23 January 2013

Hackbright Q&A with Lindsay

Lindsay also emailed me some good questions (like Kat L.) that I'd like to post here for others' use. I'm sorry I haven't been posting questions of women I have met with in person, but it's so much easier when it's all already typed out. 

I've also noticed from people asking me and my Google Analytics that people have been really worried about not having heard back from Hackbright. David is swamped with the highest number of applications yet, so please be patient.

2013-01-21190044_zpsc9c9a70e photo 2013-01-21190044_zpsc9c9a70e-1_zps389b9822.jpg
Ballooney and the scrum cat are ready at the new office.
My warning to Lindsay:
I'm happy to answer questions, but I have to warn you that the application process has changed as the demand has gone up.

Lindsay's 1st question:
I was wondering if you had an an active github page you put on your application? (I do not, or rather, I just made one and it has one simple thing on it...)

My answer:
I didn't have an active Github when I applied and that was no problem. I do have one now. If you've ever done any tutorials to make a quick app, you could upload it there just so they can see that you've done something. Otherwise, don't worry.

Lindsay's 2nd question:
Did you put your personal blog on the application?

My answer:
I did put my personal blog on my application, I believe. (It's been a long time--I actually first applied in June but had to defer.)

Lindsay's 3rd question:
Did you make a video of yourself for the application?

My answer:
I did not make a video. I remember Christian telling us that he and David enjoyed watching those just to get to know people a little.

Lindsay's 4th question:
What was the Skype interview like?

My answer:
The Skype interview wasn't as scary as you think. Christian asked me logic questions and showed me some code and then asked me how I would use the code to work through the logic. He guided me through the whole process, so it was less of a test and more of a group project.

Lindsay's 5th question:
What was the project you proposed on your application and was it the same one you finished for the school? (bookfairy?)

My answer:
I don't recall if I proposed BookFairy, but I did have that idea back then, so probably. I think I typed a whole bunch of stuff about how I wanted to make my life easier, and that's what BookFairy does. :)

Lindsay's 6th question:
Did they give statistics about application numbers and acceptance rates?

My answer:
Since I applied for the very first program, there were no statistics. Despite having no track record to go off of, I was confident that the program would be good. What I wasn't sure about was if it was really what I wanted and if I could hack it (hee hee). Since then, I've seen the first class go on to many successful endeavors, and the second class is well on its way to doing so (I think about ten already have offers, but our graduation time was a little tricky right before the end of the year, so it may take a bit longer). David has said that our class had about a 20% acceptance rate, and I know that the amount of applicants went way up from class one to class two, so I am positive that the next class will have an even crazier number as word gets out about Hackbright [I've actually confirmed since sending Lindsay these answers that there were around 200 applicants this time, but there will most likely be two classes of 16]. If you don't get in the first time, maybe you can try again. I worry that Hackbright will start being inundated by applicants who already know so much that the beginners won't have a chance (because I was a total beginner), but it is possible that they'll split the two classes by level.

Lindsay's 7th question:
Also...what was the hiring experience at the end like? I saw on your blog there were lots of companies that wooed you with swag :) Not all of them are on the Hackbright recruiter page...Did you interview with all of them? They were happy with only 10 weeks of training (or maybe you had more?)

My answer:
I think I ended up interviewing with about half of the companies that showed up to our Career Day. Honestly, some of them didn't interest me that much, but Christian encouraged us to get a lot of practice with interviewing. I was really impressed with most companies when I interviewed there. And similar to the Skype call with Hackbright, the interviews were kind of like group projects, except you're the one with the pen in hand (writing on a white board). You just talk about everything you do and ask questions as necessary. My one concern is that I wouldn't make it through an interview with a company that didn't understand that I was only ten weeks into coding, because all of ours knew exactly what we had learned and tested our application of that knowledge.

Networking is so important in the entire process. Not only do I now have a list of 179 companies/people I could ask about jobs, I know where to turn if I have questions.

Lindsay's 8th question:
Also, for my end goal, I'd like to working in programming for some sort of scientific purpose, perhaps large scale data analysis (I guess the buzzword is "big data"). I have heard Python is better than other popular languages (mainly Ruby) for such programming, so that's why I'd be interested in this course over DevBootcamp or others.  I know the class won't teach me exactly that but I figured it would give me a programming base to work on. Does the program give you flexibility to work on what you like?

P.S. I saw in a picture on your Twitter page that you were voted most likely to Tweet but you started tweeting because of Hackbright. I am terrible and lost when it comes to Twitter . . . maybe Hackbright can help me :)

My answer:
As for your interest in big data, you will be totally good with Hackbright! We even heard some data analysts speak and Christian is great at tapering to specific students' interests. Also, you knowing what you are interested in ahead of time could help other students to figure out what they would like. The last five weeks are yours to work on what interests you, so you can work with data as much as you want when you do your final project, and you'll have the guidance of teachers, yay! With that being said, you will also collect five thousand links of things you want to learn about.

Christian mentioned something at the start of the course about Twitter helping others, and I knew that Hackbright is a huge, unique experience, so I wanted to document it, and I got some benefits I hadn't thought about: I made a lot of acquaintances of people who love to help other people in tech. After Google and Stack Overflow, Twitter would probably be my next resource.

Thanks, Lindsay.

Anyone reading this: Feel free to ask me more questions!


  1. I have a question! Were all the students, and recruiting companies, in the Bay Area? Hackbright sounds like basically the exact program I need to move my career in the direction I want, but I live in Pittsburgh and would plan to return here after the class is over.

    Also, I'm glad you started tweeting! I knew of Hackbright already, but stumbling upon your Twitter feed and hearing how everything went makes me want to go even more now :)

    1. Allyson, most of the recruiting companies were in the Bay Area, though one had their main office in Portland. A few of the students didn't already live around here (Eléonore was even from France), but I don't think that's a problem since a lot of the companies we've been connected with (whether sponsoring or not) have offices all over the place, and once people find out that you're doing software engineering, they always know someone who's hiring, in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.

      I totally suggest doing Hackbright. It will change your life in amazing ways.