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Hack Reactor

Austin, Boulder, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Online, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Francisco, Seattle

Hack Reactor

Avg Rating:4.68 ( 262 reviews )

Founded in 2012, Hack Reactor is a 12-week immersive coding school providing software engineering education, career placement services, and a network of professional peers. Hack Reactor has campuses in San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, and New York City, as well as an online, remote immersive (full-time and part-time)​. During the first six weeks at Hack Reactor, students learn the fundamentals of development, full stack JavaScript and are introduced to developer tools and technologies. In the final six weeks, students work on personal and group projects, using the skills they have learned, and learning more. After 800+ hours of curriculum, students graduate as full-stack software engineers and JavaScript programmers.

Hack Reactor’s immersive program is known for demanding a starting skill set beyond that of a beginner, so the applicants should allow 2 to 4 months for the admissions process. Applicants should start by enrolling in one of Hack Reactor's free or paid prep programs to learn the basics of JavaScript and prepare for Hack Reactor's technical interview. The technical interview lasts an hour and covers coding problems in JavaScript related to the prep course curriculum. After passing the technical interview, students begin Hack Reactor's 80-hour precourse.

Job preparation is integrated into the curriculum, and students will build an online presence, resume and LinkedIn profile by graduation. Hack Reactor places alumni in mid-to-senior level positions at companies in tech, including Google, Salesforce & Microsoft, with an average graduate salary of $105K (2017 San Francisco student outcomes survey; 81% survey response rate).

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  • Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive

    Apply
    MySQL, AngularJS, MongoDB, HTML, Git, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS, Express.js, React.js, Node.js, Front End
    In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week12 Weeks
    Start Date None scheduled
    Cost$17,980
    Class sizeN/A
    LocationSan Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, Denver, Seattle, Phoenix, Boulder, Online
    The Hack Reactor immersive coding bootcamp is focused on building autonomous, fully capable software engineers. Every unit in our curriculum has been pored over numerous times to optimize for educational power and efficiency. The first half of the course is often described as “drinking from a firehose” because of how much information it packs in. In the second half, you use your new skills to build projects, while learning new technologies on the fly. By the end you will be an autonomous engineer, capable of tackling unique, unfamiliar problems and building complex applications.
    Financing
    DepositAfter you have been accepted, a small deposit is required in order to secure your spot in the class.
    Financing
    Around half of our students receive help in financing their Hack Reactor journey. We work with lending companies like SkillsFund and Climb Credit that understand the investment you are making in yourself.
    Tuition PlansFinancing options are available.
    Refund / GuaranteeNo
    Scholarship$1.3MM Hack Reactor Scholarship Fund - visit www.hackreactor.com/scholarships to apply!
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill LevelStudents need to demonstrate they are: fluent with JavaScript fundamentals, able to think like an engineer, are driven learners and empathic communicators. We have a free prep program to help you develop these skills.
    Prep WorkHack Reactor focuses on merit, not prior experience. We provide prep programs for students from any background to study and pass admissions. Take our free self-paced online prep program or a live online prep class to prepare.
    Placement TestYes
    InterviewYes
  • Remote Part-Time Software Engineering Immersive

    Apply
    MySQL, AngularJS, HTML, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS, Express.js, React.js, Node.js, Front End
    OnlinePart Time20 Hours/week36 Weeks
    Start Date None scheduled
    Cost$17,980
    Class sizeN/A
    LocationOnline
    Learn full-stack engineering over nine months. Same Hack Reactor curriculum, program and quality - no need to quit your job. Class is held live online with two weeknights and one half-Saturday per week plus required independent study.
    Financing
    DepositAfter you have been accepted, a small deposit is required in order to secure your spot in the class.
    Financing
    Around half of our students receive help in financing their Hack Reactor journey. We work with lending companies like SkillsFund and Climb Credit that understand the investment you are making in yourself.
    Tuition PlansApplicants who would otherwise be unable to attend Hack Reactor may split their tuition into installments and finish paying a portion of tuition up to six months after graduation.
    Refund / GuaranteeNo
    Scholarship$1.3MM Hack Reactor Scholarship Fund - visit www.hackreactor.com/scholarships to apply!
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill LevelStudents need to demonstrate they are: fluent with JavaScript fundamentals, able to think like an engineer, are driven learners and empathic communicators. We have a free prep program to help you develop these skills.
    Prep WorkHack Reactor focuses on merit, not prior experience. We provide prep programs for students from any background to study and pass admissions. Take our free self-paced online prep program or a live online prep class to prepare.
    Placement TestYes
    InterviewYes

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  • Sergey Sarkisyan • Javascript Developer • Graduate
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    I joined Hack Reactor in efforts to become a software engineer. Throughout my life I was addicted to computers. Whether it was building them or using them. School wise I went and finished Public Relations in College. With no direction in life I was a free, lost spirit. When my friend told me about Hack Reactor, that was the chance for me to become what I always wanted to be, a software developer. After finishing the course I landed myself a job at 20th Century Fox with a salary I dreamt about. Hack Reactor is an amazing program where if you put in hard work and commitment that dream software developer job is yours!
  • Se Yo Honth Othxd • Engineer • Graduate
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    In this age of refined open source and cost effective online materials you dont need Hack Reactor to teach you how to code.

    Thats actually not true coz Hack Reactor only takes people who already know how to code ie JavaScript. If you are not at this stage, please learn JavaScript and comeback looking at HR or go to a bootcamp that starts from scratch. And you will not be at much disadvantage from someone from HR as in both places after some coding you will be learning everything on your own. HR will expect you to already know a lot of the stuff or learn it while you go through the curriculum (dont kid yourself, in two day sprints you cannot learn all the new stuff and the old stuff). Generally bootcamps are overpriced and unnecessary.

    If you know JavaScript and want to make apps on your preferred platform then pick up a project, think about how you will implement it, search google and find out libraries or frameworks, two most popular ones are Angular or React. Pick React (just a suggestion) because that is how you should be learning to code modules (called components) which you can reuse. Angular is easier to learn but does not push you to learn the best practices coz it deals with a lot of important jargon. (very important to google best practices on each step to become a professional)

    Anyways the best way to learn is by using it in a project. Like you will best learn how to cook is by making your favorite dish and in the process you will google recipes, ingredients, best practice and then you will start putting them in place to make your super uber dish. First time it will not be great but will give you a base to improve upon until you get it right. 

    Apply the principles above to learning to code and make a portfolio of projects (not just tutorials but something actually most you have done yourself)

    If you are at the starting stage then start learning and getting good at JavaScript or which ever lang you like. Those scary little aliens on the screen will start becoming more and more familiar as you start putting your learning in practice. Once you are good with JS, learn a little HTML and start manipulating the DOM which is just your web screen. Then look into React or Angular, dont even need to go through JQuery which is becoming like a dinosaur in the museum but good to have an overview like brousing through the museum. 

    It will greatly enhance your experience if you find a friend or meetup to code along. 

    Boom, a couple of months of incremental progress leads to a solid skill you can take to your new job. 

    Hack Reactor is just a streamlined path of doing the above, and in no means a right of passage or even the best/right way of becoming a successful engineer. (I chuckle when they say Software Engineer. Even CS degree majors do not qualify as Engineers) but that is what you will want to become I am guessing in going to HR. 

