• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Women On The Verge: Day 1 At Hackbright Academy

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16 of us filed into an office in San Francisco’s Mission District today – among our ranks were physicists, teachers, mech and electrical engineers, sys admins, women fresh out of college, mothers, MIG welders, professors, biologists.

By Margaret Morris (Student, Hackbright Academy)

We’re the newest batch of Bene Gesserit Hackbright women, here to learn the entire Python-based dev stack, one layer at a time. We all hail from vastly different backgrounds and found this path through multiple routes, each with our own reasons for wanting to master the stack and each with varying levels of experience/no-experience.

One of the pre-reqs to the course included Zed Shaw’s Learn Python the Hard Way, so we’re not completely starting from scratch.

After an hour or so of getting to know each other and go over logistics, our instructors Christian and Charles went over the basics and intersectionalities of some of the more popular categories of developers/programmers for those who were wanting a career change. Front-End v. Backend dev, QA Eng v. QA monkey, Data Scientist, product engineer, UI/UX/web dev, etc…

We broke off into pair programming partners, and partner Sonia took on the challenge of tackling the Minotaur Maze optimized for 16 lines of pseudocode or less.

Try it out.

We got stuck after our initial three attempts at brilliance didn’t work, but you could see the lightbulb click on simultaneously in our heads when we solved it.

Pair programming is great when you have a partner as communicative and patient and on the same wavelength as I did this time. Two of us share a Mac Mini with two keyboards, two monitors and two mice per mac mini, forcing us into super-efficient pair programming. Don’t know if I’ll be so lucky or it’ll go as smoothly next time, though.

Then we fooled around with command line a bit to get a refresh on find, popd/pushd, vim, permissions, bash scripts, etc.

It was pretty cool trading shell tips and tricks with Sonia, as she’s comfy in shell as well.

We ended with a quick review and to get a toolset and resource update. I’m one of those old fogeys Christian called out for still reading Slashdot. SRY, NOT SRY.

So that’s how eight hours in the most stiflingly hot office in San Francisco flew by. It turns out that a quarter of us had flown in and temporarily relocated for Hackbright, so afterwards we all exchanged numbers and plans to keep each other accountable, sane and relatively healthy during the next grueling months.

I’m glad to spend my weekdays with some insanely smart, accomplished, weird, wonderful women.

Oh, and I’m learning alongside two other black girl coders!

Looking forward to seeing just how far I can push these next 10 weeks. And special thanks to my CritSend family for helping cover my workload during my learning sabbatical.

This post was originally posted at Margaret’s Learning Blog.

About the guest blogger: Margaret Morris is currently studying Python development as a student at Hackbright Academy. She is a co-founder and VP of Product at CritSend, an SMTP relay and email analytics service. She spends her free time searching for an apartment in the Mission District. Follow her on Twitter at @margaretblue.