Hackbright: Week 7

Highlights:

Yesterday several of us attended the She++ conference at Stanford. Sessions included keynotes from Marc Andreessen and Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, both of whom were incredible speakers and smoothly integrated the conversation back to the female-driven focus of the conference, despite being male. The eloquently stated version of my question to Marc Andreessen (which, yes, I was pretty geeked about getting to ask him a question):

In order to help conpensate for the deficit of engineers, we have recently seen alternative learning systems to train people as software developers (like Hackbright). What do you think are the benefits and challenges for the employees and their employers as individuals coming from a non-traditional, non-CS background enter the workplace?”

He had a great answer, which essentially outlined the challenge of getting people to the “expert” level. They (whoever they may be) say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery or expertise. The structured portion of Hackbright provides 400 hours of training, but if you count the average outside work, I would estimate leaving the program with about double that amount. Still, 800 training hours is nowhere close to 10,000. Initially this is frightening, until you consider that most employers do not expect the person filling a junior developer role to have achieved mastery. We all hope to find an environment after Hackbright that embraces education as part of the job so that, eventually, we can strive for expertise.

At the break out, I went to the “Learning Foreign Languages” workshop hosted by Square. Ironically, the presenters used Go as the last of the three programming languages they demonstrated, noting that they had learned it on the Caltrain that morning; suddenly my week and a half of experience made me the “expert” in the room…hence the irony.

We also had the opportunity to tour some great offices this week. Chris and I met Andrea from Ideo at the Twilio GGD last week, and she was generous enough to invite us for a tour of their offices. Ideo is that place business school tells you has great culture for innovation so it was interesting to witness in person.

On Friday, we began our day at Dropbox, where we heard from a panel of their female engineers and were graced with a visit from the infamous creator of Python, Guido van Rossum. Following Dropbox, Hearsay Social welcomed us with stories from the women in their product and engineering teams, including CEO [and generally very impressive person] Clara Shih.

Guido!

Hackbright with Guido @ Dropbox

On a technical note, I made a lot of progress with my project this week and am working on a complementary tutorial. Hoping that documenting the steps and progress will also help me clarify the my own thought process behind building the database engine.

Challenges:

It sucks that sometimes people suck. Jezebel summed it up pretty nicely.

Quotes of the Week:

“My project is basically a dating site for matching you and your perfect burrito” – Christina (Founder & CEO of OKBurrito)

Me: [offers chocolate]

Christian: [skeptical look]

Me : “It has coconut in it – are you allergic?”

Christian: “Allergic? I come from an island where our GDP is measured in coconuts.”

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