    If this was 10-12 thousand dollars, it would have been worth it, probabily. 18-20 grand, common. Maybe 4 years ago when the best you could get online was a bunch of scrappy blogs. Someone can sue them for claiming to train Software Engineers, because that implies a lot more than going to a germ infested incubator of jam packed students puffed up with false hope after learning basic stuff about data structures, algorithms, a few libraries and frameworks, half of which are old redundant stuff. In the end even they will tell you not to mention HR in an interview, the real reason I will tell you after coming out on the other end is no one gives a c rp about HR, not because there is a bias which there is but because it is just bs that HR is teaching Software Engineering and any good engineer will hire you based on your skills, NOT coz you went to HR unless they are grads.

    Staff are pretty awesome, building sucks, curriculum needs major over hawl not only because of old tech but also because for the first half you are learning mindlessly ie passing tests without knowing what the technology is or how its used. A better way would be that students implement a basic app after the two day sprints indivisibly. Fellow students are possibly the best thing about HR. 

    Seriously find friends who are doing the same thing and go through one of the online courses like the nano degree at udacity for 150 bucks or so is pretty good place, codeacadmy is a good place to start learning languages, freeBootCamp is a good one. Pick one, finish it. Boom Save 18000 bucks. 

    As far as the 105 grand salary, most people come to HR from strong CS back ground. Quarter have CS degrees, Quarter have some other engineering or relevant degrees, 10% are Berkley or similar grads. 30+% have significant prior experience from job as a developer and 10% have little background and take significant time to build up skills and get lower income spectrum jobs. Compounding all of this gives 105 grand average which is smart on their hand, only admit people who know how to code and this is what you get.

    Good people. I would say that for sure. A lot of good iterative stuff going on. 10-12 thousand is a worth it experience.

     

  • Kevin • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I'm going to let you all know that I was 120% skeptical about the whole coding bootcamp experience. I mean, how can anyone expect to come out of a 3 month bootcamp with enough knowledge to be a mid or senior level software engineer? And how the heck did Hack Reactor skew their numbers to get such insane statistics? 

    Who I am:

    • Business major in college coming from reputable and decent paying account manager type jobs
    • Questioned if I was good at coding because I'd never done anything remotely technical besides some math, econ, and stats
    • Literally just taught myself Javascript that year and still couldn't figure out how it all fit together (backend and servers were just a complete blah for me)

    The Bread and Butter of this Review:

    • The remote experience requires intense self-discipline, but the curriculum is so well structured that you will definitely feel the pressure to be present and be on top of your game.
    • Software engineering and programming is all about learning to be independent and figuring out creative solutions to the problem. I kid you not, I think i spent half the time during coding on Stack Overflow or becoming a pro Googler.
    • Programming is not cookie cutter - it's like a language so sometimes you can express it in ways that aren't great, but still get the job done. Therefore, you will often find that the 2 day sprints in Hack Reactor don't necessarily explain solutions exactly in the way you want it. However, they really take a lot of time to explain methodology and do walkthroughs if you are struggling. 
    • You have to bust your butt every day. This is a unique time period in your life if you choose to follow through with the program. It's only 90 days long. Do whatever it takes and learn the material.

    I got a job before my program even ended at an awesome company doing fullstack software development (senior to midlevel) and I didn't even know how to program a year ago:

    • No, I'm not joking. A recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn and liked my Medium blog posts and Github repo and I started interviewing (I wasn't really supposed to start interviewing before the end of the program... lol so don't follow my example there). I'm still not a pro by any means at the command line or whipping up apps on the fly - but I have a good grasp of the fundamentals of Javascript and it is just a skill that is in such high demand you will have no trouble finding a job. 

    Many of cohortmates have already gotten AWESOME software engineering jobs in line with Hack Reactor's statistics. If you are remotely competent and feel like you need someone to give you guidance and help boost your career towards something you really feel passionate about - DO HACK REACTOR. 

  • Maher D • UI Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I attended Hack Reactor (at the time still MakerSquare) from April to July of 2016. I then stayed on 3 months longer as a fellow, but this review will only focus on my student experience.

     

    My background:

    I've been programming in some form or another since high school computer science classes. I'm not new to coding or technology, but am very new to web development. Up until I started studying for the acceptance interview, I had never worked in JavaScript or HTML/CSS. After graduating from college, I worked as a computer engineer for about 6 years, which does involve programming, but only at the low level (binary, assembly, C). Roughly a year prior to leaving my old company, I found I was dissatisfied with my career trajectory and began exploring further education. Basically, I was bored of computer hardware and felt I could accomplish more in web. 

    At first my research focused on traditional higher education. CS master's programs, mostly. However, I had little desire to do research or otherwise re-enter academia, so the value of a traditional graduate degree did not at all warrant the cost for me. Eventually, a serendipitous browse through alternative options led me to coding bootcamps, and eventually MakerSquare which had a campus conveniently located in my hometown. My honest first reaction to their claims (and the tuition) was “yeah, right.” I binged on all reviews, good and bad, before deciding to go the self-study route. Besides, I was already a developer. What could a costly 3-month program teach me that I can’t learn for free on the internet?

    Fast-forward a year to early 2016, and I had barely gotten off the ground. I had more responsibilities at my old job and had little residual willpower to learn web on my own. Sure, I convinced myself a few nights a week to put in a couple extra hours and work through online tutorials, but it was a half-assed effort at best. At that point I realized I was missing a few key factors: accountability, structure, and a collaborative environment. I finally admitted to myself I'm the kind of person who needs the pressure to thrive and learn. That’s when I decided to go for it. After all, it's exactly that kind of environment HR seemed to be good at providing. Another major selling point for me was the networking potential. In my experience the tech industry is smaller than you think, and making many new connections can prove helpful in unexpected ways.

     

    The program:

    A recurring theme you’ll notice in coding bootcamp reviews is that you get out of it what you put in. This applies to Hack Reactor even more so because of the volume of information coming your way combined with the ambitious 3 month timeline.

    Shortly after I was accepted, the course began in the form of self-paced pre-course work. Having quit my previous job with a bit over a month left before the start of my cohort, I had nothing but time. I could have raced through the assignments in under a couple of weeks, but instead took my time to soak in the sheer amount of material covered. I also tried to complete as much of the extra credit as possible. Doing so helped me maximize what I got out of the course itself. I felt I had a great head start on day one and didn’t need to re-visit basic JavaScript/HTML/CSS as much as I otherwise would have.

    I soon learned that head start was marginal, because the course hits the ground running with only a few intro lectures to get you acquainted with the staff, facilities, etc. After that you jump right into alternating between lectures and partnered assignments (sprints). In fact, the entire first half consists of sprints spanning a couple days each. Again, it’s easy to hit information overload in this time - your brain can only absorb so much - but building as solid a foundation as you can prior to starting can make all the difference in how well you understand the assignments. I used the help desk sparingly, but when I did need it I found it sometimes slowed me down more. I took the route of trying to figure it out myself unless I was truly desperate. But even when you do put in a ticket, there’s a chance your fellows (who just finished undergoing the program themselves) might not know the answer either. In the end, I always managed to find an answer either from fellows or others in my cohort. This wasn’t the case for everyone, though, and a common complaint is that fellows aren’t as knowledgeable as trained instructors. I didn’t share this frustration, because having a background in development has taught me that’s how the industry really is. You’ll sometimes get feedback on what to do, but it’s mostly up to you to figure out how. Overall, HR specializes in fostering this kind of “struggling" environment, and not necessarily one where answers are readily and conveniently available the moment you get stuck. As a result I learned how to form better questions to ask and where to find certain information, both essential skills in any highly technical position.

