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Hacking My Tech Career at Hacker School

F7ec1d0b091a6edce6b9227c0b88fb61?s=47 paul-jean
September 18, 2014

Hacking My Tech Career at Hacker School

I attended the Winter 2014 batch of Hacker School to reboot my tech career and meet kindred spirits. It was an awesome way to hack my tech career.

F7ec1d0b091a6edce6b9227c0b88fb61?s=128

paul-jean

September 18, 2014
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Transcript

  1. Hacking My Tech Career at Hacker School Paul-Jean Letourneau Champaign-Urbana

    CODE TechMix, Sept 18th 2014 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
  2. Overview 1. Why I applied to HS 2. Getting into

    HS 3. Day 0 4. What I worked on 5. Job hunt 6. What I’m doing now
  3. Overview 1. Why I applied to HS! 2. Getting into

    HS 3. Day 0 4. What I worked on 5. Job hunt 6. What I’m doing now
  4. Why I applied to HS • Around 2012 got pinged

    by a FB recruiter • Awesome! FB wants me! • Silicon Valley here I come! ! ! ! !
  5. “Data Scientist” • FB: we want “Data Scientists” • Me:

    I’m a “Data Scientist”! • What IS a Data Scientist?? • Who knows! • But look! I make pretty graphs! ———>
  6. Look how pretty!

  7. FB interview… EPIC FAIL • FB said “nope you’re not”

    • I didn’t know open-source tools like R • My statistics were rusty • My algorithms needed work
  8. None
  9. Learn online things! • So I took a bunch of

    classes online: • statistics! • data analysis! • machine learning! • startup engineering! • data structures!
  10. But something was missing … • Learning stuff online was

    good • But so lonely! • I missed people … • I wanted to learn with other people! • Wasn’t there an internship, or something I could do???
  11. This thing called “Hacker School” • My wife remembered reading

    about this thing called “Hacker School” in Wired or something • Whoa, these people look happy! • The application deadline was … yesterday :( http://archive.wired.com/geekmom/2012/12/hacker-school-experience/
  12. Overview 1. Why I applied to Hacker School 2. Applying

    to Hacker School! 3. Day 0 4. What I worked on 5. Job hunt 6. What I’m doing now
  13. Applying to Hacker School • I found out about Hacker

    School the day after the application deadline, • about Dec 15th 2013 • But luckily they do rolling admissions • So I buckled down and wrote my application in a couple days • I submitted it on Dec 18th
  14. Application questions • CracklePop: • For all integers from 1

    to 100, print: • “Crackle” if divisible by 3 • “Pop” if divisible by 5 • “CracklePop” if divisible by both 3 and 5
  15. Coding project • “Link to a program you’ve written from

    scratch” • I sent my WordPress client for Mathematica: https://github.com/paul-jean/blog-this
  16. Essay questions • “Why do you want to do Hacker

    School?” • “What would you like to work on at Hacker School?” • “What is the most fascinating thing you’ve learned in the past month?” • “What do you want to be doing in 2 years?”
  17. Response • I got an email from Nick (Hacker School

    CEO) about 2 weeks later, on Dec 28th ——> • He sent a link where I could schedule a 30 min Skype interview with a Hacker School facilitator • I chose Zach ——> • This turned out to be an informal chat
  18. Pair programming • Then I scheduled a pair programming session

    with Dave —> • They asked me to provide some of my own code for us to work on together • The goal was to fix or improve something within 30 min or so
  19. Pair programming • I had recently written some Java code

    for printing a binary tree to a terminal • We worked on generalizing it to multi-digit labels on the nodes https://github.com/paul-jean/code-dojo/tree/master/20131226-array-to-bin-tree
  20. Follow-up • Dave said he’d try to get back to

    me by the end of the day • Let the nail-biting begin • Dave’s email crushed my soul …
  21. “I’m super sorry …” Boohoo! … this is definitely a

    rejection letter
  22. No wait! Woohoo! ….

  23. None
  24. • Hacker School was 3 months • That was too

    long for a leave of absence from Wolfram • So after 7 years I resigned • Kind of terrifying
  25. None
  26. Overview 1. Why I applied to HS 2. Getting into

    HS 3. Day 0! 4. What I worked on 5. Job hunt 6. What I’m doing now
  27. Day 0: meet the space • The Hacker School space

    is in Lower Manhattan, in SoHo • It’s a big open work space • A row of desks and some meeting rooms • The meeting rooms are named after famous computer scientists • e.g. Lovelace, Babbage, Church, Turing
  28. None
  29. None
  30. None
  31. Day 0: meet fellow Hacker Schoolers

  32. Day 0: meet the facilitators

  33. Day 0: introduction to Hacker School • The facilitators gave

    us a presentation • They described the parameters of the school ? ? ? ? www.hackerschool.com/about
  34. What is Hacker School? • 3 months full-time • free

    • “writers retreat” for programmers • ~60 people • coding and collaborating ? ? ? ? www.hackerschool.com/about
  35. • a “social experiment” • unstructured • self-directed • project-based

