From Dental Assistant to Genentech Engineer: Meet Ruba Hassan

Ruba Hassan is a software engineer at Genentech who graduated from the Hackbright Academy fellowship in September. Before Hackbright, she was a dental assistant. A single mom, Ruba wanted to make life better for her and her daughter. Here’s how she changed her life by learning how to code.  


Ruba Hassan, Hackbright alumna, has completely changed her life within the course of a year. Working as a dental assistant for 9 years, she realized she needed a change for her and her daughter. “I wanted a career change but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” she says. “I live in the Peninsula, so I wanted to get into tech. Knowing there were many tech bootcamps, I proceeded to look into what each had to offer. I wanted something that I would enjoy and a career that would give me the flexibility to work from home if need be to spend more time with my daughter. I started taking a few online classes: HTML, CSS, and found it fun. That’s when I found Hackbright. They had a part-time class called ‘Intro to Programming’. It was two nights a week, and I met some amazing women. Those women became my best friends and we developed a support system.”

After the class, Ruba felt confident enough to apply for Hackbright’s fellowship, a 12-week intensive that prepares you for a career in tech. “It was the part-time class that really helped me with the application,” she says. “My advice to anyone thinking about getting into tech is to take one or two classes to see if you would enjoy coding or if you’d understand it – and then go from there.”

Ruba was on vacation with her daughter at Universal Studios when she received the email that changed her life. “I got the email saying I was accepted into the fellowship program, and it was life-changing for both myself and my daughter. I knew I could provide a better life for her.”

“Emotionally, I feel more confident, stronger as a woman and that I can do so much more. I’m a part of a group of scientists that are building a huge project. It’s empowering.”

From there, Ruba quit her job and started the 12-week fellowship program.


“The fellowship experience was great, my classmates and I are best friends now and we got through the program together – no matter how challenging it got. The teachers are very helpful, the students are very helpful, and we learned from one another. They always said, ‘don’t worry, we’ll help you through it’ when things got challenging, and it really made me calm down and relax and realize that yes, I can do this.”

During the fellowship, everyone creates a project. The project that Ruba worked on happened to get her a job at Genentech after she graduated.

“I wanted to build a website for dental surgery. It’s an oral surgery scheduling app that’s built to allow patients to go online to the surgeon’s website to schedule the appointment on their own, texting a confirmation after the appointment has been made. It’s a real app based on my life experience in the dental industry.”

When interviewing with Genentech, the recruiters asked Ruba to “show them something you’re proud of” and that project is what got her the role as a software engineer at the company. Now, she’s building a website and working with scientists.

“Working at Genentech has been amazing,” Ruba says. “It’s a huge relief. Emotionally, I feel more confident, stronger as a woman and that I can do so much more. I’m a part of a group of scientists that are building a huge project. It’s empowering.” Ruba says her favorite part about her job is seeing her code live. “I’ve only been there a month and a half and I’ve seen my work go live on the website. That itself is more rewarding than anything else.”

Beach pic

When it comes to the fellowship, Ruba says she couldn’t have found a better program. “As a mom, I had to go to school from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and make sure to drop off, pick up and take care of my daughter’s needs. It wasn’t easy, but I had support.  I would recommend the program for any woman or mother. People think they can’t do it because they have children – and that’s not true. It was a stressful 12 weeks in terms of picking up my daughter, but it’s a short period of time. Now I have the flexibility with work to spend more time with my daughter. I also will say that the Hackbright alumnae community was incredibly helpful with my job search.”

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for gender equality dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry.  Learn more about Hackbright’s 12-week software engineering program Ruba completed.

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