Hack Reactor’s immersive program is known for demanding a starting skill set beyond that of a beginner. In 2017 Hack Reactor introduced a variety of prep programs to help beginners ramp up their skills to the level required for its immersive program. The most popular prep program is a live online group class and is currently offered in multiple class times to accommodate a variety of schedules. A self-guided program is also available for free or with premium features for paying students.
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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Recent Hack Reactor Reviews: Rating 4.61
- After you have been accepted, a small deposit is required in order to secure your spot in the class.
- Payment Plan
- Financing options are available.
- $1.3MM Hack Reactor Scholarship Fund - visit www.hackreactor.com/scholarships to apply!
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Hack 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.
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
- After you have been accepted, a small deposit is required in order to secure your spot in the class.
- Payment Plan
- Financing options are available.
- $1.3MM Hack Reactor Scholarship Fund - visit www.hackreactor.com/scholarships to apply!
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Hack 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.
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
New York City
- After you have been accepted, a small deposit is required in order to secure your spot in the class.
- Payment Plan
- Financing options are available.
- $1.3MM Hack Reactor Scholarship Fund - visit www.hackreactor.com/scholarships to apply!
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Hack 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.
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
In PersonFull Time60Hours/week
Hack Reactor Remote (Full Time)
- After you have been accepted, a small deposit is required in order to secure your spot in the class.
- Payment Plan
- Applicants 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.
- $1.3MM Hack Reactor Scholarship Fund - visit www.hackreactor.com/scholarships to apply!
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
Hack Reactor Remote (Part Time)
- After you have been accepted, a small deposit is required in order to secure your spot in the class.
- Around half of our students receive help in financing their Hack Reactor journey. We work with lending companies that understand the investment you are making in yourself. Skills Fund and Climb all offer pre-approvals, so that you can have a loan secured upon acceptance to the program.
- Payment Plan
- Financing options are available.
- $1.3MM Hack Reactor Scholarship Fund - visit www.hackreactor.com/scholarships to apply!
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
OnlinePart Time18Hours/week20 Seats
Application Deadline:June 25, 2018
OnlinePart Time18Hours/week20 Seats
Application Deadline:August 13, 2018
OnlinePart Time18Hours/week20 Seats
Application Deadline:September 22, 2018
OnlinePart Time18Hours/week20 Seats
Application Deadline:November 10, 2018
Hack Reactor Structured Study Program (SSP)
Application Deadline:June 18, 2018
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- Ten hours of pre-work is required before Day 1 of SSP, although there is some flexibility during the first few days of SSP to complete your pre-work. Sign up for SSP soon!
Hack Reactor Reviews
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A quick reminder: Hack Reactor was created in late 2012 by DevBootcamp grads.
In this article I’ll review the curriculum of the bootcamp and the reality graduates are facing.
~45 per class 90 per floor. 180 at any given time. The “Elite” program generates a cool $3.56M every 3 month.
The first week is here to set your expectations, they have hours of lectures specifically on what to expect for the next 11 weeks. They offer you to drop out within the first week with a refund, minus the $2K+ deposit you paid. Ironically the number of lectures drops dramatically after the first week. After which lectures are every other day, 1 hour long each, for the first 6weeks. The second 6 weeks you’re basically learning on your own.
The material is divided in “sprints”, you have to understand and remember the topic in 2 days, hacking through it, while paired with another student. After a 2 day sprint you see a rushed video you’re supposed to learn from, if you need help during the sprints you get in queue to get help from a recent graduate who himself barely knows the material to help you.
To resume: You’re getting an hour long lecture, after which you have two days to work on the new topic, after which you get a 1h long video of the instructor explaining how he would have solved the assignment. (apparently that’s worth 20K)
The students assigned to help during the sprints have graduated just before you started. They offer certain students to work part time as instructional help for 3 month after they graduated. Unfortunately they are not experts. They do not know best practices that comes with real work experience, that they don’t have.
Mind you, the first 6 weeks (instructional weeks) you have to use 4 years old mac mini, plugged in to a shamefully slow internet. With wireless peripherals that keep breaking all the while you’re trying to hack your way through the curriculum. You would expect more for the price you’re paying.
The third month you’ll work on your thesis project with a team chosen for you. You’ll receive endless lectures on how to find a job and how to present yourself. They have squeezed the actual technical teaching time to the first 6 weeks. The second half is cruise control.
The reason you don’t see bad reviews is the alumni program, they invite you to meet your old classmates in “reunions” about once a year and they promise they’ll help you review your resume at anytime in the future should you decide to go back on the job hunt. But between us grads, we talk about how overpriced the program was. I even had an interview where the interviewer happened to be a hack reactor graduate, he was complaining about the latter.
The idea itself is becoming outdated. They just updated their outcomes data going from 99% of grads find a job in 3 months, to 98% of grads find a job in 6 month that just does not seem reasonable by any standards.
Another observation, most people who get in, are already qualified people, with top university degrees. These very people will now take up to 6 month to find a full stack job with this pseudo degree.
In reality anyone actively looking for a job can find one within 6 month. These statistics are really there to wow you, but after a short analysis, you realize how little is means.
I was lucky to have found a job after a couple month but I know dozens of intelligent graduates who are currently still looking for a job several months after graduation. Having Hack Reactor on their resume might actually repel potential employers, not because of the name but simply because it’s a bootcamp. Most employers don’t know the difference between bootcamps.
They have just increased the tuition by $2,000 it now is $19,780. Why increase tuition knowing the cost hasn’t changed but your outcomes stats have worsened ? I’m guessing they want to cash in as much as they can while they can.
I felt the need to write this for potential students who are interested in the program. I wish, that myself, read something like this before signing up. You should know what you’re getting into. In my opinion, it’s not worth the price. Study the material yourself (see the medium article by Andrew Charlebois) or join a cheaper bootcamp. You’ll learn the same and you’ll be $20K richer.
I have included the current curriculum (publicly available at the time of publishing) to give you an idea of what the program teaches.
Technical learning part of the program ~6 weeks
- Orientation and Precourse Review
- Data Modeling and Classes
- Data Structures and Complexity Analysis
- Inheritance Patterns
- Browser apps, jQuery, and AJAX
- MVC and Backbone
- ES6, APIs, and React
- Servers and Node
- Server-side Techniques
- MVP Project
- Greenfield Project
- Technical Assessment (full day assessment on what you learned for the first 6 weeks)
- Solo Week (one week off)
Thesis project part of the program, lectures are now all about job search ~6 weeks
- Senior Schedule Begins
- Legacy Project
- Post Development
- Professional Resume
- Thesis Project Kickoff / Thesis Sprint 1
- Thesis Sprint 2
- Thesis Sprint 3
- Thesis Sprint 4
- Thesis Sprint 5
- Thesis Sprint 6
- Thesis Sprint 7
- Thesis Sprint 8
- Thesis Sprint 9
- Thesis Sprint 10
- Thesis Sprint 11
- Thesis Sprint 12
- Hiring Sprint
- Career Search Sprint
If you want to make a successful bootcamp just follow the recipe: 1. Go to a bootcamp yourself to learn the tricks 2. Hire smart people to help you with student’s moral support, and designing a curriculum 3. Use guerilla marketing and tech blogs to raise attention 4. Only let in people who could already get a job without coming to the bootcamp 5. Publish numbers like 99% get a job or 3% acceptance rate by manipulating the fine print.
Hack Reactor is not the best learning program out there, they’re trying to save a concept that was working 2 years ago and that is no more. Their promises aren’t as appealing as they used to be, and it’s definitely not worth the $19,780 that they are asking.
If you have any questions about my experience or would like to know more, feel free to message me. I encourage all recent Hack Reactor graduates to write about their own experiences to raise awareness about the program.
Nori Maki Arare
These are opinions from more than 1 student from more than 1 cohort (both onsite and Remote). Instead of writing several negative reviews and skewing the average number of stars, we have decided to combine and collect all of our opinions into 1 review. Individually speaking, we do not all agree on all contents in this review. In fact, one of us wanted to give this review 5 stars for "Overall Experience." We encourage you to come back to this review to check for updates. Writing this may even hurt us because we may damage our future job prospects. Some of our classmates are still unemployed even after 6 months of job searching.
Do not believe most positive reviews about Hack Reactor that you read on the Internet (Yelp, Quora, Course Report, Switch Up, etc.) from mid-2016 Hack Reactor graduates. Several positive reviews written by 2016 Hack Reactor graduates are fake. What we mean by this is that the positive reviews are not fake because staff members created fake accounts to boost their ratings, but rather, what makes these reviews fake is that in order to get a free Hack Reactor hoodier at the end, you must write a review (positive, negative, or neutral) with your name attached to it (attached to the Google survey [so the job coach can know who to send it to and not have students cheat Hack Reactor with duplicate reviews for duplicate free hoodies] not directly on the review itself) and show it to your job coach. As you can imagine, even though the job coach does not directly "bribe" you with a free Hack Reactor hoodie (by directly claiming that the review must be positive), most people would not want to write a negative review with their name attached to it (on the Google survey not on the review itself) due to fear of retaliation from the Hack Reactor Outcomes Team (not receiving optimal job support such as whiteboarding help, interviewing help, fixing resume, etc.).
We like how Hack Reactor claimed:
"Please write a review (positive, negative or a mixture of both) on the site listed below" implying that they would be okay with honest negative reviews detracting future applicants to their software engineering bootcamp when in fact, Hack Reactor is a first-and-formost a for-profit school. In Economics 101, a business stays in business to make money. A business that fails to optimize profit is not a business. Do not let the fact that Hack Reactor is giving out several full-rides (by creating a video that teaches someone a new skill) fool you into thinking that their top priority is not to optimize profit. This is all public relations strategies to market their software engineering bootcamp.
As far as we know, Hack Reactor did not ask for reviews in exchange for free Hack Reactor hoodies until recently in mid-2016 or so, so ignore any Hack Reactor alumni who graduated 2012-2015 and or early 2016 who claim that our allegations are false.
Here is our evidence that Hack Reactor engages in such behavior:
As these people did not graduate from Hack Reactor in mid-2016 specifically, they were not asked to write a review with their names attached in exchange for a free Hack Reactor hoodie. Hack Reactor graduates from 2012-2015 and early 2016 are completely out of touch with reality of the new mid-2016 Hack Reactor quality. They had several $100k+ salary job offers within 3 months of graduating, so they are living in their own echo chamber while mid-2016 graduates and onwards are struggling with dismal job prospects. As such, to the eyes of prospective Hack Reactor applicants, their reviews and opinions are no longer applicable. However, some mid-2016 Hack Reactor graduates are definitely not getting $100k+ job offers within 3 months of graduation.
This is incredibly unreasonable as most prospective Hack Reactor applicants depend on honest reviews to help them make an informed life-changing decision that could negatively affect their mental health, finances, relationships, etc. These students do not realize that Hack Reactor is an unsafe bet until they become unemployed for 6 months.
In fact, some of us were discussing amonst each other to plan to initially give Hack Reactor positive reviews with all 5 stars, wait a month for the free Hack Reactor hoodie to ship to our houses, go back and decrease all of the 5 stars positive reviews back down to 1 star negative reviews. Course Report allows the reviewer to infinitely edit the written review and change the number of stars as well.
Notice how all of the positive reviews on Course Report have 0-1 points of "This review is helpful" whereas most of the negative reviews on Course Report have 20+ points of "This review is helpful." This analysis should tell the Hack Reactor applicant that more people agree with the negative reviews than the positive reviews. Quality over quantitiy. The high number of positive 5-star reviews (which are mostly fake anyways because Hack Reactor alumni are easily bribed with a free Hack Reactor sweater) do not mean much if few people upvote them (agree with them).
The only reason we attended Hack Reactor Remote / Hack Reactor Onsite was due to the postive reviews we have read on Quora, Course Report, Switch, Yelp, etc. (which we later found out some recent ones to be fake because the students were being bribed with free Hack Reactor hoodies).
Coming into Hack Reactor, we had high expectations as Hack Reactor claimed to be "the CS degree for the 21st century" as well as "The Harvard of the Software Engineering Bootcamps." They advertised that their student outcomes were better than other software engineering bootcamps, BS CS programs from UCs, BS CS programs from CSUs, etc.
The Remote Prep and Fulcrum are also useless with minimal help from HIRs with just slides.
Once you pass the technical interview, you must complete the precourse homework by yourself with no help from HIRs.
The HIRs, technical mentors, class sheperd, etc. do not have any previous industrial software engineering experience. The HIRs get paid $22 per hour, so most of us did not even apply. The technical mentors get paid $80k-$100k (as advertised on Angel List). The HIRs from Thinkful have previous industrial software engineering experience and get paid $35 per hour based on what my friends tell me. During sprints, you are forbidden from asking technical mentors for help. You are only allowed to ask HIRs for help.
We asked help from the HIRs, and most HIRs just told us the following:
"You must Google the answer yourself. I will watch you via screenshare to see your Googling methodology. If there are any errors in your Googling methodology, we will correct you and point you in the correct path in terms of knowing what correct terms to Google."
"Did you try Googling it before submitting the Help Desk Ticket"?
"My goal is not to give you direct answers, but rather, my goal is to point you in the correct direction and help you get unstuck. Once you get unstuck, you Google the rest."
"Here is some documentation, blogs, videos, etc. for you to read. These resources will solve your questions. If you still need help, use Google. If you still need help, submit another help desk ticket."
"These concepts were covered in the videos. Rewatch videos X, Y, Z on the MakerPass interface. You should also Google some blogs to help you. You can use money to buy Udemy videos as well."
MongoDB 3.2.11 was released on November 18, 2016.
Current Hack Reactor students definitely did not learn MongoDB 3.2.11.
Express 5.0 is in the alpha stage, yet one recent Hack Reactor graduate whom we met at a software company recruiting meet and greet event in downtown SF claim that he or she was still solving the half of the Express sprints in Express 3.0 and the second half of the Express sprints in Express 4.0. This shows that Hack Reactor was too lazy to update their curriculum to be consistent.
Google released Angular 2.1.0 on October 12, 2016. https://angular.io/news.html We are still learning Angular 1.0.
Node 7.2.0 was released on November 22, 2016. https://nodejs.org/en/download/releases/ A recent Hack Reactor graduate said that he or she was still learning Node 6.
Facebook just released React 15.4.0 on November 16, 2016.
The version of React.js that one recent Hack Reactor graduate was learning was definitely not 15.4.0.
What are we even paying $17,780 for then?
After realizing how insulting the HIRs were, by around Week 4, 95%+ of us stopped submitting tickets for help desk to ask HIRs for help, and we just simply started to search the Internet when we got stuck.
Many of Hack Reactor's contents look similar to online free sources. This could also be due to other sources reusing Hack Reactor's contents (which is clearly not Hack Reactor's fault at all). It can also be previous Hack Reactor students uploading Hack Reactor sprints onto their public respositories on GitHub and other sources copying off of them (which is clearly not Hack Reactor's fault at all). Our HIRs told us to consult Udemy, Youtube, etc. before doing each sprint. So we did. When we were doing the sprints, we were saying to ourselves, "Wait, did we not do something similar to this before?" The HIRs did not tell us why there were no solution videos for Recastly nor Siskel. While we do not accuse Hack Reactor of plagiarism or copyright infringement under DMCA laws, it begs the question of:
"Why pay $17,780 to study at Hack Reactor when so many resources are available online for free"?
Someone can just clone the Hack Reactor experience by gathering a group of 4 Hack Reactor accepted students, use Udemy, Internet, Free Code Camp, etc., and just build projects as a group. The real value in Hack Reactor are the portfolios and the alumni connections which can be replicated via Meetup groups.
We give Hack Reactor the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was possible that another Youtube video was recycling material from Hack Reactor instead or that neither were reusing contents from each other and they both independently created the similar content. It is incredibly difficult to create super 100% original content from scratch. Mr. Harsh Patel claimed that all sprints are designed independently, so we believe him. We are glad that Hack Reactor is committed to honesty and that Mr. Harsh Patel responded. We wish Hack Reactor and Mr. Harsh Patel the best in optimizing Hack Reactor for future students. However, Mr. Harsh Patel still failed to explain to us why Recastly and Siskel do not have prepared solution videos. These solutions lectures had to be given live in person.
How much you learn depends on how smart your sprint partners / project partners. Despite claiming a 3% acceptance rate, Hack Reactor still accepts low-quality students. It is incredibly easy to cheat on the technical admissions interview, precourse homework, weekly assessments, sprints, summary assessment, etc. In fact, it may even be possible to cheat your way through the entire Hack Reactor curriculum (onsite or Remote) if someone is clever enough (although we do not believe there has been a case where someone has cheated their way through the entire Hack Reactor curriculum). The reason why people cheat in Hack Reactor is because they quit their job and spent $17,780 and do not want to put their spent money to waste.
On Week 6 Saturday, you must pass a Summary Assessment. If you fail miserably, you are permanently kicked out of Hack Reactor where you have no option to defer to a subsequent Hack Reactor cohort cycle. You are still given a prorated refund of around $8k though. The Summary Assessment covers the MEARN stack.
The thesis project phase is useless because everyone builds their projects differently using their own technology stacks, so there is no way for the HIRs to help you get unstuck as each HIR is specialized in a different technology stack and each HIR does not know your game plan for your thesis project as they were not there when you are theorycrafting your thesis project at the beginning. If you are stuck on a part of the thesis project, you basically have no recourse whatsoever. Most groups do not even finish their thesis project by Saturday of Week 13 and they must spend several months after their Hack Reactor cohort has ended to wrap up their projects before interviewing. This means that some people's (the 2% in 2015 that are unable to obtain at least 1 software engineering job within 6 months of graduation from Hack Reactor) timelines are as follows:
-1 month to study JS on your own for the technical admissions interview
-1 month to re-interview if you get soft rejected
-1 month for precourse homework
-2 months to defer to the next cohort if you fail the technical check-in during the precourse phase
-3 months for the actual software engineering immersive
-1 month to finish / fix / polish your projects (MVP, Greenfield, Legacy, Thesis) on your own even after Hack Reactor is finished because your team members could be incompetent, code everything wrong, let you do most of the work, etc. (If you do not have a BS CS degree [which most Hack Reactor students do not], remember that you must have an interview-viable project before an employer will even give you a phone screen.) without any help from Hack Reactor
-2 months to review data structures and algorithms via Cracking the Coding Interview, Interview Cake, Coderbyte, Code Wars, Leet Code, Top Coder, etc. due to how poorly data structures and algorithms are taught at Hack Reactor without any help from Hack Reactor
-6 months to find a job (applying, getting rejected, phone screens, take home coding challenges, Skype interviews, onsite interviews, negotiation, etc.).
We are aware that 98% of 2015 Hack Reactor graduates receive an offer within 6 months of graduation from Hack Reactor (as a 3rd party independent accounting firm verified), but if you are in the 2% from 2015 that were unable to get a software engineering job within 6 months, your entire career change to software engineering via Hack Reactor might take upwards of 17 months. Being unemployed for 17 or more months will negatively affect your relationships, finances, etc. because the interest on the loans will accumulate while you are unemployed. Some long-term unemployed Hack Reactor graduates who have completely given up on their software engineering career change have gone back to their previous jobs.
The job coaches are more like cheerleaders. They do not help you connect with jobs.
When people read the phrase "job placement," people usually interpret it as "the organization connecting the students with interviews directly where the students skip the application submission process and jump straight to the interview."
As Hack Reactor does not connect its students with interviews directly where the students skip the application submission process and jump straight to the interview, their outcomes team's goal is incredibly misleading.
Hack Reactor has cancelled their hiring day where they brought in hiring partners to observe the students' projects and hire on the spot. Nowadays, Hack Reactor alumni just apply randomly and hope to get jobs. Codesmith in LA and App Academy in SF still have their hiring days.
App Academy and Viking School are safer bets as you only pay them X% of your 1st year's salary over a span of Y months if they help you get a job.
Thinkful, Career Foundry, Udacity Nanodegree+ refunds your tuition if you fail to find a job after 6 months.
Hack Reactor keeps the entire $17,780 tuition even if you are unemployed for more than 6 months.
Hack Reactor shuts down curriculum access after 3 months. Thinkful lets you keep infinite access to the Thinkful curriculum for a lifetime even if Thinkful refunds the student the entire $14,000 due to failing to find at least 1 market-rate software engineering job in his or her location. Some Thinkful students even feel bad that Thinkful is being this generous. A Thinkful alumnus claimed that this is Thinkful's method of giving a gift as gratitude for at least trying out Thinkful. To make this review honest and fair, since we claimed that Hack Reactor uses free scholarships via creating "Teach a new skill" videos to market their school, this may also be used to market Thinkful.
The Hack Reactor curriculum is incredibly outdated. Hack Reactor claims to be better than other software engineering bootcamps because other software engineering bootcamps takes you from 0 - 100 whereas Hack Reactor takes you from 20 - 120. However, the current job market for junior / mid software engineers is oversaturated. Most of the software engineering job market is geared towards senior and above (lead, staff, director, VP, CTO, etc.). However, being at 120 is not enough to get a senior software engineering role. To be a senior software engineer, you need to be at least at 150-180. Some Hack Reactor alumni have submitted 500+ applications, but they are still unemployed (assuming their claims are true). To make this review fair, this could also mean that they are bad interviewers which is clearly not Hack Reactor's fault.
Some employers in 2016 and onwards want to see a completely self-made project with only the job applicant making 100% of the commits on said project on GitHub, but Hack Reactor forces students to build projects in groups of 3-5. Previous Hack Reactor job seekers have told my classmates that employers generally do not give interviews to those who do not have at least 1 full-stack application that is completely built by themselves because the employers do not want to risk wasting time interviewing an applicant who could be incompetent who might have let his or her teammates do all of the work and take all the credit in the end (remember that in the thesis project phase, the HIRs / technical mentors do not check individual progress of each member on each thesis team before letting them graduate). This means that it is entirely possible to graduate from Hack Reactor by barely making any commits at all to your group's thesis project.
Our main reasoning for writing this review is to help others make an informed decision, so that they do not quit their job and take out $42k in loans ($25k from Pave + $17k from Earnest) (remember that you also need living expenses for 9 months [3 months for Hack Reactor and 6 months for job search]). In order to have our negative review be taken seriously by as many people as possible, we have carefully edited this negative review to remove all sentences related emotions and only focus on the cold hard logic.
We would not recommend Hack Reactor (onsite or Remote) to anyone at all even if he or she won the full-ride Hack Reactor scholarship $17,780 where you must make a Youtube video of yourself teaching someone a new skill because this person who attends Hack Reactor with a full-ride would still be wasting his or her time.
We hope the Hack Reactor employees had an excellent Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday season because they surely ruined ours.
Some alternatives to Hack Reactor would be Udemy, Youtube, blogs, Stack Overflow, Free Code Camp, Free Code Camp meetups where you have access to a live tutor volunteer, Interview Cake, Cracking the Coding Interview, etc. The secret is knowing what to study. The only reason why people attend software engineering bootcamps is that they find self-studying to be difficult due to not having a game plan curriculum. Once you figure out exactly what you must study in order to be a successful software engineer, attending any software engineering bootcamp makes absolutely zero sense.