    What is Hacker School? ? ? ? ? www.hackerschool.com/about
  36. Hacker School is NOT ? ? ? ? www.hackerschool.com/about •

    NOT a bootcamp • the stated goal is to learn deeply about what interests you • NOT for learning a specific tool (e.g. Rails)
  37. How does Hacker School make $$? ? ? ? ?

    https://www.hackerschool.com/manual#sec-recruiting • Hacker School is also NOT a nonprofit • Companies pay them to recruit HS graduates • Companies pay them 25% of the first year’s salary
  38. How does Hacker School make $$? ? ? ? ?

    https://www.hackerschool.com/manual#sec-recruiting • During Hacker School, focus on learning what you’re passionate about • After Hacker School is over, they will help you find a job (if you want one)
  39. “We don't run Hacker School so we can recruit, we

    recruit so we can run Hacker School.” https://www.hackerschool.com/manual#sec-recruiting
  40. Day 0: the four social rules 1. No feigned surprise

    2. No well-actually’s 3. No back-seat driving 4. No subtle-isms ? ? ? ?
  41. No feigned surprise • acting surprised when someone says they

    don’t know something • “What? You don’t know what the stack is?!” • people need to feel comfy saying “I don’t know”
  42. No well-actually’s • someone says something that’s almost correct •

    … and you’re like “well, actually …” • that’s usually more about grandstanding than being precise
  43. No back-seat driving • people are having a conversation •

    and you interject with advice from across the room • more disruptive than helpful
  44. No subtle -isms • racism • sexism • homophobia •

    transphobia • ‘nuff said
  45. Day 0: hopes and fears • We all sat in

    a group and voiced our fears • … and our hopes • The facilitators wrote them down and posted them on the wall for the entire batch ? ? ? ?
  46. Day 0: schedule • School in session Mon - Thurs

    • Mandatory group check-in at 10:30 AM sharp • Check-in groups will rotate every 2 weeks • Tech talk every Monday night • Optional job prep sessions on Fridays ? ? ? ?
  47. Day 0: Zulip chat client

  48. Overview 1. Why I applied to Hacker School 2. Applying

    to Hacker School 3. Day 0 4. What I worked on! 5. Job hunt 6. What I’m doing now
  49. • Andrea sent a message out on Zulip asking if

    anyone wanted to work in Scala • Me! • So we paired on a Boggle word puzzle solver
  50. http://paul-jean.github.io/2014/05/17/gol-react.html • In the second week, Jake asked me to

    pair on the Game of Life in Javascript
  51. • Later on I asked Mary to help me refactor

    my Javascript code into a more functional style http://paul-jean.github.io/2014/05/17/gol-react.html
  52. • But then Damian offered to pair with me to

    refactor it again • This time we used D3.js http://paul-jean.github.io/2014/05/17/gol-react.html
  53. • BUT then an alum Thomas stopped by the space

    • He said he’d pair with me on React.js • So we refactored my Game of Life again! Now using React! http://paul-jean.github.io/2014/05/17/gol-react.html
  54. • React.js is known for making DOM (browser screen) updates

    very efficiently • So I wrote a Chrome extension to highlight the updates • Only the cells that change color are updated on each step: http://paul-jean.github.io/2014/05/17/gol-react.html
  55. Pure Javascript vs React.js

  56. Code all the things! • GOL in HTML5 canvas •

    GOL in functional Javascript • GOL in D3.js • GOL in React.js • GOL in Clojure / ClojureScript • GOL in Python • chart animations in D3.js • Clojure hackathon • LudumDare game hackathon • Boggle solver in Scala • url shortening server in node.js • Chrome plugin to highlight DOM mutations • mergesort in Javascript • memoization cab driver problem in Javascript • hash table from scratch in Java • phone book app in node.js • file-based prefix tree in node.js • linked list in Javascript https://github.com/paul-jean
  57. None
  58. Other Hacker Schooler’s projects • distributed hash table • video

    BitTorrent client • interactive fiction game engine for the sega genesis • hopscotch hash table in assembly • radio signal visualizer • panoramic 360 video player for the Oculus Rift • Arduino door lock controller • real-time collaborative coding platform • recursive descent parser • graph database engine • BitTorrent client Go • monadic parser combinators • wifi-enabled remote-controlled car using Arduino
  59. Overview 1. Why I applied to Hacker School 2. Applying

    to Hacker School 3. Day 0 4. What I worked on 5. Job hunt! 6. What I’m doing now
  60. Job fair • At the end of the batch, there

    was a job fair • Companies gave presentations and mingled over drinks ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
  61. Job hunt • Sonali gave me personal coaching through the

    interview process • Her advice was frank, practical, and super-duper valuable! • I interviewed with both HS and non-HS companies ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  62. Overview 1. Why I applied to Hacker School 2. Applying

    to Hacker School 3. Day 0 4. What I worked on 5. Job hunt 6. What I’m doing now
  63. PhotoShelter NYC! • I’m now a Developer at PhotoShelter! •

    I’m working on front-end web • Mainly Javascript • Working with an in-house MVC framework • Porting view layer to React.js
  64. None
  65. The PhotoShelter family

  66. www.hackerschool.com/apply