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Alumni Spotlight - An Interview with Katherine Hao

Katherine is a self-described “gaming nerd”. And now, as Software Engineer for Twitch, a leading social video service and community for video game culture, she blends her passion for gaming with programming.

Just a few years prior, her life as an English teacher in Hong Kong seemed to put her career in a totally different direction than coding. And what got her to where she is today is inspirational to those interested in pursuing software engineering as a profession, no matter what career they’re coming from or what level of coding experience they bring.

We recently interviewed her to learn more about her story:

H/R: What’s Twitch and what’s your role there?
Katherine: Twitch is a leading social video service and community for video game culture. It’s my first job coming out of Hack Reactor. I’ve worked at Twitch just over a year now, and work on VODs, mostly in the front end, and API layer (Application Programming Interface). More recently, I built the video chat system and worked on migration to the new stack.

I am excited to work every day because I find myself constantly learning. Twitch is in a state of growth, and in need of programmers to adapt quickly to the changing needs of the company. So my ability to learn fast is respected there. As a result, I have been gaining a lot of responsibility.

H/R: What led you to join a coding bootcamp?
Katherine: I’ve had an interest in programming as long as I can remember. I built my first computer when I was 12. But, instead of taking computer science in college, I decided to go the business route. My parents are both very entrepreneurial. So I felt a business degree made natural sense.

Although from the United States, I spent the last decade in Asia and worked for about 3 years as an English teacher in Hong Kong. Eventually, in 2016, I made the move back to the United States in pursuit of a career move, either in computer science or data science.

Hack Reactor kept me on my toes. The material came at me very quickly, and I needed to absorb it fast. It prepared me for the environment I would see at Twitch.
— Katherine Hao

H/R: Why did you choose Hack Reactor?
Katherine: I went to a Hack Reactor prep course in February 2016 and really enjoyed it. During that time, I found myself building browser games and advancing my foundational coding skills. It was also during that time where I fell in love with coding. I continued my growth by taking the April immersive bootcamp cohort, graduated in July, and started at Twitch in October 2016.

Hack Reactor kept me on my toes. The material came at me very quickly, and I needed to absorb it fast. It prepared me for the environment I would see at Twitch.

H/R: What was your favorite part of the experience?
Katherine: My favorite part of attending Hack Reactor was the environment I experienced on campus. As a student, I essentially lived with 40 smart, driven classmates for over 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Even though we were all different, from different backgrounds and experiences, we were there for the exact same reason. This bond and new-found commonality created great friendships and reinforced an environment of learning and knowledge sharing.

H/R: What's the one piece of advice you would share with new students?
Katherine: Open yourself up to learning. Not only before and during Bootcamp. But throughout your career. Absorb as much as you can. Keep challenging yourself everyday. And take advantage of the great friendships you’ll make while at Hack Reactor, as they will last for a lifetime, and will continue to provide you with opportunities to learn from each other years after you graduate.


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