Hackbright - Week 1


I planned to sum up the first week with a blog post on Friday night, but like everyone else, I was completely wiped. It’s a good kind of exhaustion, born of concentration, writing code, and communicating constantly with each person I’ve paired with. So far, I’ve worked with Louise, Eleonore, Sonya, Nicole, and Michelle - just 5 out of the 16 amazing women in my group. I’ve been most impressed with the level of rapport and dedication amongst everyone here. For the first time in any classroom, I feel like everyone is well matched despite backgrounds and ability levels. No one is intimidated, no one is holding anyone back. And these women are so smart! There has been some fascinating lunchtime conversation, and everyone I have paired with so far has been quick to find solutions to programming challenges. We’re focused and working hard, and eager to do more. It was around the 3rd day that most were already at computers working before our 10am start time, and often a few have stayed through breaks or at the end of the day to keep plowing through.

Not that this classroom is like any other classroom I’ve been in. Christian and Charles trade off with a brief morning lecture (usually about 30 minutes), and then it’s straight to a computer with a new pair to start working on some coding challenges. Pair programming is a lot of fun and challenging in a different way - we’re still getting acquainted with one another, and it’s an exercise in communication skills to work through our tasks, ask questions, and understand what we’re doing. We started the week out with visual programming via Blockly, command line tricks, and quickly moved to working with lists, functions, test-driven development, rounding out the week with some HTML and CSS for good measure. Overall I think I found test-driven development to be the most fun and challenging this week. We were tasked with building functions to parse items out of lists, add things to lists, remove things from lists, loop through lists, etc. The challenging part was to recreate standard functions such as append, pop, reverse, etc. A good challenge; we didn’t finish due to time, but I’m eager to give it another go and get the “magic” functions working.

I’ve been in a few basic programming courses before, mostly online, with little interaction between students and no code sharing. Pairing and immersion is refreshing - the amount I’ve learned in my first week is comparable to the amount I’ve learned in any programming class after about 3 months. And to think we’ll be done in another 9 weeks! I’m excited to get going again on Monday. Bring on the coffee, bring on the code.

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