As Stacie shares, “Nothing intimidates me at work because Hack Reactor taught me how to go about learning any language, framework, or tools that I encounter because I built a conceptually sound foundation.”
Here’s how Hack Reactor helped Stacie realize her full potential in tech.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending Hack Reactor?
I was a music teacher in a public school for 13 years [where I taught] violin lessons to elementary students. I also served as an Assistant Orchestra Director at a high school level and an Elementary General Music Teacher.
Why did you pursue a new career or upskill in your field? What inspired you to choose this bootcamp?
Beginning in 2016, I started to learn to code from free online sources as a hobby…It took a few years before I realized that programming was going to be a permanent part of my life and so I looked for the right opportunity to jump in and go pro.
What did you like about Hack Reactor? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
The instructors and curriculum are top-notch…I really believe they prepared me very well to thrive in a workplace that has high standards and expectations.
This was a full-time, [19-week] program. In my opinion, it’s difficult to take the program full-time and hold a full-time job as well. I took the program in July so, I was lucky that I had the summer off after my last year of teaching. That at least gave me a few paychecks before I was on my own. After the summer, it was truly a gamble, which thankfully paid off!
Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
In the last leg of the program, we were placed in groups of four and spent several weeks building a final project…My group of animal lovers chose to create a platform for animal rescue organizations to publicize pets in need and for individuals in search of adoptable pets to be able to search across many organizations at once.
One feature I made was the use of ZIP codes or addresses to provide relevant search results to potential adopters within a certain radius…I included this in my application for the apprenticeship at Airbnb.
Attend an info session held regularly. Use LinkedIn to find graduates and reach out to them…[While] I strongly recommend against trying to work while doing the program, there is a new part-time program that you could look into if you can’t quit your day job.
Above all, don’t be afraid! No prior coding experience is necessary [and Hack Reactor] will go out of its way to make you feel welcome.
Did the job search post-bootcamp turn out as expected? How did the job search process differ from your expectations?
My job search turned out better than I expected because I got my dream job at Airbnb…I work for an amazing company that invested significantly in my training. There is never a dull moment, and the people and the culture at Airbnb are fantastic. They also have a Live And Work Anywhere policy.
With how many companies did you interview? How did you choose which one to work with?
I got three interviews. Two of them rejected me, but I passed the third interview with Airbnb. And we lived happily ever after.
How did the program support you in finding a job? Did you find a job after the bootcamp?
The Career Services team at Hack Reactor was awesome…I learned a lot about framing my personal narrative to emphasize transferable skills and how to prepare for interview questions. I was in contact with them several times a week after the program ended and as I got through rounds of interviews with Airbnb. They were with me up until I signed my offer letter.
How are the skills you gained from the course helpful in your current career?
The most valuable part of the program…is learning the approach to problem-solving and debugging. Nothing intimidates me at work because Hack Reactor taught me how to go about learning any language, framework, or tools that I encounter because I built a conceptually sound foundation.
What are the most satisfying aspects of your job? What motivates you to keep doing it?
I love turning business logic into code.
I get [paid] to solve puzzles every day. But none of that would be as awesome if I didn’t get to work with the bright and wonderful people of Airbnb.
How does your current company align with your values and goals? Are there any benefits or perks that make working for this company particularly enjoyable?
At Airbnb, they take their core values very seriously…The culture is very kind and inclusive. At the same time, the expectations are high and the pay and benefits reflect that. A couple of my favorite perks are the special “Live And Work Anywhere” expense allowance and employee travel (Airbnb) credits.
In what ways has your life changed since attending the bootcamp? Can you describe any notable differences in your life pre- and post-bootcamp?
My life has changed like night and day. Did I love teaching and my students for 13 years? Absolutely.
But now, I simply adore not sitting in traffic every day…I value having a job that keeps my brain busy and there is always something new to learn. I am delighted to finally feel like, “Yeah, my paycheck is enough,” for the first time ever, and to be able to pay every bill on time. And, I love working in a collaborative and cooperative environment.
If I aspire to be in your line of work, what are the most crucial skills I should be working on right now?
Start learning some basic coding from free resources online and see if you enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to jump in and “break” things because code is fixable and we can learn from our mistakes.
Read tech blogs, listen to beginning coder podcasts, and find out what areas of tech interest you. Use LinkedIn and meetups to reach out and ask questions from contacts in the industry. Networking is super important, so you might as well approach it early with an open heart. Software engineering, in my experience, is full of good humans who are happy to share knowledge.