Hack Reactor is a daunting undertaking, to say the least. My experience was probably similar to many people out there - the novice programmer, the excitement of building and creating slowly budding in my chest as I explored the surface of programming,... Read More
I've been out of Hack Reactor for 8 months (wow, that's a lot longer than I thought!) at the time of writing this review, and I can honestly say it was the best decision I have ever made. I am happily working in my preferred field, with my preferred techs, and I'm loving every minute of it. And I wouldn't have been able to do it without Hack Reactor.
Now, the school is not exactly what some might think. Those 3 months are not about cramming as many technologies into your head as they can manage, though they certainly do that. It's not about teaching the fundamentals of programming, or design, or data structures. It's about making you a good programmer.
Well, what the heck does that mean, right? Isn't a good programmer someone who knows the technologies?
Oh, it's so much more than that. What Hack Reactor does, better than any other school I've seen, is teach you to learn on the fly. This isn't some Business degree, where you learn the tools you're going to need for the rest of your career, and the rest is up to your own ingenuity. No. Programming is constantly changing, remolding itself, producing new tools and technologies that you need to learn at lightning speed. Just the other day I was handed a project to work on using a technology I had never touched before. And I knew I could do it.
Hack Reactor gave me confidence in my ability to grow and expand in whatever role I was given. Their teaching methods are rough, to be sure. This is not a school that you can float through on minimal effort. And you're not going to be spending just 66 hours a week on this, to be sure - not if you're going to truly experience the course. But that forced work ethic, the speed of the course, the amount of work that is asked of you - it drowns you in the material you're being taught. And if you're really trying, then it's impossible to not absorb it.
You have to be willing to put in the time and effort. You cannot expect the school to do everything for you, though they do everything they can to make sure you have no choice but to immerse yourself. If the idea of spending every waking moment on coding and learning and problem solving is tiring to you, if you cannot stand to be separate from your family for extended periods of time, if you cannot miss your weekly double movie nights out with your friends - then this is not the course for you.
If you are willing to put forth that effort, then you will be rewarded with the staff's unyielding patience and support. Every step of the way, I had support from numerous staff members, who were always there to offer help when I asked for it, and truly seemed to care about my success in the course.
Now there is a fair chance that I was simply lucky in the staff that I got. Every person is different, and it's entirely possible that some of the staff is not up to the standards that I experienced. But I can only write this review based off of what I went through, and the people I was lucky enough to be involed with.
As for other pluses of the school, the community was incredible. You will know everyone in your cohort by week 6, and many of these friendships can stay far beyond. I've made several very close friendships from my cohort, and I know that I can turn to them anytime I need them. Many of us work with fellow grads, with companies that were impressed after hiring their first Hack Reactor student and who decided to keep hiring. The staff does a great job of building a fun culture, with regular events to help ease the stress of the workload.
I would also say that the technologies they teach are fantastic choices for making any student an enticing job candidate. My company was ecstatic at my React knowledge, compounded with the other techs I had to back up my strength there. They know that if they have a problem anywhere in the stack, there's a good chance I could help them with it.
Above all, they gave me an experience that translated well into my new job. It wasn't like back in college, where I came out of my biology studies with no idea what my work would actually look like. Every thing they do is catered to the kind of pattern you'll be following in your everyday life in your new career, and though the job search, and starting a new job, are still daunting, it was incredibly easy to settle into my new role.
This may have come off as an overlong love poem to the school, but I honestly believe I could not have gotten where I am now without Hack Reactor. The support was incredible, and extends to this day. And I know if I need them, they'll still be there to help me. Not because their obligated to, but because they care.
So take this for what it's worth. If you're willing to stick with it, if you're willing to throw your all into this program, it can change your life.