Advice from an Alumna to Future Software Engineers

Kara Erickson has been building websites since she was nine, but she only decided to take engineering from a hobby to a career less than two years ago. Now, a year after graduating from Hack Reactor, she is a Software Engineer at OpenTable, and has ventured into presenting publicly as a thought leader in the space, recently speaking at a Meetup at Google, and ng-conf, the leading Angular conference.

After researching the various Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) available, she decided to go to Hack Reactor on account of its stellar reviews, wide network of industry connections and hiring team, our dedicated staff that works with companies to create ideal matches with graduating students. Erickson knew the program would be intense, but she found that she enjoyed what she was doing and putting in long hours was no problem.

“The people at Hack Reactor were great, so that made it easy to stick around,” she recalls. This weekend, Erickson is getting together with her Hack Reactor peers for their one year reunion.

"I love the [Hack Reactor] Alumni Program!" she says. "It's great that Hack Reactor cares so much about its alumni."

Erickson recently gave a presentation on transclusion at ng-conf:

After graduating, she took her place at OpenTable as a Software Engineer, working mostly in Angular and Node. A year into the job, she has found that the learning process has not slowed down at all. She has gotten a lot of value from actively seeking out mentorship.

“My most successful tactic is to ask for brutal code reviews from the senior developers,” says Erickson.

In Erickson’s experience, one will grow simply from working as a Software Engineer, but to really keep up, it’s best to take some additional steps.

“You should be studying just as much [as a Hack Reactor student],” she says.

As a woman in tech, Erickson has been able to find supportive environments, but notes that the industry as a whole is not without its issues.

"Being a woman in the tech industry can be challenging, and this is a continuing issue that needs to be addressed. That said, both Hack Reactor and OpenTable have been excellent environments."

With the rapid pace of development in the software field, staying up on new technologies is a job unto itself.

“Open-source frameworks are evolving all the time,” she observes. “Angular is releasing updates every few weeks.” Erickson has a quick hack for staying up-to-date on the software world: “Join Twitter. Not because you should be tweeting about your breakfast, but if you follow the creator of Ionic, the creator of Node, people like that, you’ll get great blog posts sent to you every morning.”

Finally, it’s important to not get too comfortable: “Do things that terrify you,” Erickson advises. “The ng-conf presentation had me up at night, but it went great.”

With a year under her belt, Erickson has no regrets about the career she’s chosen.

“It’s a fantastic job,” she says. “I constantly get to build new things. It’s very creative and satisfying.

Want to launch your coding career? Apply to our program, online or onsite, today.

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