Horizons FAQ from a Horizons Fellow

Dear aspiring Horizonite,

You’re reading a little cooked up FAQ from a summer ’17 Horizons fellow, written 6 weeks into the fellowship.

It’s been 6 weeks since I’ve started my Horizons journey. That’s about 8 hours of coding every day for a total of 240 hours since I started (though I know that number should be higher given the overtime hours I spend trying to finish the work!) It’s been intense and frustrating and and extremely fast-paced.

I love it all.

I’m writing this because the founders of Horizons have been doing a good job of reaching a wider range of students, and some of those students have reached out to me to ask about the program. They ask more or less the same things, so why not pool those questions into one blog post?

Here’s a quick FAQ, though in no way is this endorsed by Horizons – this is just my perspective. Though I hope it is helpful regardless.

What’s your schedule like?

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(It gets crazy sometimes.)

Day-to-Day:
7AM – 8AM – Gym or run.
8AM – 9AM – Breakfast + me time.
9AM – 12NN – Video Lectures or In-Person Lectures
12NN – 1PM – Lunch (we usually go to the SOMA Streat food trucks!)
1PM – 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 – Pair programming/Coding galore! I put a huge end time range depending; some days are faster or slower, some people want to continue on with bonuses, etc.
7PM – 10:30PM – I’ll hangout with friends, grab dinner with some fellows, or continue coding. I have a life still!
11PM – On average I try to sleep early enough so I can wake up early to exercise!

Week-to-Week:
MW – In-Person Lectures in the morning, coding in the afternoon
TTh – Video Lectures in the morning, codingi n the afternoon
F – Review and Deep Dive. Friday exercises are sometimes longer because they pool all the things we learned in the week into one exercise. They’re always the funner ones though!
Weekends – I do not do any assignments (unless I’m really dying to finish a feature.) For the most part, I want to make sure I get the chance to hangout with friends and explore the Bay Area!

The Entire Program:
Weeks 1 – 6: Lectures + Pair Programming
Weeks 7 – 12: Dedicated work on your own project OR dedicated work on a contractual job OR job interview prep. There are different paths to take depending on people’s preferences.

Sprinkled in these weeks are entrepreneur speaker series, a hackathon, field days, all-hands meetings, and a final demo day.

What are you learning?

Ooo so much. So so much. Our weeks are so fast-paced; It’s crazy thinking about how much I’ve learned in the span of 6 weeks in Horizons versus 6 weeks in school (eek!!!) Here’s a rough per week breakdown (taken from our curriculum!).

What we are learning:
Week 1: Javascript Fundamentals
– Primitives, Objects, Functions, Loops
– Truthiness
– Scoping
– Closures
– Object Prototypes
– .call(), .apply(), .bind()
– Functional Programming
Week 2: Front-end
– HTML
– CSS (Flexbox, Bootstrap, Animations)
– jQuery
– AJAX
– JSON & APIs
Week 3: Node & Express
– Node.js
– Command Line
– npm
– HTTP
– Express
– Templating with Handlebars
– Mongoose
– Validation and AJAX in Express
Week 4: Middleware, APIs, Heroku, Security
– Middleware and Passport
– Web Security (aka HACKING!!!!)
– Heroku
– OAuth
– Webhooks
Week 5: Promises, ES6 Syntax, Socket.io, React
– Promises
– ES6 Syntax
– Socket.io
– React Intro
Week 6: React & Redux
– React and Redux are awesome together
Week 7: React Native
(note: upon writing this blog, I have not learned these yet but I’m writing about it anyway!)
– React on mobile
– Local Storage, Geolocation, Maps
Week 8: Production Backend/Frontend

I read all this before starting the program and was like “wtf are these words…………” I list them down now and believe I can explain all these concepts fairly well. #ohyes

What we are not learning:
What we are not learning, however, (which is a critique of most coding bootcamps) are deeper computer science concepts like algorithms or data structures. During deep dives, we get to touch on these, but only on the surface. These concepts will have to be learned more in depth outside of the program.

We are also only learning everything in Javascript, not any other language. I don’t think that’s so much of a big problem because once you master one, it’s easy to learn another language.

Lastly, we do have a mobile portion in the curriculum, but for the most part, we are working on the web.

What are we building:
I think that’s the more exciting part! We’ve built clones of Facebook and Yelp and Trello and Twilio and others. I’m excited to start building our larger projects v soon.

How are the people like?

All our community slack channels
All our community slack channels

Our many Slack channels on different tech themes is one clue that the people in Horizons are a bunch of really ambitious kids. I love that we’re able to build a young community of tech leaders. I am also inspired by most everyone’s tenacity and how many are willing to spend more than the usual 8 hours to finish coding.

As for the TAs and founders and instructors, I feel I have yet to absorb more of their knowledge through one-on-one conversations or meals, but it’s awesome knowing they’re open and available and always willing to help (unless they’re busy designing their own company’s website via BootStrap 4; but that’s a different story!)

Also lastly, there are high schoolers in our program and I am both amazed and jealous! Damn, they have these amazing skills and they’re only <18 years old!!!! If only I had these skills at that age!!!

Do you think it’s worth it?

I assume this question is defining “worth” based on monetary value. It’s a very very fair question: $10,000 + cost of living in SF is a big monetary commitment. I am grateful and fortunate that Horizons is paying for these costs for me, though I imagine it would have been a harder decision if money were involved.

Let’s think about it for a sec.

If one is committed to going to the tech industry, esp as a software engineer, $10,000 compared to the six figures a year salary is nothing. It’s $10k for an educational experience that is arguably a more practical educational experience than 4 years in a large, private $60k+ tuition educational institution. Think about that. I have learned so much and have garnered a large roster of employable skills. It’s already been such a worthy investment of my time – and I’m only halfway!

If, however, you are not willing to put in the hours, forget it. At times the schedule is manageable but many times, it takes strong tenacity to keep going. If you are not willing to work through it all, best you find some other thing to do and free up that spot for someone willing to make the program worth it for them.

Has the program changed your life in any way?

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I applied to Horizons around July of 2016, about a year before the actual program. I was in a robotics edtech startup as a designer. I eventually ended up helping out our engineers with the front-end, but had this itch to learn more about the backend. I realized how much I desired learning the technical skills and discovered how fun it was to code. Horizons emailed our school’s economics listserv, and I was deadset on nabbing that fellowship.

I also knew that as a product manager, it was important to have a good technical understanding to communicate with my engineers. I committed to it around November of that year and was waiting for the program to start since. I committed to it before committing to any other post-grad plan and banked on the hope that whatever jobI would get, they would be willing to accommodate the Horizons schedule. I committed to it because I knew that it was only going to change my career path for the better. It honestly hasn’t changed me in that I wanted to change my career path because lol I’m going into tech already anyway. But I imagine that if I were about to enter any other industry besides tech, then I would be pulling my hair out right now debating on which path to take. It’s maybe changed me in that I have more confidence in my abilities and in my commitment to enter the industry.

In high school, we had some basic CS classes, but I always told myself I wasn’t good enough, especially when my (mostly) male classmates would tell me how early and easily they finished. I never thought I could fathom becoming a software engineer because people were always better and smarter than I was. And people still are, I’m sure. But going through this program has built my confidence in my technical capacity. I’ve also found so much joy in coding – it’s like a giant puzzle that I MUST solve. I get into flow so quickly now, and it’s hard for me to snap out!

I’m now confident that I can build things for myself and others (and am actually looking to freelance on the side; if y’all have potential clients, hook your girl up!) I have a lot more to learn I’m sure; this only touches the surface and I’m only halfway through the program! But I’m getting there and I’m thankful Horizons got my back.

 

Good luck,
Mika, Horizons Fellow Summer ’17

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