How Hack Reactor Students Go Non-Stop for Three Months Without Burning Out

Hack Reactor students are coached to view the program as a marathon, not a sprint. However you think of it, 11-hour days, 6 days a week for 12 weeks is an incredible feat of physical and mental stamina. In order to maximize what can be accomplished in the three months of the program, Hack Reactor requires a commitment of time and energy that few jobs would ask for.

Hack Reactor is a supportive environment throughout the program.

Hack Reactor is a supportive environment throughout the program.

That’s why Hack Reactor has dedicated staff and programs to support students' physical and emotional wellbeing. One such staff member (and Hack Reactor grad), Savannah Kunovsky, recently addressed the issue of potential burnout at Hack Reactor on Quora:

There is no denying that this program is intense; you are dedicating three months of your life not only to becoming a talented software engineer, but a well rounded employee and developer. That being said: we want you to succeed. As soon as you step foot in our classroom on day 1 there are people who are rooting for you, both with your peers and our multiple employees whose jobs are to work with you to help you reach these goals.

“I would say [burnout] is a very real threat,” Hack Reactor instructor Ryan Stellar chimes in, “and we do our best to available on a variety of fronts; whatever is more safe and comfortable for the student.

Hack Reactor student Addison Lee backs up Savannah on how much emotional support is offered by the staff:

If you want to look at Hack Reactor as a marathon, it shouldn't be because of the amazing distance you'll cover or the hours that you'll invest in training, but instead because of the countless people that will cheer you on.  Whether it's the teachers, hackers-in-residence, or alumni providing you with the resources you need or other students making incredible progress beside you, you're constantly surrounded by intelligent, thoughtful, and caring people that keep you going.  And it doesn't hurt that there are plenty of employers anxiously waiting for you to cross that finish line. 

Student Alex Jacobs provides a testament to taking care of one’s personal health:

I set a hard limit of getting to sleep by midnight. I also limited caffeine, sugar, and alcohol throughout the course in order to support healthy sleep schedules. In addition, I occasionally joined my peers for brief meditation periods in the early evenings.

I also visited a herbalist prior to the course and discussed the intensity of the program I was about to embark upon. Before and throughout the course I took a custom blended immune-boosting herbal tincture.

I did at times feel very stressed out due to the rigors of the course, however, combining all of the above, I avoided illness and burnout.

Though burnout never stops being a concern, in practice, it hasn’t been much of an issue. Hack Reactor cofounder Shawn Drost thinks he knows why:

Before we started the school, we were really worried about burnout.  We had all these plans about how we'd prevent it and make sure students weren't maxing out all the time.  Then the students got there and it was a total non-problem.  It was incredible.  It turns out burnout comes from being miserable and demotivated and forcing yourself to work anyway, not from working long hours when you're excited about what you're doing and surrounded by supporting peers and staff.

Hack Reactor takes pains to assess each applicant’s motivation before accepting them into the school, and Drost’s observation makes it clear why. When students are sure that they want to be there, they find the strength to get through an intense but incredible three months.

Read More:

Software Development School: Self-Study, University or Immersive Learning?

Life at Hack Reactor: Students Blog About Their First Week

What is Hack Reactor's "Hacker in Residence" Program?