The founders of Telegraph Academy have both left Telegraph Academy, and Telegraph Academy has now been converted to The Telegraph Track which is a mentorship program for people of color, women, LGBTQ people, etc. in the software industry. One Telegraph Academy cofounder is now a diversity specialist at Hack Reactor, and the other Telegraph Academy cofounde is now the interim director of Hack Reactor Remote. Notice how there is no Hack Reactor site in Berkeley, CA. The reason why the Telegraph Academy was not converted to Hack Reactor Berkeley is because they received some negative reviews on Yelp and Course Report. The Reactor Core Network just decided to let the Telegraph Academy name die out to protect the Hack Reactor brand name.
As of 11-29-16, after only 4 days, this honest negative review received 30 upvotes. It is possible to upvote the same review on Course Report more than once after clearing cookies, but even if we took into account that each person upvoted this honest negative review 3 times each, that is still ~10 unique upvotes. We did upvote some of the previous negative reviews (only once each), but we have only upvoted our own negative review once (after writing the 1st draft) since it is more than 1 person writng this review. We are extremely pleased to know that this review has made an impact on some prospective students' decisions. It is only a matter of time until Hack Reactor is forced to create a directory of students' LinkedIn profiles where they encourage prospective applicants to message random alumni for opinions and or take the "you only pay us X% of your 1st year's salary until you find a job within Y months" approach towards tuition.
We are so glad that Course Report only has an upvote button and no downvote button.
Can you imagine what would happen if Course Report had a downvote button?
If Course Report had a downvote button, lots of Hack Reactor alumni who had a positive experience to comb through past negative reviews and downvote them.
One thing to note is that the next cycle ends around Saturday 12-10-16, and this exact time is when the fake reviews from Hack Reactor graduates (who are easily bribed with a free Hack Reactor hoodie and who have sold their soul to the devil by knowingly deceiving future Hack Reactor applicants by writing fake positive reviews just to get a free Hack Reactor hoodie) start pouring in.
We will probably write our final draft before Saturday 12-10-16, so that this honest negative review can be seen by many prospective applicants before a sea of fake positive reviews (by Hack Reactor alumni who are easily bribed by a free Hack Reactor hoodie) eclipses this honest negative review.
Make sure you share this honest negative review with as many people as you know.
If we can even convince at least one person reading this honest negative review to reject Hack Reactor to self-study software engineering via Udemy or Free Code Camp, our job here is done.
To make this honest review fair, we will still list some positive factors about Hack Reactor:
-The classmates are nice and social.
-You will probably be friends with your project partners for life.
-The program is somewhat selective to a certain extent, so the top classmates are all very smart.
-The atmosphere is positive.
-The top students get jobs at top companies.
-Almost all classmates are willing to help each other.
-You have guaranteed partners for software engineering projects.
-Hack Reactor hired an independent accounting firm to verify their student outcomes (in 2015, 98% of job-seekers found a software engineering job within 6 months of graduation from Hack Reactor).
If you want a completely objective view point of Hack Reactor, we strongly encourage you to go on LinkedIn and message 10+ people from Hack Reactor mid-2016 and ask them for their opinions on Hack Reactor. All of them will say that they were offered a Hack Reactor sweater in exchange for an Internet review with their name attached to it. Most people fear giving opinions with paper trail as these can be traced back to them. Offer to buy them lunch / beer / lunch / a gift card in exchange for taking the time to sit down with them for X minutes asking them for their real honest opinions of Hack Reactor in person where there is no paper trail of their opinions leading back to them.
To the people claiming that this is a fake review from a competitor software engineering bootcamp designed to attract prospective applicants to their own software engineering bootcamp, if we are not Hack Reactor alumni, then how do we know super specific details about the Hack Reactor syllabus (which are not publically available anywhere on the Internet at the time of this review) such as Siskel (Backbone.js sprint) and Recastly (React.js sprint with Youtube API) not having prepared recorded posted solution videos on the Hack Reactor contents interface (at the time of this posting)? Explain that. Feel free to ask any current Hack Reactor student to verify this specific fact (at the time of this posting). Actually, ask any other future Hack Reactor students in subsequent cohorts to verify this fact because given Hack Reactor's previous track record of failing to update their online videos in a timely manner, Hack Reactor will most likely still be using 2014 video lectures in 2017 and still fail to update a single aspect on their outdated MakerPass interface. It is incredibly unfortunate that we even had to provide some sort of circumstantial evidence to convince future Hack Reactor prospective applicants that this is a real review. It looks to us like none of the positive reviewers had any logical rebuttal to our review and just resorts to calling all negative reviews fake because they have nothing else to back up their claims. Several of the rebuttals to this review had to resort to italicizing and or bolding their main arguments. With the exception of subtopic headlines, we never had to resort to bolding or italicizing any text within this review. We let the evidence, rationale, logic, etc. speak for itself.
Assuming Hack Reactor brings back hiring day, we will increase the job support category of this review to 3 stars.
Response From: Harsh Patel of Hack Reactor
- It’s mentioned above that, in order to get a free Hack Reactor sweater at the end, you must write a review with your name attached to it and show it to your job coach. This is misconstrued: we explicitly ask for honest reviews and never “bribe” students. We never examine or audit the review before it goes live nor do we require them to post with their name attached. Students are welcome to post anonymously. The hoodie is purely a token of our appreciation for taking the time to share their Hack Reactor story. Furthermore, we have offered this deal off and on throughout our history (including before 2016) with no effect on the quality of reviews we have received. The assertion that all other graduates “sell their souls” for a free sweater does not fit the parameters of the offer or the available evidence.
- It’s suggested that our graduates are unprepared for the job search, that many are unsuccessful, and that our outcome numbers are made up. We have always held ourselves to strict tracking and reporting standards, and in 2016, we released our full outcomes methodology--the most stringent in the coding bootcamp space--and our audited student outcomes for 2015. These reports provide third-party verified results for every enrolled student, which are consistent with our self-reported numbers. The 2016 report, when completed, will show similar outcomes to our historical numbers.
- This review claims that Hack Reactor borrowed content from Udemy. This is false.
- The 17-month timeline provided in the review contains a number of misconceptions, namely that graduates would need to spend months teaching themselves new material before applying for a job. Of the over 2,000 students who have taken our course, few if any have experienced anything like what the reviewer describes..
- We welcome the suggestion that prospective students reach out to our graduates on LinkedIn. This is for the same reason that we encourage reviews: the vast majority of our students have an excellent experience and a high return on their investment.
Being that Hack Reactor's content on this site is "sponsored," I wouldn't doubt that the majority of these posts aren't real.
I was shuffled around by admissions, which ultimately led to an unfavorable outcome. I applied in December, and did not pass the technical interview. After this, I was advised to join their $3,000 Fulcrum program, which I later found out is the free pre-course work after you get admitted.
Subsequently, in early January I was offered a free seat with their PTC program, which is hour long sessions with an instructor directly geared toward admission. Gratefully, I signed up.
About 15 minutes into my first meeting, I revealed that I was enrolled in Fulcrum, and was told I couldn't do both. (I'm still baffled as to why.) Having been in Fulcrum more than a week, I was no longer entitled to a refund, so I had to stick with it.
Fulcrum's cirruculum is nothing but slides. No classes, or tutorials. Slides, slides, slides. Thousands of them. Seeing how this is geared toward accepted applicants, it proved to be a poor fit for me. I worked through all of their remedial material covering basic object oriented programming, git, and the command line.
Then you have something called Underbar. All this is, is writing out the most popluar functions from the Underscore.js library. No application or use, just writing them out. Around then I applied a second time, which I admittedly did poorly. I was advised, again, to attend Fulcrum.
Instead, I decided to work only towards admission which is, literally, "reciting" part of the Underscore.js libray including Each, Map, Filter/Reject, and Reduce. I worked hard to remember these.
About a week ago I took my third try at admission. I did well, seeing how at this point I knew exactly what was discussed in the interview. I got to, what I was told was, the last question. They threw me a whammy, to define Every, and though I was close, I did not get it right.
A few days later admissions wrote that I was being given a conditional acceptance, and advised to sign up for PTC............. yet, I was stripped of the opportunity I needed to attend PTC in the first place. It's most likely, that had I been allowed to complete the sessions, I would have been accepted my second time. Instead I got shuffled around for ~4 months in the post-acceptance pre-course work. I'm basically right back where I started.
It doesn't make any sense to me why a non-accepted student would be advised to pay $3,000 to try their hand at the post-acceptance pre-course work. I inquired to admissions why I was sent on such a long and expensive detour, to which they replied that they were recinding my conditional acceptance.
My overall experience was poor, especially after finding out the reason that their job placement is so high (99%) is because if you can't find a job, you work there as a teacher for 3 months. Then you're back on your own. I wouldn't recommend this school to anyone as there are far less expensive options that aren't accepting students based on their ability to memorize and write out the Underscore.js libary.
Hello, Shawn here.
I will phrase my review in two parts:
I work in financial securities, and I rigourously research all of these bootcamp schools in the same manner that my employer pays me to research stocks.
My analysis is that Hack Reactor is an over priced work of fiction that has a great SEO campaign and Google Adwords account that places them at the top whenever you type in "top coding bootcamps" into Google.
They charge you almost 20k for materials that are available 100% free online.
They have so called "Instructors" that are really just former students who were not smart enough to get a job...and the Founders are people with absolutely no verifiable professional working experience - NONE.
If this was a stock I would short it.
Has anyone else noticed the large amount of 5 star reviews?
Is it just my imagination or is the Hack Reactor marketing team trying to flood this blog with fake reviews?
There are 65 total reviews so far, and every negative review has immediately been swamped by "5 star reviews"...but they dont give their names.
No details are provided in these 5 star reviews...no instructor names, no course reviews, not even any reports on trying to find a job.
Thanks for proving everything I mentioned in this article, Hack Reactor marketing team :)
Response From: Harsh Patel of Hack Reactor
- It’s mentioned above that our Instructors are just former students who are not smart enough to get a job. Hack Reactor’s curriculum and program structure has been built by engineers with long careers in Software Development. We’re talking people who, at any given point in their career, worked as Software Engineers at Google, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Adobe, and the likes. There are many contributors to a student’s education: Curriculum developers, program developers, lecturers, instructors, technical mentors, counselors, and HiRs. Each person requires a specific skillet. For lecturers, and instructors, they have to be individuals who know the curriculum forwards and backwards, and who excel at working with students. Sometimes, those are the cream of the crop of graduates from the program. In fact, many students would tell you that they are some of the best teachers of software engineering on the planet. Statistically, out of roughly 2,000 graduates, <10 work as full time instructors across all the Hack Reactor campuses. That’s a < 0.05% hire rate. You can imagine how good they must have been to stand out amongst 2,000 peers.
- We want to stress that Hack Reactor never has and never will solicit or write fake reviews. I recommend that people scroll through our 5 star reviews, there are many names associated and specific details on the course. You can also see our Google reviews which are all associated with individual google accounts. It’s also easy to see the career progression of thousands of our graduates with a LinkedIn search.
Ill make this short and sweet. I completed 6.5 weeks at the MakerPrep course in LA.
This school is a complete scam. They have many 5 star ratings but that is only because they have reviewed themselves many many many times. They are all fake reviews to give the appearance of quality. The instructors are previous graduates who cant make it in the real world. They are lazy and are just there punching a clock. Everyone was led to believe that they would have support for when they needed it through resources online and 1 on 1.
I was there EARLY every day to have just minutes of time with the instructor, (i was early about 3-4 hours early EVERY DAY! ) They asked us to Slack them with any questions and they would get back to us. That never happened! My entire experiance was spent trying to get the instructors attention. There were way too many students all fighting over the instructors time. He never had a clear lesson plan, and was always late to class. It was almost as if they had no idea that we were paying good money for this. They changed the material all the time and everyone there was completely lost. Ive never heard so many complaints before. I would try to set up appointments and use their spreedsheet to book office hours they they never showed up to.How convienat for sappovive "expert programmers" to not be able to figure out how to fix a simple shared excel spredsheet. Absolutley rediculous.
They admitted that the class didnt go as they had hoped and that I would be able to attend the class over again so that I could get my moneys worth. THAT NEVER HAPPENED! IM SO PISSED! Do they even know what it take to scrape together the money it takes to take this course when you are UNEMPLOYED!!!
In this age of refined open source and cost effective online materials you dont need Hack Reactor to teach you how to code.
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)
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.
Let’s begin by getting the dirty details out of the way to relieve some curiosity. I’m going to attempt to give those who are looking for an honest and insightful review a full understanding of my perspective, so they can possibly make an informed decision about their future. I’d first like to present some facts about me, since it seems to be relevant for the sake of context when reviewing the opinions, perspective, and respective nature of those providing reviews provided here or anywhere for that matter. My name is Richard Boothe, I attended Hack Reactor in Austin during the cohort of 2016 that went from February to May. During my time as a student I decided that I’d like to be a Technical Fellow/Hacker in Residence, and thus went on to do so at the New York campus from June to September of the same year. After my time at Hack Reactor it took me 5 weeks to find a job in web development, my salary is above the average of Hack Reactor graduates.
As of the writing of this review, I am working for both Ksquare Solutions Inc. and also the Boy Scouts of America in Irving,TX as a Senior UI Developer/Software Engineering Contractor respectively. I am 33 years old and before attending Hack Reactor was a bartender/bar manager for 10 years. Hopefully that’s enough info for you to find me on LinkedIn if you’d like to ask questions or just want to absolutely know I’m not a fake person like a majority of the anonymous one-star reviews seem to suggest.
My experience in regard to software and web development prior to Hack Reactor was limited entirely to Team Treehouse, Code Academy and Coderbyte. I had discovered that I really enjoyed the algorithmic nature of solving problems and was tired of my career behind the bar, so I began researching bootcamps and university options two years prior to my time as a student. The majority of programs at that time were advertising a 0-60 acceleration in learning, meaning having an absolutely zero amount of knowledge in the field of web development to knowing enough to get a junior level job. Meanwhile Hack Reactor advertised an education that would accelerate future web developers with a 20-120 acceleration, leaving their graduates at a mid to senior level upon entering job search. Furthermore, at the time none of these programs offered outcomes assistance besides Hack Reactor, which was a selling point for me for the obvious reason of avoiding retreating back to the bar scene after investing the admitted high cost of a bootcamp like program. I decided completely against the idea of investing in a University program upon realizing it would cost me a minimum of $80,000.
I decided on Hack Reactor for a seven reasons.
- First, I looked at the reviews on sites like Course Report and Google just as you are today.
- Secondly, I appreciated the honesty that was provided in regard to the level of understanding in coding/analytical thinking that was necessary to attend and succeed at their program, I will address this further later.
- Fourth, their is an emphasis on acquiring soft skills and learning to pair program. This skill has provided me with an enriched ability to communicate in an amicable and concise manner with my peers at work that has absolutely helped me advance quickly in my career.
- Fifth, the continued enrichment of the program keeps the topics fresh. I’ve read a few of these reviews that speak about how some of the instructional videos are old. Yet the concepts and the technology hasn’t changed in the last two years, at all. I'll discuss ES6 momentarily.
- Sixth, Hack Reactor enforces the basics first. This is the entire reason for the first six weeks.
- Seven and most importantly, Hack Reactor provides a community feel that inspires a drive to learn. This was crucial to my success during times when I felt overwhelmed or frustrated with my progress.
As a prospective student, an actual student, and later a Hacker In Residence, I never felt that any of those reasons were abandoned or less than what was originally presented.
Hack Reactor is *NOT* a bootcamp for students looking for an easy ride into a six-figure job, it never has been. Furthermore, it is not a program that one can easily jump into without prior experience and exit with a maximum gain. For this reason I warn anyone attempting to game the admissions program that you are doing yourself a huge disservice. If you review some of the poor reviews, you will notice a trend that most of those students providing 1 star reviews had failed the admissions program several times, or had ‘memorized the admissions requirements’ rather than take the time to learn the concepts that are recommended for admittance.
It took me a year to get to a point where I felt confident enough to take the admissions interview, and that was after performing self-study with the concepts of conditional statements, scope, closures and higher-order functions. For those that gamed the system and feel cheated, I feel sympathy for you but also wonder what you expected when time and again the expectations presented before admittance and during the cohort were that you needed to have a fundamental understanding to succeed. The reason Hack Reactor focuses so heavily on fundamentals to reinforce the understanding that students should already have is to insure that more advanced topics like frameworks, API creation and consumption, data manipulation, and database structures can be taught. FYI, the admissions system has been changed to avoid unknowingly allowing students into the program that are not yet ready. So while learning the concepts of higher order functions such as each/map/filter/reduce is great and will help you be a better developer, memorizing how to type those functions out without knowing the reason for the code will probably be a waste of time.
My thoughts on the program overall are great obviously, I rated everything five stars across the board for a reason right? The instructor Gilbert answered any and all questions I ever had about the content of the curriculum, and always did so humbly and with patience. My Technical Mentors/Hackers In Residence were always willing to help me reason about toy problems, or help me find break-throughs in my understanding. Of course there is the chance that I got lucky with a great group of folks as mentors and instructors, but given the nature of the Hack Reactor program, and my experiences at two separate campuses, I highly doubt it. Linden, my wonderful and amazing counselor was a godsend at times I felt overwhelmed and disheartened about my self-confidence in regard to my own progress. The support of a student counselor is one that is not mentioned very often in regard to the reviews on Hack Reactor and it should be, this role is crucial to the students having an ear to speak to and a voice to listen to. Shout out to Jeff in NYC for being equally amazing!
During my time as a student I decided I wanted to be a Hacker In Residence as I have always enjoyed teaching, and also wanted to enrich my understanding of more advanced concepts in web development. This decision, which frustratingly, insultingly, and inaccurately has been posted in prior reviews was not due to a lack of ability to acquire gainful employment, but rather a desire to teach and further my understanding in advanced topics related to web development. The Hacker in Residence program is something that students apply for during their time as students, not during their job search or after they "decide they can’t get a job". If you are reading this and decide to attend Hack Reactor, I highly encourage you to apply for this position as it is incredibly rewarding on so many levels, I’ll spare the details as that’s a different topic all together.
Lastly, the community that I still engage with today is one that continues to grow and flourish as I carry on with coding and my career. I am extremely grateful and proud of the accomplishments I have achieved because I am aware of how difficult the task was, and is. And with that I’d like you to keep that in mind when making an investment in Hack Reactor, as with any life changing decision for yourself. Most things worth doing of any magnitude are not simple, or easy, or quick. Don’t try to cheat the experience. If you really want to invest in something, attack the goal with a hundred percent. Please reach out to me if you’d like, and thanks for reading the novel ;)
I will graduate from Hack Reactor this December. I must say it was far far below my expectations. Huge Disclaimer: At the end of the course they ask you to write a review of Hack Reactor, if you want a Hack Reactor Branded sweatshirt. 2nd Disclaimer: I will not comment about Job search or Job Help because my goal of joining Hack Reactor was to launch a startup.
So here is mine:
Firstly, the video lectures from Udemy, Udacity, EggHead, CodeSchool etc are ALL far far superior than HR’s in every single way you can think of. Most of Hack Reactor's videos are recorded from 2014 and maybe 5% of them after 2015. I found myself constantly spending additional money on videos from other companies. This is crazy considering I just spent close to 20k on this bootcamp. Their teaching materials are outdated, Why are we learning express 3.0 still when express 5.0 is already close to complete? Why are we learning angular1 when angular2 is released? React 15+ -- Yeah just the basics only, barely. The course is still in ES5, not ES6! (they give you a preview of it for 2 days out of the 3 months) And so on..
Second, there is a huge lack of support. I spent more FaceTime talking to non-technical class managers and counselors than actual teachers. And Yes the Hacker in residents are more a waste of time than helpful. Honestly, I could have just studied this alone, 75% of materials are available free. You just have to know what to search for (really thats the secret sauce). About a third of the way through the class support from non-peers was close to 0%. Yes this is a fact. 100% OF THE HELP I RECIEVED WAS FROM MY CLASSMATES....WHY bother spending so money then for a bootcamp?!? Some HIR's ask me to google things or "I can't tell you that, you need to figure it out yourself"
Third, the instructors are bad. HR teachers are no longer the founders of the company. Its a shame, when we look at precorded video lectures everyone in the cohort is thinking "I wish this co-founder was around to teach us, not our current mentor". One of the technical mentors was so bad, that 75% of the cohort made fun of him when we were just chatting amongst ourselves. He barely answered our questions and gave off the vibe he hated his job.
I would not be doing justice if I didn’t give a couple of PROS, so here they are:
- HR loves it students (they really do, too bad the premise of this bootcamp is flawed and outdated)
- It is very social (with classmates)
- Everyone is super smart and willing to go above and beyond (just classmates)
- They make you a good human and understand what it means to be a collaborator.
TLDR - I would not recommend Hack Reactor. The competion has caught up really well. If I took this course in 2014 or 2015, probably then it would make sense. But given its almost the end of 2016, take your money and spend it elsewhere. You will thank me. Yes Hack Reactor has a good name, but what good is a name if you are not happy with the outcome? I learned a lot but seriously felt ripped off and cheated, and that I could have joined FreeCodeCamp for free.
Response From: Harsh Patel of Hack Reactor
- The points made regarding new technologies are accurate, and intentional. In no world do we want to be teaching Angular 2.1.0 so close to its release. We optimize the curriculum for what employers want. The vast majority of Angular usage in the world is Angular 1.x, and NOT Angular 2.1.0. This is a deliberate decision to make sure graduates are prepared for the workforce.
- I understand your frustration noted above as a huge lack of support and HIRs tell you to Google things. One of the main goals of Hack Reactor is for students to become “Autonomous” by the time they graduate. The single most hireable characteristic for a Software Engineer is their ability to be autonomous on a feature, product, or project. Autonomy is developed both technically and non-technically. As a result, when training HiRs how to answer student questions during the curriculum, HiRs are trained to help you find the answer instead of telling you the answer. Therefore, I don’t doubt that you did hear from an HiR that you should Google X, Y or Z question. It’s their responsibility to help students develop the skillset of debugging, which oftentimes requires learning exactly what to google, or how to incorporate Google into your debugging workflow. We do our best to balance supporting and guiding students, while also making sure they can succeed in an autonomous workforce. However, what we’re learning from your experience is that there could be a more supportive way of helping students debug instead of telling them the answer. We’re now actively working on better training on this front.
I was a HRR18 student in the online HackReactor course graduated end of October
For the benefit of the future coders I would like to give my experiences so you can make an informed choice. I will at the same time during the story , give my judegements which I accumulated over the course.
My journey started in early in the year when I decided to become a coder as a change of career as I found it interesting when I experimented with it.
I started with the remote prep, cost around 700 dollars but worth it as it gives you a direction.
