Chapter 2: My learning journey: Hack Reactor Bootcamp

Series: My first software engineer job search journey

Hello! If you come here from my Chapter 1: Is becoming a software engineer easy?, thank you so much for continue reading my boring story. If not, you can check out it here:

Long story short, in my second last semester of college life, I attended a software bootcamp called Hack Reactor. Hack Reactor uses Javascript because it aims to train web developers. It was a well-known bootcamp with many smart, talented, bright individuals who want a career change to software engineer from other fields. To my surprise, they were already come handy, well-prepared for job search than even a current CS student like me at that time. Even though they might not know about some theories like machine structures, operating system, but their problem solving skills and data structure, algorithms are beyond my knowledge. I was overwhelmed and felt a little bit “stupid” compare to my cohort mates. It was no wonder why they could get an entry-level job without CS degree. I wish I was more well-prepared like knowing how to run a full-stack app using Node.js, React.js, Redux.js, database, etc before I went to Hack Reactor. At Hack Reactor, it was mostly practice those framework by doing sprints, pair programming or group projects. But, at that time, I had not even dabbed at those frameworks before so my performance was poor, even though I was a CS student. All I know when coming to Hack Reactor was how to implement a game in Java and compiled to .jar to run it from SFSU. I did not have any single knowledge of how to build a web app from scratch or how does “npm install” work, etc. I wish I should have be ready like my cohort mates before going to bootcamp like Hack Reactor because how could I got a software engineer job after just 3 months (a 12-week program). Given the fact that the first day I attended Hack Reactor, I did not know about React.js, Node.js or any of the web development world! I left Hack Reactor after completing their “midterm” assessment and got a refund for nearly $10,000 (they will not refund after the midterm assessment).

The time at Hack Reactor was one of the best time in my life where I met many talented, motivated and super smart people. I learnt a lot from them: their spirit, their energy, and their hard-working.

After leaving Hack Reactor, the summer before I entered my last semester at SFSU, I started to learn all the concepts I did not know at Hack Reactor (Express.js, Node.js, React.js, etc) again, slowly and patiently like I was carving it into my brain. After my Hack Reactor experience, I could easily passed my 2 web software engineer classes in group setting. I saw my classmates struggling to understand the stacks because (like me before) they never run a full-stack web app from start to finish before. It was the same feeling when I was at Hack Reactor. But, it was not enough for the industry standard when I applied for job using the projects I did at SFSU. I applied about 100 applications after graduating and only 5 companies get back to me for phone-screening. At the end of my 90 days limit on my student visa, I learnt the hard way that I could not find any entry-level software engineer jobs.

So, what did I do next?

Thank you for reading my boring story.

I write more stories under this series, so check out Chapter 3: My learning journey: Udacity here to continue reading about my journey.