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Growing with Google: Meet Hackbright Alumna Cristina Rodríguez

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cristina rodriguezLife after bootcamp looks different for every Hackbright woman. For journalist turned full-stack software engineer, Cristina Rodríguez, the path after graduating from the Full-Time Software Engineering Program in March 2017 led to Google. Learn about her day-to-day with the Grow with Google Developer Scholarship Challenge, what she’s working on, and how her life has changed since learning to code.

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What is the Grow with Google Challenge?

The Grow with Google initiative represents Google’s commitment to drive the economic potential of technology through education. The Google-Udacity curriculum is focused on giving developers the training they need to enter the workforce as Android or mobile developers. The first part of the program is a 3-months-long process of project development and reviews, mentorship, and community support. At the end of the challenge, the top 5,000 students earn a full scholarship to one of four Nanodegree programs in Android or web development.

How did you find out about it? What was the process like to apply and win a spot? (Congrats!)

I’m a Latina woman with two nationalities: Colombian and Mexican. I’m also a former journalist that transitioned into a career in full-stack software engineering. I guess that you can say that I’m both a professional and a personal migrant.

After couple months after graduating Hackbright, I saw the information about the scholarship posted in the community slack channel of the Latinos in Tech community (called Techqueria). I’m an active member Techqueria and applied in November. The application ended on November 30, and I honestly forgot about it over the holidays, because I didn’t receive any feedback until the beginning of January.

They were looking for developers that were able to learn online, as a lot of the program focuses on self-learning projects. Once you’re accepted to the program, you need to be committed to setting your own schedule and working a lot every single day.

What are you building for the Scholarship?

I want to build apps that help consolidate answers and information spread out in various places on the web into one easy to find place. For example, it’s ridiculous to me that if you lose your pet, you have to navigate around to at least 10 websites to search for information or ask for help. I want to aggregate all the information about lost pets, shelters, veterinarians, and forums in just one app. That’s one of my ideas for an Android app.

We also have to build three projects with the Grow with Google Challenge following the instructors. For the first one, I created a birthday card. My second project is a score counter app that will track matches of this year’s World Cup! My goal is to keep working on this project throughout the course.

world cup score counter

I’m currently starting the Object Orientation Programming in Java section of the course, and I’m very excited about learning how to work with objects in Android.

What motivated you to learn to code?

I’m a former journalist. After five years of practicing journalism inside the government, I transitioned to work in management and digital marketing.

In my last job as a project manager for a software company, I was the leader of the Python team. It was very challenging because I was the only non-technical person. While there I became interested in coding and the requirements needed to develop software for all kinds of different companies.

How has your life changed since Hackbright?

Since I graduated, I’m able to imagine a project and develop that idea into a final product that I can use in my life. I don’t think there is anything more powerful than this. It feels like making your dreams come true. It feels like a superpower in which I can talk to machines and make them realize any idea I have. It’s in that feeling that Hackbright empowered my life.

What advice would you give to women looking for jobs in tech?

The most important thing that Hackbright taught me was how to learn new things. The Software Engineering Program is an excellent opportunity to understand how you need to learn a new language, starting with the basic concepts and building on top of that. All the labs and exercises are there so you can learn by doing and do research for yourself. I think it’s the most valuable notion you can have.

The beginning of the program is a little overwhelming, but the results are significant because it’s not just the new concepts or new language it’s also how to use that knowledge.

You need to keep learning. During job searches I think that it’s evident that the process of technical interviews is something that needs to evolve. It’s not a perfect system. Until then, you need to keep learning and practice coding every day. Don’t focus just on mastering the interview process. There are so many things to could learn in software development in the long-run. Keep gaining knowledge.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I confess that I used to be skeptical of the articles about women and programming. I thought that women have more urgent problems that the gender ratio in tech or the digital breach.

Now I’m a believer. I’m lucky I learned to code. Now I am convinced all women need to learn how to code because it’s not just a set of skills or new languages, it’s empowerment.

I want to thank all the women, teachers, T.A.s, and personnel from Hackbright for helping me. A considerable part of my decision to invest in my education at Hackbright was because I always felt supported there.


Interested in learning more? Check out our upcoming Part-Time Prep Course and our 12-week full-time or 24-week part-time Software Engineering Programs. Hackbright Academy offers a deferred tuition program to select, eligible students.

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