    The second half of the course revolved entirely around group projects. What app to build was entirely up to us. HR did the grouping for us in an attempt to keep skills/proficiencies balanced across teams. It’s during this time I held the most grievances as a student, but mostly due to group/people dynamics which is largely out of HR's control. The silver lining is that learning to work with difficult people is in itself a valuable skill. Another grievance was that there was less structure/accountability in this half of the course. How much you can accomplish largely depends on how motivated/focused your group is, which can also stem from how exciting of a project you choose. As for choice of project, it was entirely up to us. It ended up working out for my groups, but I felt a little too much time was spent picking and scoping a project so that it was achievable in the given time. I wished they'd offered a list to choose from for groups who didn't necessarily have an idea off the bat. Finally, once we did choose a project, I felt there was little staff/instructor interaction. This wouldnt have been a problem except that I had to constantly split my time between project management and programming when I would have preferred to just do the latter.

    The reason I didn’t dock any stars is the fact that the HR curriculum is not set in stone. It’s constantly evolving and adjusting based on student feedback, and it’s one of the reasons I admire the program so much. In the time I stayed on as a fellow, I personally saw all my grievances addressed along with any new ones raised by subsequent classes. Instructors (and even staff) began taking more of the project management role, freeing up the students to just code. Also, they began to provide a pre-defined list of projects for groups who didn't want to come up with their own. Regardless, I still came out of the second half having built complex apps from front to back that I could show off to employers and even study before coding interviews. In fact, it’s the proficiencies I gained working with the frameworks for those projects that helped me get hired quickly. So all in all, the group work was well worth it and a crucial part of the curriculum despite the few shortcomings.

    Finally, I'd to mention the HR staff. Opinions vary wildly but in the end, I came out of the course feeling like every single person on staff would go miles out of their way to help me out, whether it be the instructors, administration, fellows or hiring team. I could tell they cared and believed in the program, so much so that they'd do their absolute best to ensure you get your money’s worth. But again, much of the work and learning is up to you in the end, and that can affect your perception. When I had grievances about the group projects, the administration took detailed notes and refined the structure for the next cohort. When I had difficult technical questions, the fellows would spend as much time as they could spare sharing what they knew, even if they didn’t have an answer on hand. When I needed general career advice, even the instructors would set up a 1v1 with me and spend hours of their time sharing their own experiences and suggestions. Then of course there’s hiring. I expected that making such a drastic career shift would mean I’d have to start over as a junior software engineer. Instead, I ended up being able to translate most of my experience from the hardware world with just a bit of careful wording on my resume. I was able to land an ideal position at my #1 choice within a couple of weeks of entering the job search. Some of that success was due to a lucky connection, and some due to the extended depth I gained from staying on 3 more months as a fellow. Regardless, the hiring team was in lockstep with me throughout each step of the interview process, helping me review what went well, what to communicate, and even how to negotiate an offer. I tend towards overcommunication as you can tell by the length of this review, yet they were more than patient with me. In short, there’s nothing I learned in the course that wasn’t relevant in the job interviews, and in fact I was able to blow my interviewers out of the water because there was little hesitation answering technical questions.

     

    Conclusion:

    If you spent the time reading this whole thing, then I can only assume you’re on the fence about undergoing the program. While it’s easy to just say “go for it,” I’d rather suggest that you first separate the questions “do I want to be a software developer?” and “how do I become a web developer”? Hack Reactor will be a major asset in answering the latter, but the former is one you'll have to figure out on your own before you take the plunge. 

    Though at times imperfect, the HR curriculum continues to evolve, refine, and balance between employer and student needs. The elasticity of the program helps to ensure it’ll only get better in the long run. The first half is overwhelming and will spread you a mile wide and only an inch deep with the intent of providing comprehensive exposure. The second half, however, gives you the opportunity to dig deeper in a smaller set of topics and build practical resume fodder. And all the while, you have a motivated staff guiding you each step of the way.

    Overall, the program worked as advertised for me. I put in my all and then some, so I feel like the value received in return exceeded my expectations. I’m now working at a wonderful company in the city I wanted to live in, at a better paying and more interesting position than I had under a year ago. I've successfully shifted my career and am way more excited about where it might take me. I also made numerous connections with both existing and future developers along the way, all who I’m better for having worked with and hope to work alongside again in the future. There isn’t a career goal I set that HR didn’t help me achieve, so it’s safe to say this investment paid off big time and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

  • Nico Barry • Graduate
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    I cannot recommend Hack Reactor more strongly to anyone who wants to get into full stack software engineering, but isn't quite ready to get a job yet. If you're able to get into the program, and willing to put in a lot of effort over three months, it's a terrific accelerator.

    As a student, I was coming in with a bit more experience than most of my peers. No professional experience as a software engineer or anything like that, but I had been studying Javascript for about 15 months before coming to HR (using Free Code Camp, which I also recommend highly). Fortunately, HR is one of those places where you get out more the more you bring to the table. I felt like the curriculum managed to be instructive and challenging for everyone in the course, even though people were at different levels. 

    People may have been different levels in terms of background knowledge or familiarity with coding concepts, but one of my favorite things about the program was how smart and motivated my peers were. A lot of the work in the program is project-based work, in pairs or groups, so having really awesome peers was just as important to me as having great instructors.

    I did the program over the summer, when it was still called MakerSquare, and then continued for another three months as a teaching assistant, during which time MakerSquare, owned by Hack Reactor, went through a re-brand process to bring MKS under the HR name.

    As a graduating TA, my job search experience is a bit different than other students', since I have more experience (and a few months more of skills) under my belt, so you can take my comments on my job search with a grain of salt if you like :)

    As a TA, you start work while the rest of your cohort goes into their "Career Week". Then at the end of your TA period, you join the Career Week of the cohort that's graduating at that time. During career week, you get a lot of help developing your resume, cover letter, practicing interviewing, discussing salary negotiation tactics, etc. Asif was our on-campus outcomes staff member, and he's awesome.

    About half of my cohort (which graduated at the end of August) is employed by now. Maybe a bit more; I'm not sure exactly. Some folks get jobs right away, especially if they really hustle (one guy only had one month left on his visa, and got a job offer from a sponsoring company within that time). Of the four of we TAs who "graduated" a couple of weeks ago, I have an offer already, and another one of us is employed (by another one of our cohort-mates, actually).

    I'll explain my ratings a bit:

    • Overall Experience: It was really fun, challenging, and I came out of it able to build complex web applications from scratch. My job prospects are great. What more could I ask for?
    • Instructors: Very smart, and very good at teaching.
    • Curriculum: Top notch. The projects were very well designed to introduce us to important concepts we'd need to learn.
    • Job Assistance: What I think HR does really well: Giving us guidance about our portfolio; helping prepare us for interviews. What could be better: Doing more to connect us to companies. I can't completely speak to this, though, because my job search so far has been so brief, and so hurried because I've had a very quick process with a couple of companies. I know HR does offer some resources, and I haven't had time to look into them and figure out how to use all those resources. I would have given a 5 score if the HR partnerships team had proactively reached out to me to try connecting me to partner companies.
  • Nancy D • Graduate
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    I was surprised to learn that there are only a handful of Canadians that decided to attend Hack Reactor. I feel like a lot has been said about the general experience of the program so I thought I will write about my experience in hopes of helping those of you from out of the US whose thinking about attending. 

    I was very hesitant about choosing Hack Reactor at first and did extensive research before I decided it was the choice for me. I can't speak about other countries, but there were other coding bootcamps around the area I was living that was definitely a cheaper alternative. The reason why I picked HR over these other cheaper and closer alternatives is that the HR curriculum covered significantly more content in a shorter amount of time than any of its competitors (where I lived). If you are looking for a program that's there to push you to get the most done in the least amount of time, HR is the right place for you.