Next step is passing the admissions challenge, what I found at the time (again my judgement which could be wrong) was hardest was HR onsite, then HR remote, then MakerPass then Telegraph Academy. Basically they had different tiers where they wanted to catch the tutions fees from all types of students with various talent levels.
I managed to pass the harder HR remote test after a few tries. What they do after a failed test, is to judge if you have potential, If yes then they will put you on a ptc program where an instructor will help you pass the test by practising similar questions to the test.
So what they are doing is picking students who they think are logically sound so that given the practise, they can get good in programming and get a job and improve their numbers.
So if you pass their test, given that you do learn and practise coding full time then you have the potential to get a coding job whether you go the bootcamp or do it on your own.Knowing what I know now, I would have used free code camp, lynda, uda , udemy to do it myself and be BETTER than what I am now.
Once selected, you a month long pre-course, where there is no teaching but they give you material to get you started on the basics, some they have developed, some from the internet, but nothing special. Before the course starts they test you again and if you fail, they will delay you to the next session.
Once started, intimidation starts, that they can ask anyone to leave during the first week based on their performance or not being continualy punctual and anyone can leave less their 2k deposit.
!!! HR if you are listening, People have left jobs and taken out a loan to come on the course and you have tested them twice and instead of taking responsibility, you threaten them.
But all that planning and making you understand the material STOPS after week one. They put you in pairs on sprints with little understanding and little time, so you struggle and concentrate on passing the tests that are pre-written for you. End result you and your pair struggle together, the one who understand more, ends up doing it and the weaker just sees it happening and wishes the stronger could part some knowledge on him. We never got to know how to write any tests during the sprints, as they were pre-written and never really understood the topic but somehow using helpdesk managed to complete the basic requirements. I mentioned Helpdesk, yes you get to use the helpdesk (which are former HR graduates) to get you out of a situation but don't expect they will make you understand as they are just meant to just point you in the right direction. As for the instructors (ours were former graduates), well you are not meant to direct email or slack them during the sprint as they are off limits and they give us their presence during a 30 minute townhall where you ask general questions before and after the sprint.
stayed tuned for part 2.
Before I start, let me answer what I read a couple of reviews back about refuting the hoodies for review claim. Well this person may have attended some previous year HR class when they were more of a learning institution than a business concerned more about bottom line.
Below is part of the email to HRR18, well after graduation as we were not being told about when hoodies were to be given.
How to Get Your Hack Reactor Hoodie
Some of you have asked about getting Hack Reactor hoodies, and here's the scoop:
Use this link (https://goo.gl/forms/amHidingTheLink) to complete a survey including the URL to a Quora review you have written about your experience at Hack Reactor Remote.
Here are a couple key points outlined in the header of the survey:
1.Please write your review on Quora (https://www.quora.com/Reviews-of-Hack-Reactor-Remote-Beta)
2. Please leave a star rating. Note: You will need to copy/paste "★★★★★” (or however many stars you would like to give) into your review.
Please note that hoodies are shipped out in bulk every several weeks. You'll receive an email letting you know once your hoodie has been shipped.
So HR you can keep my hoodie with you, maybe it'll help your bottom line. Actually we never got anything from HR, not even a completion certification.
Now lets get to part2.
The part where they leave you alone in groups with no pratical help and they start the outcomes phase on writing a one page resume.(great but recruiters can spot that bootcamp resume from a mile)
Enough already said by others about the sad phase 2, I really felt for some of our cohort mates who were struggling and trying to find material on the internet but couldn't help them as I was also under pressure to finish.
At the end of the thesis we got a 15 minute code review. What only 15 mins....yes... and what a shame, he was more concerned about white spaces and length of the files than the actual code. To his defence I'll blame HR for putting him in this situation as how can you review code written by a team over 3-4 weeks in 15 mins so I guess best thing to do is be a code linter ( An idea you could train our beloved bot :) to do it for you)
Apart from this 15 mins , we never had a code review one to one for the whole course...you know why, it's because it costs time so they would have to pay for extra instructors. You had assessments and unless something wrong, you would never hear about them. When asked, they said no News is good News.What!!! is this a learning institute, where they dont even give you a grade. Yes, no grade given to you. If you are still insisting then book office hours.
Finishing the code review bit, now after HR that I've started the real learning and seen some application reviews, I can say our code was lacking in the proper way of writing a professional frontend code and now understand why a lot of companies were not replying back after seeing our github code.
One advise, Skills shortage is why you'll get a job and not HR (HR are just milking the gap)
I'll leave the rest for part 3 --(stay tuned for the episode where Tony makes an entrance)
Response From: Harsh Patel of Hack Reactor
- Above it’s mentioned that we have different admission challenges and different tiers by campus. This is incorrect; Hack Reactor does not have different tiers or different admissions challenges. All campuses have the same challenge, same application process, and same tuition. We also give applicants the opportunity to interview for one campus but enroll into another if plans change.
- The Hoodies for Review sample that is shared is outdated and we’ve refurbished the review program. The Quora link lists Hack Reactor Remote Beta but we proudly launched out of Beta in July 2016. We do have an updated review system live, and continue to refine it to give students an open outlet for feedback.
- Regarding code review, tech mentors meet with each team at least once if not more per project. During the Thesis phase, this is minimally 1 per week. Additionally, Technical and Non-Technical Staff are both available daily during the program for Office Hours. The tech mentors average an hour of office hours per day and frequently add additional hours as needed.
So whenever I write a review, I try to keep things factual and transparent...mainly because I'm just a regular non-IT guy trying to get into fulltime web development. I've mastered HTML and CSS but its time to get serious about Immersive.
I first contacted Hack Reactor through the number on their website. This turned out to be a gigantic waste of time...as calls kept getting routed to someone called "MakerSquare"...and the Chinese guy who answered had no clue about any kind of Bootcamp.
So then I contacted them through their facebook website, facebook has this live messenger type thing, kind of like live customer support.
The lady who was typing in the chatbox let me know that most of the instructors are HIR...Hackers In Residence...which is just a fancy way of saying "Former Graduates".
I was like, seriously? You want me to pay 20k tuition to be trained by someone who used to work at Walmart or used to make sandwiches at Panera Bread?
Complete and total scam...all their placement numbers on their website are un-verified and probably unrealistic.
You can get the same education for 50% less anywhere else.
Stay away from these guys.
Response From: Harsh Patel of Hack Reactor
- It’s mentioned that HiRs are just a fancy way of saying “former graduates”. You are right that they are fancy and former grads, but HiRs are also the top students from the cohort, the cream of the crop if you will, and are subsequently chosen to stay at HR to contribute to the experience here. HiRs are students who have gone through the curriculum successfully, and are generally ones who love helping their peers. Typically, these are students who otherwise would have had no problem in the job search. They are actively seeking to stay a part of the positive and encouraging community because they love it.
- Regarding our placement numbers being un-verified and unrealistic, this is absolutely not true. The only way we can uphold the highest form of integrity, is through a third-party validation of data. In fact, in June 2016, Hack Reactor launched the Standard Student Outcomes Methodology (SSOM) as a transparent, systematic way of quantifying and reporting student outcomes. This is the first of its kind and allows bootcamps to classify each student according to clear definitions and strict documentation standards, and provides formulas for calculating placement rate, graduation rate and average graduate salary. Hack Reactor’s 2015 Audited Report was conducted in accordance to the attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. We invite any school to adopt this method to give honest information to prospective students.
I wish I had read an honest review specifically the one by Nori Maki Arare before spending around 20k dollars.
No one tells you that instructions are recorded from 2014 when Marcus used to teach. Now all you get are those old sprints and recorded lectures and help from students who themselves have just graduated as HiR's or some who have been hired permanantely from previous cohorts.
Often found them lacking in knowledge during the sprints. For the thesis forget about getting any help from them. I actually never bothered using any help and just struggled through the thesis.
Seen a number of students struggle through the course as they thought entering the course meant they will become programmers, a number always drop, a number just remain poor till the end.
Your study begins once the course is finished as you've spent 20k , now go all out on your own studying till you are good enough to get a job, can take upto 6 months
Don't think its a 3 month course to get a job
one month pre-course, 3 months course and HR publishes audited reports for students taking upto 6 months to find jobs. So we could have done it on our own in 10 months with our money intact.
Join free code camp, get udemey coupon vouchers, make a schedule, then all you need are cohort mates so you can pair program. If you want to get to know the tools, take a hack reactor or anyother bootcamp prep course for 600 odd dollars.
Its just a money making machine with a pumped up outcomes phase. I wish they had invested our money in great teachers which makes great students.
As more and more of these bootcamps are springing, I've found that the job market for new engineers is overcrowded so lets see if it takes our cohort 6 months or more ??
Response From: Harsh Patel of Hack Reactor
- It is true that we have lecture videos from 2014. However, our lecture recordings are constantly being revised. We maintain a spreadsheet of all lectures, and stack rank them for priority for re-recording or revision. There are some lectures around that were recorded in 2014, which are, by design, still used as part of the curriculum. Oftentimes, the flow of the lecture was so good, the questions students asked during the lecture were so relevant and on-point, that we de-prioritize improving those. Eventually, they will get re-recorded just like the rest. However, I mention this to give insight into how we process video lecture recordings, and to give confidence that it’s intentional, and not an afterthought.
- Regarding FreeCodeCamp and Udemy - yes, all the content required to become a Software Engineer can be found online. Thanks to freely available resources, it’s now easier than ever to become a software engineer. We often have students who go through components of FreeCodeCamp prior to an interview, nail the interview, and succeed wildly during the course. The reason people come to Hack Reactor is to accelerate their knowledge, become a part of a positive and encouraging learning community, kickstart a professional network in software development, and gain an underlying comprehension of the material that will allow them to quickly adopt new technologies and perform autonomously on the job.
- The review mentions “Don't think it’s a 3 month course to get a job”. People come to Hack Reactor to accelerate the process. They are interested in turning one year of self-study into 3 months, and 1-2 years of job searching into 3-6 months. We have the success metrics to back that up. in June 2016, Hack Reactor launched the Standard Student Outcomes Methodology (SSOM) as a transparent, systematic way of quantifying and reporting student outcomes. This is the first in the industry and allows bootcamps to classify each student according to clear definitions and strict documentation standards, and provides formulas for calculating placement rate, graduation rate and average graduate salary. Hack Reactor’s 2015 Audited Report was conducted in accordance to the attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. We invite any school to adopt this method to give honest information to prospective students.
RESPONSE TO HR'S RESPONSE: I'm not sure if you fully read my reviews, because I went into the specifics about each point that you addressed. I pointed out that there were stellar instructors, for instance, and I gave that category 4 stars, mind you. I also mentioned the outcome person that I do get to work with and that he is great, but you are still basically on your own(which is fine, but don't say you have great job assistance).
What I'm really trying to say in this review is that I wholeheartedly believe in the "what you get is what you put in" that people say about HR all the time. I really do, and I did learn a lot from my experience at HR with some great mentors. HOWEVER, there were practices that I was not comfortable with, and I think prospective students deserve to know just how much one has to "put in" that has absolutely nothing to do with HR. For 18K, it's not really worth what I received, hence, 2 stars. My main issue is with the marketing material and strategy. There are things that are misleading, where others are just plain lies. Even something as small as "800+ of curriculum", why bother lying about something like that? The truth is, you have to learn a lot on your own, which is fine with me! The problem is that HR takes credit for that too, and people need to know what they are getting themselves into.
In short, don't expect Hack Reactor to teach you everything you need to know to get a decent software engineering job. You will learn a lot in the program, but it simply isn't enough.
I'm not saying Hack Reactor is useless, but if you expect to find a job right out of the bootcamp without a significant amount of additional work (unless you have a CS degree or prior SWE experience), you are grossly misguided by HR's marketing material. Also, I suspect the main reason that you don't see negative reviews, and the reason why it took me so long to post one, is that no one wants to burn bridges with HR, especially when they are still job searching.
Let me start by breaking down the different ratings:
Instructors: four stars, out of respect for the real expert instructors
The instructors who had real, solid industry experience were awesome. Honestly, you cannot hope for better in college professors. They were professional and knowledgeable. For those instructors, I would definitely give five stars. However, it seems to be the trend that they are adding more and more instructors that are graduates of the course, without ANY industry experience whatsoever. While they are very nice, they are not as professional, and you can tell that the quality of the lectures are much much lower. From what I can tell, there are now fewer of the former and more of the latter leading live lectures now.
By the way, for every live lecture, you'll probably watch 2 video ones, which would be fine if they were actually good and concise, but the quality of those are poor, especially since they include the occasional awkward silence and Q&A(instructor: who can tell me what x is? [goes through a number of students to get the right answer, then explain]). They could be 15 minute videos, but instead, they are 45 minutes because of that. Waste of my time. Also, I didn't pay tens of thousands to watch videos that are worse than free ones I can find online. I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not.
Curriculum: three stars, tldr - not nearly enough to get you a job
First six weeks: I learned a lot in these six weeks, even with the extremely fast pace. You will be able to create a simple full stack app by the end of it. For this part of the curriculum, I would give it 5 stars. While we don't get much time with the good instructors, you learn a lot from working with your peers, and I actually really enjoyed pair programming. The HiRs(HR TAs) also have the most to offer during this time.
Last six weeks: this is the part where you get essentially no lectures, and no help from the HiRs. The HiRs can help you in the first six weeks because they are familiar with the sprint, but since they are recent graduates themselves, they cannot help you during your thesis because you may be using tech they are not familiar with, and your projects are more complicated and your questions more specific. As the other reviews mentioned, your success depends on your peers, or you have to do all the work if they let you (since you can have useless teammates that won't let you touch "their part").
After graduation: while they tell you to start job search immediately, you quickly realize that you don't know enough. When you express that, their solution? "you have imposter syndrome". Things you realize you have to work on before feeling comfortable with the interview process: fundamental web development concepts, CSS (HR doesn’t teach you any of this), CS fundamentals(things expected from CS grads that you don't know), data structures(HR spends 4 days on it at the beginning of the course, but it's not close to enough), algorithms strategies, and anything you missed during the course because the pace was too fast or you werent responsible for a certain technology in group projects.
Job Assistance: two stars, not one only because our outcomes guy is a Rockstar
Basically, don't expect much. Our outcomes guy is really great(but seriously over worked, wtf HR), and we get good help with resumes and job search strategies. But again, when you don't feel prepared, its not enough. I shouldn't feel so dishonest for saying I am a solid web developer when there are still so many holes in my knowledge that I have to search through the internet on my own to learn.
You don't get connected with anyone, and there's no hiring day as others have mentioned. You are basically on your own. You have to go out of your way to network, cold contact people, apply to hundreds of jobs, all of which you have to do on your own. You get added to the HR alumni slack channel though, again, what you get is all on you, they don't help much.
In conclusion, Hack Reactor is not completely useless, but they are not honest. They make it sound like they can get you a job soon after graduation or you get a job because of them, but in reality, you have to do a lot more of your own work than you expect. Just a few examples of their misleading practices:
- They claim to be an 800+ hour course: doing the math (11 hours x 6 days/week x 12 weeks = 792 hours), yet they conveniently forget 2 hours of lunch/dinner breaks a day and an additional 1 hr break ("workout hour") three times a week. On Saturdays, you get out at 5:30, not to mention that you don't get any real lectures on Saturdays ever. That's 200 hours that they include in their supposed course time when it's just breaks, or Saturday nights at home. Most of the last six weeks, you don’t get any instruction either, and you are learning on your own. You go there, code all day on your own, that's it. I suppose everyone can make their own judgements on this one.
- They make it sound like they teach you everything you need to know: this is a little bit more ambiguous and abstract. My main beef with this is that it's so misleading. I went into the process knowing that I have to do a lot of work on my own, and what I achieve will be based on what I put in, not due to HR's hand holding, yet I still feel misguided. The reality is that you have to learn SO MUCH on your own. Case in point: we all used React/Redux in our thesis projects, and since no one learned nearly enough in the sprint, we all had to take a week to learn it on our own, using pirated Udemy videos that the staff felt comfortable distributing to us. WTF??
- "In addition to being employable in mid- to senior-level engineering roles upon graduation, our students learn fundamentals that will last them throughout their career. "(http://www.hackreactor.com/blog/which-hack-reactor-course-is-right-for-you-heres-how-to-find-out) A, you won't be employable at that level unless you have a CS degree or work your ass off from other materials outside of HR. B, you don't learn nearly enough fundamentals to be ready for a front end position, don't even think about a full stack one. Again, you can get a good job, but that depends on how hard you work outside the curriculum, not HR itself.
One succeeds because of their own hard work, not because of Hack Reactor. HR is only one part of your journey. I definitely learned a lot from the bootcamp, but I need to put it out there that it is not what it seems. It is not a replacement for a proper degree, nor will it prepare you enough to get a job. You prepare yourself. You work hard to earn it.
Response From: Harsh Patel of Hack Reactor
I’d like to share my experience in Fulcrum as preparation for the Hack Reactor Onsite interview. I just passed the new interview format today after about a year of trying. I want to encourage other prospective students to keep pushing through even after big setbacks, and I do want to address some concerns that another Fulcrum student posted earlier about their bad experience.
After Fulcrum came out in late 2015, I joined the program early this year while working part-time. The Fulcrum material is a lot more rigorous than what I encountered in my prior months of self-study. It’s a much higher challenge than all those freebie lessons that litter the Internet. Codecademy and Code School give you a really false sense that you’re ready to go at bootcamps when you absolutely still just have basic understanding. (There’s too much structure and the end-of-unit problems are very easy. Can you remember what you did on those website a few days later? However, I have heard that Codecademy’s Github track is very good, and I do really like Code School’s approach to making programming more accessible.)
The best thing I found in Fulcrum is the help of the mentors. You can schedule “office hours” with them in 15 minute blocks, and you have to pass their check-ins after key points in the curriculum. (They’re modeled after the tech interview experience, and that kind of accountability to a person who is judging your understanding is something that I don’t think you can experience through just solo studying.)
As an example of the higher difficulty of toy problem you’re expected to solve, the mentors guided me to using combinations of higher order functions to iterate through an unknown amount of arrays to eliminate elements in the first array that are listed in the subsequent arrays. Very tricky stuff, and you need to know how to handle the arguments object with call() and apply().
These kinds of “combine several concepts” programming challenges are all at a high bar in Fulcrum. They have a “MakerSquare Challenge” collection of toy problems that are pretty challenging, but I was able to solve more and more of them as the weeks went on as I tried to apply the Underbar functions that I wrote. You also get to join a Slack group that has students from all over the world, so I made some friends that were up late at night with me and early in the morning, trying to tease out a clear understanding of the concepts together. Having a community of learners that share your struggle and challenge your progress is extremely motivating!
So, what about the criticisms of the curriculum? Yes, there are a crapload of slides. If Codecademy is at a middle school level of effort, Fulcrum is like a college level. How do you transfer the deep knowledge of fundamental concepts to brand-new students? Unfortunately, it’s going to take many, many slides to explain things at a comprehensive level. For example, there’s not much articles about execution contexts on the web, but they are explained in the Fulcrum slides as a way to grasp function scopes and why they work the way they do.
I do feel bad that the other Fulcrum student had a disappointing experience. I would encourage them and other prospective students to keep upping their game and go through a very high amount of practice. Being able to write every() is a “meet the minimum bar” kind of challenge. It’s part of the Underbar functions that you are required to write from scratch in Fulcrum. You can actually use reduce() to write it, but as I learned from the Fulcrum challenges, you need to combine some(), every(), contains() — and more — to gain mastery in solving unseen and challenging toy problems that prepare you for the interview.
And no — just because the Underscore library (which Underbar is based on) is available for free on the Internet does not mean that you can understand and use those functions with ease.
Fulcrum is based on the pre-course work that is required for accepted students who pass the technical interview. If you don’t challenge yourself to completely master the material, then you won’t be ready for the even more difficult and crazy challenges in the immersion program. Keep bulking up your programming muscles so you can feel great about being ready for the intensity! I’d definitely recommend the ReactX functional programming lesson (but that's only the beginning!) and doing at least 50 toy problems on Codewars.com (you should be able to solve some 6 kyu problems!). Some students definitely have a knack for programming and can get away with less. Not me, it took a ton of practice!
I was past the halfway point in Fulcrum and was given the OK to do another interview. Hack Reactor Onsite changed their interview format recently to something that requires even more concepts to synthesize. I interviewed there a few weeks ago and was extremely discouraged that I didn’t pass. Even after going halfway through Fulcrum and studying for over a year, it wasn’t enough to pass the interview? #JustFeelsBadMang
When I shared my experience with the Fulcrum director, he said I was really close and should keep trying. I was already satisfied with passing the MakerSquare interview a few days earlier, so I wasn’t going to try yet another interview at HR. But after the boost of encouragement, I studied for 2 more weeks and got word today that I passed the HR interview after 5 tries, even with the new, more difficult format!
Yes, Fulcrum is a serious commitment of time and money, but it really pushed me beyond what I could achieve on my own. I personally do need actual people (like mentors and other students) to help me master a curriculum. I encourage all prospective students to practice a giant pile of toy problems and to not give up! Thanks for taking the time to read this, and keep on coding and breaking those keyboards!
I attended their freebie coding session where they barrelled through the basic coding concepts. Starting with
writing out basic functions. In 2 hours.
I'll say now that if it wasn't for the fact that I busted my ass on FreeCodeCamp for a week, I would have been completely lost in those 2 hours. A lot of those in the audience had zero coding experience and I think they were completely confused but genuinely didn't even know what questions to ask because they were that new to coding.
The problem with having experts who have no pedagogical experience teaching a technical subject is that they lose people - especially newbies - and don't even know (or may not care) - that they're losing folks.
This makes places like this a good coding review camp, not a place to learn for the first time. Think of Hack Reactor like an MCAT prep course. If you don't already know bio, chem, ochem, physics, an MCAT prep course is not going to help you learn the material; it'll just frustrate you.
I personally don't think that's a good value for those who aren't already very familiar with programming.
Do FreeCodeCamp and get past the advanced algorithms before evaluating the various boot camps.
Part 3, well Tony was supposed to make an entrance but he'll have to wait as I see Mr Harsh Patel coming in and answering to negative reviews.
Power of social media so HR are now listening...., so Mr Harsh I am replying to your response If you had read my review , I said I was from HRR18 and check your paper work we started on July 25th 2016 and we were Remote Beta and that excerpt from the email is true (check your hrr.communication mailbox and there will be a something called <sent items> and you will find it there) . On other point again it was after HRR18 started that you decided to have a single brand with a single interview for all campuses.
If Mr Harsh you still don't remember HRR18 dates then let me remind you that during this HRR18 course, within I think the first month you took over the responsibilty from Bianca who used to be incharge of the remote program. I saw you during the handover with Bianca as you were taking over and guess what when she left YOU NEVER SHOWN YOUR FACE AFTER THAT (HR saving money in front us , taking away a resourse). Bianca used to give some extra lessons after hours but you, well the first time I heard from you after that was when you sent an email talking about having a single brand for the multiple school and now replying to these responses.
