Learn Programming in 3 Months with Hack Reactor

February 19, 2013

11:00 am

Tech companies are saying it loud and clear: “We want developers.” In response, they hear a muffled murmuring from the market: “The good ones are all taken.”

Developers-in-training could turn to universities to get their education, but the choice isn’t ideal. It takes four years, and you get a heavy dose of theory with less of the gritty, real-world challenges that prepare you for a programming job.

“We’re not sure why we, as a society, spend four years learning skills in an environment that’s disconnected from their application. We don’t know when listening became the default, rather than doing,” says Hack Reactor.

Hack Reactor is offering another option, following in the footsteps of hacker schools like Dev Bootcamp, Hackbright Academy, and App Academy. It’s one of about 25 programming schools that are now in operation. In three months – 1/16 of the time it takes to get a degree in computer science – students can learn Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

“This is a very pragmatic choice for most of our students – they’re looking for a new career,” says cofounder Shawn Drost.

The three-month timeline is possible because the schedule is so intense. Even during the interview process, which takes up to three weeks, Hack Reactor asks potential students to start learning and doing assignments. When they’re accepted, they get 60 hours of curriculum to get through before classes start, which can take up to one month.

Then the program actually begins, with around 16 students learning from 9 am to 8 pm in San Francisco. They learn concepts and hack projects like this addictive “guess the country” game, under the guidance of mentors from OkCupidLabs, Twitter, Google, and Mozilla. They build up their GitHub profile, do mock interviews, and contribute to open source – all things that progressive employers look for. Hack Reactor ends with a hiring day where they meet employers like Heroku, Weebly, and Zendesk.

Hack Reactor doesn’t disclose the tuition fee, but Dost assures me that financial aid is available. Apply for the next class, which starts March 8.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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