    The second biggest thing that I was very worried about was whether the whole remote experience will live up to the onsite experience. Now that I have completed the remote program, I am really glad that I didn't decide to move to SF to attend the onsite class. Not only will you be saving a lot of money since you won't need to rent a place in SF but you will be working out of the comfort of your own home. For me, this was a big plus because I get to stay close to family and attending class just means rolling out of bed 10 minutes before class started! I also really enjoyed the recorded lecture because it allowed me to speed them up, rewind, and rewatch them anytime I wanted. But what about not actually seeing your classmates and instructors in real life? To be honest, I have made some amazing, life long friends that I didn't expect to make. I don't think that strong bonds between people are formed from just being in the same room together.

    One thing I do have to admit is that being outside of the US, the amount of support you will be getting during the job search will not be as effective. You will most likely be facing a completely different job market and not everything you learn during job search will be applicable in your case. With that being said, I still believe that technically, HR prepares you very well to enter the job market, no matter where you are from. My biggest resource during the job search has been the HR alumni network, where you can get insight about your job market from HR grads who has gone through it before you.

    This is just my prespective on the remote program and it might not be for everyone. I advise you to do your research before making your decision but don't be afraid to take the leap!

  • Bill Zito • Graduate
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    Tldr; Hack Reactor provides the curriculum and the right people (motivated and smart) for you to learn web development concepts in pairs and by yourself. I can only speak of the staff in the SF office, but they were both experienced and helpful, although anyone expecting to be a software engineer should get comfortable with directing their own learning (aka not leaning on staff to figure questions out unless you're really stuck). 

    Long answer:

    Going into Hack Reactor (HR), I wanted to learn to code as quickly as possible and to try to get to a top tier company. I chose HR because I know I wanted an intense / all-day everyday experience, and looking on LinkedIn I found that HR had way more graduates at top tier companies (Uber, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Stripe, etc.) than other bootcamps. 

    Within the first week of attending, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of my peers. They were more motivated and experienced than I expected, with several having graduated with Computer Science or Mechanical Engineering degress, and a couple having prior industry experience. Given that Hack Reactor is largely pair programming with your peers, they made a huge difference in how much I learned each day.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the curriculum. It provided some direction, while letting us figure out the key concepts via code. In my experience, the only way to really learn coding concepts is to code them yourself, and then recode them. After finishing the curriculum the right way, and reviewing the concepts you didn't understand (by recoding them), you should be able to do both.

     

    When deciding on a bootcamp, it matters what your best alternative option is. I'll lay out the decision in my eyes from those perspectives as well.

    1. Bootcamp or self-study?

    There are cool opportunties like Free Code Camp that allow you to learn some javascript on your own--providing curriculum and peers via Slack to help you learn.  I was seriously considerig these opportunities, but decided to attend Hack Reactor because I believed I would become profficient at least 2-3 months faster with Hack Reactor's support. Calculating this tradeoff financially, if you take the median/mean ~100k salary/year for 2-3 months that you would have had to continue learning for to reach the same level, the upfront 18k fee becomes a really good deal if you can afford it.

    After having gone through the program, I think that the people and curriculum in particular make a huge difference in the rate of learning. While it's conceivable that you could learn tht much on your own, you would need to be dedicated enough to work 10-12 hrs a day for 6 days a week, find your own curriculum to learn the key concepts, and to have smart and motivated peers to bounce your ideas off of every hour or two. If that sounds daunting, then Hack Reactor may be a good way to get the right structure to learn.

    2. Hack Reactor or another bootcamp? 

    Several bootcamps suggest that they can help get you a job in software engineering. I read up on what the student experience was actually like, and saw that some of the bootcamps clearly had more intense experiences than others, which from my experience leads to more learning. Additionally, LinkedIn searches confirmed that only a couple of the bootcamps actually had graduates working in large numbers in software engineering. 

     

    Note: you should expect to get guidance on the job search, but realize that you will not be at the bootcamp for most of your job search, and will need to stay motivated / focused enough to find a job.

  • Very productive
    - 12/16/2016
    Jace Zhu • Graduate
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    Hack Reactor was a truly unique experience and I can't think of a better way to get into programming if you had no background in CS. As a student, I stayed there past 10 PM almost every day because I just didn't want to leave. I was surrounded by very intelligent and motivated individuals and that really pushed me to work harder than I ever did.

    By the end of the course I felt like a true Javascript Ninja, concepts that were so foreign to me like recursion and functional programming comes to me so naturally now, it's almost like breathing. I can create a simple game like connect-4 in an hour and deploy it in the next 30 minutes, which would be unfathomable before I started the program. 

    If you are unsure about the program, you can message any of the grads on linkedIn and I'm sure they'd be willing to answer your questions. Or you can message me. I definitely don't think it's for everyone, but if you're the type of person that would enjoy going to (winning) a math competition or something, you'll love the place.

  • Xiao Zeng • Graduate
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    I graduated Hack Reactor recently and it was a great experience for me.

    I have to say up front, if you are looking for very detailed long lectures on various topics and step by step instructions to teach you how to do everything, then you will not get what you imagined. The whole spirit is to learn by struggling and solving problems and form a logical and systematically way to approach unknown issues like a software engineer. You will spend most of the time working on problems with your fellow students, especially in the second half of the program. Support was provided to guide you not to give you answers.

    Also the contents of the program were not the most recent releases. For example, Angular 2 was released recently, but it was not taught in the program because the program only taught you popular technologies that the job market is looking for. In this example, AngularJS is still more adopted than Angular 2.

    Overall, you will be pushing yourself to learn the technologies and you will get what you put in. I am very satisfied with what I have accomplished.

  • Sam Sherman • Graduate
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    I really enjoyed my time at Hack Reactor. I was surrounded by smart, hard-working people, which was wonderful. In addition to specific programming concepts and technologies, they taught intrinsically valuable skills such as how to learn a new technology. Now, I'm confident that if I get a job using a technology I'm not familiar with, I'll be able to learn it quickly and effectively.

    My biggest complaint is the lack of job assistance. They spend a week at the end of the course giving advice on resume, interview prep, etc., which is definitely a positive thing. However, once the course is over, they kind of just sent me out on my own and said "good luck getting hired". I wish they would have provided some connections to companies or at least give me a nice list of jobs to apply for.

    They also made it clear that having Hack Reactor on one's resume is not a huge benefit. Coming in, I was thinking that the "degree" from Hack Reactor would be worth something on its own, but apparently that's not the case.

  • Charlotte Willens • Graduate
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    If you enjoy coding and are willing to work really hard, Hack Reactor will be maybe the most intense, rewarding 3 months of your life. People come into it from all kinds of backgrounds and the curriculum is such that if you can think analytically and put in enough effort, you'll make it through just fine and come out with an insane amount of knowledge and skill. 

    HR really stresses autonomy. If you're expecting to be spoon-fed information, this is definitely not the program for you. They give you the right amount of content to figure it out, but you do have to work hard and make use of google to master the material. This can feel frustrating at times but it's excellent preparation for being on the job. HR puts an insane amount of thought, intention, and time into their curriculum and if it feels like you you don't have enough information to figure something out, it's probably intentional. They have really good material for understanding the Javascript fundamentals, the autonomy mostly comes in with learning new frameworks.

    Also, the people. I've met and worked with some of the most intelligent, thoughtful, fascinating people that I've ever met and I expect to stay friends with them for a long time. As a girl in STEM (I studied math in college and have worked in all technical jobs) there's always a bit of apprehension going into a mostly male working environment, but Marcus stressed on day 1 that any sort of bad attitude toward minorities would not be tolerated, and HR ended up being one of the most fair, supportive environments I've ever worked in. (I say 'worked' because the second half of the course basically feels like you're at a job).

