Learning to Code: Week 24 – Connect.Tech

October 20, 2016

  • JavaScript: The Weird Parts 39-43

October 21, 2016

  • North Atlanta Software Meetup
    • You can see the actual talk we were given here.
  • More emails sent out.

October 22, 2016

  • Volunteered at the Connect.Tech conference all day.
    • Attended a couple of talks.
    • Getting More Out of Git
      • Having trouble groking Git? Not sure what the difference between merging and rebasing is? Wondering what you would ever use a “cherry-pick” for? We’ll cover these topics and more in this talk, helping attendees get past Git novice and on their way to Git master. The talk will being with a short overview of git fundamentals, but quickly jump into more advanced concepts. We’ll cover branching, commit amending, stashing, cherry-picking, and yes, merging versus rebasing. You might not be a Git guru after one conference session, but you will have a better understanding of how to play nicely with others in the same Git repository and how to fix common (and not so common) issues in Git.
    • Javascript Software Craftsmanship
      • Becoming an expert coder involves much more than learning the coolest new framework or becoming a design pattern ninja. Becoming an expert coder is about passion and craftsmanship. In this two-part series we will dive into Software Craftsmanship, what it is and how it has not only influenced but also refactored our industry and trade. We won’t stop there, we will discuss how to grow beyond being a commodity coder to being mentored and mentoring others, who the mentors are, and how to take ownership of your coding career. Finally we will look at what often makes JS code suck and the often ignored but essential disciplines of master software craftsmen and how these apply to JS coders.

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  • Email responses from about Hack Reactor:
    • Was the quality of the instructors/TA’s at Hack Reactor amazing?
      • I’ll break this into a few parts. The instructors (Fred and Allen) are great. Fred’s got a really strong technical background (he was the tech lead at Walmart who oversaw their backend transition to Node) and Allen comes from a teaching background. When I was around Allen was just starting as an assistant instructor but I hear he’s doing a lot better now.
      • The Hackers in Residence (TAs) are hit or miss depending on the roles they’re assigned. I was an HIR and was assigned to give the morning algorithms lecture and work the help desk. I prepared a lot for the morning lectures (and believe me, memorizing 140+ faces to call on people by name was totally part of it) and enjoyed giving them.
      • You’ll interact a lot with your HIRs at the help desk. The goal of the help desk is to listen to you when you and your partner are stuck, and ask you questions to nudge you a little bit forward. One of the misconceptions about help desk is that we’re supposed to give you the answer or always know it — definitely not what happens on the job. Rather, we’re challenging you to find a flaw in your own thinking that may have gotten you stuck in the first place or gently guide you down a different path of discovery. I use this one all the time on the job 🙂
    • If you could do it all over again would you still have attended Hack Reactor? Do you feel you were well prepared to work at Capital One?
      • Yeah, I would totally do Hack Reactor again. I think I transitioned into my job at Capital One really well. One thing of note, my predicament with Capital One was a bit unique. I was hired into a front end development role that worked within the design organization, and it gave me a lot of free time to keep learning due to the type of work I was doing, which was mainly interactive prototypes written with JavaScript code and helping build out customized component libraries (think Twitter Bootstrap, but internal for Capital One). I transferred into the technology organization two months ago to work on production facing projects and really enjoy it.
    • Knowing what you know now, what would you have studied more of before and while you were attending Hack Reactor?
      • I would have focused more on backend technologies — MySQL databases, Node/Express, and deployments to AWS and Azure. Additionally, I think that UX is a vital part of our craft. After working for a bit over a year, I’ve developed the mindset that it’s absolutely inexcusable to not think or care about UX — I strongly feel that UX and development are not close to being mutually exclusive. I doubled down on design thinking during my first year at Capital One and heavily recommend it.
      • I forgot to mention that I also wish I spent more time learning how to write effective unit tests. I think the current curriculum in HR requires it. It’s been an important part of my job.
    • I see that the cohort size right now is around ~70 people. I am not sure if your cohort was this large, but was the class size an issue for you? Other bootcamps seem to have much smaller groups coming through (MakerSquare is around ~30).
      • Wow, that’s large! Are you certain that’s one cohort? I’m asking because when I attended, they ran four simultaneous cohorts at a time of ~30-35 people. Two cohorts were Juniors (first six weeks), the other two were Seniors (latter six weeks) with one of each type on each floor (6 and 8). I don’t know if this has changed. I believe there have been cohorts of 40-45+, but 70+ sounds huge.
    • Did you feel you could’ve gotten a job anywhere in the country once you started searching? (Maybe NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, etc)
      • This is a tough question to answer, since I knew I wanted to work in the SF Bay Area. A few of my friends got jobs in LA and one in Boston and I know another is in NYC. I think that you’ll have marketable skills to work in any market, but your ability to find a job in said market really comes down to whether or not there are a critical mass of opportunities for you to apply to and the impression you make on those employers.

