Developer Boot Camp Interview Series: “Life at a Hacker School”

Developer Boot Camp: Program Review

Jayce Broda of “How to Become TV” partnered up with Hack Reactor ‘s developer bootcamp student Mark Rossetti to create a highly unique video interview series about life at a developer boot camp.

The results were fantastic, as he and Mark broke down the rise of immersive coding schools, their structure, curriculum, educational style and environment.

You can catch their very first interview together here.  In the video below Mark and Jayce talk about his second week at developer boot camp. You can scroll down further for the transcribed highlights of their conversation.

For more information about Hack Reactor, including student reviews, curriculum, and general questions about developer boot camps, visit the rest of our blog. 

Developer Boot Camp: Pair Programming, New Skills and CS Degrees

Mark 0:25: I had a fantastic week. Having a blast and just loving it…Last week was learning really fundamental skills, and this week we did a little more with implementing them. We also started to have the conversation of, ‘Class is great, but how do you begin the conversation of turning those skills into a job.’ Just the first inch of it (that conversation).

Mark. 2:52: The hardest part of the week…we’re getting into slightly more complex projects now. And pair programming is becoming – I don’t know if I would say challenging – but it’s definitely changing in what it feels like compared to week one.

Mark, 3:36: The physical construct that we’re using is we have one computer with two keyboards, two mice and two monitors. If both people typed at the same time, it would actually type in the same place from two different keyboards and it would not work (Editor’s Note: Hack Reactor now has one computer per student. We still pair program a lot). So there is a very high level of communication that’s required.

There are some challenges and benefits. Some of the benefits are if you don’t understand something, you have someone you can talk to. Different people can understand different aspects of a program. One person can be awesome at math, the other person can be great with the graphical design of things.

Mark, 7:15: Some other highlights from this week – we went out to a Meetup. Meetups are very popular in Silicon Valley. They tend to be small startups that host anything from a party to a formal lecture. In general, they’re a combination of the two. They’re fairly open to the public- you don’t need a ticket or anything.

We went to a Meetup hosted by a startup called Zendesk. It was a community of people that all work on the same library.  A library is like a software catalogue for a particular purpose. All 16 of us were out at this Meetup, and there’s tons of beer and tons and tons of developers who were coming off work and happy to have a chill conversation with some students.

That was part one. Part two of the Meetup was actually sitting down and listening to a lecture, where someone was talking about new developments in this software package.

Mark, 10:38: Some of the key takeaways from Tap Joy’s presentation were that a person coming out of a hacker school really can in many respects go head to head with a person who has a CS degree, which was encouraging and surprising. There are certain things that you learn with a CS degree that they said are very useful…but on the other hand people from hacker schools like Hack Reactor had a knowledge of workflow and the ecosystem, and had actually done more real project –  almost on the job coding – than people with a CS degree had, so they (developer boot camp grads) were very ready for the workplace.

Mark, 12:39: We definitely have several people in our class who are beginners, have never written a line of code, and are not math fiends by any means. You obviously have to have a general personal interest in making this the thing you want to do. But beyond that – I would say that those people have been able to learn and keep up and do really great work.

Programming is not limited to mathematicians by any means, or geniuses or computer scientists. It’s about, ‘Are you willing to put in the work to learn a new tool?’ It’s in some ways comparable to learning a new language – and it requires immersion. And it’s something that can be learned.

Mark, 13:50: There’s no question if you want to do massive data set analysis like Facebook does for its ads or something like that, yeah, maybe math matters there. But there’s a whole lot of coding that can be done without touching any math that you didn’t learn in grade school or high school. A lot of coding just comes down to good, clear logical thinking, and you don’t have to be a pro at math to have that.

Mark, 15:41: One of my greatest fears was making sure I could come out of this and be employable. One of the important things for me was that this wasn’t just a class I would walk away from, it’s a class that leads me into a really cool career. To be honest, that has been alleviated a lot. A lot of that has come from not only the teachers working with us, but we have a guest lecture every day from some notable startup in the valley, and all of them are delivering the same message: We cannot hire enough developers. We’re very excited about what you’re doing in this class.

It makes me feel like this was a good decision, and I’m less worried.

Mark, 16:50: You can definitely write code from scratch, but there are things out there on the web that people want to do all the time – like a social network. Those things are commonly repeated. We’ve been coding everything from scratch. That’s not really the way that professional programmers do things. Instead there are things they use called libraries. In the coming weeks, we’ll be using more and more libraries and frameworks that will give us the shortcuts to do really powerful things, very, very quickly.

Interested in Developer Boot Camps?

Send in your questions to You can also read more about our program on Tech Crunch, and follow us on Twitter @HackReactor. 

We Hack the Future

Transform Tech from Within with Software Engineering Bootcamps

Not sure if a bootcamp is your next step? Sign up for an info session or schedule a 1:1 Q&A with an advisor to learn about our programming.