What is Programming? Start Learning Today (Free Course Guide)


Jessica-Earley-300x300Jessica Early is the director of  Part-Time Education at Hackbright Academy in San Francisco. Prior to working at Hackbright, she spent a decade working with nonprofits with at-risk youth in disadvantaged areas. She received her BA in Sociology and Education: Applied Psychology from UCSB. At home, Jessica loves to spend time with loved ones, her pets and
collecting strawberry knick knacks. 

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You Don’t have to Be a Rocket Scientist to Code. 

Programming or coding isn’t just for hoodie-wearing, Doritos-eating math prodigies. People who write code come from all different backgrounds. You don’t even need a CS degree. In fact, 59.8% of software engineers, programmers or computer scientist titles do not carry a CS degree, according to Tech Crunch. So if you don’t have a Computer Science Degree and you’re interested in learning to code, you’re in luck!

Step 1: Watch this video

‘What is programming, exactly?’ you ask. We’ve got answers in this quick video on what programming is and how it relates to the computer. Video by Austin Olney.

Step 2: Spend 60 minutes with Python

 

Sign up for free at Codecademy, which hosts a free hands-on Python course that takes an estimated 13 hours to complete. (Look for the link to the course catalog to find the Python course, and to see the many paths a coding career can take. You don’t need to upgrade to the paid Pro membership.)

Why Python? Because it’s one of the most in-demand languages today in many areas of computing, from recreational websites to serious data science. That’s why it’s also the highest-paying language to know for new engineers. Once you’ve learned one programming language, learning others is much easier. So you might as well start with the one that currently maximizes your opportunities.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with just one hour of the tutorial. You’ll get an overview of concepts, and you’ll write and run your first simple Python program. That will give you a basic idea of how code works, and what a software development environment looks like.

Slow and steady learning will get you where you want to be. You’ll be spending a lot more time playing with Python — a lot, because coding is addictive rather than a chore. But before you do, there are some people you should meet.

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Step 3: Follow Online Classroom Resources

Online resources like Youtube have thousands of videos searchable, from every programming lesson possible. From beginner to advance, help ease yourself into the world of programming with instructors and teaching styles of our choice.

Start with Jessica McKellar, an amazing Python developer who has a great class you can follow right along. Free courses like our 10-Day Crash Course are also a great start to the world of coding.

Congrats, you’re coding!

That’s it! You’ve taken your first steps into a new life, and already have new friends with whom to make the journey. You’ll also find them — and others — online. Stack Overflow is where you can talk about coding. GitHub is the go-to place to peruse and share working Python (and every other language) examples with other programmers. Both are also places where managers looking to hire new engineers look for promising candidates.

Bookmark our list 7 Online Coding Resources For Beginners for more tutorial and help sites.

As you progress, you may want some classroom education. Hackbright offers a part-time Intro to Programming night course in San Francisco that runs five hours per week, for 12 weeks. You may find similar courses in your area.

Whatever you do, keep coding, whenever you have even a few minutes. Once you get rolling, it’s as addictive as Facebook. The more time you spend editing, running and debugging algorithms on your screen, the better — and better — you’ll get. Welcome to the club!

And lastly, apply for Hackbright Academy.

If you’re ready to change your career and become a coder or programmer, but don’t have the experience to get accepted into a bootcamp, apply for the Hackbright Prep by March 24. You’ll learn the foundations of programming, how to use necessary tools, and ultimately tackle the bootcamp application process. You’ll work with a one-on-one advisor to track your progress, create your own personal project, and expand your network in our community of like-minded women.

EXCLUSIVE SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS FOR OUR APRIL COURSES:

  • Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners is offering $1,000 scholarships | Apply here!
  • In honor of International Women’s Day this month, every student will receive a $500 scholarship for our Part-Time April courses!

Hackbright Academy is the leading 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. 

New Hackbright Prep Course Helps Students Pursue the Full-Time Fellowship

We’re excited to announce that Hackbright Academy has launched Hackbright Prep, an 8-week evening course where students learn coding fundamentals while preparing for the Hackbright Fellowship application process. We’ve interviewed Jessica Earley, Director of Part-Time Education, to get more insight on this new course. 