October 23, 2016

October 24, 2016

  • Feedback from a guy I messaged on Reddit:

Great questions!

Q: What is the biggest area, during your interviewing, that junior devs/bootcamp grads are sorely lacking competency in? (that they could’ve studied on their own)

This definitely varies. A lot of newer developers aren’t able to explain their thought process as they’re thinking, and I’m always looking to hear a candidate thinking out loud.

This is especially important to do if you might not solve the challenge; you could still get the job because of your calm, thoughtful approach. Interviewers should know you’re a bootcamper and should have reasonable expectations of your skill level, so they may give you a challenge they know you’ll fail to see when/how you ask for help. Don’t try to bullshit anyone (for a few years.)

Q: I’ve been looking to get into Hack Reactor (SF) as my first choice and of course bust my ass while I’m there. Is that the camp you would recommend as the best, or do you feel there are better ones?

I’m glad you are prepared for ass-busting. I believe at least 75% of your outcome is determined by your input.

I can’t say if there’s a camp better than Hack Reactor; I’m not connected to it at all. It looks like a more intensive program than the others (9am -> 12pm classes, $20k tuition) so maybe you get a bit more value? I’d stay away from General Assembly because of what I went through teaching there, but that was a few years ago.

My top student ever (https://www.linkedin.com/in/coltsteele) was involved with Galvanize and now has his own online course, so I’ll plug him too!

Q: What can a bootcamp student do to best network with already established developers or to perhaps find some mentoring/guidance? I feel that a resume shotgun approach isn’t that great versus having a decent network.

You’re doing it! Reach out to people and talk to them about stuff. Go to meetups, conferences, subreddits, hackathons, etc. Contribute to open source (even if you can’t code much yet, many projects need help with documentation).

You say you’re in ATL now, it’ll be different if you come out here (SF) – getting coffee or grocery shopping can turn into a chance encounter with the founder of your favorite company, or just someone with a job to offer. Depending on your life situation, you may want to get some developer roommates.

Resume shotgun (a term I just Googled) can get you a job but it’s a tedious process filled with rejection, and waiting. You’re right, using your network should help get you straight to some phone screens. Your bootcamp should throw events or have some way to connect you with potential employers.

Q: You mentioned blogging as a good thing hard working students do. Is there anything else you see that high performing bootcamp students do that the rest do not?

Reading: I could not get my students to read anything! How do you expect to have anything to talk about if you don’t read anything? I tried to assign a weekly “read an article and present to the class why you thought it was cool” and the class revolted. A must is YC’s Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com) which is similar in many ways to Reddit.

Tools: some students choose to focus on “just” writing code, and don’t build skills with their text editor, terminal, git, GitHub, Google, the skill that is switching amongst all your tools… things you might decide are less important if you’re feeling stressed about a particular assignment. Hopefully your camp will force you to learn everything but if you squeak by, you’re setting yourself up to be lost on the job.

Explore: learn about more stuff than just what they teach you. If you’re reading Hacker News, this will be easy; when you see an article about some technology that sounds interesting, read it, then download the thing and give it a try. You’ll have new skill or at least a story to tell (or blog post to write about how you installed it and THIS happened.)

Phew. I hope this helps.

October 25, 2016

October 26, 2016

  • Took a look at Practical Javascript and did Parts 1 and 2.
  • Signed up for Coderbyte and did a couple of challenge problems.
  • http://www.javascriptbook.com/
  • Want to learn JavaScript in 2016?
  • Spoke with Hack Reactor Alum JK on the phone about her experiences:
    • She had a co-worker at Udacity that did Hack Reactor and recommended it over Hackbright Academy.
    • Cohort size was 40 x 2. Each individual cohort was on separate floors mixed with a senior cohort. So 80 people started at once.
    • Find strong people to help with your weak areas.
    • Instructors don’t play that big of a role. Only 1-2 lectures every other day.
    • Schedule was intense. Because she’s a psycho she spent 10-12 hours a day there. She was told she wouldn’t make it by a cofounder in the FIRST WEEK. Ow.
    • Cohort was almost all men and a lot of younger kids (early 20s). She’s in her 30s. One of three women total.
    • She had Job lined up before she joined which was unique. Job prep was okay she said. She felt she bombed the Udacity interview haha.
    • She recommended these courses: