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Gideon Baik learned technical and soft skills at Hack Reactor before joining IBM

Ryan Greis

Gideon Baik learned technical and soft skills at Hack Reactor before joining IBM's Image

Photo courtesy of BGR

A native of Los Angeles, Gideon identified with computers at an early age:

“Growing up with typical first generation immigrants as parents, the idea of being a doctor or lawyer and going to a good college was pushed on me at an early age. It was perceived as the golden ticket to the perfect American success story.”
 Gideon Baik
Gideon Baik

But Gideon’s career interests aligned more with computer programming:

“Thankfully my parents’ ideal narrative wasn’t aggressively force-fed to me compared to my friends. So while it was possible to contemplate life as a doctor or lawyer, I was instead drawn to computers. Software engineering just interested me. Ever since I was in middle school, being able to create applications that could do just simple tasks opened my eyes to the power of computers.”

He also disliked the idea of going to college and felt a computer science degree was unpractical. So, leading into his last years of high school, he considered dropping out of school altogether:

“I saw a lot of flaws in the delivery of higher education. But at the same time, I knew I still needed to be taught certain things and so I began looking for alternatives. Luckily enough I landed on Hack Reactor which seemed to be one of the elite schools out of the newly-created coding bootcamps. Seeing high school as an institute to prepare people for college, something I wasn’t pIanning to attend, I instead began preparing to get into Hack Reactor. Then in my junior year of high school, I applied for the first time. I was hoping I would get in so I could drop out. But thankfully that didn’t work out, and I instead graduated high school.”

After graduation, Gideon decided to take a gap year before possibly considering community college. Exhausted from working several odd jobs, along with pressure from family and friends to go to college, Hack Reactor became a distant thought.

But being dissatisfied with his current situation and wanting to work towards something he wanted to do, he decided to apply to Hack Reactor. After several failed attempts, he applied a third time and managed to finally get in:

“It was definitely a difficult process. But I was persistent. I learned from previous interviews what I had to do. I read the stuff they recommended and followed the suggested resources. I kept going at it and eventually was successful.”

Gideon chose the San Francisco campus to pursue the Hack Reactor program:

“I’ve always been fascinated by the Bay area and really wanted to immerse myself in the tech culture. ”

According to Gideon:

“The environment was tense  but collaborative. I wouldn’t say there was animosity or hostility but you could definitely feel the tension when you walked in. Everyone seemed to be giving it their all. While the junior portion was a lot of technical learning, the senior portion involved soft skill learning and managing projects within team environments.”

For his thesis project, his team developed an application called Omnichat, a web video application. Building the app involved collaboration among team members. Gideon, without much real world experience up to this point, had a lot to learn:

“In the real world environment, you’re building an application with a team, so I learned a lot about collaboration at Hack Reactor. Just being respectful about other people’s code was something I had to learn. The biggest thing I got out of it was the idea that I’m not a lone wolf. Even though I have my features and functions I have to work on, it’s all part of a bigger environment. If I need help, I need to reach out for it. There were times in the course when I would overpromise and underdeliver because I thought I could do by myself. My own pride got in the way of my progress. Being able to use this time as a dress rehearsal for my future career environment was great.”

After graduating, Gideon stayed on with Hack Reactor as an HIR, a Hacker In Residence:

“It was beneficial for me. If you can teach someone something, that means you really know the concepts. It helped me solidify the material. It also gave me more time to study and prepare for the job search later on.”

After completing his HIR term, and being in the job hunt for several months he decided to check in on the Hack Reactor alumni Slack channel, where one of alum posted a job opening with IBM. Gideon reached out to him expressing his interest in applying and ultimately went through the interview:

“During my onsite interview, my interviewers were really friendly. It never felt like an interview. The interview even went over by more than an hour.”

Soon after, Gideon was offered the position with IBM and works there today as a Full Stack Software Engineer. Along with the technical knowledge he gained, he attributes many of the soft skills he learned at Hack Reactor to helping him in his role today:

“Being patient, working together. I’m glad that I learned it at Hack Reactor rather than in a work environment. It’s a playground at Hack Reactor. There’s structure, deadlines, and responsibilities but I’m in a learning environment and it was safe to make mistakes.”
“I’ve been with IBM 3 months. It’s definitely high-paced. I’m learning a lot and there’s a lot of work to be done. I enjoy being a consultant and moving from various projects. There’s a lot of growth and learning opportunities in different fields. It keeps me on my toes.”

Gideon’s parents, eager for him at one time to follow the “golden path”, are proud of where he is today:

“Originally, my parents were not too happy with my decision to not go to university, having not had too many opportunities for themselves. But after seeing that I was able to go through the Hack Reactor program, they became a bit more supportive.  Then when I got a job at Hack Reactor, they were more supportive. Now that I have a job at IBM, they were like, ‘ok, you’re good.’”

Ready to reinvent your career?  Take a look at what you'll learn at Hack Reactor.