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How Scholarship Winner Natalie Miles landed a job at Credit Karma

72584_751438918288_206195_n Natalie Miles is a business analyst at Credit Karma who earned a full scholarship to the Hackbright Academy Part-Time class. Eager to help with tasks at her current role, her knowledge in programming is vital in the current work landscape, and as a woman, she knows the increasing need of females in tech. 

It was during a job transition when Natalie had the idea of getting into the data science field. 

Wanting to learn Python, Natalie, who had previously known about Hackbright, heard about the scholarship application through Hackbright from the Women Who Code newsletter. “I read it all the time and saw that there was a scholarship opportunity. I had been through boot camps and that had always been the first thing on my mind.” Natalie said she liked that it was all women.

“It’s a great way to learn a challenging subject, being with other like-minded people who are similar to you.”

After the application process, which Natalie found to be quite painless, she had heard within two days that she got the scholarship.

“I think for me I would have been reluctant to make that jump had I not received the scholarship. The program was something I wanted to do for awhile and I always pushed back because I knew it required a huge time and money commitment, so having that money commitment out of the picture and knowing it would just be a time commitment on my part made it a go ahead.”

Hackbright’s new Prep Course is twice a week during the evening, for eight weeks that covers the foundations of programming, which amongst the many topics, includes Python, GitHub, basic data structures and functionality. The prep course is perfect for those that want to get more into programming but still need some more experience before taking the Fellowship course.

As far as the program itself goes, Natalie made great friends in addition to a great education.

“It was a very encouraging and nurturing environment. I like the fact that there wasn’t weird competitiveness going on, and it really helped forge great relationships. The cohort I was with was great and I made some really great friends from this class. It’s hard to meet people outside of work so having an in-person class is a really rewarding experience.”

Projects That Carry into Work

As a business analyst at Credit Karma, and a former operations analyst at Lending Club, Natalie wanted to learn programming to help with mundane projects and tasks in her work.

“One of the most important things as far as getting into the data science field is that I have a basic understanding of Python, and [without this education], wouldn’t be able to do.

One of the cool projects I was able to do at Hackbright during class was using an API project to improve a work-related issue. I was able to make a tool to have a presence of Reddit.”

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Eventually, Natalie would like to get a master’s degree in data science or an MBA. “I feel like I’m at such a big advantage knowing how to program—it’s such a valuable skill set. There’s not a lot of representation of women in these roles, and I feel an obligation to help and not be left behind because technology is advancing.”

Natalie’s advice for people who might be interested in learning about the Hackbright program and getting into more technical roles: “If this is something you’re interested in, make sure you set yourself up for success. Don’t keep putting it off because of timing…there’s never going to be a perfect time. Do it now while you have the availability, because you want to be able to focus on this and give yourself a chance to succeed.”

EXCLUSIVE SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS FOR OUR JUNE COURSES:

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

Hackbright Academy is the 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.

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!

10 Black Female Leaders in Tech to Watch

WilliamWilliam Hill is a Software Engineer at Lawrence Livermore Lab and former Senior Instructor of Hackbright Academy’s part-time Intro to Programming night course. He developed a passion for teaching while earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from Mississippi State University.  He has a drive for increasing diversity in tech and has volunteered with Black Girls Code, the Hidden Genius Project and is a member of /dev/color. When he isn’t churning out code, he enjoys playing basketball, strength training, and playing video games. Follow him on twitter at @emjay_hill.


“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”


Despite becoming one of the most educated segments of the population in the past decade, black women continue to be woefully underrepresented in the tech industry. According to recent reports by NCWIT, black women only hold 3% of computing jobs . The problem is not being ignored, though. Organizations such as Black Girls ROCK! and Black Girls Code are doing tremendous work in exposing black girls to coding to strengthen the pipeline. Industry professionals have gotten in on the act as well by using their energy and expertise to create opportunities for younger generations. Here we highlight 10 dynamic black women who are making an impact on their company and community!


Sheena Allen

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Sheena Allen is a founder and CEO at Sheena Allen Apps and InstaFunds. She earned her B.A. in Film and B.S. in Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. Sheena Allen has grown her app company, Sheena Allen Apps, to have millions of downloads and is featured in She Started It, a documentary that focuses on 5 women working on their startups . She has successfully completed an internship program back in her home state of Mississippi for local college students and often speaks to minorities about the possibilities in the tech industry.

Follow her on Twitter at @whoisSheena.


Jasmine Bowers

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Jasmine Bowers

Jasmine Bowers is a PhD student at the University of Florida. She earned her B.S. degrees in mathematics and computer science from Fort Valley State University and an M.S. in computer science from North Carolina A&T State University.

Over the last year, Jasmine was named a GEM Fellowship scholar and a Committee of 200 scholar finalist.

Over the years, she has worked with several community organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Recently, she served as a guest speaker at the InTech one-day tech camp for girls. In addition to her interests in computer science and cyber security, she also has a passion for financial education. After graduating, she visited her alma mater FVSU to teach students about budgeting during their annual iLead Leadership Conference.