    As others have mentioned, there's a technical assessment half-way through that you have to pass to move on to the second half of the course. I think people worry about this more than is necessary. If you work hard to master the material during the first 6 weeks, you'll probably be fine.

  • Kristian Magda • Full Stack Engineer • Graduate
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    Its been about 2 months since I graduated from Hack Reactor Austin. I am currently working as a full stack engineer at a great company. I pretty much got all that I wanted. 

    It hasn't been easy tho, just getting into the program requires dedication and hard work. The program itself is super intense and there were tears and stressfull moments, but in the end it really prepares you to hit the ground running on your new job. It is incredibly helpful wether its learning fundamentals, learning how to learn or preparing you for the job market and it is worth every penny. I had my doubts when I was first reading the reviews about 6 months ago because it sounded too good to be true. I know my review sounds super positive but if you work super hard and you have passion Hack Reactor is the way to go.

  • Ashley Smith • Associate Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I went through the prep program in Austin, TX, then the immersive bootcamp, then worked as a fellow and I have nothing but amazing things to report from the experience. You learn more than you thought to be possible in only 13 weeks time, and the curriculum and overall experience is perfectly aligned with what you need to succeed as an up-and-coming software engineer. The curriculum is constantly iterating based on the job market and feedback from students and graduates which makes the whole expreience a lot like it really is in the work force and ensures what you're learning is very relevant. I believe really makes Hack Reactor really stand out from other bootcamps. Now at my first job I am regularly amazed by how much the bootcamp has prepared me not only to ace the interviews to get the job but also to know what to expect out of the industry and how to handle it.

    While it was very challenging work I felt supported the whole time and I learned more than I would have studying by myself for years. It's not only technical knowledge you gain, but working on real applications in a team environment (a big part of the experience you need to land your first job which would be impossible to achieve through self study). Staff at Hack Reactor truly wants what is best for each and every student that passes through the school, and the interview process helps to make sure each class is full of driven, smart, nice people that you will want to work with for 13 weeks straight. 

    If you put the work in you will absolutely learn the skills you need to ace a job interview and excel in the industry, and I can't imagine a better bootcamp with regards to the culture and the curriculum (and for me the location of Austin which is amazing). 

  • Ricardo D'Alessandro • Software Developer • Graduate
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    I was sick and tired of my high stress, thankless, engineering career and had a calling to learn to code. I applied and got accepted to the Austin bootcamp. I took a leap of faith by quitting my high paying job and moving to another state, but it was the best decision of my life.

    The entire experience was challenging and exciting. I learned more in three months than I thought I ever could. This bootcamp was the real deal! One month after graduation I landed my first software engineering job which paid more money, had a way better company culture and was a lot lower stress than my old job. I actually look forward every day to going to work and interacting with my kickass coworkers. The value of actually loving your job cannot be overstated!

  • Lucas Hawes • Graduate
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    The key to understanding Hack Reactor's philosophy, and by extension the positive and negative reviews seen here is their guiding principle of teaching you to hunt instead of spoon feeding the program to you.

    In classical education, subjects and materials are feed to you in a perscribed order where you later regurgitate them on a test or prompt. The course is meant to completely encompass ALL material for the course. However, real life and developer jobs aren't like that at all. Every day you come to work you don't know how to do your job. You are paid to figure it out, build things no one has before, and find solutions. 

    Hack Reactor takes a different approach toward creating engineers. One, where everything you do is in real world, developing skills that you will use every day in your job. There are no safety nets like classical education, there are also no tests or grades like in classical education. The course is NOT all encompassing, like in any dev job (I've had several) you have to look for outside resources. Maybe you can't understand the material from a tutorial, so instead you look for another that helps you grasp the material better.

    Failure doesn't mean you have to retake the course to keep your GPA high, it means you need to go back and get better at what you had a hard time in. At Hack Reactor, failure is to be celebrated, because you've found your absolute limits and with your classmates and a little guidance YOU can overcome them. It doesn't matter what your GPA is or how much you've memorized when programming, what matters is that you have the skills to either build it or figure out how to.

    Course Ratings:

    The double edged sword of continous course refinement. You get the LATEST tech to learn that is relevant to the industry. But there were some hickups with videos and lectures. Still 4.5/5 

    Helpdesk was hit or miss, I ended up going my own way and feel that my debugging skills are better because of it. I also learned to take everything with a grain of salt. 4/5, day to day instructors went above and beyond every time.

    The Job assistance has been fantastic. I graduated HR and am in the job search, and feel I have the skills to negotiate effectively. I won't always have the support net of HR, but their team has given me skills so that in the future I won't need it. 5/5

    I had a great experience that really transformed me and propelled me on the path I wanted to go. I would highly recommend Hack Reactor. 5/5

    Responses:

    Can you learn everything they teach for free(ish)? Absolutely, the developer community is amazing like that. Free tutorials, guides, documentation and tools are provided everywhere. But let me counter with why would you skip the course to learn on your own? Think of learning to fish. You could buy a pole or even just get some string and a stick and teach yourself to fish. It would take a long time but it's free right? On the other hand you could shell out for a fishing book, learn where the fish will be, what bait to use, techniques etc. You learn to fish at an excellerated rate because you are getting all the lesson you would learn in a fraction of the time. That's what tech courses are selling you, not knowledge, but time.

    They provide little/no help for job search, and the school doesn't give you enough to get a job after. Completely false, I have interviewed and seen hired people with a fraction of the experience and tech ability that HR gives you. But I understand, I'm in the same boat as you guys, looking for a job and it's tough. Hack Reactor is not a be all, end all development bootcamp. Nowhere will teach you everything you need to know, not even your job. Instead you learn the tools necessary to build yourself up.

    You only get what you put in, HR does little to teach you, it's mostly the other students that help you learn. As with everything in life, you only get what you put in and your mileage may vary. I learned a lot from my peers, I also learned a lot from the instructors who are there at every step to take extra time to help you understand the concepts being taught. You will not be spoon fed material and you are encouraged to strike out and learn on your own. There's a review about how Hack Reactor is misleading with less than 800 hrs of coding. I don't know about you but I experienced easily over 1000 hours of programming. If you put in the bare minimum you get the bare minimum.

    You will not be spoon fed information, tests, everything an employer could ever want, and a job. You are given a spear, shown how to use it and told to go hunt.

  • Meredith • Graduate
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    I read through the reviews on here a few days ago, and while I definitely agree with some of the criticisms, and have made some of the same criticisms myself, I arrived at the end of Hack Reactor onsite with an incredible appreciation for the work that everyone put in, students and staff included, and a sense that it is going to turn out well.  I am just starting the job search, so we'll see, but I am glad I did the program, but it was rough -- and I say this as someone very experienced in working my ass off for crazy hours.  

