Hello, Hack Reactor San Francisco!

February 5, 2017

Congratulations on completing the [Hack Reactor] Readiness Assessment, and making it through the Precourse Accept program!

More than 9 months after resigning from my job at Hootsuite, I had finally started my journey doing what I had originally intended. I enrolled, interviewed and received the email notifying me of my acceptance into Hack Reactor. Unlike many other bootcamps, “Hack Reactor is not a ‘0–60′ course, [it] is a ’20–120’ course” – in other words, getting admitted into the program required a working knowledge of Javascript, something I had nothing of. I come from a background in marketing and sales with my knowledge of code limited to my early days of hacking together websites with self-taught HTML and CSS.

When I had first resigned and started to self-study, after less than a week I had felt the need to do something different. This wasn’t because I didn’t want to code but because it was a tough transition to go from working with clients and colleagues to being stuck at home studying alone. I missed working with people and learning from each other. As a result, I fell into freelancing, with that gradually taking over my life full-time again.

Then I stumbled upon the Hack Reactor Prep Program. You have the choice of the free program which is solo but steers you in the right direction with the syllabus structure in preparation for interviews. Otherwise, you can choose the paid option which allows you to learn and code with other students while having mentors to help. If you are successfully admitted into the program, your payment goes towards tuition anyway so for me it was a no-brainer.

The 3-week program really solidified my understanding of fundamental Javascript touching on concepts including for and while loops; conditionals; arrays and objects; and higher order functions. For me though, the greatest takeaway was being introduced to the concept of pair programming. This involved working with a fellow classmate on solving the same toy problem. There are of course challenges in conflicting working styles, level of knowledge and communication openness but it showed me the opportunity for growth, learning and collaboration in the world of software engineering. I’d definitely recommend this as a way to prepare for the admission process.

I jumped the gun on my interview, scheduling it before I had finished the prep program, to see if I could make it before the cut-off date for the new scholarship grant. In the end, I didn’t actually apply, but I decided to go ahead with the interview just to test the waters. What happened next was unexpected.

We are excited to let you know you are a candidate for the Precourse Accept (PCA) program at Hack Reactor! As you know, Precourse is the final and most critical step you must complete before joining the Hack Reactor immersive program.

Whether you get accepted right off the bat, or you join PCA, everyone needs to go through roughly 80 hours of course work. PCA was organised into 2 intensive weeks coupled with knowledge checkpoints. It introduced us to Git workflow; understanding the source logic behind underscore.js; testing using the Mocha framework and Chai library; building our own version of Twitter using jQuery; and recursion. By the end of it, we needed to pass a readiness assessment and show that we had completed all the projects to be accepted. The content is definitely not for the faint hearted, and the pace definitely helped set the expectation of what was to come.

Now, here I am. The day before my cohort starts. Nervous but excited. I flew in from Australia via Hong Kong just a few days ago. Settled into my friendly neighbourhood hacker house, CohortX. Connected with some of my cohort mates, with whom I’d spend the bulk of my next 3 months with. Managed to secure a group discount on gym membership. Bought a bike. On track to meditating everyday. Looking forward to 70 hour weeks from Monday through to Saturday. Next stop…full stack developer!

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