Coding immersion program captures start-up culture

Hack Reactor co-founder Tony Phillips talked at a media briefing of the company's immersive coding boot camp. Photo: Khaled Sayed
Hack Reactor co-founder Tony Phillips talked at a media briefing of the company’s immersive coding boot camp. Photo: Khaled Sayed

In response to the high demand for web development engineers, “boot

camps” have started to show up to train new engineers to meet the need.

One of those is Hack Reactor, a San Francisco-based firm that runs a

12-week advanced immersive program that trains full-stack JavaScript

engineers to fill the needs of the startup market. It accepts candidates

who possess both technical know-how and strong interpersonal skills.

Students train for about 800 hours in a curriculum focused on computer

science fundamentals and web engineering.

Tony Phillips, Hack Reactor’s co-founder, believes that anyone who is

dedicated to learning can learn to program.

“Hack Reactor works hard on creating a diverse environment to make

everyone welcome,” he said at a July 21 media briefing. “We’ve found

that many students suffer from lack of confidence in the beginning of

the course, and Hack Reactor tries to debunk that issue right away.

People think that, because they don’t have a conceptual background,

maybe they might not be a good fit for the course. Debunking that is the

first thing we do by having role models in our students body and our

staff.”

Phillips believes that creating a safe and diverse environment for

learning is a key to have successful program.

Phillips talked about his philosophy of reaching out to women and

minorities. Recent news reports have pointed out that the workforces of

many tech companies are mostly male and white.

“We had a scholarship for women and minorities in the beginning, but

we found out that this wasn’t influencing people to sign up as much as

we hoped,” he said. “So we allocate this money to sending people to

conferences such as the Grace Hopper conference in Minnesota, to

promote the brand of Hack Reactor. I think the experience of women

who come here is our greatest asset because we have very clear

standards about how people should treat each other. Not only women or

minorities, but anyone to anyone. We have clearly defined inbound and

outbound rules that we describe to the students, and we have kicked out

students before who created an inhospitable environment for anyone.”

Kwyn Meagher is an LGBT graduate student who has been at Hack

Reactor for six months in a select program for top students to prepare

them to teach in the next program, besides working on their own

projects in Hack Reactor’s internal incubator.

“I heard about Hack Reactor from a friend,” Meagher said. “I was sure it was a good program because my friend from collegeĀ had success with it. I also did my research and Hack Reactor seemed to stand out for me.”

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