If you had taken time attending and addressing the issues in the container, the same way you are giving responses then maybe it can benefit the students.......
Lets come to outcomes, someone in our cohort asked the outcomes coach if she placed anyone with the Big Four. She replied NO but someone did join Amazon but in a different field as a project Manager. When you are in HR they make you think you are a hotshot but when you go out you realize your just a JUNIOR. The data structures at HR are very basic with basic bigO. The big four interview starts at maybe AVL or red black trees and that is no where to be found at HR. HR is too caught up with its outdated n-queens and even worse backbone , who no one in the industry I 've seen cares about now.(again my view)
This course doesn't come even near to 10% of a CS degree, its just milking the gap.
HR interview for joining the program is based on basic functional logical programming so HR knows that if you pass that then there is a good chance you will get a junior to mid level job at the normal software companies out there (because they use the same sort of tests). So now it doesn't matter for HR , how well they prepare you as long as they keep you updated with toy problems.
Save yourselves money, praticse codewars and take a css class, you'll get one of those jobs....
stay tuned for part 4
What can I say that hasn't been said before. I think I was cheated as I joined because of all the postive reviews I saw on this site. Before starting Bianca from HR remote told me think of a five start restaurant, the setup may not be five star but the kitchen is five star.
After graduating from HR, let me tell you, if you have seen Gordon Ramsays Kitchen from Hell, then that is your comparision. The owner (caught up in his own fantasy world) thinks he's five star but in reality they are serving up microwaved food. Old lectures in form of video's served up with make do chefs
What a scam!!! Pay few hundred dollars and get better and upto date lectures from pluralsight or uda or lynda as thats what's being served up.
If I could get my money back then I would be first in queue.
Current student here.
If you are the type of person who gives it its all, is willing to go the extra mile by yourself, shutup and look for your own answers while learning through video lectures mostly then you are the candidate for HR but I would argue that is a sad excuse for paying 20,000 dollars (now they lowered it to around 18000 since no one was applying) not having quality help at hand and for that much I should have just put the high gear on "Self autonomous" and do it all myself going through Free Code Camp and other resourses and making study groups on meetup.
Just pointing out last couple of reviews were negative so suspeciously in the last 2 days there have been 7 positive ones of 4-5 stars.
They sound a big shaidy if you ask me becuse in the last month they barely had 7 reviews total and 7 reviews in 2 days saying HR is the best thing in the world. Does not make sense.
I also talked with some HR alumni grads from previous cohorts and they said HR is going through some serious challenges and they are finding it hard to get a job anywhere. HR focus has shifted to squezing profits to the detrament of quality of education. It is also packed like a chicken farm.
Maybe the job market has shrinked, maybe there are a gazillion bootcamps now pumping out graduates competing for the same jobs, maybe HR quality has gone down and they are teaching outdated stuff. I think its all of the above. Latter is HR's job to fix.
And sorry but I dont buy the whole SELF AUTONOMOUS thing. I went to App Academy for their jumpstart before HR and they were so so helpful and colaborative. Its almost like HR is a stab in the back situation if you ask questions. Thats not a good learning envirenment.
HR are going through serous challenges so I would stay away until they get their act sorted.
I graduated from Hack Reactor a while ago, but to be honest I'm only writing this because a prospective student linked me to this page recently and I saw the recent negative reviews. All I can say is, wow, this person has an axe to grind. A lot of what they said is either untrue or spun in a negative way. They did a great job pointing out how to upvote the same negative review multiple times. Like I'm sure you didn't do that to your own reviews, genius.
I am a real HR alumni now working as a fulltime software engineer, and I couldn't be happier with my experience at HR. I want to make something clear: Never once were we "bribed" to leave good reviews for the program. We got a free t-shirt on the morning of graduation day, and a free hoodie using a coupon code provided without prompting, by the HR alumni coordinator to recent grads. I was never asked to leave a review for Hack Reactor — and I graduated in 2016.
Personally, Hack Reactor was one of my best life experiences to date, and I ended up with a great job to boot. From what I can tell, all of my classmates had a wonderful experience as well. If you are skeptical about the program, here's a surefire way to learn honest opinions of Hack Reactor:
Go on LinkedIn and message actual Hack Reactor alumni. There are over 2000 real, former students on there.
I did this myself before I joined and connected with some friendly, helpful people who raved about the program. Do this youself if you are skeptical. Good luck!
Edit: I want to mention that Hack Reactor, or any bootcamp for that matter, is not an easy ticket to getting a well-paying job. It requires a LOT of hard work and dedication, and I would really only recommend it if you LOVE CODING and are reasonably smart. If you don't find joy and beauty in software and algorithms, and you expect TAs to hand answers to you on a silver platter without pushing yourself to solve difficult problems, you will burn out and have a poor attitude (much like the 1-star reviewers) once you start doing it 12 hours a day.
Regarding "outdated curriculum"/"HiRs don't give me the answer!": It's clear that the person who wrote this missed the point of Hack Reactor. Sure, there are subtle differences between Node 6 and Node 7, or Express 3 or 5 or whatever. Though you will not find a company using (non-LTS) Node 7 in production, I guarantee it. But this is besides the point. These technologies are merely teaching tools in support of the real point of Hack Reactor: to learn how to be an independent, self-directed software engineer that functions well on the job. The real value of Hack Reactor is an intense, structured environment that allows you learn solid fundamentals while communicating fluently with peers and pushing yourself to become a solid, automous engineer. If you understand this, you will not give a crap about what version you're learning, because believe it or not, new software comes out all the time, and you'll have to learn it yourself. And you probably won't be using the exact same stack as HR anyway, but it doesn't matter — you'll be confident that you can find the answers and solve the problem yourself — as a real engineer must do.
My first SWE job required me to learn Java, Go, Protocol Buffers, Ember, and a host of other technologies. No, I did not have an HiR by my side as a personal tutor while I learned these things (and I didn't have to know Node 7, lol). And I didn't care, because I can learn whatever I want, and solve any difficult problem by myself. This is the real value of Hack Reactor, and it's very unfortunate that a few people seem to have missed it.
I graduated from Hack Reactor Remote program a few days ago. Hack Reactor is a great program, 17,000 dollars worth? I don’t think so.
If Hack Reactor cost 12,000 dollars the price would be right.
Hack Reactor helped me improve as a programmer in many ways but there was only one technical staff member and most of what I learned was during the project phase, during the second half of the 12 weeks; when Hack Reactor is no longer teaching students. Hack Reactor is very much a learn-it-yourself type of program. I think the 12,000 dollars is only worth it because Hack Reactor creates a rigorous learning environment, aka scheduled discipline, and because of Hack Reactor’s outcome team.
I wish Hack Reactor tried a little harder to increase diversity or change the status quo of the tech industry but at the end of the day, Hack Reactor is just another business trying to make money. If you are a woman, specifically a woman of color, I would remember that Hack Reactor is a boys club just like the rest of the tech industry so be prepared for a lot man-explaining and condensing attitudes from your male counterparts.
I had the largest female cohort of 8 out of 32 people, Hack Reactor typically has 2–3 women, sometimes only 1 woman, per cohort.
I would say pioneer on, work hard, and make sure you take advantage of the Hack Reactor remote women’s community; they are your greatest resource during the program (I can’t stress this enough).
This is a phenomenal program. I went through a Masters in Information Systems and an MBA degree, and went out to the bay and couldn't get a job in a start-up, because I didn't have the proper skills. Because of this, I went to Hack Reactor and within a week of graduation got a high paying job in a startup.
A little over six months ago my brother, a developer in SF, pushed this "Heack Reactor Remote Beta" bootcamp at me. He'd pushed various classes at me before, but this was the first I could take it from my home in MN, and with friendly-looking lending partners to help pay for it, I didn't really have any excuse not to apply. So I did. And after cramming the material they emailed me for a couple of weeks, I interviewed and somehow was accepted.
I'd also like to take a moment to respond to a couple of the negative reviews left by people who have had issues with the admissions process. It is a tough process. It has to be. The expectations for you on day one at Hack Reactor will be very high. And while the faculty is very supportive, and if they accepted you they have every intention of seeing you to the finish line, the nature of the course is a little sink-or-swim. You will have to perform at a very high level immediately. But the upside is, that by making their admissions process so challenging, they can have confidence in every one of their students.
So I'm sorry that some people have had a bad admissions experience, and it's possible that some aspects could have been handled a little better, but some of what has been said is just blatantly untrue. Most importantly, HR alumni who "can't find a job", are not hired as Hackers in Residence. Hiring decisions for HiRs are made before alumni even graduate. Those who do it are putting off their job search for 3 months, essentially extending their HR curriculum as a sort of paid intern, and the hiring percentages reflect this. It's also worth noting that Fulcrum is guided self-study. That may not be for everyone. On top of that, it sounds like some reviewers did not take full advantage of the resources Fulcrum makes available for extra help. If you do go the Fulcrum route, I highly recommend leaning on your mentors as much as they will allow. Finally, I'd like to say that reimplementing Underscore is writing actual in-use production code. Underscore is a library used by millions of developers. The problems you solve by rebuilding it are far closer to the sorts of problems you will encounter in the wild than most any other curriculum outside of HR proper.
TL;DR - If you are accepted into Hack Reactor and you are serious about making a career in software engineering, then any other choice is sub-optimal. And yes, you will get a job.
If you're reading this, then there's a good chance you're in the same position I was in a few months ago. I was someone who was very interested in making the career switch into software engineering, (previously taught high school math for 8 years) and wondered about coding bootcamps as a way to go since I wasn't in a position to go back to school for another formal degree. Like you're probably doing now, I was looking at the fact that literally every review for Hack Reactor was incredibly positive and glowing, and wondered if this could possibly be real.
Long story short - it is most definitely real. There is a very good reason why Hack Reactor markets itself as an Advanced Software Engineering Immersive, rather than as a coding bootcamp. Hack Reactor doesn't teach you how to write code - anyone can learn to do that to some extent off "Hello World" tutorials on the internet. Hack Reactor teaches you real, industry-applicable software engineering principles, then puts you to work in building real projects alongside your incredibly supportive, driven, talented, and knowledgeable peers.
I was part of the Remote Beta 7 cohort, and overall, I would have to say that it was an amazing experience. The quality of my peers in the cohort always pushed me to learn more, and everyone had a genuinely great time interacting and working with each other. The thing I was probably most surprised by was how connected I felt to everyone in the program, even though everything was done remotely. Between the countless hours spent together in Zoom lectures, Google Hangouts while working on sprints and projects, and shooting the breeze all day in Slack chat, I honestly think I probably got to know more people than I would have from doing the on-site program. So if anyone is worried that they would get a watered-down experience by doing the Remote program, I can assure you that is not at all true.
There are so many other great reviews on Hack Reactor that break down some of the details about the program that you might want to know, so I won't get into that. Instead, I'm going to answer the biggest question I had when deciding to take the plunge to leave my old career and take this leap of faith.
Will you get a job?
Hack Reactor will say, "We can't promise or guarantee any particular job outcomes." But just between you and me, YES YOU WILL GET A JOB! How do I know? I just graduated from HRR7 on September 26, and I had multiple offers to choose from, and finally signed with a company exactly 20 days after I started sending out applications. It still blows me away that less than 4 months ago, I had absolutely no professional software development experience, and yet this Monday I will be starting off as a mid-level software engineer. And while the exact timing of everyone's job search will differ, I know that my experience is not necessarily atypical. Hack Reactor gets results for their students, period.
If you're going to make this kind of investment in yourself, in terms of time/money/blood/sweat/tears, then you owe it to yourself to do Hack Reactor. There are many different choices out there, but there is not a better choice.
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
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:
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.
With HackReactors recent acquisition of Mobile Makers Academy and unveiling of their new branding of Hack Reactor Core; HackReactor is gaining the reputation as a coding bootcamp giant.
HackReactor has also changed their admissions process making it more selective than it was just six months ago. The admissions rate has since tumbled. Is this an attempted in making the Hack Reactor Core the most selective and prestigous bootcamp out there? With claims of rejecting Harvard CS majors makes one wonder whether the school is moving towards the upper esciolon of exclusitivity.
On the flip side HackReactor does spend a kings ransom on admissions and that expense is only increasing. It is the price of trying to keep true to their original vision of giving everyone a chance to learn how to program.
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.)
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.
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!
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Looking around the Hack Reactor classrooms, Albrey Brown could see a lack of diversity. As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, his team decided to do something about it, and started by auditing the demographics of past alumni and current students. After analyzing that data, Hack Reactor announced their “Vision2020” to graduate classes made up of 50/50 gender balance and 20% underrepresented people of color by Q1 of 2020. We speak with Albrey to learn more about how Hack Reactor will attract, engage, and retain diverse, technical talent. Plus, read tips on how other bootcamps can enhance their diversity and inclusion efforts!
Tell us about your role at Hack Reactor!
I’ve been the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Hack Reactor for about four months now. I founded Telegraph Academy after graduating from Hack Reactor, and my team at Telegraph Academy did a very good job of sourcing students from underrepresented backgrounds. When Hack Reactor rebranded, our entire team was absorbed back into Hack Reactor to work on diversity and inclusion efforts and grow Telegraph Track (the revamped Telegraph Academy). I've been working with the leadership team and other employees to expand those efforts to the HR staff as well.
Telegraph Track’s first big project was working with Facebook on their F8 donation – Facebook just donated $250,000 to Hack Reactor's scholarship pool to be given out over the next year. That’s 14 full rides to Hack Reactor for underrepresented future engineers! The Hack Reactor scholarship program has been a really amazing source of underrepresented talent. We looked at how that's been converting to our student population and decided that our second project had to be figuring out whether we're improving or not.
What prompted Hack Reactor to conduct the diversity and inclusion report?
Our moment of obligation came a while ago. When I went to Hack Reactor in 2014, I was one of the only African-American students out of 160 people, which is unacceptable. As an organization, we’ve always been looking to improve, but we’ve invested most of our resources externally. There are seven bootcamps that we support in terms of curriculum, financial investment, and instructional support, and they are specifically geared towards underrepresented groups. We extend scholarships and curriculum help to many community partners, so externally, we've always been about promoting diversity and inclusion.
Once my team was back on site, we realized that we were overlooking more internal efforts and that's what prompted the diversity report itself. It was very easy to walk on campus and see that it wasn’t a very diverse environment. The anecdotal evidence was there – we needed the data to support that, because data is key to change.
Were the results what you expected? Better or worse?
We didn't start the survey with a clear expectation; we know that women and people of color are definitely underrepresented. When we compare ourselves to the bootcamp industry, we only had the Course Report Outcomes & Demographics study, which says that 43% of bootcamp grads are women. And in the tech industry, African-Americans and Latinos account for 1% to 3% of engineers, so I thought anecdotally that Hack Reactor would be consistent with those stats.
Our report found that 25.2% of Hack Reactor alumni are female, 4% are African-American and 6.9% are Latinx. I didn’t want to have preconceived notions about the findings based on the tech industry; we’re an education company, not just a tech company.
This may be obvious to some, but why is diversity & inclusion important at a coding bootcamp?
Hack Reactor is a new type of funnel to the tech industry. Tech organizations are looking to diversify, because no matter their size, being diverse is good – let's be honest – from a PR standpoint, but also good for the bottom line.
For Hack Reactor, there are two reasons why this is important to us. One, the coding bootcamp industry already lends itself to diversity, because the principles that we're built on is creating nontraditional engineers. So our students have a very diverse background and perspective compared to the regular CS degree grad. We've already developed internal practices in communities that foster diversity.
We also have a business opportunity here. In your report, 43% of bootcamps graduates are women, compared to 25.2% of our alumni. For us, that's an opportunity for growth and to get better. Obviously, I haven't heard anybody say that Hack Reactor is a place where women don't thrive, but we need to do a much better job of reaching out to spaces where women are looking for a tech community.
Why do you think that gender disparity exists?
It’s tough, because like I said earlier there are no indications that women at Hack Reactor don’t thrive. Since we started making a concerted effort toward diversity and inclusion, we’ve been getting tons of feedback from women in our community and no one has said they feel “bad” or particularly “marginalized”.
However, like with everything else success comes from a strategy. For whatever reason, our customer appeal is more male leaning. This was an eye-opening realization for us and now we are reimagining how we do things from the top down. Partnering with women-focused tech organizations, creating internal communities for women, and even making changes to our marketing that make us more appealing to women. These are some ways we’ve decided to close the gap and hopefully they work for us sooner rather than later.
Why will it take until 2020 to get to 50/50 gender parity and 20% underrepresented racial groups? How will you get there?
The first piece is tracking this data. We're going to be gathering data from each part of the pipeline to see when people fall out of the pipeline, what type of people parse out the different type experiences that different types of people have at Hack Reactor, and then we can start forming specific strategies around how to help them.
Once we've added gender and ethnicity questions to our admissions application, we can see the top of the funnel and then from there we can start tracking who gets admitted and who finishes Hack Reactor, making more informed decisions to get better at recruiting.
The next step is actually working on inclusion, which means making our environment welcoming to women, people of color, and those who are underrepresented. In our in-person interview, we're adding two cultural competency questions to show applicants that this is a priority for us. We’ll ask how willing they are to learn about diversity and inclusion, and how willing they are to advocate for it. We want to make Hack Reactor a place that not only fosters diversity and inclusion, but also fosters respect for other cultures.
We’re creating spaces for underrepresented students through our Telegraph Track, which provides mentorship programs and leadership development support.
We’re also creating Alumni Affinity Groups. Every large company has Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and we’re replicating those with our alumni, so that they can create communities and networks outside of Hack Reactor.
Do you think that making the Hack Reactor classroom more diverse will benefit students?
People have lost jobs over not being culturally competent and I think it's important to highlight that. Not only is this a moral imperative that we should be invested in, but students should also be invested in it because, at the end of the day, the world is changing. This is going to be a conversation that almost every company goes through from now on. So you should invest time in thinking about these things.
After we filter out people who won't enjoy this type of thing, we also have to make it a part of our curriculum. We’re adding cultural competency education that's baked into our curriculum, which will expose the things that the majority population and the underrepresented population should be thinking about when it comes to their career as a software engineer, what it means to practice cultural competency, and also why it's important as part of your career.
Hack Reactor has always been known as the “Harvard of coding bootcamps.” Do you think that this exclusivity and perception of Hack Reactor’s low acceptance rate has contributed to the lack of diversity at the school?
I think you're right. There's a stigma around Hack Reactor that it can be very competitive and unattainable. In reality, only 5% to 10% of our students have a programming background before Hack Reactor.
One of the things that has definitely lowered that barrier to entry has been the Hack Reactor Prep Program. In January, we put out a free Hack Reactor Prep online coding module. It's basically 350 questions that tell you about everything we’re looking for in our interview process, and 85% of people who finish it pass our interview.
We can definitely change things in terms of the way we market ourselves to help us diversify the pipeline. The first thing we're going to do is ask all of our stakeholders, "What was your experience like before Hack Reactor and throughout Hack Reactor? What are the things that we need to tweak, change, and make better in order to demystify what it takes to be a Hack Reactor student?”
Telegraph Academy is reemerging as Telegraph Track – could you explain what Telegraph Track does for students and why someone from an underrepresented group needs that extra support?
To be clear, every Hack Reactor student gets the same technical training. All of the additional support through Telegraph Track is around community building. We meet 1.5 hours per week. Underrepresented students don't have the networks that the majority population does. We have people coming from so many different places – we have a student who moved here from Atlanta and didn't know anybody when he arrived. Having a network of people with a similar background, who are interested in his growth is huge for him.
Underrepresented folks also don't always have access to networks with industry knowledge. For example, they don't have a friend that they can ask for coffee and talk about working in tech. We intentionally pair those students with engineers to share that fountain of knowledge, and it gives them a leg up in terms of professional development. Next, we support their exposure. All of our Telegraph Track students write a technical blog post every week, so that they can build their brand. When you're trying to break into the tech industry, it's really important that you have a presence online to show that you can speak about yourself, particularly as an engineer.
Finally, we set up career support. We don't want this support to end at Telegraph Track, so we have an alumni community where we teach students how to be their own HR advocate. When you start your first job, how do you find the people who are going to be your mentors at your company? How do you break down biases and recognize privilege? How do you create allies? All of these things will help these students navigate the tech industry from the perspective of being underrepresented.
How are you working with employers to ensure that your graduates are being placed in diverse organizations?
We want to connect our students with companies that either have diverse teams or want to build diversity and inclusion programs. Tech organizations have been hiring from the same pool for a very long time. One of the reasons it's important that we do this at this moment in the industry, is that bootcamps are being taken seriously for one of the first times ever. For the first time, we’re hearing recruiters say, "my hiring manager told me to look for a bootcamper." Getting past that first layer of stigma was really important, because if you're an underrepresented bootcamper, then you have two layers of stigma that makes it difficult to get a job. Dissolving the first layer is awesome.
Our goal is to find those companies and audit them; ask how they’re fostering diverse environments and changing their practices. I was just on a panel at Lever, which is a really important company to me because they’re one of the first large companies to achieve 50/50 gender parity. I talk to hiring managers all the time, and I’m looking for employers who can change their perspectives on hiring. When you're looking for an experienced developer or a fresh CS grad, you’re looking for a certain skill set and for them to pass the “eye test.” They say that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, but we all know that’s not true. We want to work with employers to create systems around applicants showing their work in a non-judgemental environment. That will go a long way towards diversifying and recruiting from other pipelines.
Do you have any advice for employers who want to expand their diversity and inclusion efforts?
First, make sure that you start with a coding challenge instead of a resume. It should be about being able to do the work. Instead of having somebody submit their resume, have them submit some code to you, look over the code and then see whether that is up to whatever standard of programming that you are looking to employ. If you want to hire bootcampers in general, I suggest you get a bootcamper from your company in on the hiring process.
Lastly, you should actually go to the places where bootcampers are, and to places where underrepresented groups are. You have to show up and be actually interested. Even when we vet companies, sometimes we are duped. We’ll go on a company tour and we can see that students can actually feel that this was just charity. As an employer, you have to be authentic about wanting the talent; not tokenizing the talent.
How can other bootcamps improve their diversity efforts?
Don't wait until you're at scale! Do it early and often. And of course, if a bootcamp wants to diversify, they should put out a diversity and inclusion report. Get a baseline of measurement first, because it’s the most important thing. (Rithm School offered a diversity and inclusion scholarship, even though they’ve only had 15 students. I admire the hell out of that.)
Secondly, it's all about engaging community partners. Coding bootcamps exist in the middle of two pipelines: between organizations and prospective engineers, and also in the education pipeline. You need some pre-knowledge to do any bootcamp. There are organizations that are already supporting and creating that pre-knowledge. Code Tenderloin is one example, which is an organization that we’re working with to build a bridge program to Hack Reactor. We need to invest our resources into those community partners, and tap into them to give our resources and share knowledge so that their students have a chance to go to Hack Reactor.
