Hack Reactor - How I Became a Hacker

“Hey Ben, what classes are you taking next semester?”

“Actually, I’m not taking any classes. I’m taking the semester off to go live in San Francisco to go to a coding bootcamp. All of my money will be spent on tuition, I’ll be leaving behind my pregnant wife, and I am going by myself. I also might drop out of college. Oh, and the school I am going to is called ‘Hack Reactor’.”

“…”

It’s 9:30 in the evening and I am at the end of a long day of learning to code. This is my third week here at Hack Reactor and each day preceding today has been spent in a similar fashion. Every day class begins at 9:00am and students routinely stay until after 10:00pm. So far my experience has been one of complete immersion into computer science and programming.

Sometimes a feeling of shock comes over me when I remember how less than a year ago I was hoping to become a doctor. I was at BYU taking pre-med classes but now I am in San Francisco devoting all of my time to learning to code. Last spring I took an introductory programming class and fell in love with it. I knew that I was in to something good when I would find myself coding for hours on end without losing interest or losing my patience. After finishing the class I switched my major from English to Computer Science and began looking for ways to further my education outside of the university.

Partway through that semester I remembered that one of my friends from high school had attended a coding bootcamp. He had taken the previous semester off and had spent all of his time learning to code. He came out of the class with a good job and had a good skill to help him pay for his schooling. I gave him a call and after finding out more about the program I signed up.

I first heard about Hack Reactor while I was attending DevMountain, the coding bootcamp that my friend went to, in Provo Utah. DevMountain is an after hours coding bootcamp with a similar structure to Hack Reactor. Class went from Tuesday to Thursday from 6:00pm - 9:00pm and on Saturday from 9:00am to 2:00pm. The hours were fairly limited but the level of the class was perfect for a beginning software engineer with a budding interest in web development.

One of the teachers at DevMountain is Tyler McGinnis. He is a fantastic teacher and after getting to know him better I was surprised to find out that he hasn’t graduated from college. Here he is, a college dropout and about my same age, but he has an incredibly deep understanding of Javascript and a great full-time job at Needle. Before becoming a teacher at DevMountain he had gone through Hack Reactor. After graduation he found a great job back in Utah and then started to teach at DevMountain on the side.

I began to look more into Hack Reactor and initially I was very doubtful of the credibility of this program. First of all, it’s called “Hack Reactor”. Second, it’s the most expensive coding bootcamp around. Third, it claims a 98% hiring rate for its graduates with an average salary of 110K. It sounded too good to be true, despite the steep price for tuition, and the name sounded pretty goofy. Things that sound too good to be true usually are and I definitely had my doubts about this class. One thing kept me moving forward with my research though and that was how impressive of a software engineer Tyler was. I took my concerns and questions to Tyler and he told me that other than marrying his wife, going to Hack Reactor was the best decision he had ever made.

After spending a lot of time talking it over with my wife, my parents, and my friends I made the decision to apply. I passed the interviews, was accepted, and now I’m here.

 
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