Follow her on Twitter at @JasmineDBowers.


Khalia Braswell
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 N7wWGrdcKhalia Braswell is a User Experience Designer at Apple, Inc. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina State, and her M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Last year, Khalia had the chance to attend The White House’s first annual Computer Science Tech Jam to kick off Computer Science Education Week. She was afforded this opportunity, in part, because of her non-profit INTech, whose mission is to inform and inspire girls to innovate in the technology industry.

Follow her on Twitter at @KhaliaBraswell.


Dr. Jamika Burge

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Dr. Jamika Burge owns a startup, Design and Technology Concepts, that specializes in computer science design and education, where she has worked with Google and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to develop strategies for technical inclusion. She is also the new Senior Manager for Research Curriculum and Outreach at Capital One. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she won an IBM Research Fellowship.

Jamika has worked across multiple sectors, from IBM Research to Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and she is active in computer science education and STEM preparedness efforts, providing expertise for a host of funded programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Computing Research Association (CRA).  

Follow her on Twitter at @JDBurge.


Lauren Frazier

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Lauren Frazier

Lauren Frazier is a Software Engineer at Google. She earned both her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. have been a professional iOS developer since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Lauren was the lead engineer on Google Wallet for iOS before moving to the Android Wear team. She is a member of /dev/color and a tutor with the Second Start Adult Literacy Program in Oakland. She was recently featured in Techies, a photo project focused on sharing stories of tech employees in Silicon Valley.

Follow her on Twitter at @laurenfraz.


Hadiyah Mujhid

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Hadiyah Mujhid is the founder and developer at Playpen Labs, a software and design company. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Hadiyah has fifteen years experience working as a software engineer. Her experience spans from working with government agencies to launch satellites into orbit, to more recently helping startups to launch web products. In addition to being an engineer, she’s an advocate for underrepresented groups working in tech. She created a non-profit called Black Founders to increase the number of black tech entrepreneurs. She’s also the founder of HBCU to Startup, which serves as a bridge for students and alumni from historically black colleges interested in working in tech.

Follow Hadiyah on Twitter at @hadiyahdotme.


Tiffany Price

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Tiffany PriceTiffany Price is the Community Engagement Manager at the Kapor Center for Social Impact. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry and International Studies from Emory University and an M.A. in International Comparative Education from Stanford University.  She also graduated from Actualize, a Ruby on Rails web development bootcamp.  Tiffany serves on the advisory board of /dev/color, a network for black software engineers, and is a mentor for STEMinist, a new data science program for underrepresented women at UC Berkeley.

Follow her at @thoodprice.


Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

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Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge is the Founding Portfolio Services Director at Kapor Capital. She co-launched the first ever VC-backed diversity pledge, called the Founders’ Commitment. In less than one year, 84 Kapor Capital portfolio companies signed on. Mandela works with diversity and inclusion expert and Kapor Capital Partner, Dr. Freada Kapor Klein, to develop custom workshops and resources to help these companies fulfill their commitment to build diverse teams and inclusive workplaces. Mandela earned her B.A. in Intercultural Communication, with a minor in Spanish, from Pepperdine and her M.A. in Education, Administration & Policy from Loyola Marymount University. In 2014, Mandela’s name graced the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Education list, in 2015 Mandela gave her first TEDx speech, and in 2016, Mandela was named to the Case Foundation’s Top 50 Inclusive Entrepreneurship Champions list, The Registry’s 40 Under 40 Tech Diversity: Silicon Valley list, and LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Venture Capital and EntrepreneurshipShe’s the author of three Top 20 Medium Posts, and My White Boss Talked About Race in America, This is What Happened, a piece that went viral and has been featured in Medium, LinkedIn, Huffington Post, and Black Enterprise magazine.

Follow Mandela on Twitter @MandelaSH.


Kamilah Taylor

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Kamilah Taylor is a Senior Software Engineer at LinkedIn. She earned her M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and her B.S. in both Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus (in Jamaica).

While at LinkedIn she’s worked on multiple project launches, most recently the new LinkedIn Learning app, an online learning platform. Other projects include the complete rewrite and redesign of LinkedIn’s flagship app, messaging, mobile accessibility and infrastructure. Previously she did robotics at Wolfram Research and in graduate school at UIUC. Kamilah is a co-author of the recently released “Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories”, and is helping to organize the inaugural Tech Beach Retreat in Jamaica. She volunteers for many organizations aimed at encouraging more women and people of color to choose STEM as a career field, including Black Girls Code, Technovation, MEDA, and the Palisadoes Foundation.

Follow Kamilah on twitter at @kamilah.


Rachel Walker

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Rachel Walker is an engineer at Chalk Schools. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Rachel helped build out the part-time educational program at Hackbright Academy that served over 100 students and recently made her first open-source contribution. She is regional director for Lesbians Who Tech East Bay and regularly volunteers at hackathons for local youth.

Follow her on Twitter at  @Raychatter.


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.