02 February 2013

Hackbright Q&A with Myrna

Myrna had good questions about prepping for the program.
Question number one:
When you deferred until the next session, how did you prepare yourself for when you actually entered Hackbright?

My answer:
How did I prepare until the next session? I didn't, really. I went to the occasional RailsGirls or Railsbridge meetup (even though Hackbright focuses on Python), and I worked through a lot of Learn Python the Hard Way, but a lot of other things happened during that time--I was looking for an apartment, and I got engaged and married in that time! So if people feel like they aren't prepared enough to start the class, they're wrong. That doesn't mean it wouldn't have been bettter if I had done a lot of pre-studying, in fact, there were often times when I wished I had stuffed as much as I could possibly learn into my brain before class had started, because I don't think any of us ever felt like we could catch up.

Question number two:
Since the probability is high I may not get into (fingers crossed) Spring, I'm hoping to get into the Summer/Fall? class, whenever that may be. So I'm looking for some insight into how to best prep and better my chances of getting in.

My answer:
As for bettering your chances of getting in, I don't think there really is a good way to do that, besides maybe doing some logic exercises, because if you're over-prepared, they may not think you need the class. It's not like a job interview where you have to have the skills required. Instead, they want to see how you think, and that you're excited about code, and that you're receptive.

Question number three:
I'd like to know how you got yourself ready, mentally and emotionally, for this. During the pause, did you have second-thoughts or did you get more resolved? Would anything have changed your mind about committing to this? How did you stay enthusiastic about attending after you deferred until you were actually there? What things did you do to keep yourself focused or study to better prepare yourself?
My answer:
I definitely worried about getting myself ready mentally and emotionally. I knew that I would need to focus my entire life on Hackbright, so I tried to get things squared away or put on hold before the program started. I even worried about readying myself physically because of my seemingly-never-ending problem with repetitive strain injury (RSI). Honestly, I had second thoughts many times. I didn't know what most of the subjects listed on the Hackbright page were (I didn't even really know what the back end was or how it worked together with the front end until several weeks into the program), so I didn't know if I wanted to learn them. Even when I read about those subjects online, I didn't understand their descriptions. What kept me aiming for going through with Hackbright was the feeling that no matter what, it couldn't hurt, and that anything was better than the current career path I was on. I became more resolved as plans solidified and I found a way to feel more comfortable about the financial side of things (by hoping for the generosity of wedding guests). Unless someone suddenly offered me a completely flexible job doing whatever I want and getting paid a lot of money (which wasn't likely), nothing could have swayed me.

However, being resolved and prepared (at least mentally and emotionally) did not mean that the program wasn't superbly crushing. I am pretty sure that every one of us cried at some point, even if it was at home, in private. To learn a new career in such a short time is a lot of pressure, and to be doing it with a bunch of others just makes you feel more pressure. I would highly suggest knowing when to take breaks during the weekend and planning ahead to have someone you can cry to. The totally awesome thing is that you know there's an end to the ten weeks, and once you make it through those ten weeks, you know you can make it through everything else because you've got the base you need.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for now. The Hackbright experience is amazing and tough and totally worth it, so if you don't get in the first time, keep trying. If you still don't get in, I would encourage you to pursue the career anyway--there are a lot of ways to learn on your own or with tech meetups in San Francisco, they just take a little bit longer to give you that main knowledge you need to build on everything else. 

Any more questions? You're very welcome to email me. Tweeting is also good. Also, you may find some answers about prepping and surviving at my advice for future Hackbrighters post.


  1. When are you going to post other things again? I enjoy reading about your experience, but I want to read about what's going on now. Also, how is Michael doing?

    1. Let me put this in a Q&A. Hee. I'll get back to normal stuff soon enough.

    2. Actually, what counts as normal? I still have to post about our wedding. Michael is great.

    3. Mostly I just mean non-Hackbright stuff. Cause the Q & A's aren't super relavant for me, but reading about your wedding, and your job are relevant to my happiness.