Saturday, August 18, 2012

Should you apply to Hacker School?

So, you’re considering Hacker School: you’ve read the FAQ and Nick’s blog post about the next batch, and you’ve thought about the application. But you’re still wondering if you should actually apply.  As a student in the current batch, I wrestled with this question before applying - mostly because I didn’t want to get rejected! As it turned out, I was worried about the wrong things, and Hacker School has turbocharged my growth as a programmer.  If you’re thinking about applying, here are some things to keep in mind that Hacker School does and doesn’t care about.

Some things Hacker School cares about:
Are you excited about learning?
At Hacker School, you’ll be surrounded by programmers working on a multitude of projects in a multitude of languages.  It’s an incredible environment for learning, and you get exposed to all kinds of ideas.  To give one tiny example: I took a coffee break today and a fellow Hacker Schooler explained the basic ideas behind Go and Julia. I’ve never worked in either language, but I now I have some idea of the problems each is trying to solve.
Do you love trying to broaden and deepen your knowledge?
Hacker School students are largely self-directed.  If you love pursuing new ideas and challenges for their own sake, you’ll love Hacker School.  (That said, facilitators are here to help you chart a course and to get unstuck if you’re stuck.)
Do you love programming?
This is an intimidating question for a lot of people - it certainly was for me!  I knew I enjoyed the coding I’d done, but did I really love it?  If this question has you worried, relax (and then apply).  You don’t have to be obsessive to love programming.  You don’t have to have been coding since you were a toddler.  If you’re certain that you like programming, you probably love programming. If you’ve ever written code just for fun (and would again), you probably love programming.  If sitting in a room full of programmers working on your new project for eight hours sounds like fun, you probably love programming.  Come love programming at Hacker School.

Some things Hacker School doesn’t care about:
Your experience level: Dave put it best in this post: “How much experience do you need?  Enough to know that you love programming.”  Several current Hacker Schoolers (including me) had been coding for only a couple of months before applying.  If you’re fairly new to coding but love moving up the curve as fast as you can, Hacker School is a great environment.  

Your job status: Hacker School makes money from companies recruiting students, but they don’t decide whether or not to admit students based on whether they’ll be looking for jobs.  While some Hacker Schoolers quit their jobs to come to Hacker School, others took a leave of absence or were students planning to return to school.  Hacker School routinely accepts people who won’t want jobs after the batch.

Statistically speaking ….
… if you’re a woman, you’re more likely to be underestimating your ability.# Speaking from personal experience, when I found out about the number of applications to the summer batch, I was quite confident I wouldn’t be admitted.  Thankfully, I’d already applied by then, because I was very wrong about that!  Hacker School can’t accept every applicant, but please don’t reject yourself.  Your evaluation of your skills might be as wrong as mine was, and Hacker School is too good of an opportunity to pass up.  (You don’t have to take my word for it - check out the testimonials for more.)  

If you understand what Hacker School is about and you want it for the right reasons, your odds of getting in are quite high.  If you don’t understand it (for example, if you’re just looking to build a company or a product and you don’t really enjoy coding), then your odds are quite low.  Hacker School facilitators can usually tell pretty easily which category you fall into.  

So, should you apply to Hacker School?  If you’re asking yourself the question, yes!

1 comment:

  1. HI Alison!
    We would love to interview you on your experience at Hacker School. It would help a lot of new coders find their way. Are you game? jayce (at)