    HR doesn't do a great job of deciding who to let in, and there is a huge disparity in ability and previous experience among the students.  HR kicked three of our cohort out, and I'm not sure how many from the other floor.  This was after at least four left voluntarily earlier on in the course because they were worried about failing the mid-term exam and getting kicked out and losing all their tuition.  (HR has to keep their job placement stats up, so they don't graduate anyone who doesn't seem like they are going to get good jobs.)  Apparently the current junior cohort is in danger of losing a lot more students.  If you are a really fast learner, you can come in and get through the course without knowing more at the outset than they require for admission.  However, it is going to be really painful and scary the entire time.  Most of your fellow students will have worked with servers and databases before.  Many will have worked with React or Backbone.  If you have not done any of these things, be prepared to be overwhelmed.  It is worth your while, if you want to get the most out of the course and have the best job prospects afterwards, to learn more than the bare minimum required to be admitted.  Being good at algorithms and toy problems is important, but it's not what the bulk of the material is, and you'll be well served to learn a little more of the nitty gritty before diving in.  Wait one more cohort than you think you need to and go through some full stack tutorials.  Skip the CSS and JQuery.  You'll barely use this at all at HR.  Know the other stuff, the stuff they tell you you don't need to know in advance.  At HR you will teach yourself a lot.  This is only going to work for you if you already have enough knowledge to know where to start with that.  

    I really came to appreciate everyone in my cohort.  There's a real sense of community, especially in the second half of the program, after people pass the exam and know they aren't getting kicked out.  It's a total sausage fest, and there's definitely an annoying amount of competition among the boys at times, but there's also an enormous amount of humor and camaraderie.  It's a program that is definitely worth your while, as long as you approach it in a smart way.  Learn more than you think you need to know, more than they tell you you need to know, and you'll get a ton out of this course.  

  • Jon • Software Engineer • Student
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    I recently finished Hack Reactor Remote and am leaving a review about the remote experience specifically.  I originally planned on attending onsite HR, but job/ personal circumstances didn't let me move to attend the course.  So I enrolled in remote with a little trepidation- my goal in attending HR was to grow really fast as a software engineer and to be constantly pushed to be better.  I wasn't sure if a remote course could motivate me in the same way as seeing my classmates in person.

    I was wrong.

    REMOTE IS AWESOME! There is a distinct culture in the remote program and it feels intensely social.  Even though your classmates are all over the country (we had one guy in Europe too) you still feel closely connected with them and you're together 12 hours a day in lecture, pair programming, and hangouts.  You know how being in a constant groupchat/ snap session with your friends feels like you're always with them even though you're in different cities?  HR Remote is like that, except you're getting things done, and your classmates are always pushing you to be better (in a super nice positive way).

    Before starting HRR, there were 3 areas that I was concerned about that I'd like to address in my review- CULTURE, LEARNING, OUTCOMES.

    CULTURE

    Hack Reactor purposefully has a very positive atmosphere.  Everybody supports each other and I never felt weird asking a classmate to jump on video chat with me to help me work through a problem or technology that I knew they were a superstar in.

    Even though you're distributed, through chat and meetings you quickly get a good idea of everyone's personality and interests. That makes it easy to find people who share your specific programming interests to pursue topics together.  Hack Reactor students are really committed to being good web developers and will pursue various topics they're interested in outside of class (i.e. functional programming, 3D canvas animations, systems programming languages) and the culture of exploration is infectious.

    The course is challenging at times and both the staff and other students are awesome at cheering you up and getting motivated again.

    We graduated with a lot of good in-jokes (which is a good sign of a close knit team).

    LEARNING

    Whoa.

    I was a self-taught programmer for 9 months before starting HR and one of the primary reasons I wanted to do a bootcamp was that I felt that I wasn't moving fast enough by myself. I'd work on Udacity courses, or projects from online tutorials and then I would hit a place where I WOULD BE STUCK.

    Prior to HR, I would try to solve my problem, inevitably get frustrated, and generally take a long time to move past my obstacles. After HR, problems no longer last that long.  I have the confidence that I can learn new paradigms, look up Stack Overflow, and learn new frameworks without getting stuck.

    There are previous negative reviews of Course Report where a student complained the Hackers in Residence (the TAs of Hack Reactor) would just tell them to Google a solution to their problem.  Well...yeeaaah- how else do you expect to find an answer?  

    Don't go to Hack Reactor if you would want an answer handed to you everytime you get stuck at a bug. These aren't the droids you're looking for.  The staff will be very good about jumping on a call with you, talking over the problem space with you, and offer helpful suggestions about where to look for a solution.  They won't just tell you the answer.

    Why?  The most valuable part of HR for me wasn't learning JavaScript and Node and JS frameworks- it was the meta-learning.  You learn how to solve software problems on your own by researching and liberally applying trial and error. You learn how to debug and understand error messages and test your assumptions.  You learn how to learn how to traverse up the call stack.  If that fails, you learn how to ask good questions to a senior engineer so that they'll be the most helpful to you.

    The magic of Hack Reactor isn't in the course material.  It's high quality and always iterating to stay close to the current state of web tech.  However, in my opinion it's only like 10-15% better than stuff you could find online for free.

    The value of Hack Reactor is all the training in how to solve problems, and not giving you any slack when you'd rather be handed an answer.  It's the classmates who will help solve problems with you.  It's the thrill of discovery when you finally get your code to work and you've learned new in the process.

    Regardless of whether you do a bootcamp, I would argue the most essential skill for a developer is to be able to view a bug as a learning opportunity to learn new paradigms or to correct a fundamental misunderstanding.

    Oh- and you'll become a JavaScript, React, Angular, Node ninja too in Hack Reactor.

    OUTCOMES

    This is one of the most important metrics when evaluating a bootcamp, and one of the fuzziest. When I applied for HR, the hiring metrics seemed unbelievable to me and I think they may create unrealistic expectations for applicants.

    The short answer is yes, you will almost for sure get a software engineering job somewhere within 3-6 months of graduating a program.  It may not be the ideal job, but it will be a place that you can develop your skills.

    I think a lot of the negative feedback comes from students' expectations not being met.  Going from not programming at all to working at Google/Amazon/Microsoft/Facebook after three months of Hack Reactor is not a realistic goal. Yes, it's possible for certain students with prior experience and certain students who work their @sses off- but it's not the expected outcome.

    The expected outcome is you get a decent job at a dev shop somewhere, and if you really care about working at a unicorn, you can interview there after a year. I would argue that the Hack Reactor marketing doesn't make the expected outcome clear and it leads to some disappointment.

    That said, even though I just graduated, I feel very prepared for the job search.  For the handful of applications I sent out last week, I've gotten past a few phone screens and got past a coding challenge (to build a Node server in a few hours) sent by a company.

    CONCLUSION

    Hack Reactor is not magic.  If you're not completely committed to being a developer, it's not 10x better than just learning  on your own.  Its value is that it puts you in an intense environment with other committed classmates where you can quickly develop the meta-skills that will make you a good engineer.  What you do with those skills and how you leverage them into getting a job is mostly on your own (with staff support).

    I chose Hack Reactor because I wanted a challenging program where I could accelerate my learning.  There is no credential or diploma that you get at the end, but I do feel much more confident approaching the job search and learning new things.  I continue to view myself fundamentally as a self-taught developer, but Hack Reactor was an accelerator for my personal progress (kind of like young startups going through YC- not guaranteed success, but you learn a lot and get good networks).

    If that is your goal and you can afford it- Hack Reactor is super worth it.

     

     

  • Travis Wood • Graduate
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    I just graduated from the Hack Reactor onsite program last Friday, December 9th.

    Don't expect to be spoon fed instructions while you're here. If you want to passively absorb lectures all day long and be told the answer to everything, Hack Reactor probably isn't the right boot camp for you. At Hack Reactor, the vast majority of the day is spent making stuff with cool people, and that's where the learning happens.

    The people are one of the best parts of Hack Reactor. We had a friendly, collaborative group of students working round the clock to make each other better. I'll keep in touch with lots of them long past our graduation. The environment and energy here are unparalleled. It makes you want to get shit done.

    At Hack Reactor, I learned at a rate that far exceeding what I did during undergrad at UCSD or while getting my master's degree. But don't expect it to be easy. Don't expect it to always be comfortable.

    Expect it to be hard. Expect it to be stressful when you're trying to meet a tight deadline. Expect it to be frustrating when things don't work. Expect it to be immensely gratifying when they finally do. Expect to meet 40+ bright, motivated, like-minded people. Expect to spend 11+ hours a day programming, 6+ days a week. Expect to learn a ton.

    If you're worried about the validity of users' posts here, I'd recommend that you search for Hack Reactor alumni on linked in and reach out with some targeted questions. Most of us are friendly ;)

  • Fantastic 13 weeks
    - 12/13/2016
    Aaron Stevens • Graduate
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    Hack Reactor is a demanding 13 weeks of hard work, but if you put in the time it pays off beyond all expectations. I went from a guy obsessively pouring over google/quora/course report reviews and working on code wars prompts, to attaining proficient skills across the full stack in just 3 months (it is a real thing). In Hack Reactor, the name of the is exposure and they do an incredible job of introducing you to the universe of software engineering in a remarkably short period of time. By the end of the course, you'll find that you have learned how to learn and all you really need to pick up any new language or framework is a couple of days and some docs. If you're on the fence about joining, get off of it and do it already. You'll make great friends, great products, and come out on the other side ready for a career change into the lucrative field of software development. 

  • Masashi Swingle • Graduate
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    I can't speak on behalf of HR Remote that has received a lot of recent hate, but my experience at HR Onsite from Sept - Dec of 2016 was fantastic. 

    HR's Most Valuable Assets to me

    Instructors and Staff: 5 Stars easily.. to name a few

    • Josh: Really really smart and compassionate. Makes sure no one falls behind, provides additional lectures or 1on1s, and genuinely cares about every students' success. 
    • Benji, Zak: Helped me out tremendously especially right before the cumulative assessment. Gave 1on1s, advice, additional lectures, and kept me on the tracks to success.

    Location: 5 Stars: Easy commute. 

    Environment: 5 Stars: HR does a great job picking out people that can get along with each other to spend 13 stressful weeks with. 

    Self Autonomy: 5 Stars: I don't have that mentality anymore where I look at the problem and tell myself "I don't know how the ***k to do this" 

    Things to improve: 

    Job search prep: I wish we were able to have more than just a couple of mock coding interview sessions with an instructor. If there was an additional week of practicing alogorithms, schemas, data structures, and anything else that would show up on an interview, HR would be about perfect. 

    Toilet Paper: I hate 1 ply. 

    Notes/Tips: 

    Live Lectures > Recorded: Our class was fortunate enough to receive a lot of in-person lectures (scheduled and unscheduled) and even one from the co-founder of npm, Laurie Voss. Make sure to keep it this way. 

    Take advantage of the resources provided and you'll be in good hands. 

     

    One misconception I can maybe address

    "Hacker in Residence are recent graduates who couldn't get jobs"

    From what I saw, many of the top students in my cohort were the ones that became Hackers in Residence. Extremely knowledgable and were usually the ones to go to to ask a quick question. 

     

    If anyone wants an honest answer, shoot me an email. 
    masashiswingle@hotmail.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Over and above
    - 12/12/2016
    Guy • Student
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    Walking into hack reactor I was skeptical that it could live up to the hype. It seemed way too good to be true. I can assure you it is even better than anything that you could ever expect. 

    Over the 3 months I was able to transform my skills from basic coding challenges into being fully capable of building any web application that I want. They build your skillset to be able to pick up any framework or language - and the stuff our cohort built was quite incredible. We had a mixture of vr apps, mobile apps, and web apps. 

    I thought it would be gruelling with such long hours. But I never felt like I was working. It felt like I was with some of my closest friends solving puzzles all day. I didn't want to be anywhere else in the world.

    So if you're in doubt. Take the plunge, you won't regret it.

     

  • Amad Khan • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I came to Hack Reactor to learn how to build full stack apps and not simple front end websites. And at every level Hack Reactor has given me the knowledge and training I need to build amazing things.

    At Hack Reactor, I built:

    - Mobile applications (https://github.com/smartiecereals/glazedgallopers)

    - A photo-sharing virtual reality app (https://github.com/lowtalkers/escape-reality)

    - A trip planning collaboration tool (https://github.com/smartiecereals/glampr)

    All of these were made using technologies that are being used at startups and big companies right now. Before Hack Reactor, the most I could make was a to-do list website using simple jQuery and after Hack Reactor I was able build virtual reality apps with multiple backend technologies. The difference is evident.

    But, they don't just teach you programming, they also teach you how to learn, how to communicate, how to collaborate in a team and how to apply for jobs.

    I highly recommend Hack Reactor to anyone who is interested in software, looking for a career upgrade or anyone who wants to start a technology company.

    Thank you for listening!

  • Natasha Che • Graduate
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    Before I begin my review, I want to mention that I signed up for Hack Reactor not to seek engineering jobs, but to build my own startup projects. You can say that every review on here is a subjective assessment of HR. But since I don’t need anything from Hack Reactor after graduation (you know, things like job search support, recommendations, etc.), I feel my review is as impartial as it can get. Judge for yourself, of course.

    Hack Reactor is the Navy SEALs of coding schools. Navy SEALs is wonderful. But Navy SEALs is not for everybody. Neither is Hack Reactor. If you are driven, self-reliant, have a good head on your shoulders, and are prepared to go the extra 100 miles and more, Hack Reactor is your school. If you want work-life balance and are more comfortable having teachers spoon-feed you, or if you think by paying an expensive tuition you’ve somehow “paid the dues” and can just expect magical success thereafter, then look elsewhere. (Actually, if you are the last kind, no need to look. No school will fit your bill.)

    I joined the HR Remote’s 19th cohort in September 2016, after picking up Javascript in June and finishing Fulcrum (HR’s pre-school program) in August. Before June 17th 2016, I had no experience in programming except some half-assed Matlab.   

    The admission interview for me was a drama-free event, because Fulcrum gave me a pretty efficient roadmap as to what to prepare for the interview. I also had the incentive to prepare hard, because their policy was if I didn’t get accepted by one of their schools, I wouldn’t get my Fulcrum tuition refunded.

    The remote classes are all conducted online of course. I said “classes”. But actually you don’t spend too much time listening to a teacher talk. Most of our time is spent doing things, i.e. coding. This is something you don't get by just hacking together a study plan with online tutorials. Coding is an activity you learn by actually practicing it, not by watching someone else do it. And the HR's framework gives you the maximum hands-on opportunity to practice actual coding with challening, realistic projects.

    For the first half of the curriculum, the schedule is broken down to mostly two-day sprints. On the first day of a sprint, you get the instructions about what you are expected to code/build. After exploring the problem on your own for a short period, you get together with a classmate (your sprint partner) and start writing code. You communicate with each other through video conferencing and share your code through an app that allows you to write to the same file online realtime. On the second day, after you’ve tried as much as you can at your tasks, HR releases suggested solution codes for the sprint. You study those. The day after that, the same process repeats, with a different coding partner and sprint subject.

    HR provides some materials (e.g. videos) about the specific frameworks/concepts you should know in order to work on a sprint. But you are expected to go find whatever materials you need on your own to get the job done (e.g. googling, stack overflow, online tutorials, blogs, tips from your classmates, proceeds from selling your soul. Ok, the last one probably won’t help you much). You get some support from the help desk, which is manned by recent grads. But most time you won’t be given straightforward answers even if your helper knows the answer. You’re expected to problem-solve as much as possible on your own.

    Now depending on your personality, this could be an unpleasant and chaotic experience (apparently the case according to some negative reviewers). Or it can be an exciting and efficient way to learn. You’re constantly being thrown in at the deep end and feeling like you’re drowning much of the time. At least that was the case for me, especially during Weeks 3-4. But I LOVED this style of learning. I loved the challenge, the autonomy, the discovery, and the fact that I’m in control of my own learning, all within a well-defined framework, so that I don’t proceed blindly while still having plenty of freedom. And the pressure to finish the sprints on time keep me on my toes all the time so that I really have to pick up new information at the maximum speed. Is it stressful? Yes. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. Is it amazing? YES!!

    Again, I think how well you would take this learning approach depends on who you are. For example, there’re some negative reviews on here that said HR videos were not good, HR materials are not original, HR didn’t teach you enough, HR course hours are less then they claimed, etc. Here’s my reaction to those critiques. 1. Frankly I skipped half of those course videos. Because watching videos is slow and I prefer just googling some tutorials up fast so that I could get to the sprint. Those videos may be mediocre. But so what? You’re not supposed to get all you need from the HR materials. And to me, HR strikes a good balance between giving you directions and teaching you to be independent. You’re expected to find whatever materials that suit you to crack the sprint. 2. Same thing goes with the “they don’t teach you enough” claim. Guess what? HR taught me very little, except they taught me how to learn programming (my googling skill was improving at warp speed). And because of that, I learned what I needed on my own quickly. 3. As for course hours, I don’t see why that’s relevant because in HR I was spending 13 hours a day coding anyway, official course hour or not. Nobody tells you how much you should work in HR. It’s all about what you produce.

    The bottomline is that your personality and values will determine your expectation for yourself and for HR, and that will determine your outcome. That's why if you decide to apply, make sure you're well prepared with at least the JS fundamentals and preferably went through, say, Free Code Camp, and built a toy app BEFORE you join HR. (Free Code Camp is a good pre-course for HR. I went through most of it before HR, thought I learned a lot, and then realized HR was on a whole different level.) You may cheat your way through the HR admission. But if you're not prepared enough, you'll struggle a lot because the curriculum moves fast. So do yourself a favor and come prepared. Otherwise you end up wasting your time in HR and wondering why you're not getting your money's worth! If that happens you have no one else to blame but yourself!

    Not everyone is sufficiently prepared in my cohort or takes the HR learning approach well. By the halfway point there were several people dropped out from my cohort, voluntarily and involuntarily. Every time our class counselor announced a dropout, I would hear the Hunger Games theme music playing in my head (the one they played when a tribute went down). It’s not that far-off an analogy, except in the Hack Reactor Games, you don’t kill each other. You help each other instead.

    This brings me to the next thing I want to tell you about— your classmates. My classmates are amazing people. And I suspect when I look back at this experience a few years from now, my classmates would be my biggest reward from HR. Although they are from all walks of life before joining HR, they share some commonalities— smart, determined, multi-talented, hard-working,  extremely kind and helpful. And hilarious, too. I don’t remember another three months in my life when I had laughed so much every day, despite being under constant pressure to perform. And that is what HR surprised me the most. With the classes being remote, I hadn’t expected to build much relationship with fellow students. But after three months, the kind of community and bonding that had emerged from my cohort was nothing short of amazing. If this site has an option to rate “communities and peers”, I would have given it 10 stars!

    If you ask any MBA graduates from Ivy League schools, many of them will tell you that the most useful thing they got out of their MBA is not academic knowledge, but a network of successful peers. I don’t think the tech industry is all that different. Having worked with my classmates, I have no doubt that many of them will be rising stars in their future jobs and become successful engineers. I’m proud to be their classmate. If I had paid the HR tuition just to gain this peer network of talented engineers and nothing else, I would have considered my money well spent! 

    There were a couple reviews on this site that mentioned “you learned more from your classmates than from HR”. For those reviewers, that was a negative thing. But by now, I’m sure you can already guess my position on this. That’s right, I learned a lot from my classmates. And I can’t be happier about that. 

    And finally, the result. I can’t tell you much about job search, because as mentioned, I did HR to build my own projects. And also, my cohort just graduated yesterday (Dec 10th 2016), and job search has just begun for most of my classmates. What I can tell you is that one person in my thesis group got hired already, for a job that pays >$100k, two weeks before graduation (He’s a smart guy, but had little coding experience before HR, and is definitely not top of class. He has great personality and people skills, though. And that’s quite important in job search). I’m not saying his case is the norm. It’s NOT. I just want to tell you what is possible.

    As for me, after my thesis project, I decided to start building my app in Python, which does numerical stuff much better than Javascript. HR only used Javascript and there wasn’t a single line of Python/Django in HR materials. So You can say HR didn’t teach me enough. But when I started my project, I quickly discovered that picking up a new language is now no harder than picking up groceries. And if you had told me that three months ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. So you can say HR taught me a lot. It all depends on how you look at it and what’s important to you. And you can already guess what my preference is.

    Again, whether HR is for you depends on the type of person you are. The same experience can be perceived in different ways. How do you find out which type you are? That’s easy. You’ve read my review. I gave you my most honest opinion from my perspective. You’ve also read some of the negative reviews from former students. I trust they gave their honest opinion based on their perspective as well. All you have to do is to look within and see which perspective you can most naturally identify with. That’s your type right there. Good luck! 

  • Nick E. • Graduate
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    I attended Hack Reactor because I was unhappy with my current career path and wanted to break into the software engineering industry. I feel confident in saying that HR has thoroughly prepared me for this transition in a way that no other experience could. It is easy to be put off by the seemingly outlandish success statistics and the high cost and the short time. I know these were all red flags for me at the outset. What I have found, though, is that HR is a well-polished program run by passionate educators with a deep understanding of the software industry. It's not a free ride to a great job, but if you put in the work, you end up with a solid set of skills and a newfound appreciation for the power of good education. I never thought that I would learn so much in so little time, and I definitely didn't think that I would feel so ready to learn new topics. Beyond the core curriculum, the greatest thing you gain from HR is the ability to learn new software topics on your own. It's not for everyone, but if you think it may be for you I strongly encourage you to give it a try.

  • Mike S. • Graduate
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    As a former mechanical engineer, it's in my opinion that one of the most important skill sets every engineer needs is autonomy. Hack Reactor does a great job of building your autonomy. As you move along through the curriculum, they systematically remove more and more scaffolding until you're building full stack applications on your own and solving real engineering challenges.

    The staff is great, and they all have invaluable industry experience. The lecturers have a commanding knowledge of the curriculum and they practically beg you to ask questions because they want everyone to understand the material. The mentors, coaches, and counselors are all very eager to help out. In only three months, they build a relationship with you where you feel like you're part of a family.

    Some of the previous low-ratings on Course Report are a little confusing. The tone of some of these reviews reflect feelings of neglect and animosity. I'm not sure why this is because the Hack Reactor staff are very upfront with the program's intentions, and their business model is directly tied to the success of their students. Because of the transparency of their SSOM standards, there really isn't any way around this.

    I had a great experience at Hack Reactor. I received the guidance that I wasn't getting from self-study, I learned to push myself further than I thought was possible, and I made some life-long friends along the way. That being said, you'll get what you put into it. There is an endless amount of information out there. They teach you to explore new concepts, and they challenge you to go beyond the core curriculum.

    That was my experience at Hack Reactor, and I hope my review helps others get a clearer picture of what Hack Reactor life can be like.

Thanks!