13 February 2013

Lydia's Hackbright Q&A with Breanna

Since Lydia has been answering a lot of Hackbright questions as well, she thought it would be a great idea to post them in the same place. I agree!  Here are her answers to Breanna's questions:

Do you live in the Bay Area? Did you know people in the program who looked for/found jobs outside the Bay Area?
  • A few women were from New York and one woman was from France. Hackbright helps you meet companies, but they'll help connect you with anyone nationally. Just give them a list of companies you're interested in.
  • What's really going to help you find a job is following the guidelines in this blog: http://blog.pamelafox.org/2012/11/proving-your-worth-as-self-taught.html
  • You will need to network, build your portfolio, contribute code, find a mentor, and look for roles that suit your level. These things will help you find a job no matter where you live.

Have you found that people (outsiders) view the program positively? 
  • It really depends on the company. There are large companies (like Google) that only hire the best of the best CS (computer science) majors. They are not willing to put in the time to mentor self-taught developers or people who have just graduated from bootcamps. I believe that medium-sized companies and start-ups that are growing are just right for graduates of Hackbright. They want to grow people. Hackbright has worked with companies like Survey Monkey, New Relic, and Eventbrite. These companies LOVED the graduates of Hackbright. Read more (from a guy that went through a similar bootcamp) here: http://hugomelo.com/becoming-an-apprentice/

Do you feel well prepared to work in programming now? 
  • I do feel prepared, but I am a different case from most women. I was working part-time which is not advised if you're going through Hackbright. I believe that because I was working I was not able to put as many hours into mastering what I was learning. Because of that other women know more than me and were able to negotiate internships for 90K a year! I am currently working for a company I had connections with. I worked as a temp and helped them move offices. They wanted me back and hired me for Tech Support after Hackbright. I’m interested in Product Management or Sales Engineering in the future.

Assuming I do decide to apply to the program, do you have a good sense of how hard it was to get into the program?
  • The program is getting harder to get into. There are more and more people applying. I think you should apply early and feel free to mention my name.  The founders like bringing on friends of friends.
  • The main instructor is looking for people who like to solve problems.
  • I am not really sure what an "ideal" candidate looks like for a program like this. Have you heard of any other programs like this in other cities?
  • This program is the first of it's kind. Many new and innovative ideas in technology come out of San Francisco then the idea spreads to other cities. I think you should jump on this opportunity now.
  • The women chosen come from all walks of life. We had women from electrical engineering, publishing, physics, Biology, architecture  and I was a former middle school teacher. I loved it because we all supported each other and helped each other grow. We all respected where we came from. And we're all helping each other find jobs now. It's nice to have a network!

Did you need your own computer for the program? / Do I need to buy a laptop capable of doing programming? Assuming I do decide to apply to the program, do you have a good sense of how hard it was to get into the program?
  • Yes you do need a laptop but it does not have to be fancy. You just need a cheap laptop so you can do the exercises onlearnpythonthehardway.org and interactivepython.org at home on your own. Buy the cheapest one you can find.
  •  You will probably be working on your personal project on the weekends on your laptop as well. I have a cheap Windows laptop that one of the instructors helped me put Linux on. Basically, other operating systems (Linux and OS/Apple) are easier to program on than Windows. I have a "virtual environment" that makes it easy to use Linux any time I want to (and I can switch back to Windows when I feel like being lazy....)
  •  You can decide to buy a laptop with Linux (Ubuntu) on there: http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/geek-deals-sub-300-dell-vostro-2420-laptop-with-ubuntu-linux-2013014/ or you can buy a cheap Windows laptop and add a virtual environment. You just need something you can use commandline in (http://cli.learncodethehardway.org/book/)
  • I hope this helps and I hope you get into the next class! It will change your life!


  1. Oh, good questions and answers, as always. The related links are very helpful too! I think the Hugo Melo site got re-arranged somehow, the apprentice post appears to be here now: http://hugomelo.com/becoming-an-apprentice/