Finally, always get feedback from every group at your school. If you keep asking the same type of person whether they're enjoying the course, then you’re only going to get one point of view.
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How does a Financial Intelligence Analyst become a Software Engineer? For Dan Svorcan, it took thorough research, self-confidence, and a lot of prep work before he even started the Software Engineering Immersive at Hack Reactor. After being surrounded by engineers in Silicon Valley and realizing he wanted to pursue his childhood tech dreams, Dan enrolled in Hack Reactor Prep to start his journey. Learn about Dan’s ReactNative thesis application and how he prepared for Hack Reactor’s full-time Software Engineering Immersive.
What were you up to before you attended Hack Reactor?
I studied Competitive Intelligence and Music. My first job after college was here in San Francisco. I worked as a financial intelligence analyst at a bank not too far from Hack Reactor headquarters. I worked there for about a year and seven months before I started Hack Reactor.
How did you go from working in financial intelligence at a bank to then deciding that you wanted to learn how to code?
I’ve always wanted to work in technology. As a little kid, I was always more interested in opening up my battery-powered toys and seeing how they worked than actually playing with them. Putting them back together was also a fun challenge. I also spent some time coding in college. I took a Java class, and from that moment I knew I wanted to be a software engineer.
Since coming to San Francisco, I've met many software engineers. Their stories inspired me to pursue my passion for building software, so I started doing research on the best schools out there, and Hack Reactor kept reappearing. With my background in intelligence, I did thorough research to verify that Hack Reactor was the best option.
Did you try to start learning how to code on your own before Hack Reactor? What resources were you using?
Yes, definitely. I was using Code School, Codecademy, and FreeCodeCamp, among other things. My main segue into Hack Reactor was Fulcrum, an earlier version of Hack Reactor’s paid prep program. As I was finishing Fulcrum, Hack Reactor started offering the free Prep course and I enrolled to get more practice before my admissions interview. There were over 150 exercises to practice on along with great tutorials on how to prepare for the technical interview.
So you had already done prep work, why did you decide to take Hack Reactor Prep?
The main feature that drew me to Prep was a team of software engineers that reviewed every line of code I wrote for certain modules (chapters). I sent my code back and forth, up to five or six times until my formatting was correct, or until my code was small and modularized enough that it was easily reusable. These days, I still follow those rules when I write code.
Prep also offered mock interviews, which were amazing because nothing can truly replace the live interview experience. I think that having multiple mock interviews before my technical interview was very helpful, and made the entire process a lot less stressful.
To summarize, the human interaction and the mock interviews are the best parts of the prep program.
Since Hack Reactor Prep is online, how did you communicate with instructors and mentors?
There was a dedicated Slack channel for student/instructor communication. There was constant interaction with instructors, especially when we were learning about code formatting, readability, and modularity. For example, the main task would be to find the longest palindrome, but the solution would not be accepted until code was properly formatted, easy to read, etc.
What did you actually learn in the Prep course? How did Prep position you for the Software Engineering Immersive application and interview process? Do you think you would have gotten in without all of the prep work?
I learned a lot, but I think two most important things were how to better prepare for a technical interview and how to write clean code.
I truly believe that all the prep work (especially the mock interviews) had a great impact on my interview performance and admission into the Hack Reactor Software Engineering Immersive. The prep program was designed in such a unique way that every step of the way I felt more prepared for the interview.
How did Hack Reactor Prep prepare you for the actual Software Engineering Immersive?
I was offered admission into the software engineering immersive before I completed the prep course, so I had made a tremendous amount of progress even before the course was over. For example, I’m still using some of the skills I learned during the prep work (e.g. clean and modular code). Additionally, everything I learned in the prep program was later multiplied and enhanced during the software engineering immersive.
Tell us about a typical day in Hack Reactor’s full-time Software Engineering Immersive.
On a typical day, I get here around 8am, and I start doing either some quick coding problems or continue where I left off yesterday. At 9am, the day starts with a 15-minute kickoff and maybe a lecture, depending on the day. Usually, there’s a Toy Problem after the kickoff. Toy problems prepare students for technical interview problems during the job search.
How have you liked this bootcamp learning-style so far?
Hack Reactor is very different from any other school really. I was expecting something similar to college-style learning, where students attend a lecture, then learn more on their own before taking an exam. Hack Reactor doesn't work that way; it’s way more efficient.
During the first six weeks of the course (also known as Junior phase), we had lectures regularly– but instead of simply learning what was presented, we went beyond the lecture material and then applied it. Each lecture had a corresponding sprint, which is a technical challenge structured to reinforce a topic or technology (e.g. Angular, React, MySQL, etc).
During the second six weeks (Senior phase), there are fewer lectures. Instead, we work on projects that tie together everything we learned up to that point, and more. We focus on teamwork, larger scale of the applications, and efficient workflow.
Do you have a favorite project that you're working on now? Tell us about it!
Right now I'm working on my thesis application. My team and I are building an app for iOS and Android using React Native.
We're building PixPlorer, an interactive tour guide app designed to help travelers explore new cities. Let’s say you come to visit San Francisco; you’d probably want to see cable cars. Our app gives you a list of things to see or visit, so once you find a cable car, you have to take a photo of it and it will get checked off your list. The app uses image recognition to verify you took a photo of the cable car, and geolocation to determine which particular item needs to be marked as complete (e.g. California Street cable car vs Powell Street cable car). The app will be deployed soon so feel free to check out my GitHub page and the demo video. Some of the technologies we’re using for the app are React Native, Redux, Google Firebase, Google Vision, Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, MySQL, Bookshelf, MongoDB, Mongoose, Mocha, Chai, etc.
What’s your goal for after graduation? What types of jobs will you be looking for?
I’d like to focus on full stack software engineering roles after graduation. I’ve worked on every part of the stack, and I find it really exciting and rewarding to work on both front and back end.
What's been the biggest challenge for you on your journey to learn how to code?
My biggest roadblock was probably believing that this was possible. There are numerous articles about impostor syndrome in the tech industry where people who are really great engineers somehow still doubt themselves. Hack Reactor teaches not only technical skills but how to resolve all doubts and eliminate the impostor syndrome.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about switching careers, and thinking about attending a coding bootcamp?
There are really talented people out there that never go to a program like Hack Reactor because they have doubts. Yes, you do have to quit your job, pay for school, be out of work for three months, and then spend some time on the job hunt after graduation. But doing something you're really passionate about is worth every risk. I'm excited to get to work every single day and I would recommend Hack Reactor 150%.
Here’s what we found ourselves reading and discussing in the Course Report office in February 2017! We found out the three most in-demand programming languages, we read about how coding could be the new blue collar job, and looked at how new schools are tweaking the bootcamp model to fit their communities. Plus, we hear about a cool app for NBA fans built by coding bootcamp graduates! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
What were you up to before you applied for the Hack Reactor Scholarship?
Did you find that music and audio engineering was similar to programming?
Why did you decide that a coding bootcamp was your best option to learn programming? Did you consider getting another college degree?
I've been self-teaching for about a year, so this is something I thought about for a while. I briefly considered another degree, but I knew it would take too long. Plus, I felt jaded toward the university experience after getting my BS. To me, the risk to reward ratio of a coding bootcamp made sense – being pushed extremely hard while learning to code for 3 months and then getting the results that Hack Reactor publishes felt like a great deal. Originally, I thought I could work in a finance-related role at a tech company and horizontally pivot into a technical role, but I found I was getting burnt out coming home and learning for five to six hours, all while handling a day-job. I’m hoping my experience at Hack Reactor will fill in any knowledge gaps that I may have as I make a final push to get into an engineering role. Additionally, I realized that I needed the intangibles that a bootcamp could provide – the immersive structure, and the network of instructors and other passionate students who share the same objective as I do.
Did you research other coding bootcamps? What stood out about Hack Reactor?
I looked at General Assembly and CodeSmith. But I had a friend go through Hack Reactor who said good things about it and I watched him get placed at a company after he graduated, so I picked his brain. Plus, some of the prominent people that I follow on Twitter had been through the same track at Hack Reactor. After doing my research, I really felt that Hack Reactor was one of the top coding bootcamps for me, and if I was going to devote so much time and energy to this, I wanted to be around the best students and teachers.
In the beginning, I started with a few Udacity MOOCs, but as time progressed, I built a hybrid system that worked for me. I used pretty much anything if it was good. One thing I felt was helpful were written tutorials by developers on Medium. I followed knowledgeable engineers on Twitter. I found amazing resources on YouTube and would listen to the free classes provided by MIT on OpenCourseWare. Everyone learns differently, so I was just trying to be like Neo from The Matrix and “plug-in” to the tech community in a lot of different ways.
My local community was also extremely important. I went to several NodeSchool meetups and met people there who I'm still in touch with. Not to mention, meeting people at meetups helps you gauge your own competency, understand what level you’re on, and find areas where you can improve.
Did that self-teaching get you through your technical interview at Hack Reactor?
For the Hack Reactor scholarship, applicants have to make a two-minute video! What was yours about?
The point of that video is to teach something in a two-minute video. At first, I was going to teach my viewers something generic, like how to cook a recipe, but I felt that it wouldn’t fully tell my story. So instead, I gave a high-level overview on how to sample music. I spent two minutes explaining and demonstrating how to sample Crave You by Flight Facilities. I couldn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked, but I was able to briefly explain how sampled music is created. I tried to make my video educational, intriguing, and most importantly something that told my story.
When do you start your cohort?
I will be starting January 31st at the LA campus.
How have you started preparing for Hack Reactor?
I’ve also been letting my friends and family know that I’m starting Hack Reactor and it’s going to be taking a lot of my time for the next few months. But they’ve all been watching my journey and know how passionate I am about this, so I think they’ll understand when I go off the grid.
Do you have specific career goals after you graduate? Do you want to stay involved in music?
I’d like to work for a startup where I can get my hands dirty. I’m open to working for any company with a product that I’m passionate about. For example, Splice is a start-up based in Santa Monica, and they provide workflow tools for musicians and producers. I love the founder’s vision and what he does for the community. Stem is another startup that’s working on paying artists and producers their streaming music royalties using the blockchain; that looks interesting.
I’m passionate about music, but I have other interests as well! I went to school for finance, so ideally I’ll find a job that’s in my realm of interests or is a combination of the two.
Any advice for future bootcamp applicants?
Don't get discouraged! I can easily think of the many sleepless nights I had being frustrated as I dealt with all the new information. I knew where I wanted to be in my career, but it felt so daunting – I guess that’s what they call Imposter Syndrome – and I couldn't see the path to get to where I wanted to be. Tap into all of your resources; Twitter is the reason I found out about the Hack Reactor scholarship! Albrey Brown retweeted an announcement about the scholarship, and that's the reason I applied. Attend meetups and meet people; I’ve found the programming community to be extremely beginner friendly. It’s amazing how many resources are available at the click of a button or just by asking.
Also remember that learning is a lifelong process. I still have and will continue to have days where I get stuck, but as long as I'm getting better and progressing, I can feel content that I’m growing as a person and as a developer.
It’s that time again! A time to reflect on the year that is coming to an end, and a time to plan for what the New Year has in store. While it may be easy to beat yourself up about certain unmet goals, one thing is for sure: you made it through another year! And we bet you accomplished more than you think. Maybe you finished your first Codecademy class, made a 30-day Github commit streak, or maybe you even took a bootcamp prep course – so let’s cheers to that! But if learning to code is still at the top of your Resolutions List, then taking the plunge into a coding bootcamp may be the best way to officially cross it off. We’ve compiled a list of stellar schools offering full-time, part-time, and online courses with start dates at the top of the year. Five of these bootcamps even have scholarship money ready to dish out to aspiring coders like you.Continue Reading →
Welcome to our last monthly coding bootcamp news roundup of 2016! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends we’re talking about in the office. This December, we heard about a bootcamp scholarship from Uber, employers who are happily hiring bootcamp grads, investments from New York State and a Tokyo-based staffing firm, diversity in tech, and as usual, new coding schools, courses, and campuses!Continue Reading →
In our recent Student Outcomes survey, alumni reported that they were working in over 650 different companies! Of course, you may have read recent press citing companies like Google who apparently aren’t willing to invest in junior technical talent from coding bootcamps (we happen to know that coding bootcamp grads have been hired at Google and Salesforce, but that’s not the point)... Here we’re highlighting 8 forward-thinking companies who are psyched about the bootcamp alumni on their engineering teams. Each of these employers have hired multiple developers, and are seeing their investment pay off.Continue Reading →
Have you heard the news? MakerSquare and Telegraph Academy’s network of schools are rebranded as Hack Reactor Austin, Hack Reactor Los Angeles, Hack Reactor San Francisco and Hack Reactor New York City. But what exactly does this mean for MakerSquare and Telegraph Academy alumni, current students, staff, and future students? We asked the Hack Reactor team to answer our questions about how this merger will affect tuition, admissions, curriculum, culture, and reviews.Continue Reading →
Should I do a coding bootcamp? This is a question we hear all the time, and for good reason. As more coding bootcamps launch (not to mention the rising media coverage), you’re probably wondering, “should I jump on the bandwagon and learn to code?” A recent TechCrunch article implored you not to learn to code unless you’re ready to put in the work to be great, whereas President Obama wants every student to learn computer science in high school. So what types of people are opting for coding bootcamps? And should you be one of them?Continue Reading →
Cisco has hired a number of Hack Reactor grads (almost half of their CTAO engineering team are alumni), and finds that they are “so well prepared and ready to hit the ground running.” We spoke to Cisco Director of Experience Design Dustin Beltramo and Technical Leader Joe Sutton about what they look for in a new coding bootcamp hire, why skill set is more important than having a degree, and what stands out about Hack Reactor alumni compared to other candidates.
Tell us about Cisco and your roles there.
Dustin: I’m a Director of Experience Design in the Chief Technology and Architecture Office (CTAO) at Cisco. I manage a small team of visual designers and design strategists, and work closely with our lead engineer (Joe) to hire front-end and full-stack developers. As I’m sure you know, Cisco’s a large company with about 70,000 employees worldwide. The CTAO org is basically an innovation team, consisting of a bunch of architects and distinguished engineers from across Cisco who partner with customers to build proof of concepts for new technologies and products -- typically things like cloud service orchestration, security, analytics, IoT, and software-defined networking. When the POCs (POC = Proof of Concept) prove that there’s a market for a new product, we transition the project to the relevant mainline engineering team within Cisco to be productized. The Experience Design team supports the CTAO org by designing and implementing the front-ends for these co-innovation projects.
Joe: I’m a Technical Leader, my main role is to architect/lead the engineers on all the projects we implement. I work closely with the designers, various backend teams providing APIs, and when the time comes I work with the mainline engineering to transition the projects over.
How large is the development team?
11 engineers at the moment, four of whom are Hack Reactor grads.
How did you get connected with Hack Reactor as an employer?
Joe was recommended to Hack Reactor by a friend at his last company. While there, they had good success in finding top quality candidates. So when the time came to expand the engineering team, we decided to give Hack Reactor a try.
What types of roles have you hired Hack Reactor graduates for at Cisco?
Software engineer, primarily front-end and web-centric.
Other than Hack Reactor, how do you usually hire developers at Cisco? What are you looking for in a new hire?
There are a lot of coding bootcamp alumni looking for jobs now - of the Hack Reactor grads that you actually hired, what stood out about them?
It’s really their capabilities, the quality of their code, and their attitude. These days, most front-end and full-stack engineer resumes look the same, everyone lists the same set of frameworks and tools and whatnot. We’ve found the only way to really gauge a candidate is by the quality of the code they write. Since the Hack Reactor folks have their final projects and other work available on GitHub, it’s easy to get a sense for what type of developer they’re going to be. On top of that, the Hack Reactor program seems to prepare students exceptionally well, they have a good sense of what it’s like to work on a modern web development project.
I’m assuming that your hires from Hack Reactor went through a technical interview. How did they do?
Yes, definitely, there’s no other way to really guarantee that an engineer knows what they’re talking about. We do not modify our process for bootcamp grads. The partnership definitely makes things more efficient, by reducing some of the administrative overhead associated with the interview process.
Has it ever been a concern for you that these new developers don’t have a traditional computer science degree?
Not at all. We hire people based on their demonstrated skill set, not on any particular degree or certification.
Hack Reactor provides us with great support and consistently delivers a pool of candidates who are exceptionally well-prepared for the type of development work our team does.
How do you ensure that the new hires are supported as they continue to learn after they graduate from Hack Reactor? Do you have mentoring or apprenticeship programs in place?
Yes, the lead engineer provides ongoing mentoring, there are regular knowledge-sharing activities amongst the team, as well as providing opportunities to attend industry conferences and training. Oddly enough the Hack Reactor grads themselves can also act as mentors. Many of the teams we work with were trained as strictly backend engineers and so they are not up-to-date with the latest cloud-native web app techniques and technology. The work our Hack Reactor grads do with other teams helps to spread that knowledge more broadly within Cisco.
Are there any interesting stories about Hack Reactor hires that have advanced in their career?
We don’t have any particularly interesting stories, but we know that programs like Hack Reactor have had a very positive impact on most of the people that have gone through the programs. We’ve interviewed over thirty candidates and seen people from all walks of life, which you don’t always see from traditional new hire candidates. We’ve seen people with degrees in Computer Science, Law, Theater, Philosophy, History… the list goes on. Everyone we asked, why they joined Hack Reactor, all responded that they were looking to improve their quality of life, and were very happy they went through the program.
Do you have a feedback loop with Hack Reactor at all? Are you able to influence their curriculum if you notice your dev hires are underperforming in a certain area?
We provide feedback on every candidate we interview and hire. We haven’t really seen any systemic deficiencies. But the folks we work with at Hack Reactor are very open and responsive, I wouldn’t hesitate to approach them if we noticed an issue that needed to be addressed.
Will you hire from Hack Reactor in the future? Why or why not?
They are our first choice! The grads are so well-prepared, they come in and hit the ground running, that’s really what we’re looking for.
What is your advice to other employers who are thinking about hiring from a coding bootcamp or from Hack Reactor in particular?
First, not all coding boot camps are created equal. We would recommend talking to colleagues in the industry who have experience with the various programs. We wouldn’t hesitate to hire grads from the best boot camps, especially Hack Reactor. We find the students are highly motivated and excel in their work, and their training is top-notch. They may seem inexperienced on paper, comparatively, but the best coding bootcamps simulate a real world software development environment for their students, and that experience is incredibly valuable.
What is your advice to future Hack Reactor grads that are interested in opportunities at Cisco?
Please apply, we need you! Cisco is in the midst of an exciting transition from its hardware-centric roots to a future based on software and services. We need the skillset of Hack Reactor grads now more than ever. If you apply to a team that is fully embracing this cloud-centric future, your skills will be a huge asset, and you’ll have the chance to make a big impact, even on a company the size of Cisco.
Welcome to the August 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to big fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month the biggest news is the Department of Education's EQUIP pilot program to provide federal financial aid to some bootcamp students. Other trends include job placement outcomes, the gender imbalance in tech, acquisitions and investments, and paying for bootcamp. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
Many competitive coding bootcamps require a certain level of coding knowledge or background in order to be accepted into their programs- whether they’re looking for past experience on your resume or require that you pass a coding challenge. For a beginner, it can be tough to get the experience that a selective bootcamp looks for in the application process. There are many ways to learn basic coding (including teaching yourself) but if you want to make sure you’re covering the right material and quickly, then a bootcamp prep program may be for you.Continue Reading →
While a number of coding bootcamps have published their own student outcomes, Reactor Core recently released SSOM, a methodology for calculating job placement outcomes that they’re encouraging other bootcamps to adopt. As the coding bootcamp industry grows, transparency in marketing practices becomes integral to the success of the industry, so we spoke to Reactor Core CCO Shawn Drost about their Standard Student Outcome Methodology (SSOM), the (un)importance of auditing outcomes, and how Reactor Core calculated Hack Reactor’s 98% Hiring Rate with an average starting salary of $104K.
Shawn, what’s your role at Reactor Core?
I'm a Co-Founder of Hack Reactor, the San Francisco bootcamp. In 2015, we also started Reactor Core, which is a network of coding bootcamps made up of Hack Reactor, MakerSquare, Telegraph Academy and others. Now my official title is Chief Commercial Officer of Reactor Core.
As part of Reactor Core’s efforts, you’ve now released the Standard Student Outcome Methodology (SSOM). Tell us what SSOM is about.
SSOM is a document that helps coding bootcamps calculate a placement rate. If a school is focused on helping people get jobs as developers, then it's very important to communicate that success to the public. Hack Reactor and our other Reactor Core schools have all communicated placement rates from Day One, but over time, it became important to formally document what that means and how we calculate that number.
So what does go into the Placement Rate? Isn’t it simply the number of graduates who get jobs as developers?
People think that number is really straightforward, but it turns out there are a lot of edge cases. We have to think about who counts in the numerator and in the denominator, how to deal with international students, and how to count graduates who the school employs afterward, etc. How do you deal with somebody who gets a short term, part time contract?
People can disagree about how all of these things work, and it's really important to be transparent. In its infancy, the bootcamp industry has not really done that. And to be fair, neither have law schools, which are now in their adulthood.
You've been running a coding bootcamp for three years- what are some of the challenges that you faced as a bootcamp founder in reporting outcomes?
It's not especially difficult for the coding bootcamp industry to keep track of student outcomes, and this conversation is broader than the bootcamp industry. It turns out, the entire higher ed system is bad at keeping track of student outcomes. When Reactor Core started building SSOM, the first thing we did is look at existing standards that are in place at law schools. It turns out the existing standards are very haphazard.
Did you look at College Scorecard when designing SSOM?
We did -- College Scorecard has a great approach that we can't implement on our own. The government basically pulls the tax records of students, so they have great salary data for all alumni. This is an approach we've recommended to the state of California, and they're looking at it.
So should there be different outcomes rubrics for different types of schools?
About 90% of coding bootcamps are organized on the promise of "you want a job as a developer. We'll get you there." And for any school that is set up like that, they should have the same basic principles that powers SSOM. It’s very strict in that it has a narrow view of what counts as success -- it only counts jobs with “engineer” in the title, and does not count edge cases like “what if I went back to my old job and did some coding”, or “what if I got a job like ‘product manager’ that’s tangentially related to coding.
But SSOM is not appropriate for a school that consciously decides it has different values. If Startup Institute, for instance, decides that they value a diversity of outcomes and they’re explicitly clear about that to students throughout the admissions process, then I think there's room for a different type of outcomes rubric.
How many schools in the US qualify to use SSOM to report outcomes?
Most of them. Any coding bootcamp that predominantly markets itself as "we can move you into software jobs" should take that as a principal that they count coding jobs as success, and they don't count jobs in other fields as success.
When designing SSOM, how important do you find auditing in the validity of success outcomes?
Zero percent. And we got our own Hack Reactor report audited through Frank, Rimerman Rimerman + Co. LLP; they did great work.
