Student Spotlight: From Teacher to Software Engineer

Rebecca Saines, Software Engineer, Streak 

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Recently, Hackbright alumna Rebecca Saines sat down with Course Report, one of the top online resources for prospective students considering intensive bootcamp programs, for their Alumni Spotlight. Formerly a middle school math and science teacher, Rebecca decided to pursue her passion in coding by attending Hackbright Academy, with soon after landing a position as Software Engineer at Streak.

Below are some excerpts from their discussion.  Visit Course Report to read the interview in its entirety.

What were you up to before Hackbright Academy?

I was on the pre-med path in college before finally getting the guts to tell my family that I didn’t want to be a doctor. So naturally, I instead graduated with a degree in Spanish. But I had always had a penchant for teaching and working with kids, so I applied for Teach for America and taught middle school Math and Science in North Carolina.

After teaching for five years, my husband George was bitten by the startup bug and we decided to move to the Bay Area. I used that move as an opportunity to transition from the classroom to…literally anything else. I ended up finding a position in customer service in an EdTech company, which is where I started to get more technical.

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When did you decide that you wanted to become a software engineer?

I was always interested in tech in the classroom and I had always had a propensity for math and science, but it wasn’t until I joined that EdTech company that I started to actually parse JSON and work with a database or an API. I kept learning those things as a customer service representative, moved on to manage the team, and then I moved into product management. As a product manager, I missed debugging and doing the technological stuff. When I realized that this piece was missing, that was a huge part of my decision to go to Hackbright Academy.

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Did you think about going back to college or getting a masters degree instead of a coding bootcamp?

I found that the return on investment for a coding bootcamp was so much better than going back to college, which is a much bigger monetary investment and a much longer time investment.

Click here to read the full Course Report interview.

Hackbright Academy is the engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry.  Learn more about Hackbright’s 12-week software engineering program Rebecca completed.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Tech at Facebook’s F8 Conference

When it comes to women in tech, Hackbright is all about changing the ratio. That’s why we were excited when Facebook asked us to represent Hackbright at the F8 Developer Conference in San Jose this past week!  

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Hackbright had an information booth for the invite-only 1,000 attendees from all over the world, with a special musical performance by DJ Blaze.

You’d think by now the men to women ratio is evening out, but sadly, it’s notSo, Hackbright aimed to be the representation at the conference to bring awareness to this issue. #ISupportWomenEngineers signs were seen all over the conference, to help bring awareness to increasing the number of women, specifically engineers, in tech today.

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Even if you weren’t at the conference, you can still join in our enthusiasm. Get inspired by reading some of our Student Stories of women who are changing tech history.

Hackbright Academy is an engineering school for women with a mission to increase female representation in tech through education, mentorship and community. To close the gender gap in engineering and technology, we have reimagined and improved engineering education through a customized model that aims to bring women back into the field. 

Hackbright Academy is the engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women.

How Scholarship Winner Natalie Miles landed a job at Credit Karma

72584_751438918288_206195_n Natalie Miles is a business analyst at Credit Karma who earned a full scholarship to the Hackbright Academy Part-Time class. Eager to help with tasks at her current role, her knowledge in programming is vital in the current work landscape, and as a woman, she knows the increasing need of females in tech. 

It was during a job transition when Natalie had the idea of getting into the data science field. 

Wanting to learn Python, Natalie, who had previously known about Hackbright, heard about the scholarship application through Hackbright from the Women Who Code newsletter. “I read it all the time and saw that there was a scholarship opportunity. I had been through boot camps and that had always been the first thing on my mind.” Natalie said she liked that it was all women.

“It’s a great way to learn a challenging subject, being with other like-minded people who are similar to you.”

After the application process, which Natalie found to be quite painless, she had heard within two days that she got the scholarship.

“I think for me I would have been reluctant to make that jump had I not received the scholarship. The program was something I wanted to do for awhile and I always pushed back because I knew it required a huge time and money commitment, so having that money commitment out of the picture and knowing it would just be a time commitment on my part made it a go ahead.”

Hackbright’s new Prep Course is twice a week during the evening, for eight weeks that covers the foundations of programming, which amongst the many topics, includes Python, GitHub, basic data structures and functionality. The prep course is perfect for those that want to get more into programming but still need some more experience before taking the Fellowship course.

As far as the program itself goes, Natalie made great friends in addition to a great education.

“It was a very encouraging and nurturing environment. I like the fact that there wasn’t weird competitiveness going on, and it really helped forge great relationships. The cohort I was with was great and I made some really great friends from this class. It’s hard to meet people outside of work so having an in-person class is a really rewarding experience.”

Projects That Carry into Work

As a business analyst at Credit Karma, and a former operations analyst at Lending Club, Natalie wanted to learn programming to help with mundane projects and tasks in her work.

“One of the most important things as far as getting into the data science field is that I have a basic understanding of Python, and [without this education], wouldn’t be able to do.

One of the cool projects I was able to do at Hackbright during class was using an API project to improve a work-related issue. I was able to make a tool to have a presence of Reddit.”

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Eventually, Natalie would like to get a master’s degree in data science or an MBA. “I feel like I’m at such a big advantage knowing how to program—it’s such a valuable skill set. There’s not a lot of representation of women in these roles, and I feel an obligation to help and not be left behind because technology is advancing.”

Natalie’s advice for people who might be interested in learning about the Hackbright program and getting into more technical roles: “If this is something you’re interested in, make sure you set yourself up for success. Don’t keep putting it off because of timing…there’s never going to be a perfect time. Do it now while you have the availability, because you want to be able to focus on this and give yourself a chance to succeed.”

Hackbright Academy is the engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women.