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What Hack Reactor Students Gain Beyond Top Coding Skills

Owen Poindexter

What Hack Reactor Students Gain Beyond Top Coding Skills's Image

When describing the value of the Hack Reactor program, much of the conversation centers on the curriculum, and that certainly is a major element of the success enjoyed by our graduates. However, when you talk to our students, it quickly becomes clear that the value of the program is much more nuanced than that. Many students describe, not just a dramatic increase in knowledge and skills, but an entirely new mentality.

“I expected the academic rigor,” says student Genevieve Sublette. “I feel I got what I paid for in terms of academic challenge. What I didn’t expect was all the personal growth.”

The intense pace of learning, combined with a close knit, supportive community causes Hack Reactor students to progress at an incredible rate. For many of them, it is the most profound educational experience they have ever had (see our Yelp reviews).

“Hack Reactor brought out some things in me that I didn’t think I had,” describes student Michael Balarezo. “It really taught me how to think quickly and how to think differently about approaching material.”

This rapid increase in abilities causes a corresponding growth in confidence. People that came in as dabblers and hobbyists feel prepared for the workforce.

“Before I came in, I had no idea what typing a URL into a browser was actually doing. Now I’m writing endpoints on servers I’ve made to handle those requests to URLs that people are typing in,” explains Danny Tunon. “That’s mind-blowing to me. That’s when I felt like a software engineer.”

This feeling is incredibly exciting for anyone who reaches this level on their coding journey. It’s the difference between bushwhacking your way through an attempted project and having a clear path to get where you want to go.

There’s no way you can learn at this pace in another way.
— Genevieve Sublette, Hack Reactor student

“We don’t feel limited at all by tech scope,” says Nathaniel Edwards. “We know we can pick up any technology or framework and build something really cool with it.”

We have a number of systems that help students maximize what they get out of the program. Support staff regularly check in with students on how they are doing, both academically and emotionally. The curriculum itself is structured to steadily build understanding of the fundamentals, so that students are always challenged but never lost. Students are always surrounded by talented, motivated peers.

“Staff and students alike, everyone is part of your success,” says Balarezo.

Pair-programming, an industry practice in which students work together on projects, is a regular part of the course. In each pair, one student “navigates” by charting how to approach a task, and the other “drives” by writing the actual code. Pairs regularly switch off roles.

“I really found pair programming to be extra valuable and way more educational than I was anticipating,” says Edwards. “I thought you’d be losing out on that knowledge by coding with someone else. Instead, I learned way more than I would have otherwise.”

One benefit of pairing is that students are forced to articulate their code--a key soft skill for professional software developers.

“Being able to explain a problem is a really good check on your own comprehension,” notes Tunon.

With the intensity of the course, one element that many students don’t anticipate is how much they enjoy their time at Hack Reactor.

“It’s surprisingly fun,” says Sublette. “When I did my research beforehand, I got the impression it’s a lot of really hard work, long hours, hard material—all of which was true—but it also turned out to be a blast.”

While Hack Reactor requires students to be present and learning a minimum of 66 hours a week, students often find that the time flies by.

“You’re learning so quickly,” says Balarezo. “Being fed all this new information fuels the drive to be here all day.”

“I want to stay later every day,” adds Sublette. “When I used to work, I’d look at the clock at 2:00pm and want to leave. Here I never feel that. There’s no way you can learn at this pace in another way.”

Accelerate your coding abilities: Apply to Hack Reactor today.

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