Learning to Code: Meeting, if Not Exceeding, Expectations

Rosette currently works at Bills.com as a Software Engineer. Prior to that, she was an Engineering Fellow at Hackbright Academy and prior to that she took a Javascript course on Codecademy.com. She is a self-proclaimed healthcare nerd, having served as a scribe in a hospital emergency room. At UC Berkeley, she studied public health, gender and women’s studies and music. This is her story.Rosette Diaz
Bills.com Software Engineer & Hackbright Graduate
Rosette was an Engineering Fellow at Hackbright Academy, and prior to that, she took a Javascript course on Codecademy.com. She worked as a scribe in a hospital emergency room before deciding to pursue programming. At UC Berkeley, she studied public health, gender & women’s studies and music. This is her story.

By Rosette Diaz (Hackbright Academy – spring 2013 class)

It’s been 202 days since I started Hackbright, 95 days since I started working as a software engineer, and 17 billion light-years away from my life before. (Yes, I’m aware that light-years are a unit of distance, not time. You get my point. Nerd.)

I had my 90-day review with bills.com last week. My boss, the manager of engineering, pulled me into an office and asked for a few minutes. He then casually sat and read aloud from a form (paraphrasing):

“Is the employee meeting goals and expectations?”
“Is the employee producing quality work?”
“Does the employee work cooperatively?
“Does the employee possess an appropriate level of technical and professional skill?
“Is the employee able to deliver in a timely manner?”
“Does the employee exhibit initiative and resourcefulness?”

As he read, he drew intimidatingly large checkmarks under a column entitled “Acceptable”; beside it were columns marked “Needs Improvement” and “Unacceptable.”

When I jokingly questioned his judgement, he said, “Well, it’s about expectations. You’re actually meeting, if not exceeding, our expectations.”

Expectations. That’s a funny word, isn’t it?

When I started, I had no concept of the barrage of information that was going to be thrown at me. My first day, I installed a countless number of who’s-its and what’s-its, and I wrote them down furiously, determined to research them on my own time. Upon first glimpse at the codebase, I sank so far into my chair, it’ll probably take years for the butt-print to come out. I was in a perpetual state of panic: “What am I doing? Why did they pick me? When will they fire me?”

Needless to say, I never expected to be where I’m at now.

There it is again: Expected.

At Hackbright, I didn’t expect to build and deploy my first app within 10 weeks.

I didn’t expect to get hired as a full-time software engineer 3 weeks after graduating, but I did.
I didn’t expect my first fix to go live during my first week of work, but it did.
I didn’t expect to learn d3.js and build a visualization graph during my first month, but I did.
I didn’t expect to code daily in several different syntaxes including PHP, Javascript, HTML/CSS, but I do.
I didn’t expect to be part of discussions regarding our site’s re-architecture, but I am.


Hackbright prepared me for all of this. It instilled in me an appreciation for clean, well-written code. It taught me to not only get comfortable with fast-paced learning and constant challenges, but relish it. It provided me with a network of awesome, nutty people that keep me informed and on my toes. And it helped me discover just how grueling and rewarding coding can be.

I’m so thankful for Hackbright and the people at Hackbright. They’ve accomplished an astonishing amount within the past 15 months, and mine is just one of the many lives they’ve changed.

We should all expect great things from Hackbright in the future.

Photo Credit: Give Photography