The first week of Hackbright has come and gone in a flash. We hit quite a few topics already, such as:
Git and GitHub
For loops, while loops
Algorithms ( a brief intro)
We have lectures that are about an hour an half long followed by a short break then pair programming.
So far it is a lot of review for me, but that is good. Once in a while I learn something new, or find a new way to do something. The most exciting part is meeting all these people. There are so many names to learn, so many personalities all in one small space. We are constantly surrounded by the instructors and TA’s. Teaching Assistants are former Hackbright fellows who help in many ways. They give out some lectures at times. The majority of the lectures however come from the instructors.
At the end of the week we got a skills assessment, which is simply weekend homework. It allows them to see what you’ve learned and what you have not. I imagine this information will let them know who needs help where. I don’t really know what will happen there. I found the weekend homework interesting.
We also had a talk with out advisers. Each adviser has about five to six people to deal with, and they meet with each person once a week. So on Thursdays from 4:30 to whatever time, I have my adviser all to myself. I do love this because who knows what I’ll need to talk about in the future. Five or ten minutes might be enough some days, but what if its not at some point? No need to worry I got two hours!
So far I like everything. A bit disappointed there’s not free lunch but that’s just me nitpicking. Plus I’m poor so I want free food all the time, any time. The instructors split people up into groups as well, and give them the names of Harry Potter houses. I ended up in Slytherin. I can barely say it at times, so I call it the snake pit.
The most challenging part so far is pair programming. There is one computer, two screens, two keyboards and two mice. No matter what, you got to share. You have to speak to your partner and both are coding, or trying to. At Hackbright they use a Navigator/Driver system. The Driver is putting in code and the Navigator is telling her what to do, or breaking down the logic of it. Something like that. In a good team both people change roles dynamically, and ends up being very fluid. Neither is precisely Driver or Navigator all the time. Both contribute to the thinking part, and the typing part.
When it doesn’t work, you end up with one person typing at a keyboard. That person either doesn’t truly understand the code and its simply typing, or barely understands it. When this happened to me, I felt like it was expected for my brain to shut off and just type. Which I couldn’t do. Another outcome of a bad team up, is the the railroading Driver. This is the one who doesn’t let go of the wheel but has the map in her hand too. She drives and navigates, taking up all the space. This didn’t quite happened to me, but I saw it happening to a few others. What I experienced was simply me shutting off. I let got the wheel and practically tossed it out the window. After a while I had enough. Later, I realized all I needed was some quiet time and alone time. I literally needed to not have a person next to me, staring at the screen (or me), or expecting me to spell out every thought process in my mind. The second I was alone I figured out how to solve the assignment. When my partner came back, I was able to explain it to her and she quickly understood too.
The best part of that moment was realizing I just needed to be alone. Naturally, you are not supposed to keep coding if your partner is gone so one of the instructors suggested I do something else. I went to read about maze solving algorithms which were a ton of fun. Tons! of Fun! I can’t even explain how fun that stuff is, even when I don’t understand it.
Regardless of the little ups and downs in the program, and in every day life, I’m glad to be here. So here I am, hoping that this works out. That life works out, that it gets better at last.