Tell us more about Hackbright Prep

We saw a growing interest in women wanting to apply to our full-time bootcamp and ultimately change careers; however, they wanted something light to test their interest and also prepare them for the admissions process.  With Hackbright Prep, you’ll learn the foundations of programming, pair programming and build a personal project while solving admissions coding challenges to help prepare you for that next step.

Who  is this course for?

Anyone with 10 hours of coding practice can join, and it’s most helpful for women who want to see if their hobby of coding could be more. If you’ve wanted to go to bootcamp but either don’t have the prerequisite coding skills, or aren’t yet sure you want to make that level of commitment in money and time, Hackbright Prep is designed to offer you a good place to start with personal advising and a more modest commitment. If admitted to the fellowship, students will receive $1,500 off their tuition.

We saw a growing interest in women wanting to apply to our full-time bootcamp and ultimately change careers; however, they wanted something light to test their interest and prepare them for the admissions process.”

What will students get out of the class?

That’s a long list! You’ll learn the foundations of programming, programming logic, basic data structures, go through Admissions-level coding challenges and much, much more. (To get the full list, you can check out our Hackbright Prep page). Throughout the course, you will have an advisor from the education team who will meet with you regularly to track your progress and help with code reviews. You’ll also build a personal project using all the concepts you learned in the course.  

What makes this different from other prep courses?

The biggest difference is what Hackbright is known for: You’ll learn to code in a community of like-minded women who have similar passions as you. We have seen firsthand how much further women get in their coding skills when they have a supportive educational team and student body around them. 

11144410_1007659415921133_4525136329185627983_o (2)How is Hackbright Prep different the previously offered Intro to Programming course?

This class is designed specifically for those interested in applying to bootcamps and takes into consideration the skills needed to be successful through the application process. It’s less for those who have no experience. We require 10-hours of coding experience and it’s for those who have a deep interest in pursuing a software engineering career. The advisors and educational support teaches with the student’s long-term intention in mind.

Will students be able to apply to bootcamps upon graduating?

Yes! The admission team will come in and share the admission process. Students will also have code workshops where they will be working on solving code challenges to prepare them to apply.

Are Hackbright Prep students guaranteed to get into the Hackbright Fellowship?

Every student is unique, with different learning styles and absorption rates. There’s no guarantee of enrollment into the Fellowship. However, you are definitely going to be given the tools to be properly prepared and you will get a sense of the Hackbright style.

What are you most excited about this class?

There are three things I’m especially excited about:

  • More attention to students through advisor/advisee relationships
  • Focus on best coding practices and work on breaking problems down
  • Additional resources of more in-depth concepts, access to exercises with solutions and weekly homework to track progress

Find out more details about our Hackbright Prep program here or come by our campus to meet the team! 

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Jessica Earley is the Director of Part-Time Education. Prior to Hackbright, Jessica spent 10+ years in non-profit and helps as a leader in Google Developers Group, Women Techmakers, Girl Develop It, Latin@s in Tech and DevelopHerDevelopHim. Jessica believes that education is a powerful medium for empowerment and self-discovery that can lead to unprecedented opportunities. 

Seven Books to Launch Your Career in 2017

In the New Year, we often re-dedicate ourselves to self-improvement, re-invention, and to taking our career to the next level. To support that process of leveling up, Hackbright staff and instructors have recommended a few books for our readers!

The twist to this list is that all of the books were authored or co-authored by women, and they all offer ways to improve your “hard” or “soft” skills as a software developer or tech worker.

Note: Hackbright did not add any affiliate links to these book reviews (you’ll have to Google them!), and we are not receiving any revenue or other compensation for these recommendations.

Here’s our list of 7 books to launch your career this year:


#1 Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Recommended by Meggie Mahnken, Hackbright Director of Fellowship Education

Author Gayle Laakmann McDowell is a software developer, and she describes her book as a way to navigate the sometimes tricky coding questions that arise in interviews for software developer positions. The book’s purpose is to provide you with the opportunity to practice tackling 189 potential programming interview questions via her approach for breaking those questions down into manageable modular-sized chunks. Gayle’s ultimate goal for each reader is to develop a comfort level with these types of questions so that she or he can whip up flawless algorithms on the whiteboard during an interview!

