Hack Reactor by Galvanize programs rank among the top bootcamp choices for both tech novices and those with intermediate coding skills, with software engineering programs specifically designed for each audience. Thanks to the concerted effort of people working behind the scenes—from instructors to support staff—thousands of alumni have been able to shift to the tech industry and lead fulfilling careers.
Who Do I Learn Software Engineering from at Hack Reactor?
To maintain its strong streak of producing skilled software engineers, Hack Reactor first ensures that it has a skilled team of instructors. As the saying goes, “good teachers make good students.”
So how does the bootcamp make this possible? Well, as Galvanize Chief Academic Officer Curtis Schlack shares, prospective instructors undergo a rigorous vetting process that tests their technical competencies and soft skills.
This process, Curtis says, involves a series of interviews designed to measure their “communication, presentation, emotional intelligence, professional equity, curriculum development, and problem-solving” skills—all of which are essential to creating a conducive learning environment.
Of course, candidates are also tested on their breadth and depth of knowledge in computer science, computer architecture, and critical programming languages, among others.
Above all, Galvanize seeks instructors who are dedicated to advancing the lives of others through tech education. Curtis notes that the team’s innate passion and drive to improve their teaching methods boost their value as mentors in the classroom.
Among the instructors who have made the cut and carry the necessary experience, knowledge, and mindset to shape competent software engineers are Julian Yuen, Terra Taylor, and Jay Wilson, Jr.
Julian Yuen first encountered coding in high school when his Physics teacher introduced him to science fairs and robotics. There, he learned about C programming and continued to tinker with different hardware over the years.
“One thing led to another, and I got to MIT where I pursued a degree in Computer Science,” he shares. After getting his degree, Julian landed a job at Oracle Corp, where he worked with operating systems and kernel development. Five years later, Julian became a technical mentor at Galvanize, a move propelled by his commitment to serve as a GPS for students, helping them navigate the road to the tech industry.
Now an instructor for Hack Reactor programs, Julian works alongside the Head of Academics Annie Burnett to implement differentiated instruction. This involves making sure they provide technical growth plans for students and identify ways on how students can become more proactive in determining where they struggle in the program.
“For example, if a student fails to understand something, [we ask] why that is and, if needed, we adapt our curriculum. It could be providing more visuals, additional sprint work, or curriculum work to address the gaps in their knowledge…It’s a mix of not just delivering content but also gaining fast feedback on what’s working and what’s not to tailor our teaching accordingly.”
This process of giving voice to students is especially important considering how Hack Reactor welcomes a good mix of learners, many of whom come from non-technical backgrounds. Think fresh grads, mid-career professionals transitioning to tech, parents, immigrants, and the like.
“It’s a good diverse bunch, but they all have a similar passion of utilizing web software technological advances to hopefully make the world a better place,” says Julian.
Like Julian, Terra Taylor’s passion for coding started at a young age when she attended a cyber camp in Omaha, Nebraska. Only 12 then, she learned how to build HTML web pages, create computer animations, and edit videos.
Aware of how the program can be overwhelming for beginners, Terra encourages students to run their own race and not compare themselves to their cohort mates. She also eases their worries by sharing personal stories about how she overcame obstacles throughout her career.
“I like to tell stories from my personal experience. They can be interviews I have taken part in and stories from when I was learning to code at the university,” Terra says. Among her favorite stories to tell is how she once failed a course at the university and was told she should switch to an easier major since there was no hope for her in computer science.
“When my students feel like they are doubting themselves, I like to tell that story, and to show them he was wrong,” says Terra. “Because I’m now sitting in front of you teaching software engineering, and I’ve been a software engineer for 15 years.”
Jay Wilson, Jr.
If there’s an instructor who can relate to career shifters, Jay Wilson would be first in line. After working as a firefighter for 10 years, Jay pivoted to tech to provide a better life for his newborn daughter.
“I always had an interest in technology, but it was only after the birth of my daughter that I really became serious about transitioning. I joined a coding bootcamp program and that’s how I made the transition from being a firefighter to a software engineer,” he explains.
After more than a decade of working as a software engineer, Jay made another switch, exploring a career that had always been present in his previous roles—teaching. As a firefighter, he used to conduct countless CPR training sessions. Following his graduation from a coding bootcamp, he started teaching kids how to code while working a full-time job as an engineering manager.
He adds, “Galvanize and their Hack Reactor programs had been on my radar. Their beginner program resonated with me because it was designed for people with no programming experience. It reminded me of how I started and how the bootcamp makes transitioning a little easier for people with no tech background.”
