preserve my energy. Maybe you can handle more of a life outside of the program than I could. I needed all the energy I could get to just study at Hackbright, which meant that almost all of my other time was made up of me sleeping. Some of the women had enough energy to go do lindy-hopping (a kind of dance), work a part-time job, close a family company, or take evening front-end classes. They rock, and I was jealous, but I think that even they would say that some limits do need to be set if you want to get the most out of the program. One thing that I definitely made time for, despite my exhaustion, was evening networking opportunities. I'll write more about that in answer #5.

Kelley's 3rd question: I come from a business background so I have to ask about the money...Do you feel the program is worth the cost when there are other options like Lynda, Codeacademy, Udemy, etc.? Maybe this is self explanatory and the reason behind why I'm applying (I've had accounts at all three mentioned sites, have barely made progress in any of them). However, Hackbright would strain ALL of my savings to be able to finance it (not to mention the cost of living in San Francisco for 2.5 months).

My answer:
Worth the cost? Yes. Every penny--even if I hadn't been hired by a sponsoring company. All of those online courses are great starts, but we passed all of that stuff up in about two days. We learned how to really apply the concepts. Also, because the course was intensive and full of other women, we had to learn quickly, so our good programming basis was jumpstarted.I think that Hackbright is worth any sacrifice. I wasn't so sure beforehand--I worried so much about the cost. I hadn't been making much and couldn't afford an apartment. I made arrangements that many people would consider crazy in order to finance the program, and I wouldn't take them back for anything--I married my boyfriend, who had a steady income that could bear some of the weight, and we asked for money instead of gifts so I could pay for Hackbright. Truly.

Kelley's 4th question:
I know I have an interest in tech but there are so many career options within the industry! Do most people enter knowing what they want to do and/or does Hackbright help you gain insight into this?

My answer:
I think all of us gained insight as we went along, and honestly, the field is so adaptive that you will probably make changes several times as you get to know more of what you like.

Kelley's 5th question:
The recruiting is heavily based in San Francisco, but I'm definitely interested in coming back to New York or possibly exploring other cities as well. Did you see many options of flexible location placement? Or were those graduates interested in other locations doing more self guided searches and networking?

My answer:
The companies that came to Career Day were mostly based in San Francisco. Several of them had other offices. I know that one of my classmates is from New York and interviewing with several companies there. I worried so much about getting hired by one of the sponsoring companies so I could get money back, but now I kind of laugh at that, because I'm making enough to quickly pay it off, and if I'd gotten hired at another place, I could have just asked for that much more. Ah, well. At the time, I'd never had such a good job and was worn down by money problems that lasted for several years. Anyway, you'll have a lot of opportunities to do networking. My advice is to take every one seriously and talk to as many people as you can, then connect with them via email and/or LinkedIn. The more people you talk to, the bigger chance you have of connecting with someone who has connections at places you're interested in that are in New York.

As always, more questions are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for sharing your experience! On average, how much would it cost for living expenses in SF for 3 months? I know it's expensive but any approx number would help. Did any of the students live together in hacker houses to save on housing costs? I want to apply so badly but don't think I have enough saved to live in SF. I'd hate to apply, get in then worry 24/7 about money and not be able to focus completely on the learning.