So you'd say transparency is more important than auditing?
I think that it's important to build consumer trust through as many mechanisms as possible. I think auditing is likely to catch only the very worst cases of outright fraud, and I don't think that audits are a very effective system for ensuring that students are being served well.
The problem is that there's an inherent conflict of interest when you have a bootcamp paying a supposedly independent third party who to hold that bootcamp accountable.
How about coding bootcamps that are “accredited” or “approved” by a government body (ie. the BPPE in California)? Does that mean anything about their outcomes?
The State would be the first to tell you that they don't have any means of tracking student outcomes in a rigorous way. We are in close touch with the California government, and when they asked for employment data and we started digging a little bit deeper, we found that the government knows that this is a complicated process. We had to write SSOM from scratch because there was no such document already.
They don't have any of the funding or the operational bandwidth to assess the validity of a school’s self-reported employment rate, so the state doesn’t validate it. They send out a data request and then publish what the schools send back. But look through that data- there are typos and numbers that don't add up when you page through the government’s list of vocational programs in California.
The government doesn’t have an accreditation process; they have a “permission to operate” process, where they determine whether or not you have the facilities and curriculum to run a coding bootcamp. Everyone I’ve spoken with is a dedicated public servant who really wants to do a good job, and I think they would also be the first to say that they have no idea whether or not a coding bootcamp curriculum is “good.” They’re looking at whether the school has the financial wherewithal to issue refunds, if the school has a fax machine, a library, etc.
So SSOM has been used to actually calculate and publish Hack Reactor and Hack Reactor Remote’s outcomes in the form of a Cohort Report. When will we see Cohort Reports for MakerSquare, Operation Spark, Telegraph Academy, etc?
We are on track for that- keep an eye out for announcements.
How long does it take a school to use SSOM in order to actually create the Cohort Report?
If your dataset is really neat and the number of students is pretty small, it could take as little as 5-10 hours.
How heavy is the burden of documentation on the school?
It's pretty substantial, because the documentation part of this assessment process is probably the hardest.
There's two phases for schools that adopt SSOM. This first report is published in “Onboarding Mode,” which basically means that the school is collecting all of the hard data (anything that a third party created or signed- for example, offer letters).
“Compliance Mode” is when the school is sending out confirmation surveys to students.
What is your advice to a new coding bootcamp who values outcomes and wants to start the process of reporting their student outcomes?
We designed SSOM specifically around the fact that a school will not necessarily have all the data required by a methodology that Reactor Core just wrote in the last year. Any school can start using SSOM today, and there's a grace period to get your operations in order. Reactor Core also has a standing offer on our website to help onboard any school with SSOM at cost, and that includes whatever kind of support we can offer in terms of assembling the actual report.
Have any schools taken you up on that offer?
We don't have any announcement about that yet.
Skills Fund is attempting to get schools to come to consensus on an outcomes methodology. From those early meetings, do you think that SSOM could potentially just be adopted by Skills Fund or by all schools?
What we want is for the industry to have good standards and for consumers to have access to apples to apple comparisons. The goal of the Skills Fund process is not to produce a document like SSOM- it is to produce a methodology minus the documentation standards.
SSOM is both a methodology for calculation and a set of documentation standards. I think it's correct for Skills Fund to first accomplish an easier set of standards given that they're trying to bring more coding bootcamps to the table.
Then would Hack Reactor theoretically also adopt that methodology if other schools agree on it?
Yeah. I'll say that if it is too flimsy for us to stand on, then we will try to kill it in committee. So far, though, the results are promising. Skills Fund is not our first or second methodology that we attempted to get adopted. I would love it if Skills Fund is successful and we will switch over.
Could an online school use SSOM?
Totally. An online school does use SSOM- Hack Reactor Remote!
Does it worry you that schools like DevMountain, NYCDA, and Hackbright Academy are now being acquired by for-profit education companies?
It is definitely two different worlds colliding. I don't really know yet. For-profit education companies certainly have a bad reputation, but I have a more nuanced view of that than others. And I think that generally, the safest person to trust with a responsibility is the person who just destroyed that thing. I'm at least curious to see what happens with the outcomes for those schools.
Why should students be concerned with seeing outcomes at coding bootcamps?
The first thing that a student should know is that we're in the early days of an industry that luckily is taking outcomes seriously. We care in a way that you don’t see even for other career-track programs like law schools. That’s lucky for students!
The bad news is that when it comes to bootcamp employment statistics, there's not an apples to apples comparison right now, and different schools are in varying stages of taking their personal responsibilities seriously. Students should look at how each school calculates its placement rates and you should continue to speak to alumni when you are making your decision process. I encourage students to put pressure on schools that are not explaining how they calculated their placement rates. Tell them that it matters to you.
If I were a student right now, I would almost abandon the attempt to get an apples to apples comparison and instead just look at the rigor of how specifically schools can answer questions and whether or not there is a document that explains it. That's a pretty meaningful signal.
To learn more about the Reactor Core network of schools, read Hack Reactor reviews, MakerSquare reviews, and Telegraph Academy reviews on Course Report. To check out Hack Reactor’s Student Outcomes, here is their 2015 report.
Welcome to the July 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to big fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month the biggest trends this month are initiatives to increase the diversity in tech, some huge investments in various bootcamps, and more tech giants launching their own coding classes. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
I heard you were recently at the White House talking about the New Orleans tech scene. Tell us what you were up to!
I was at the White House to talk at the Police Data Initiative event. A nonprofit coding school here in New Orleans called Operation Spark held a hackathon July 2015 focused on the White House Police Data Initiative. We worked alongside the New Orleans Police Department, City Hall Officials, and people from the community – developers and new coders. They released the police data and opened it to us, then we were able to hack on it, create applications, and do data visualizations.
Then we gave the police department feedback on how they could improve the data to be consumable by the public. They took our feedback and released the data in February this year. Representatives from police departments were there to discuss how we could do better in the future. Police departments from around the country agreed to the Police Data Initiative, and pledged to work hard to make their data open to the public.
Well done! What was your background before Hack Reactor Remote and before you even got into coding?
I'm from St. Louis, but I came to New Orleans in 2010 for college. I studied physics and math for two years at Loyola University. My original plan was to finish at Loyola University, with a degree in Math and Physics, and a degree in Engineering, then to go into software engineering. But I wasn't able to finish school for financial reasons.
I stayed in New Orleans and worked in sales for a couple of years and some other odd jobs. I've always been really interested in computers and learning how to code. When I was introduced to Operation Spark, my learning-to-code journey started.
Once you were at Operation Spark, what made you want to enroll in Hack Reactor?
When I got to Operation Spark- even before then- I was really excited about the opportunity. Then when I actually started learning how to code, I fell in love with it. I would be up really late working on projects. John Fraboni, the CEO and founder of Operation Spark, always tells a story about how he would get pings and notifications of me doing my work at 12am, 1am, 2am in the morning, just going at it. I fell in love with it and I didn't really know what next steps to take, but John told me about Hack Reactor and said that it was an awesome program. I just trusted in the process and went along with it.
What was the application and interview process like for the Hack Reactor Remote program?
When I did it, you had to apply online. There was a small coding challenge before you could apply, which encourages you to go Codecademy to teach yourself the basics. Then they give you materials to study in order to prepare for your interview. They set you up for an interview with their team over Skype. You’re asked a bunch of questions to test your knowledge and test how well you do on the spot with new problems.
Did you find that the class you did at Operation Spark really helped you with that application process?
Yeah, it helped a lot. Operation Spark gave me that initial drive and the initial idea that I could succeed in this field. You’re surrounded by people who are already software engineers in the city – their CEO John is actually a software engineer as well. Being in that environment gave me a lot of drive and excitement about what I could achieve because of who I was surrounded by.
What was the overall learning experience like while learning through Hack Reactor Remote?
It was crazy. I had to get used to working 11 hours a day and 6 days a week. People compare it to "drinking through a fire hose.” There's all this information in short, typically two-day sprints, which force you to learn at a rapid pace, and also not be distracted. You learn how to use your resources very, very wisely so that you can get to the end of each sprint. Once you get past the first two days, it's just craziness. In a good way, though!
And what was a typical day like when you were studying?
Typically there's a morning meeting, and then you have self-assessments every week. Then you pair, get your assignment, and it's solo reviewing of the sprint – what you're going to be doing, figuring out the basic requirements, and the time to start coding it. Afterwards you get with your partner and just pair all day long. In the evening, people do a short presentation on some type of technology. After that, you do more pair programming, and then obviously lunch and dinner are in there as well.
What kind of learning platform were you using? How do you stay on track?
A team from Hack Reactor- including full-time software engineers and students from the Hacker in Residence Program- built this platform called Bookstrap. It has the whole curriculum and everything else you need – resources, videos, and lectures.
Did you have just one instructor or were you interacting with a lot of different instructors?
There is a mixture of lab lectures and video lectures, so we had different instructors for the lab lectures and the video lectures. Then you have your technical mentors. There were two or three technical mentors who did town hall meetings during and after every sprint. Town Halls are 20-30 minute sessions where you can ask questions and clear the air on any confusion. We interacted regularly with different people, but they get familiar quickly because you are there all the time.
You were mentioning doing a lot of pairing. Were you paired up with the same person throughout or did you alternate?
No, you alternate. We had about 20 people in the class which gave room to pair with almost everybody over that time, and then towards the end of the class, you get to pick your own pair.
It sounds like you got to know the other people in your class quite well. Where were they from and what kind of backgrounds did they have?
They were from all over. One guy was from Poland. Our “shepherd” from the Hacker in Residence program, who made sure we were okay, was from Switzerland. I had classmates from Korea, and from all over the US. When I later went into The Hacker in Residence Program, that class had a guy in Brazil.
Some people find it easier to learn to code in-person, but Hack Reactor Remote sounds like it works even though you're far away from all the people you're learning with.
It works really well. The reason that it works is because you have to try a bit harder. The people aren't right next to you when you pair, so you have to work around their problems. Working with people who are in different time zones than you is a whole different problem to solve. Also, from the amount of time I spent in pair programming; I have close friends who I've never met in person. During Hack Reactor- especially during the job phase of Hacker in Residence- we talked all the time and shared notes. We still talk all the time in our Slack channels. I think in-person is an awesome experience, but I don't think anybody should rule out the remote experience either because it was great. We had a lot of fun.
How many hours per week were you spending on Hack Reactor work on top of the compulsory 11 hours a day?
During Hack Reactor, the first six weeks is the curriculum phase and then the next six weeks is the project phase. For me, being in Central Time Zone, class was from 11am to 10pm. During the curriculum phase, I would stay up for a couple hours after class, but I would try to get my sleep because this was new and I wanted to make sure I was functioning properly. Unless I was way behind on a sprint or something, then I would stay up. But during project phase and our thesis project, I was up all night. I would go home, and I'd be up working on my thesis project from about the time I got home around 11am to sometimes 4am.
Did you work on Hack Reactor Remote from home or did you find another space?
Since I was had done an in-person class at Operation Spark, they let me and six other people from Operation Spark do the Hack Reactor remote program together in a room. That was really awesome. In the very beginning they tried not to pair us together so we still had to have that remote experience.
I’m excited to take a look at your thesis project- could you share your screen now?
Yes, for sure. I worked on an actual company called Culturalyst. The idea was thought up before Hack Reactor by Sam Bowler, our CEO and founder. We then started building the project during the thesis phase in Hack Reactor and continued working on it. Our product now looks a lot different than our presentation did back then because we’ve been revamping it and building on that infrastructure. We’re going to release it to public, which I'm excited about!
Our team was Mykia Smith, Alice Green, Alon Robinson, Ryan Baskell, Brian Kustra, Victor York, and Sam Bowler, and our product is Culturalyst. Culturalyst is the LinkedIn for artists, where users can find artists they love and fans can directly support artists. Watch below:
That's such an awesome project. So you started working on this for your thesis project and you’ve continued working on it after you graduated?
Yes. It slowed down a bit because some people went into the job search and others were in the Hacker in Residence program, but now we have reassembled. We were actually all in New Orleans together at Operation Spark. We're looking at adding more team members so we can finish the functionality and release it to the public.
What technologies did you use?
We used Angular, Node Express, SQL for our database, and now we're migrating to PostgreSQL. It took about three to four weeks.
Looking back over your time at Hack Reactor Remote, what did you like best about Hack Reactor Remote?
Everything. The staff were awesome. The head of delivery, Liz Penny, is such a character. In our meetings we had “meow offs” where somebody begins meowing a song, and they have to keep meowing it until somebody guesses what the song is.
Because Liz is the head of delivery, her energy transfers to everyone else and makes it a really fun, supportive, and encouraging environment. All the people I met are just awesome. Also, I love Hack Reactor because they taught us how to learn. I don't know everything, but I'm confident that if I have a problem, I can find the resources and figure out how to solve it.
What was your first step when you graduated from Hack Reactor Remote?
I went into the Hacker in Residence program. Since I was part of Operation Spark, the in-person remote, they selected me to help pilot an experiment in Mountain View, California where we opened an onsite extension to the remote program. There were two Hackers in Residence, and a couple of students on site doing the remote program together.
We were called “shepherds” and were in charge of ensuring the success of the onsite and the remote students. We were figuring out if and how will this remote learning works, and reporting that back. We also got feedback from students on how they felt about the program.
After that, I came back to New Orleans in April, went to the White House, then really hunkered down in my job search. And this past Monday, I started working at GE Digital.
Congratulations! What are you doing at GE Digital?
I'm a front end developer. GE Digital is moving into the industrial internet of things. Have you seen a GE commercials lately? They're just making fun of how everybody thinks of GE as an appliance company. But they're trying to let the world know that they've entered the industrial revolution. I will be working on their industrial IOT platform, called Predicts, and building cool stuff on that.
Did Hack Reactor help you with that job search process to find this job?
Yeah. My outcomes coach was phenomenal. She had a lot of experience working with CEOs of companies. She brought that level of expertise to Hack Reactor and helped me in my overall confidence, my negotiation skills, presenting myself as who I am and the value that I'll bring to a company. That was really awesome to work with her and pinpoint those things.
She looked over my resume, and the emails I was sending to different companies. I could hit her up and say, “Hey, I'm about to reply to this company, I don't know what to say,” and she would make suggestions on my emails. It was an awesome experience working with her.
Now you're at GE, what's your day-to-day look like as a Front End Developer?
This is my first week! I’m one of only two front end devs on the team. I've been reading all day long just figuring out the platform, what it does, what it can be used for, and doing the tutorial and the introductions on it. Now, I'm finally getting into the seed application, and I can see how they built that out and see what it does. We're launching a brand new project on July 11th. It's awesome. I like it so far!
Yes. We'll be working with Angular and Polymer, and the back end at GE is built with Java. I'll definitely have to learn Java at some point. The cool thing about GE is that the company is so big that I will have the chance to touch everything. I’m starting on front end and then once I make a lot of progress on that, I can say, “Hey, I want to work on back end” and begin learning Java. Some of their back end is built in Go language, so I'm excited to learn that too. They're really big on getting you where you want to be in the company.
What advice do you have for people thinking about doing an online bootcamp?
I think a lot of people presume that doing an online course like this will give them the freedom that they desire as well. You can find that in some part-time or longer courses, but if you're thinking about going to Hack Reactor Remote, don't underestimate the time commitment because that is really important. You do have to put in a lot of work, and you will be able to work from home, but you can't use that as an excuse to slack off or anything because you will fall behind very quickly.
I had one of the best times of my life at Hack Reactor Remote. It was amazing, and the opportunity that I gained from it and the people that I met from Hack Reactor was completely worth all the hours that I put in. Now I'm employed as a full-time software developer at a very large company. If you're thinking about doing it, do it. Do it. I don't believe that you will regret the decision.
Welcome to the June Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world, including new bootcamps, what we’re seeing in bootcamps internationally, outcomes, and paying for bootcamps. Plus, we released our big Bootcamp Market Sizing and Growth Report in June! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
Welcome to the May 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world, from acquisitions, to new bootcamps, to collaborations with universities, and also various reports and studies. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup podcast.Continue Reading →
After working as a software engineer for 15 years, Fred Zirdung joined Hack Reactor when it launched in San Francisco in 2012. And while he had always wanted to teach, he didn’t realize just how much he would learn by teaching at Hack Reactor. He’s now the Lead Instructor and in charge of developing the curriculum and lecture materials. Fred tells us about how he taught himself to code, what makes a great bootcamp instructor, and the recent additions of ES6 and React into the Hack Reactor curriculum.
Tell us about your background and experience.
I was an engineer for about 15 years before I joined Hack Reactor. I worked at a variety of companies, from Fortune 500 companies to little startups, in various capacities from individual contributor all the way up to key leadership roles.
I’ve been with Hack Reactor since the very first class in December 2012. I started out working part time as what we now call a Technical Mentor. On my weekends, I would help students with issues, questions, and bugs in their code. I joined Hack Reactor full time in July 2013.
How did you learn to code? Did you get a Computer Science degree?
I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering, which is essentially a computer hardware degree. I didn’t really learn that much about software in my degree; most of my software skills are self-taught, through various industries and jobs that I’ve had. Back then I only had books to study from, and a lot of people who mentored me along the way.
How did you become aware of the coding bootcamp model and what did you think at first?
I thought it was an interesting take on education. I thought it was really cool and I wanted to be part of the experiment.
What drew you to teaching at Hack Reactor specifically?
I found about Hack Reactor through a friend of a friend. I’ve always been interested in teaching, but I’d never been interested in going back to college to get a masters degree or PhD – which is what you need to teach at college or university level. I didn’t think my teaching aspirations would ever come to fruition, but then I found out about Hack Reactor’s bootcamp model and decided to pursue it.
Did you have teaching experience prior to teaching at the bootcamp?
Not particularly. But as an experienced developer I would mentor younger and less experienced engineers who I worked with on a regular basis – and I really enjoyed that process.
What do you think is the most important quality for a bootcamp instructor? Is it better to have technical knowledge or be a good teacher?
So you need to have technical capability, but you also need to have a combination of other soft skills. You need empathy, to be able to put yourself in the shoes of a student. You need compassion – sometimes you have to tell students things they don’t want to hear or something at odds with their personal belief, but you have to do it in a way that doesn’t devastate the student. And you need to be able to hold a room and command attention while being approachable.
What does it mean to be Lead Instructor at Hack Reactor? What does your role include?
I teach a number of classes, and some of the lectures. I also oversee the development of our lecture materials and some of the curriculum, so I am the gatekeeper of the content that students see.
Tell me about the Hack Reactor curriculum and structure.
Our curriculum is structured in sprints, which mirror what you would see in a real life software engineering environment. You have sprints where you focus on a particular set of problems you’re trying to solve, so we mirror that same concept here, but on a shorter timeframe. Sprints happen once every two days, then we switch to a different topic. There are many topical based sprints, which focus around a particular core technology. However, often the goal in the sprints is not to teach a specific technology, but it’s about the bigger picture goal – for students to become autonomous learners and autonomous programmers. Hack Reactor bootcamp aims to teach students the ability to be autonomous in any terrain we put them into, rather than giving them strict recipes and paths to follow.
How do you keep the Hack Reactor curriculum up to date and relevant?
Because our curriculum is less focused on specific technologies and more focused on how you think about things, we don’t have to iterate as often on the actual technology components we use. We keep up with what’s going on in the industry; for example we recently added React and ES6. If we notice that a particular concept didn’t land, we will work out why it failed, then fix our lecture materials and content to plug that hole so future students don’t get caught up by the same issue.
Tell me about how you have recently incorporated ES6 and React into the curriculum.
We go through a review process, where we consider various changes, then implement them, and review them. However, our curriculum is pretty full so for us to introduce a new sprint like React, we have to decide what to take out. For React there was another technology we decided to remove, so that created a hole for us to add React. But if we were to consider adding Angular 2, there is already a spot to teach Angular in our course, so we would just replace that. Something completely new might mean restructuring the curriculum to make space for it.
What did you take out which allowed you to add React?
CoffeeScript, which was superseded by ES6. We spread ES6 throughout our entire curriculum, and a lot of features of coffeescript are contained in ES6, so those two technologies are rather duplicitous. While CoffeeScript is not going away anytime soon, it is now outdated.
What made you choose to teach both Angular and React?
We also teach Backbone. We teach Backbone, Angular and React from different perspectives. Sprints are focused around a particular piece of technology, but we are teaching people to think about programming, rather than the technology itself, so there are often secondary goals associated with each sprint. So Backbone, for example, is an extremely useful teaching tool for understanding the concept of decoupling modules in various ways. But Angular takes a completely different approach to dealing with dependencies, so it’s a fantastic technology to use when teaching dependency injection, which is another way you can deal with software dependencies.
There are a lot of popular frameworks out there, but we can’t teach all of them. We chose these ones because they have secondary pedagogical objectives.
How often do you make changes or updates to the curriculum?
Removing a sprint and adding a new sprint happens a few times a year, but our curriculum is changing every cycle – every single class gets a new version of the curriculum. We are in fact sometimes changing curriculum literally up to the day before students arrive because we are always aiming for the best possible experience. A lot of times there are hundreds of little tiny changes in there that are barely noticeable, but over the course of three years, there are vast differences as those little changes accumulate.
It’s one of the things I’m personally proud of that we are able to do. We’re really organized in term of our feedback cycle, getting feedback from our students and our observations on how curriculum landed in the past, so we just stay on top of that very regularly.
Do you ever make changes on the fly?
When appropriate yes. We try to avoid those scenarios because it can be confusing or frustrating for students.
What have you found is your personal teaching style? Are you hands on, do you like to lecture, do you let people get stuck and figure things on their own?
When I’m up lecturing I try to have a balance of all three. Sometimes there are concepts that warrant me just talking while students listen. There are other times when I like to let them struggle with a concept. Oftentimes I will play quizzes or games with the students to help identify dissonance in their thinking and problems with their mental model, and usually I find one person’s problematic thinking is reflective of many people in the room.
We’ve heard that some Hack Reactor lectures are delivered through video- why is that?
We have a small number of videos, but most of our lectures are delivered live. The ones that are delivered via video on site are solution demonstration videos. For each sprint challenge, we find it useful to give students the solution, or at least one possible ideal solution, so they can learn how an expert might approach a particular problem. We do that via video specifically because we want students to be able to go back and refer to the content on their own, in their own time.
What resources or meetups do you recommend for aspiring bootcampers?
Hack Reactor has a prep program, called Reactor Prep, that is aimed at beginners. It’s a really good way to get a taste of what the bootcamp is going to be like. We also have Fulcrum, which is for students who are more advanced and already have some of the knowledge covered in the Reactor Prep program. Both programs charge tuition but you can credit the cost of Fulcrum towards the Hack Reactor program.
To get a taste for programming in general there are a few things I recommend. Wherever you are, look for programming meetups in the language of your choice. There are tons in San Francisco and most of the metropolitan areas. It’s a great way to network, meet people in the industry, get tips, and see presentations on interesting programming topics.
