Software Engineer

Hack Reactor – Day 0

In a little over 24 hours I will begin Hack Reactor cohort 48. It has been an interesting journey just getting to where I am now, so who knows what is in store for the coming months.

My choice

I initially began looking into coding bootcamps when my company restructured in the wake of COVID-19. I was already a self taught PHP developer working as a digital project manager for a small but scrappy marketing agency. I like to go with the flow, and I figured if momentum was pushing me forward, I would ride the current to see where it takes me.

As a PHP developer, I just wasn’t seeing the same quality of jobs as was available to my node brethren. I decided to bite the bullet and fast track myself to new heights. My initial research made it pretty clear what my targets were as far as boot camps, Course Report gave me an initial place to look, and after choosing Hack Reactor, CIRR gave me the confirmation I needed from their reported outcomes. I was looking for my bootcamp to meet a variety of criteria…

  1. Must have excellent outcomes that are 3rd party verifiable.
  2. Must be Node oriented.
  3. Must have an Income Sharing Agreement (put your money where your mouth is).
  4. Must have good reviews from former students.
  5. Must require students to start with some knowledge.

After sifting through numerous schools on course report I narrowed it down to Codesmith and Hack Reactor. Codesmith has much better outcomes according to CIRR but I had already begun preparing with Hackreactor by the time they responded and I wanted to go home with the one that brought me, so I chose Hack Reactor. I began to prepare for the August Cohort near the end of June.

Thus far I have been pleasantly surprised with the preparation experience…

The Journey

The preparation for Hack Reactor has been a hurried but not harried one. I did my first technical assessment with hardly any javascript knowledge beyond basic syntax and even most of that I needed to google while I wrote it. I failed miserably. I scheduled my next exam for 2 weeks later and studied my behind off (using their free prep course) to great effect, as I hit the ball out of the park on my next assesment.

Next up was the pre-course. This was boding very well for criterion number 5. The precourse consisted of a series of learning modules and toy problems that needed to be solved and pushed to your personal github. After solving each problem, students would submit pull requests for their assignment to be reviewed before moving on to the next section. All of this was designed to lay the foundation for the workflow that we will be using in class. It was difficult to get a bead on where I stood within the precourse, as there were some students that seemed completely lost, while others made brilliant designs as seen in the videos for their webpage assignment. Good design choices however are not a clear indicator of programming knowledge or skill.

After fulfilling my requirements for the pre-course, I scheduled a meeting with their advisor and was given a few helpful resources namely, the feynman method and the pomodoro technique. I was familiar with the concepts of the pomodoro technique thanks to my friend Paul. Paul (a googler) also recommended I focus on code signals as it would strengthen my algorithm game, and hack reactor seems to agree so I am definitely on the right track.

What most impressed me was how this upcoming course is being designed to improve the emotional intelligence of their students. My next few video meetings revealed to me just how integral this was to the process. Pair programming (an agile concept) has previously seemed somewhat wasteful to me, but it is clear that they will be using pair programming extensively in this program. They will also be cycling us through partners every couple of days. This diabolical plot to ensure that no two programmers are ever paired twice is sure to expose each of us to different and perhaps even difficult personalities. It will not be easy I am sure, but few good things are.

Less than 36 hours until I begin. I hope Hack Reactor continues to surprise me with their aptitude.