git commit -m ‘All the things!’

I’d applied to a number of different programs, but had turned down a few positions before even submitting my application to Hackbright. In other words, I was skeptical of the value of “coding bootcamps” in the first place, not just of Hackbright in particular. Thanks to Hackbright’s student blogs, however, I managed to get over that initial skepticism, pack a bag, and fly out to San Francisco — and, I’ve been much happier ever since.By Katherine Fellows (Engineering Fellow, Hackbright Academy – summer 2013 class)

At the beginning of Hackbright’s summer session, I swore to myself that I’d write a blog post at the end of every week. During my application process this spring, Hackbright’s student blogs were incredibly helpful — not only in deciding whether I wanted to go to Hackbright, but in deciding whether I wanted to go to any coding bootcamp at all.

I’d applied to a number of different programs, but had turned down a few positions before even submitting my application to Hackbright. In other words, I was skeptical of the value of “coding bootcamps” in the first place, not just of Hackbright in particular.

Thanks to Hackbright’s student blogs, however, I managed to get over that initial skepticism, pack a bag, and fly out to San Francisco — and, I’ve been much happier ever since. So, there’s no need to Twitter-shame me into writing more posts; I’ll be doing it of my own fruition from now on! [1]

And, on that note: it’s hard to believe, but the first five weeks of Hackbright Summer 2013 (“Hackbright 4.0”) are officially over!

It’s strange to consider in retrospect, but when the Hackbright 4.0 began, our first task was figuring out what programming really was, and how to do it in pairs; the first five weeks of Hackbright require pair programming all day, everyday, on various parts of Hackbright’s open curriculum. By the end of Week 1, we’d learned bits and pieces of Python (Loops! List splicing!), along with recursion, [2] memory management, trees, navigating file systems in Python, and lots of other things that I can’t fully recall four weeks after the fact.

During Week 2, the memory management talks continued,[3] but we progressed to Markov chains and navigating the Twitter API. We met Zed Shaw, and Hackbright held a mentor/mentee mixer, where I met my three awesome mentors, who have been imparting weekly wisdom ever since. So far, they’ve helped me with everything from making sense of office visits, to nailing down my five-week project idea, to figuring out how Dynamo uses consistent hashing to achieve incremental stability — that is to say, many, many things.

In Week 3, we started learning about SQL databases and interacting with them using relational query languages. We took a field trip to Square on Tuesday, then ventured into JavaScript territory on Wednesday, enjoying Liz’s enthusiastic reenactment of the Great Semicolon War of 2012. Perhaps unfortunately, the week was cut short by July 4th, but many of us came to Hackbright, anyway, to practice whiteboarding and harangue Christian into coding some examples for us in C.

And thus, we began Week 4. The JavaScript lessons continued, along with exercises in HTML/CSS. On Tuesday, during the Dropbox Rapture, half of the class attended DBX, while the rest of us met in the Hackbright office as usual to discuss our five-week project ideas. As it turned out, my initial project idea — building a web app — had lost its lustre several months after its inception, so I spent much of the day talking with Nick and Christian about new potential projects. I’ll leave the official announcement for my next post, but if you follow me at all on Twitter, you can probably guess what’s coming.

Once all of the Hackbrighters returned from DBX on Wednesday, I gave my infamous talk on Heroku, which ended up on Hackbright’s blog and has won the approval of many folks at Heroku — or, so I’ve been told.

I also attended my first Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner at Zendesk, which was fantastic! There was great food and conversation; I met loads of female engineers, along with a Hackbright applicant with plenty of questions on her mind!

Finally, we arrived at Week 5. Again, I’ll leave project-related details for my next post, but suffice to say that going into Week 5 without a project idea nailed down was a little unsettling. By Monday, many (most?) of my classmates had decided on creating a language, writing a rootkit, or some other Very Impressive Plan, which left me a little sheepish by the time I sat down again to talk with Christian — I just couldn’t decide on an idea! Fortunately, everything has turned out for the better, but there were a few days when I was admittedly a bit worried.

In other news, however, Week 5 included four days of pair programming with Cassie, during which we built a Flask- and SQL Alchemy-powered movie ratings web app in Python.

A few Hackbrighters also rode out to Palo Alto for the Girl Geek Dinner at Tesla, where we heard from several of their engineers — and took test rides in the latest Model S! [4]

‘Standing in front of a Model S!’

So, with that, I close my Master Five-Week Update. Hopefully, this post has helped a few people catch up with what I’m doing in California, and will maybe help a few future Hackbrighters decide to apply!

Also: although I don’t keep comments on my blog, I’m always up for discussions on Twitter, or via email/Facebook if you’re willing to track me that far! Happy coding!

[1] As a sidenote, if you’re considering applying to Hackbright, there’s an official Pinterest board of old student blog posts. This session, Aimee has been blogging weekly, and Kat has been blogging regularly, as well.

[2] “It’s like a Pringles can!”, “It’s an application of compositional functions!”, “Now, you know why it’s called StackOverflow!”, etc.

[3] For the record: the memory management talks never really end at Hackbright.

[4] If you can’t tell from the photo, I’m not really a car person; I mostly attended to hear from the Systems Integration Engineer on the panel. On the other hand, red! Shiny! Oooh!

This post was originally posted at Katherine Fellows’s blog.