Hackbright’s Meggie Mahnken’s quick take on the book: “It’s a no-nonsense overview of many topics that would otherwise be intimidating to tackle. The introductory chapters on different types of technical interview questions, runtime, and other fundamental topics never fail to motivate me to enjoy the process of whiteboarding. Technical explanations are peppered with ‘real world’ interviewing insights. Even though it’s not in my primary language (python), the Java code snippets are incredibly approachable and informative.”


#2 Cracking the Tech Career by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Recommended by Meggie Mahnken, Hackbright Director of Fellowship Education

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Following her book on acing the coding interview (#1 above), Gayle new book offers targeted career advice for landing a job at a top tech company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft. She provides guidance on potential career paths, and how to develop the right type of experience, mindset, and skills so that you’ll be a good cultural fit at these companies.  Bottom line, this book shows you what the hiring committee wants, and how you can develop a career path to achieve it.

 


#3 Hello Web App by Tracy Osborn

Recommended by Hackbright VP of Strategic Partnerships & Mentoring Angie Chang

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Tracy Osborn’s book “Hello Web App” is geared towards non-programmers (or newly minted developers) who would like to build and design their own custom web app using Python and Django. The book supports readers through the process of choosing a project, setting up a database, creating templates, and launching your app.  Tracy is also planning on releasing a new book, “Hello Web Design”, later this year which focuses on web design fundamentals and shortcuts for non-designers.

 


#4 Two Scoops of Django by Audrey Roy Greenfield 

Recommended by Hackbright TAs Jennifer Griffith-Delgado and Meg Bishop

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 In this third edition of her book, Audrey Roy Greenfield provides tips, tricks, patterns, code snippets and techniques that will help you master Django. The book is not designed as a Django tutorial, however, so you should be somewhat familiar with Django first so that you can leverage this as a valuable Django resource.  A few example chapters include: optimal Django environments, fundamentals of Django app design, queries and the database layer, building and consuming rest APIs, testing best practices, finding and reducing bottlenecks, security best practices, logging and debugging, etc.

#5 Doing Data Science by Cathy O’Neil and Rachel Schutt

Recommended by Hackbright Instructor Henry Chen

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“Doing Data Science” is based on lectures from the Introduction to Data Science course taught at Columbia University. In many of these chapter-long lectures, data scientists from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and eBay share new algorithms, methods, and models by presenting case studies and the code they use.  If you’re familiar with linear algebra, probability, and statistics, and have programming experience, this book is an ideal introduction to data science. The book is collaboration between course instructor Rachel Schutt, Senior VP of Data Science at News Corp, and data science consultant Cathy O’Neil, a former senior data scientist at Johnson Research Labs. Cathy just released a book in 2016, “Weapons of Math Destruction”, about the dangers of Big Data (it was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award).


#6 Probabilistic Graphical Models by Daphne Koller and Nir Friedman

Recommended by Hackbright Instructor Henry Chen

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This book complements the same OpenClassroom and Coursera courses by Stanford Professor Daphne Koller and her co-instructor Nir Friedman. The introduction to reasoning algorithms (machine learning) is based upon probabilistic graphical models that capture and analyze uncertainty. From the Coursera course, the content covers probabilistic graphical models (PGMs) as a rich framework for encoding probability distributions over complex domains. These representations sit at the intersection of statistics and computer science, probability theory, graph algorithms, machine learning, etc. They are the basis for a wide variety of applications, such as medical diagnosis, image understanding, speech recognition, natural language processing, etc.


#7 Program Development in Java by Barbara Liskov and John Guttag

Recommended by Hackbright Instructor Henry Chen

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“Program Development in Java” is aimed for students who know how to write small programs, and are at the stage of enrolling in a second or third programming course. Readers should be familiar with Java, but this is not a “how to code in Java” book. Java is just the “vehicle” for teaching key concepts for the whole process of developing production-ready software. The book is written by Barbara Liskov, an MIT Professor (and winner of the 2008 Turing Award), and John Guttag, also a professor at MIT. The focus of the book is on modular program construction: how to organize a program as a collection of well-chosen modules. It centers on four main topics: requirements analysis, iterative program design, debugging and testing, and design patterns.


Like these books? There are dozens more! 

Finally, if you’d like to discover more tech books authored by women, an invaluable resource is Etsy Engineering Director Lara Hogan’s list of tech books authored by women.

And if you think we should feature other books in a future list, please add your suggestions via the comments below!