What do you like best about teaching at Hack Reactor?
I love interacting with the students. In every cohort there are a bunch of new faces who come in with interesting stories and interesting backgrounds. It’s really great to interact with them, but also from a teaching perspective, every new cohort is a new challenge. Students challenge my thinking on concepts all the time, and that’s a fun way to learn new things.
Tyson had been an entrepreneur since the dot com bubble, starting and helming numerous tech companies for 14 years. In 2013, after watching the internet startup founder 'prototype' transition from an MBA to a software engineer, he decided to gain this skillset himself, so he enrolled at Hack Reactor to become a more effective entrepreneur. But Tyson’s goals changed. After graduating from Hack Reactor, he started a nonprofit to teach kids to code, and then became a senior software engineer at Nike. Tyson wasn’t expecting to fall in love with coding, but discovered he enjoys it as much as company building and product development.
What is your pre-bootcamp story? What was your previous career path and educational background?
Since 1999 I’ve been an entrepreneur and general manager of fast growing consumer, internet and mobile companies and products. My first company was a music discovery platform called Gigmania, providing live music content to Yahoo, AOL, and MTV. During the 2000 downturn we sold it to a big concert producer.
In the early 2000s, most digital company founders were Harvard and Stanford MBAs, so I decided to get an MBA. I went to INSEAD, an MBA program outside of Paris. After that I started an internet gaming company called Pixelfix, and then I joined a company in NYC called Bold Media, an early social network where I ran their games and business development units. Then I moved to the West Coast to run the internet development group of media company Future. After that I joined a social activity ad tech company called Appssavvy, where I ran the publisher side of the business.
In 2013, I had an idea for a new business. I talked to engineers who I’d worked with in the past and to Pivotal Labs in San Francisco. But ultimately Facebook's 'Hacker Way', which reflected the startup culture of the SF Bay Area, convinced me that to be a more successful, creative and agile entrepreneur I needed a deeper understanding of technology, and the skills to build prototypes myself. It was with that goal in mind that I went through Hack Reactor.
So you had been involved in managing and running all these companies, but had you been involved in building the products?
In all my roles I’d been deeply involved in product development, but I’d never written a line of code.
What made you want to be able to build those prototypes yourself and write code yourself?
For a couple of reasons. In 2001 when I got an MBA, most early stage company founders had MBAs. But by 2013, it was now engineers building their own prototypes. The market had shifted, so to be relevant in the industry, particularly in early stage companies, I was doing myself a disservice by not having a technical skillset. You can be a lot more agile and iterate more rapidly if you’re creating the product prototype yourself. It makes me more flexible, and on the management side it would make me more effective at working with engineers.
Did you try to learn on your own before you thought about a bootcamp or did you just dive into the bootcamp?
No, I pretty much decided I wanted to do this quickly. I should have started this process years ago, but I didn’t. So I quit my job and joined Hack Reactor. An immersive learning environment made a lot of sense. And I didn’t have time to go to back to college; there’s way too much slack in that traditional education path.
Did you research other bootcamps or just Hack Reactor?
Was your class diverse in terms of gender, race, life and career backgrounds?
It was pretty diverse- around 33% women. People had varied backgrounds, but I was the only one who had never done any coding before. I passed Hack Reactor’s admissions coding challenges, but everyone else had been writing in another language or knew another language. Some had done Dev Bootcamp and were now doing Hack Reactor, some had studied computer science in college. I had the least exposure to code, but I had a ton of relevant industry experience.
What was the age range in your cohort? We get a lot of questions about whether people in their late 30s or 40s should do a bootcamp, and whether they can get a job easily after graduating – what’s your take on that?
There were a few people in my cohort over 35, then there was one young person under 20. Everyone else was in the in 22 to 35 age bracket. Everything seemed to work out well for those in the older age bracket. I think one of the people in the older bracket is now a Hack Reactor instructor. But there is an age bias in Silicon Valley – it’s a cultural thing. I am currently a senior web engineer at Nike in Portland, Oregon, and I would say there’s no age bias here, and many of the engineers at Nike, perhaps half, are over 35. So I think it depends on the type of company you want to work for.
What was the learning experience like at your bootcamp — typical day and teaching style?
It was like being caught up in an information tsunami! We started at 9am, we would have a very light lecture, then you could choose to stay on for the second part of the lecture, or start the coding challenge. There was a lot of guided self learning, which was a very effective way to instill the discipline we would need on our own, or in a job to figure out how to solve problems. There was very little front-of-the-room lecture time. But tons of availability for advanced people to discuss advanced ideas, or for beginners to get help when they needed help.
What sort of projects did you work on?
My own personal project was called Yummy Show. It was an online cloud-based software for presentations, leveraging reactive data and data visualization. I thought learning D3 was really cool, and realized if I had known D3 when I was in business, my business presentations would have been much more effective. With Yummy Show I wanted to enable people to make their presentation data come to life without knowing how to code. The group project we worked on was a kids interactive game using the computer camera and HTML5, for face and object recognition.
Tell us about Mission Bit and what you did after graduating from Hack Reactor?
When I graduated from Hack Reactor in June 2013, I spent the summer building up Mission Bit, and launched the first classes at the end of summer. Mission Bit is a non profit providing computer science education pathway for public high school kids. The teachers are volunteer professional software engineers from top companies and startups in the Valley. We bring the kids to different companies to show them what they can do with coding skills. We try to convey to kids that this skillset is a booster for your life no matter what job you choose. You don’t have be a software engineer – if you were a farmer, you could write scripts to work out how weather is affecting your crop growth rates. Whatever job you choose to do, coding skills will help you do it better.
How were you using your programming skills at Mission Bit?
I built some software for our volunteers and students to use for class scheduling and for attendance tracking. I also built a text message management platform called Yummy Text. One challenge we had was communicating things to students across classes. Kids just don’t read their emails, and they didn’t want to download a Mission Bit app, but they all had cell phones so the most effective way to communicate was via text message.
When and why did you decide to start looking for engineering jobs?
While I was running Mission Bit, I set up a shell company where I could prototype different ideas, so I was building products all along the way. Initially I’d decided to learn to code to be a better entrepreneur and be more effective at iteratively making products. But I realized that I love the process of coding and I love the problems you have to solve. I love the scope of the knowledge, not just the end point of having the finished product. So that was when I decided I wanted to work and become a better engineer. So I started the search and took this role at Nike.
Tell us about your job at Nike.
What does a typical day look like for you these days?
We have stand ups at 9:15 am and 11 am, with sprint planning on Mondays. I deploy to production twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When I’m not in standups and sprint planning, I’m coding – it’s all coding all the time, and it’s awesome. I know I like coding my product ideas. Luckily, I like building other people’s products too!
How does your schedule and life compare to when you were working as an entrepreneur?
I work all the time anyways because I have all this other stuff. At Nike I put in about 40 hours a week, but I fly to Portland for work from San Francisco on Monday mornings and come back Friday night. I’m on a couple of different boards, and I’m always trying to learn new stuff. So I have entrepreneurs’ hours regardless. I don’t know how sustainable the lifestyle is, but it’s totally working for now and Nike is an awesome company. That was the main reason I wanted to do it.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you since you graduated from Hack Reactor?
Being a middle aged man figuring out what to do through a midlife pivot. Seeing the reflection of yourself in your kids makes it impossible to dodge things you’ve maybe tried to dodge in your life. That forced me to reevaluate what I was doing, what I was working on, and make sure I was focused on doing things I truly wanted to do. I would say working through all that was hardest thing. Hack Reactor was part of that process of changing myself.
What sorts of things are you doing to maintain/learn new skills?
Recently it’s been playing around with React and Redux and getting familiar with those frameworks, and getting familiar with Angular 2.
What advice do you have for people wanting to change their careers after a long career and take a bootcamp?
I kind of fell into the change. I wanted to use it as a propellant to what I was already doing, and just realized through that process that I liked building stuff with code. But my advice is to be clear about what you actually want after a bootcamp. Either you know you love being an engineer or you know this new skillset will help you attain or achieve your specific goals, because bootcamps are intense and you basically shut off your life to do it for three months. To get the most out of it you need to love the thing you want to be, whether it’s an engineer or CTO or a better entrepreneur.
Any final comments about Hack Reactor?
The Hack Reactor community is very special and I attribute that to the relationship among the founders, because those guys are really tight, and that permeates through the rest of the community. The community is solid, energetic, and really helpful, and the founders are super invested in nurturing and catalyzing that energy and possibility.
How long does the Hack Reactor application typically take? What are the steps applicants should expect?
The process is quick and relatively simple. Applicants first take a simple coding challenge to show that they have command of basic concepts. Once that is completed, they move on to a technical interview. And that’s it! Applicants typically receive a decision within 10 days of the technical interview.
Admissions Coding Challenge
Does everyone take the same coding challenge? Can you give us a sample question?
How long should it take? Is there a time limit?
How should a beginner prepare for the admissions challenge? Who is the right candidate for Hack Reactor Fulcrum vs. preparing on their own?
The best way to prepare is our Reactor Prep and Fulcrum courses. Prep is built for coders who have dabbled, but don’t feel comfortable building apps or interactive web pages. Many Prep students have gone on to be admitted into our 12-week program.
Fulcrum is for intermediate coders who want to get to the next level and have the optimal preparation for our immersive course. Fulcrum students are invited to a technical interview after completing the course, and may subtract their Fulcrum tuition from their immersive tuition.
While self-study can be a good way to introduce yourself to basic programming concepts, we’ve found that many people get lost in the resources and need more structured guidance in order to reach their software engineering goals.
What goes into the written application? Does Hack Reactor require a video submission?
Neither, actually. Students need only complete the coding challenge and technical interview.
Will interviewees need to walk through a technical problem during the interview?
Yes, the interviewer and interviewee will work on a technical problem together. The interview is not just a test, but a chance to learn and experience the Hack Reactor teaching method. Applicants are encouraged to examine the underlying logic of their code.
How do you evaluate an applicant’s future potential? What qualities are you looking for?
We look for students who respond well to challenge and uncertainty, and who are clear, empathic communicators. Some coding ability is important, but we are more concerned with students’ willingness and ability to learn, than with what they already know. Identifying these qualities has been a key element to our students successes.
Can applicants do the Hack Reactor interview in-person or are all interviews conducted online?
Applicants can do whichever is more convenient for them. Our online program, Hack Reactor Remote Beta, does online interviews. Like with the entire immersive course experience, Hack Reactor Remote Beta brings the full coding interview to an online format.
Are students accepted on a rolling basis?
What is the current acceptance rate at Hack Reactor? Is a low acceptance rate important to Hack Reactor?
A low admissions rate is an arbitrary benchmark, and is not important to us. What’s important is a high and consistent quality standard. We are exclusive, but not for exclusiveness’ sake: we require our students be hardworking, growth-oriented, and curious learners.
What types of backgrounds have successful Hack Reactor students had? Does everyone come from a technical background?
One comment we often get from employers is how refreshing it is that our candidates are from diverse backgrounds – culturally, academically, and in terms of work experience. Many students have technical backgrounds, but we also have many career-changers, and others who have been coding for weeks or months, not years. This is a result of our admissions process: we screen for communication skills and growth mentality as much as, or more than, coding chops.
Does Hack Reactor accept international students? Do international students get student visas/tourist visas to do the program?
We do accept international students. While we don’t offer official advice on visas, many students have made it work, and have found employment in the Bay Area or back in their home country.
It’s easy to apply to multiple schools at once, but each school makes their own decision. Applicants that apply to multiple schools have a better chance of getting into at least one program. However, we suggest that students do the research about the various schools in the network to choose two to three that fit their personal goals and learning style.
Can rejected applicants reapply? If so, how many times?
It is rare that we fully reject anyone. Generally, the worst case scenario is that we ask you to reinterview after more study. It is not uncommon for applicants to get in on their second or third try, sometimes after taking our Prep or Fulcrum courses.
Are Coding Bootcamps the new "replacement" for college degrees? Or are bootcamp grads missing out on valuable Computer Science theory by opting out of a traditional CS degree? As coding bootcamps rise in popularity, they face both praise and criticism- but what is the real difference between these two education paths? Join Course Report and our expert panel (seriously, these folks are running the best bootcamps in the world) to dive into this topic: CS Degrees vs Coding Bootcamps.
This webinar is perfect for future bootcampers or anyone interested in the coding bootcamp industry.Continue Reading →
How much do coding bootcamps cost? From students looking for free coding bootcamps to those wondering if an $18,000 bootcamp is worth it, we understand that cost is important to future bootcampers! While the average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,400, bootcamp tuition can range from $9,000 to $21,000, and some coding bootcamps have deferred tuition. So how do you decide what to budget for? Here, we break down the costs of coding bootcamps from around the USA.
Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!
This Week on Course Report:
- Should you learn web or mobile development first? We dive into this question with advice from Atlanta's DigitalCrafts code school!
- Have you tried Thinkful's Workshops? Grae, the Head of Education at Thinkful, gives us the scoop on their newest offering for bootcamp grads and working engineers.
- Mechanical-Engineer-turned-Web-Developer Kacy Ebel talks about her career change and her experience at We Can Code It's women-only bootcamp.
Aquisitions, Fundraises & Regulation
- General Assembly announced their $70MM Series D. This reporter thinks about what the fundraise could mean for their London campus.
- Hack Reactor acquired Chicago-based Mobile Makers Academy, adding iOS to their offerings. They also announced "Hack Reactor Core," the umbrella under which each school will operate autonomously.
- Inside Higher Ed reported on General Assembly's journey through regulation and expansion. Education Dive provides a nice, brief summary of the article.
- The Huffington Post reported on a letter from Jeremy Shaki and Khurram Virani (Founders of Lighthouse Labs) to parliament on code literacy, outcome-based education, and Canadian innovation through technology.
New Campuses + Courses:
- Dev Bootcamp announced they will open doors in San Diego this November.
- Montana Code School's first cohort started class September 28. (Listen to Montana Public Radio's story on the bootcamp).
- ThoughtKite will teach their first Toronto iOS bootcamp in October.
- Code Fellows has overhauled and reorganized their courses (bye bye Dev Accelerators, hello Code 401!)
- Applications for Code Platoon, a Chicago bootcamp geared towards veterans, are now open.
- Global News Canada writes about Toronto's Bitmaker Labs.
- Fortune Magazine explores women in Coding Bootcamps.
- FCW finds that coding bootcamps are 'Very empowering, very transformational.'
- A LinkedIn researcher blogged about the types of jobs reported by bootcampers on the networking site.
- Delaware Online looks back on ZipCode Wilmington's first bootcamp cohort.
- Built in Chicago: How Designation is bringing the bootcamp model to design.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee computer coding school expands as employers show interest.
- The Street: Future Code Monkeys May Skip College and Head to Boot Camp
Have a great October!
Are you planning on attending a coding bootcamp? Deciding between two bootcamps? We’ve scoured the net for alumni blogs from top coding bootcamps including Fullstack Academy, Dev Bootcamp, The Iron Yard, Coding Dojo, MakerSquare and Hack Reactor. From a CS major to an event planner, these bootcamp graduates give you a snapshot of what makes each coding school and experience unique.Continue Reading →
After a career in IT, Casey Garland realized his love for building and joined Hack Reactor's Remote class while living in Pittsburgh. We talk to Casey about the logistics of the remote course, the differences between Thinkful and Hack Reactor, and his advice to future Hack Reactor Remote applicants.
Tell me what you were doing before you started Hack Reactor.
I got a bachelors and masters degree from WGU which were both remote, online learning as well. My degree is in Information technology and my masters is in Information Security. I’ve been working in technology for about 10 years on the IT side of things, and then I managed a software development team and found out how much I liked building. Eventually, I decided to quit my job and I joined Hack Reactor.
Did you do Codecademy or other online programs to introduce yourself to programming before applying?
I’d been exposed to programming over the years but I really started this year, I started doing Codecademy but it wasn’t enough so I actually did Thinkful’s front-end developer program and that jump-started me.
So between your undergrad and Thinkful, you were confident in online remote learning beforehand?
Yeah, definitely. I was looking at Hack Reactor before they announced their remote program. I have a wife and a small baby in Pittsburgh; I couldn’t just go to San Francisco for three months on top of not working and paying tuition. The reviews and everything were so overwhelmingly positive I didn’t think it was possible for it not to work.
What was the application process like for you?
They’ve got a pre-interview technical challenge that we did but my understanding is that they don’t do that anymore. Then I had a technical interview with one of the Hackers in Residence and I found out about a week later that I was accepted.
Who were your instructors during the class?
Shawn Drost, who is one of the cofounders, was our main point of contact. Our lectures were primarily done via video. We would have a video of the onsite lectures and then we would follow up with Sean or somebody else afterwards if we had any questions.
Did you ever have live lectures or were they all recorded?
Well, we only had one live lecture. We had one live lecture where somebody actually that taught that lecture did it in person for us live. In the technical part we only had one. Once we had gotten to the hiring phase in the last couple of weeks, we had more live lectures.
Can you tell us how the recorded lectures work logistically?
They use Vimeo. The first half of the program was really scheduled out in advance and it was very clear what you were supposed to be doing in a given time. We experimented with different ways of asking questions during the video and things like that. I think what ended up working best was just freeform. We have a group chat that’s always active and people just pop in and ask questions.
Did you have lecture in the morning and then work on projects in the afternoon?
Yes- everything’s split into two-day sprints so you have a lecture then you go explore the problem then you have another lecture. Then you have the rest of that day and the beginning of the next day to work on the project for that lecture.
What was the second 6 weeks like?
The first 6 weeks are really hands-on technical learning. The second 6 weeks are project based; so the majority of it you’re just working on different projects.
Were you working on those as a team or individually?
As small teams.
So you were interacting with the other students in the remote program.
Yeah, it’s really interactive. You interact with the other remote students a ton.
Were there any hiccups with timing or issues like that?
Yeah, there were some. They weren’t as big of a deal as you would think. One of the guys was actually from Nigeria and he had all kinds of connection issues. I’m on the East Coast so I worked from 12pm-12am every day, which is kind of weird. You get used to it. That didn’t end up being as big of a deal as I thought it would be.
Were you all pair programming or doing Google Hangouts?
All the above. The first half was all pair programming and you were on Google Hangout at the same time. I probably got in a hangout with my group 4 or 5 times a day.
Do you feel like Hack Reactor adapted the program to what people needed, since this was the first cohort?
Yeah, definitely, within certain bounds that they’d established. I think they take that approach with the onsite as well. They really take an iterative approach to what they’re doing.
A few times we gave them specific feedback about something and the next week we were doing it a different way.
What were the differences between your experience with Thinkful and your experience with Hack Reactor remote?
They’re not even the same thing; they’re so different. For me, Thinkful was a way to see if I actually like writing code, if I could be any good at it. It’s relatively low cost and there’s no risk whereas Hack Reactor is so expensive and such a commitment that there’s a huge risk. And Hack Reactor was 12 hours a day. I probably did 12 hours a week for Thinkful. That being said, I would still highly recommend Thinkful.
Can you tell us about a project that you worked on during those 6 weeks that you were particularly proud of?
I have one big one and one small one I’ll tell you about. The big one was a group project that we did and we built a platform for a small businesses to mobile-enable their employees. So instead of filling out forms on paper in the field or filling out a spreadsheet, they go to backend out of Node and Mango and the Mobile Apps from Ionic and Angular that allows them to fill out forms on their mobile devices.
The other one was just a little side thing that I did to help me put together the best fancy football lineup. And I actually won a contest that had 14,000 entries in it this past weekend.
How has Hack Reactor layered in job placement?
I wouldn’t call it job placement. I think they do a really good job with the resume building and with preparing you for the interviews and preparing you mentally for the best approach at getting a job. I think they do an awesome, fantastic job on that.
We were the first remote program; they were trying to figure out how they can best actually help get in contact with the people. They have such a great presence in San Francisco and I think almost half of our class went to San Francisco to try and find a job there but five of us are still trying to find jobs back home or remotely. The contacts they have outside of San Francisco are not as plentiful, but they are working on that.
Did you meet with potential employers throughout the program? Were you given access to that network?
Not throughout the program. It’s pretty concentrated in the last week. We will have met with 5 employers by the end of the week.
Have you done interviews?
Yes, and I already have two offers. I didn’t apply to these jobs but I did update my resume on LinkedIn and Career Builder and I had several people call me last week and I set up interviews for this week and I got two offers out of it.
Are either of those jobs remote or are they in Pittsburgh?
They’re both in person, in Pittsburgh. I’m definitely open to something remote. I’m kind of freelancing now, too. I don’t know that I really care that much whether it’s remote or in person. I just want to like the people I work with and like what I’m working on.
Is there anything else you want to add about Hack Reactor that we didn’t touch on?
Overall, I’m super satisfied. I definitely would make the same decision again. I would recommend if the person was able to, go in person. I think you’d probably get a better experience in person, just judging from all the reviews I saw from the in person people.
After going through it, do you think that there’s a type of person who wouldn't do well or wouldn’t excel?
I feel like we had a lot of different personalities. We only had 10 people but still there were different personalities. You just have to be willing to do the work; especially the first 6 weeks. It’s so hands-on. The second half you have to be a bit more self-motivated. But if they can get into the program they will probably do just fine.
After working in animation for ten years, Chris Bradley was ready to head back to the East Coast and change careers. He was looking for a high-quality remote programming course, so he applied to Hack Reactor's newly announced Remote program. Check out our interview with Chris- it's full of useful information about the Hack Reactor admissions process, what to expect when learning online and how the Remote course compares to the in-person option!
What were you doing before you started at Hack Reactor?
I had attended an MFA program with an emphasis in computer animation. and then worked for about 10 years as a visual effects artist in Los Angeles. I created visual effects for commercials, television and film, finally ending up at DreamWorks Animation doing character effects.
What made you want to change careers?
Throughout my visual effects career, there was often some level of scripting involved. I wrote little tools to do certain things and worked with third party vendors to see what the current state of their technology was in order to decide between partnering up with them or writing something proprietary in-house.
So gradually, my career took me closer and closer to the development side of the industry. I never got to a point where I was actually a software engineer, but it seemed like a really neat space to be in.
So you were not a beginner when you started at Hack Reactor.
Probably not. I had done some scripting in Python, as well as MEL (Maya scripting language) and VEX (Houdini scripting language) but I always struggled to get good at scripting. I just never had the time to dedicate to the kind of thinking behind how to do it well.
When did you decide to start looking at bootcamps?
After being in L.A. for about 10 years or so, my wife and I decided we wanted to be closer to extended family back on the East Coast and I left DreamWorks without a concrete plan of what I was going to do. We ended up in Central New York, the flip side of picking a rural area being that there aren’t a lot of job prospects. I was looking at what the remote world had to offer wondering: “are there any viable career solutions or career opportunities?” I really felt that I could leverage a lot of my experience, interests and passions to create a good life for myself.
Did you look at other online bootcamps like Bloc and Thinkful?
Actually, I completed Bloc last year before joining Hack Reactor. As I did my preliminary search I looked at all the options and quickly honed in on the half a dozen or so that had credible reputations.
Did you look at any in-person boot camps?
No, I didn’t. I’m about three hours from New York City which at the time had the closest on site program. We had just gotten settled, so spending three months away from my family wasn’t really an option, and Bloc was the only boot camp that seemed to have a comprehensive offering that included some form of mentor or instruction, which I felt was important.
I spent some time on Treehouse and Code Academy and I think they’re great for getting introduced to programming, but you’ll never learn how to be a professional programmer through those sites. At the time, Bloc was the only one that offered one-on-one mentorship, which I think was a great initial support mechanism; there was someone you could actually ask questions and get a direct answer from.
The truth is, I picked Bloc because it was remote. Going to one of these places onsite for three months was kind of the opposite of what I wanted for myself and my family.
What was the application process like for Hack Reactor Remote?
Hack Reactor does its brand and its students a great service by being very selective with their admissions process. I’m going to speak about what I went through, although I think it’s changed a little bit since they’re constantly iterating based on feedback, which is really cool.
Once I submitted that, it opened up access to a chat application. They’ve got a chat bot, I think it’s on Firebase, that is just generating random chats and you basically have to interface with it using Ajax, JQuery and the like. It’s an exercise that’s intended to force you out of your comfort zone and to rely on your resourcefulness to get it done.
At the time, you weren’t even allowed to schedule a technical interview until you successfully completed that exercise.
After you successfully complete the chat bot you are allowed to schedule a technical interview. It’s probably a standard tech interview, about an hour long, with a few minutes of ‘why are you doing this?’ kind of thing and then it’s about 45 minutes of paired coding. It’s not for the faint of heart- it’s basically about getting very comfortable with anonymous functions and call-back functions and how to use functions as arguments to other functions.
Again, I think that by establishing that base level just to get in, they’re setting up their students for success in the long haul by accomplishing two things: setting the bar high from the get-go (last I checked, their acceptance rate was between 3 – 5%) and creating up a baseline that all students can start from.
This is important given that a lot of people with a wide variety of experience are going to be applying to the school. Some people come in with what I would call a moderate tech background, others with CS degrees, and others who were previously lawyers or whatever - with little experience in tech. Students come from all walks of life.
Other coding schools don’t really do this and consequently have to keep the curriculum down to the lowest common denominator, so you wind up spending a lot of time on basic fundamentals, which may not be appropriate for the entire class.
Was there anything that you were hesitant about or were you pretty much convinced during the interview and application process that Hack Reactor Remote would be a legit use of your money?
It’s a few hundred dollars shy of $18,000 which is the same price as the on-site program. That is psychologically different from most other coding boot camps that offer both onsite and online with a substantial discount for the online classes. In that case, the question becomes, why is the online version cheaper?
Once you get over the initial shock that it’s the same price, your expectations are that the experience is going to be as good as onsite. And once you start thinking about it that way, a more appropriate question to ask is, why are other places charging half as much for the online version? Is it half as much the experience? And if so, why are they doing it?
I think Hack Reactor, over the course of their two years, had opportunities for expansion. They could have gone to satellite locations and opened up offices, or almost franchised the school. They were very, very concerned about the quality control of the curriculum and they felt that it would be much easier to manage from one central location and distribute it over the web as opposed to opening up satellite branches. I think they had just as high expectations for the remote program as they do for the onsite program and based on that, they charge the same. It did take a little while to process that but at the end I think it makes total sense.
Everything’s going to be a leap of faith and I think a lot of it is tempered by their placement statistics. So you have that to offset any kind of the risk. You have to do your due diligence and make sure that you’re clear on what you’re getting out of it.
I want to talk about logistics for a bit- tell us how the remote classes work?
Hack reactor is 6 days a week, 11 hours a day of scheduled activity. That’s basically the minimum expectation, and you wind up spending, on average, a couple of hours more per day. Hack Reactor wants to make sure you never run out of stuff to do - they provide so much structure and so many opportunities for activities and stuff to work on that you could never finish it all.
Do they put a camera in the lecture room for you?
Initially, it was exclusively recorded lectures. What they’d been doing is recording the lectures from previous cohorts and giving us access to those. It’s an interesting format; we don’t get the benefit of actually being able to ask the instructor a question in live real time – but at the same time, we get the benefit as remote students of being able to pause, rewind and replay the video, which onsite students don’t have, so it’s a little bit of a trade-off.
What’s phenomenal about Hack Reactor in general is that they’ve taken an innovative iterative approach to teaching and their curriculum. Durring the first six weeks in the junior class, the 6 days of the week are broken up into three two-day long sprints. The first day in the morning, the topic will be introduced. You’d get a brief introduction lecture to a topic and then they’ll give you to a couple of hours to pore through the project documents and do some background research. Next, there’ll be a specific targeted lecture that’s kind of the meat of the project and then we pair up and hack away for the rest of the day.
At some point the following day there’s a solution lecture and then you have the rest of the day to finish up your project based on the best practices you learned about in the solution lecture.
This would be on a two-day cycle (called a “sprint”) that finishes with a sprint reflection that starts with about 5 or 10 minutes of just throwing out ideas on what you liked or didn’t like about the sprint. The class then votes on each topic to achieve consensus and pick 2-4 of them to discuss in detail.
And you were able to participate in that feedback?
Yes; this was done with the remote students just as it is with the onsite classes.
Would you use Google Hangout?
Yes. We heavily relied on Google Hangouts to come together and share a screen to have these kinds of dialogues. An amazing part of the class is that, if something was not working, Hack Reactor would come up with a fix within a few days. It was a very iterative process in that way.
As the course progressed, we started to get more access to instructors. There was some feedback saying we felt we were not getting the same experience as onsite so they would bring instructors in and give a lecture over Hangout. It was just really cool that they were able to adapt to our feedback immediately and import modifications to the program to address those concerns.
Were you ever able to interact with other students, remote or in-person?
There is a ton of interaction among your remote classmates and the Hack Reactor experience is completely built around the idea of pair programming, so there is very little time where you are doing anything by yourself.
So pair programming was an easy process even though you were remote?
I’d never done pair programming before and I feel like that whole experience translated very well to the web interface. We were using a really cool service called Floobits which basically allows you to synch up tech Sublime Text sessions. It’s a live code-sharing system so as you were typing, you see what the other person’s doing.
Once you have that combined with something like Skype and Google Hangouts, it really is just as good as sitting right next to somebody. So that experience translated incredibly well to the web.
How are the Bloc and the Hack Reactor remote programs different or similar?
I think you have to take a step back and look at the intent of each program. A year ago, Bloc positioned itself as “zero to web developer in 12 weeks.” I think they’ve reframed their expectations and now they say ‘learn the fundamentals of web development in 12 weeks.” Their intended results are just different.
Because the intended outcomes are different, the experiences are choreographed to be different. One of the ways Hack Reactor measures themselves is in their hiring placement statistics. They’re really making sure that they’re investing a lot in the program to develop those kinds of people. Since employability, for those immediately seeing jobs, is a big goal, they’re also concerned with recreating what it’s really like to work as a software engineer and recreating that experience. There’s an emphasis on pair programming, as well as thinking about the more theoretical aspects of application design like time complexity, algorithms and that kind of thing. I think they’re aiming for different results.
How were the instructors and how did you interact with them?
It’s the same instructors for the whole school. When we were watching the recorded lectures, they were recorded from the onsite presentations with the exact same instructors. I should mention as an aside, Hack Reactor probably has easily some of the best teachers I’ve ever encountered anywhere. They clearly have mastered the discipline and they have also mastered how to teach it. Even the recorded lectures far surpass most of the live lectures I’ve had in all my education up to that point.
I highly recommend that you go on YouTube or Google anything that Marcus Philips has presented and you will see what I mean; it’s incredible.
Hack Reactor also has one of the best Angular developers on staff, Scott Moss, who wrote the ngFX library. He’s onsite and actually came into our class to teach a live lecture over Google Hangouts when we had our Angular sprint. They’re very much experimenting with the format and trying to figure out which works the best. That’s really what they’re concerned about; providing the best experience possible.
You were saying the first 6 weeks is more lecture-heavy. Is the second week more project-based?
Yeah, I’d say there are more lectures in the first 6 weeks but you’d still have most of your time to spend hacking away. They’re basically done in the form of test-driven development. They give you a skeleton project with a bunch of failing tests and it’s up to you to look why the tests are failing and try to make them pass. Then you transition from the junior class to the senior class, which is the project phase of the course.
We did one solo project which was a two-day sprint and then a pair project which was another two-day sprint, then two more small group projects, about a week in length, and finally a large group project which took up three to three and a half weeks.
Can you tell us about one of the projects that you did that you’re particularly proud of?
One that I had a lot of investment in was a Spaced Repetition review app. Spaced Repetition is a method for studying and reviewing material. It’s essentially like flash cards on steroids with a really powerful method and a ton of data to back up its effectiveness.
The premise is basically that you get a flash card, it asks you a question which you answer, and then it reveals the answer and you rate how easy it was to recall the answer. Based on how well you rate yourself, the application has an algorithm that determines when the next time you’re going to see that card is. If you have a really hard time answering the card, it’s probably going to bring it back at a shorter interval. But as you get more confident and your ability to answer the questions becomes easier, it’s going to start staggering those intervals out to longer and longer intervals.
We did this project in Meteor, which was a ton of fun to work with. I got to implement the algorithm, which was really cool and hands-on.
There was another really cool project I didn’t get to work on but one of our other groups completed for their thesis project. We were using Google Hangouts for the whole class and it’s not the greatest. So they wrote their own Video Conferencing library Google Hangouts with much better video quality and much better audio quality and much more reliable in general. So there were some pretty cool projects.
How does the remote program incorporate job placement and job readiness?
I can speak to this to the extent that I’ve got experience with it but I should also say that I was invited to participate in the Hacker In Residence program, which pulls me out of the job hunt. It’s basically a post-graduate fellowship with the school. I’ll be doing that starting Monday. This last week is the actual week of the job hunt where they have a job day hold a hiring day. This is basically like a job fair where 30 or so companies come in onsite and each student interviews with about 6 companies. They’re currently setting up a similar hiring day experience for the remote students.
Leading up to the actual day when you’re face to face with prospective employers, all of the job preparation is identical to the onsite in that you get tons of experience doing mock interviews and help on how to craft your resume which includes an audit to ensure the most effective presentation of your personal story. Remote students received over two hours of live lecture time with a recruiter from Microsoft, getting real hands-on feedback on our presentation skills and how to pitch our selves. The experience is identical to what onsite students get.
You had mentioned a hiring day. How do they do that for the remote class?
I didn’t get to participate in that because I took the Hacker In Residence position but my understanding is that they’ve lined up five or six employers to do a series of hangouts throughout the day for the remote students, trying to replicate the onsite experience as much as possible. So they have an allotted time for the hangout with the particular employer; you talk to them and then you move on.
For your Hacker In Residence program, are you going to be working on the remote program specifically?
It’s basically part-time work directly for the school. In my case, I’ll be doing admissions work. The rest of the time we’re just expected to work on projects of your own desire and if it benefits the school and is something they wind up using, they’ll actually pay you for it. Hack Reactor’s only concern is that you’re working on something to continue your development as a software engineer. They’re very supportive and encouraging of personal projects and if it benefits the school, that’s fantastic and if not that’s also fantastic.
Once you’re done with the Hacker in Residence program, do you see yourself freelancing or being a remote employee?
I haven’t really thought about it in terms of what kind of employee I’m going to be. I’m more interested in working on projects – this sounds corny – that I’m passionate about. Personally, I’m not interested in working at a social media company coming up with another button to tell somebody that you like them. That’s not what I’m interested in.
Given where I am geographically, remote is probably going to be a big criteria.
After going through the program, have you noticed any traits that you’ve found you needed in order to really be successful in online learning?
I think that Hack Reactor has established a very good gating factor. Their application process is very selective in who they admit because they don’t want to waste anybody’s time. They don’t want to waste your time as a prospective student and they don’t want to waste their time as a school with accepting people who aren’t going to be a good fit.
What’s really interesting too is they put just as much emphasis in on being a culture fit as they do an aptitude fit. Not only do you have to be willing and able to do the work, you have to be willing and able to work with people. Also, you have to to be kind of comfortable with not knowing what you’re doing (and having confidence that you’ll figure out how to find the answer) because that’s a big part of software engineering.
Just from the schedule alone, it’s not for the faint of heart. I have three young kids and it was definitely incredibly difficult to see them for 15 minutes a day. I’d wake up and get them out the door for school because it is Hack Reactor is on a West Coast centric schedule. Being on the East Coast, my day would start at noon and not finish until midnight, one, or two in the morning. There’s nothing about the program that you do on your own time.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It was definitely the most challenging academic experience of my entire life but that being said, it was more than worth it just in terms of a sense of accomplishment. It’s just a very gratifying experience. If anybody’s looking for a challenge and they want to push themselves farther than they think they can go, Hack Reactor’s the place to be.
Shawn, what were you doing before you cofounded Hack Reactor and what convinced you that Hack Reactor was a viable business/education model to be involved with?
What does the Hiring Team do at Hack Reactor?
I have to give a shoutout to the Hiring Team, because they are incredibly hardworking and smart people, and they’ve built out a really unparallelled system for connecting grads with great companies. I’m seriously unaware of anything comparable… they make your college’s career services department look very sloppy, and they work harder and smarter and have more volume than any recruiter.
Here’s how it works: they collect all kinds of information about the open reqs at all of our hiring partners, then they really dig into how students should think about those companies and circulate information about them, the pros and cons and what kind of person should apply there. They then survey students and staff and feed this all into JobQuery -- this piece of software that we built because the team’s spreadsheets became too arcanely powerful and we grew fearful of them -- which does all this matchmaking and follow-up and tracking magic. It’s very beautiful to watch their meticulously-curated success metrics slope upwards.
On the other hand, they have kind of an easy job -- the students are great, and since word has gotten out about that, the companies are great (we can’t name most of them unfortunately), so they just get along well. OH at our last hiring event, from a CTO to a tech lead: “If you're hiring from anyone but Hack Reactor, you're doing it wrong.”
Does Hack Reactor require pre-work to make sure that students are on the same page? What does it consist of?
The precourse work is a pretty complicated piece of the puzzle. It has to be accessible to people that only recently started coding, but it has to be challenging to those well into a career, looking to update their skills or make a career switch, because we have a real mix of people coming into the class. It has to be hard, because we want to give everyone early perspective on how hard the class is (before they quit their jobs, etc) but it has to be easy enough that they can do it before they have the full support of staff. We’re constantly tweaking it and pushing content back into it from the course, to make room for other stuff. Right now, applicants rewrite some existing libraries, go through a bunch of self-guided instruction and test-driven stuff on the finer details of JS, and work through a bunch of git and HTML/CSS resources. It’s between 40 and 100 hours, depending on experience.
Hack Reactor is considered the "Harvard of Coding Schools." Did you and your team make conscious decisions to keep the quality of your school high?
Yeah, that was the plan from the start. It’s an easy plan to have (who doesn’t want that?) but making it a reality is harder. We’ve had to consciously decide to grow slower than others in the sector and turn away a lot of good applicants. We had to put a lot of work into making hires and have a lot of hard conversations when staff were doing a B+ job. More than anything, it’s the result of an insane amount of heart and energy from people at the school (most of whom never get any public recognition). So, it’s really rewarding to see that work implicitly recognized by stuff like this question (which is actually quoting Steve Newcomb, CEO of Famo.us, who’s hired several of the alumni) or the recent WSJ article that called us out as a counterpoint to the downward trend in bootcamp graduate outcomes.
I mentioned part of this earlier -- we were working at top companies, present at ground zero to witness a major trend in the web. The decision raised a few eyebrows at the time (my friends thought we were nuts for not teaching Ruby) but in the time since then, JS has clearly taken over (eg check the graph on this post) and we’ve seen some coding schools retool their entire curriculum to use JS instead of Ruby/Rails (eg Fullstack Academy has switched over completely).
Job placement may be one of the biggest variants between all of the coding schools. Explain Hack Reactor's approach to helping students and graduates find jobs.
We’re big on data-driven education, and student outcomes are our ultimate measure of the quality of our school. It’s the best way of measuring success, even for students that aren’t looking for a job: it’s the market saying “oh yeah, this place trains real engineers." So we pay close attention to student outcome statistics, and a lot of our power comes from the years of continuous revision that happens:
- Someone has trouble in the job search.
- We freak out and somehow solve the problem for that specific student if we can.
- We figure out what went wrong: Hole in the curriculum? Error in student progress reporting/followup?
- School levels up. So, that’s the meta-answer.
Here’re some specifics:
- We work really hard on admissions, and we have really good processes for determining how quickly people learn.
- The curriculum team is incredible, and they consider student questions or assessment failures as evidence of things that need to get fixed for next time.
- We cover the computer science fundamentals (data structures, algorithmic complexity) in great depth, both because they are fundamental engineering concepts as well as because they are the main subject matter of software interviews. This is kind of a luxury we get as a result of being a 20-120 program (vs a 0-60 program, which is what most coding schools are doing). We require that applicants learn a lot on their own, and then we have a longer course (more weeks, more hours per week). As a result, we have space for an hour a day of “toy problems” that challenge students to assess and improve the algorithmic complexity of solutions to small problems, just like they do during interviews.
- We have a lot of content throughout the course on blogging, portfolio management, resume review, conducting a successful job search, etc etc etc. All the curriculum is on github, so they have like 20 learning repos, plus a couple of big projects, which are often real projects for real clients/companies. When you google the students, they look like normal engineers.
- After the course ends, students use our software to track their interview pipeline, and we know whether they’re set up for success.
TLDR: no magic, just lots of hard work and iteration. Meat and potatoes stuff that somehow is not commonplace at any educational institution. I foresee a world (decades away) where we can’t say that any longer as education changes to be more data-driven and outcome-focused.
How is the job placement process structured? Does Hack Reactor get a referral/placement fee from companies? Does the student get a tuition refund once placed?
I answered the placement process question earlier. We get referral fees from hiring partners -- it pays the salaries of the several full-time people that do that work and overflows into the school’s general fund. We don’t do refunds when students accept a job at company X instead of company Y, and we have an organized process to encourage students to apply for jobs outside of our partner network. I find that refund model to be deeply weird: it offers soon-to-be-wealthy students a short-term, unimportant incentive for a decision that has critical long-term effects on the student. The alternative is a pay-it-forward model: every current student benefits from hiring program revenues equally (our staff:student ratio keeps going up while our tuition has not risen in two years) and if the student feels like a partner company is your best choice, they take that job (which probably pays six figures) and the school gets a bunch of money to reinvest.
What is the most current job placement rate? What goes into that rate? (ie. what's the denominator? do you only "count" students who indicate that they're looking for jobs?
This is a great question -- there aren’t clear standards in our industry for how these numbers are tracked, although we are working with other schools on this problem. Our current placement rate is 99% of job-seekers within three months of graduation. The denominator excludes the following groups:
- Students who enter the program with no intent to conduct a job search.
- International students.
- Entrepreneurs (eg the hedge fund profiled in Wired).
- People that enter the Hacker in Residence program (HIR -- it’s like grad school) are counted after their residency ends three months later.
The motivation here is to provide job-seeking students with the clearest picture possible of their likely outcome. We’d like to see better standards/transparency for the industry (eg cohort reports, third-party verification, total counts for different outcome categories, student-assessed outcomes, standard processes to establish prior job search intent) and we’re working to make this a reality as the industry grows up. It’s early days yet and we’ll see a lot of changes in this specific area.
How does Hack Reactor continue to help alumni after they've graduated and been placed in jobs?
We kicked off an incredible alumni program about three months ago. It’s only just beginning, but it’s already a source of pride, and is starting to draw people to the program through word-of-mouth. The long-term-vision is to build out the strongest network of brilliant engineers/CTOs/etc in the Bay Area and build out ongoing education programs. It’s already the best alumni network around (in my unbiased opinion) and we are really just getting started. Some awesome initiatives:
- We dedicated two different rooms at the school, exclusively for alumni. There’s a lounge/meetup space (pool table, giant TV, comfy couches) and there are several events every week (movie nights, side project Saturdays, the first-ever Tessel hackathon, etc). There's also a coworking space, where at least one startup is hacking on something world-changing.
- We’re collaborating on volunteering projects, like supporting Mission Bit (which was started by an alum) and building out an as-yet-unannounced learn-to-code program for prison inmates.
- If an alum decides to switch jobs, they come back to us and we loop them into the system for mock interviews, portfolio review, Hiring Day, etc -- same stuff we do for current students.
- We have a newsletter that informs alums of speaking opportunities, upcoming events, and so on.
- We’re launching an alumni mobile app soon that can tell alums who’s in the alumni lounge, or which alums are at which companies (if you need help on an API).
This is all paid for by the referral fees (although maybe only half of the alums that go through our process take jobs with our partners) so it’s long-term-viable and we have a budget to do all of this as well as the stuff we have planned in the future.
In your time at Hack Reactor, have you noticed that companies and hiring managers are getting more comfortable/confident in graduates of Hack Reactor and other boot camps?
We’ve definitely made a name for ourselves. The biggest factor is that alums act as a viral agent, either because their bosses are like “where can I get more of you” or because they end up in a role with hiring authority themselves.
I think coding schools as a whole have established that they’re putting out quality candidates, but that result varies by institution and within institutions (as with any educational sector). There’s still a long way to go towards educating engineers that went through a four-year program about how much you can accomplish if you structure a three-month program right. Word is getting out, but most engineers/hiring managers would still be surprised to compare the volume of coding experience of a coding school alumni vs CS degree-holders.
Where can we find Hack Reactor alumni today? Do you have any cool stories about students who landed a really neat job?
Oh man. Plenty. Our alumni can be found at pretty much any big-name company you care to name (Google, Adobe, Amazon, Uber, Beats Music, SalesForce, Pandora, Groupon) as well as the awesome startups that you might not have heard of unless you’re paying close attention (famo.us, NodePrime, Class Dojo, Backplane). One grad moved up to CTO in really short order at a really fantastic startup, Keychain Logistics -- kind of a savant. Another ended up rewriting a 70kloc front-end app (including selecting the framework) after six months at his startup, taking it all the way to successful launch.
It’s not all about jobs, either: I mentioned the alum that started Mission Bit, an incredibly inspiring non-profit to teach coding skills to high schoolers in public school. Another pair of alums went to France to work on meditation software with Thich Nhat Hanh. Ultimately, we’re not here to shuttle students into jobs, we want to empower them to have incredible lives and accomplish whatever they want.
Hack Reactor is renowned as a top programming bootcamp, and they just launched their Remote Beta Coding School. Applications are now open and the inaugural cohort begins July 21st. Course Report got the scoop from Shawn Drost, cofounder of Hack Reactor and the developer of the Remote Beta program.