Jay’s experience of making a mid-career change influences the way he teaches his students. Because of the complex nature of tech, he strives to create a better learning experience by giving students small wins. In effect, they become more confident in their abilities.
Jay shares, “I think the biggest challenge I see is having the right mindset when entering the bootcamp. Students hear voices that bring them down…They struggle to believe they can do this and achieve their career goals.” Jay provides every support the students need to help them reach the finish line.
The relationship between mentors and mentees does not end at the bootcamp. Jay, Terra, and Julian keep in touch with fellow alums regularly. Quite often, alums message them to update them on their progress in their career. The instructors also provide recommendation letters to help them move to the next level.
“The reason I’m in this is because of the bond we form with our students that lasts a lifetime,” adds Jay.
Hack Reactor by Galvanize programs ensure students receive a quality education as they learn from well-vetted software engineering instructors.Start your application here!
4 Tips to Become a Successful Software Engineer
Now that you’ve met some of Hack Reactor’s experienced instructors, here are their tips to help you start and thrive in your software engineering career.
Choose a Trusted Learning Partner
While bootcamps are an excellent option to gain tech education in less than a year, it pays to go with a learning partner that can prepare you as a well-rounded tech professional. Hack Reactor offers just that through its immersive programs in software engineering, namely:
- 12-Week Software Engineering Online Immersive Full-Time
- 36-Week Software Engineering Online Immersive Part-Time
Other than technical training, students also gain access to a community of learners, industry experts, mentors, and other like-minded people. This community helps ease feelings of isolation while in an immersive program and rigorous learning environment.
Instructor Terra also shares that their team convenes every morning to discuss student concerns and achievements. Doing so allows them to track progress and enhance the students’ learning experience. In addition, the instructors take time to provide feedback, offer support, and dole out industry best practices that prove helpful on the job.
Be HOT! Humility, Ownership, and Tenacity Win the Race
One piece of advice that Julian hopes his students heed as they enter the workplace is to be HOT. “I want them to come out with humility, ownership, and tenacity.”
Technology continues to evolve, and so do solutions, trends, and tech roles. To adapt, tech professionals must possess intellectual humility, keeping in mind that learning is a lifetime commitment as they progress in their careers.
“I’ve been in the industry for a decade, and I’m still learning better ways to read documentation, test things, and communicate with other stakeholders. Learn to be coachable and absorb feedback,” shares Julian.
He also stresses the importance of taking ownership of your achievements and challenges. Tech is a competitive field and only those who can present their milestones will get noticed by hiring managers. He says, “I’ve observed that many graduates think they have not done enough to vie for that position they’re interested in. So, they hold themselves back. To that, I say, you have to take ownership and be objective.”
And finally, he shares that some tenacity would help you sustain in the tech industry. Working in tech is not for the fainthearted; perseverance is key to withstanding the pressure.
If You Must Fail, Fail Forward
Terra echoes similar sentiments regarding the challenges of working in a tech role. She explains that imposter syndrome is something everyone will have to deal with at one point in their careers. Even the best are not immune to it.
But she stresses that perception is everything, and failure should be seen as a stepping stone toward success. Terra says, “Failure is a part of life and a big part of your tech career. Do not take your failure as a reason to quit or stop, rather you should learn to ‘fail forward’ and try something again…Failures help you become a better software engineer.”
As an instructor, she teaches students when to step back and how to tackle challenges from a fresh angle. One tried-and-tested trick is to talk out loud—with yourself or anyone—as you digest and break down the obstacles you encounter.
“It’s like reading a paper out loud before turning it in to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. It allows you to look at things from a different perspective…Just talking aloud as you solve problems can help you figure things out a lot faster and pick up on bugs before they cause any trouble,” she says.
Know How to Learn
Knowing how to learn means finding the right balance between becoming autonomous and resourceful. This allows you to be efficient when building new skills and knowledge—an essential approach, especially in an ever-changing landscape where new programming tools, frameworks, and challenges arise.
Jay says that each student can accomplish what they want by tweaking how they think. “When I went to a bootcamp, it was a jarring experience. Having been a firefighter for over a decade and coming into an environment that I know nothing of, nothing clicked with me.”
Fortunately, Jay mastered the art of learning, allowing him to establish a career as a software engineer. He says they have to figure out the process and focus on the end goal. “This applies to everything in life, not just programming.”
Learn Software Engineering from the Experts
While getting the education you need is only the first step in breaking into tech, it’s the most crucial stage and it can greatly impact your career path. To this, Julian says, “Join the Hack Reactor programs if you’re looking for an extra push and support, and to be surrounded by other ambitious and like-minded individuals who will get you there.”
So, are you ready to take a plunge into software engineering? Start your application here.
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