Hack Reactor is a 13 wk immersive software engineering program that was damn hard and fun! Once completed, I was a proficient developer with a solid sense of programming paradigms and principles.


Feb 2016 - May 2016

Full Stack


Hack Reactor is a 13 wk immersive software engineering program that was damn hard and fun! Once completed, I was a proficient developer with a solid sense of programming paradigms and principles.

Joining the "Darkside"

Why would a designer leave his comfortable pixel perfect screens to a world full of ever-changing tools, bugs, and paradigms?... Put simply, because I love it.

I started my career in tech as a designer. Long story short, I successfully pitched an iOS app idea to an employer which was built and then sold. After that, I quit and went full time into design. Read my other case studies for more about my design career.

After a successful start to a design career, I found myself diving deeper and deeper into programming. I wanted to truly understand what the devs at the design studio I worked at were talking about! I knew some HTML and CSS and enough jquery to create basic interactions, but the entire flow of how an app communicated with a server was beyond me.

Enter Hack Reactor

I would learn of hack reactor and immediately think it was way out of my reach. No way a designer could learn enough javascript to be taught by gurus such as Kyle Simpson. This sparked a fire in me like never before though. I was hungry and javascript was the only thing that would fuel me. I worked during the day at the design studio and came home and coded all night.

Preparing myself

I took a complete self-taught approach to learning javascript. This would be a long and hard journey mainly because, you don't know what ya don't know.

The Basics

I learned javascript fundamentals from sites like codecademy, udemy, codewars, hackerrank, and more. Heres a look at some of my profiles to prove it.

Codewars, my fav!

Codecademy, where it all started!



"Real" Programming

These were all great ways of getting myself familiar with vanilla javascript. However, they didn't do much in the way of teaching me principles like object-oriented programming, functional programming, WET vs DRY, Big-O, and so on.

I did find a few great online resources to some of these topics like reactive.io and Kyle Simpsons You Don't Know JS. This is when I started to feel more confident in my abilities and decided to apply to HackReactor!

Let's Apply!

First off, applying to Hack Reactor is great fun! The closest thing to Hogwarts there is. If you've done it, you know why.

Let's get to it then... I got rejected. The interview was indeed as challenging as I anticipated. I hit a wall once they started asking me to implement certain higher-order functions and that was it. It was a big loss and I was pretty demotivated afterward. Except that fire to learn didn't go away. So I doubled down and got back to work.

Getting Accepted

Hack Reactor enforces a 3 month waiting period between interviews. I had my second interview a few days before NYE 2015. I was prepared this time. I'd met more devs, coded more hrs, and put in more work. At the end of it, they didn't wait and told me on the spot I'd passed and would be accepted!

A year after my journey to learn to code, I was accepted into the #1 Javascript bootcamp out there. It is a feeling I will always remember.

Pack your bags

The cohort I was accepted into was starting in just a few months. I would leave my designer job in sunny downtown San Diego, sell as much of my stuff as I could, tell friends & family goodbye, and head out to Texas.


My life in 2015 all packed up

Hello, from Austin

I arrived into Austin with an address of an apartment I had rented online a few weeks before and no idea who my roommates where or what I was in for. I would spend the next few days settling in and preparing for what would be the second "Bootcamp" I'd attended in my life. The first was courtesy of an old company called "The United States Marine Corp". Hoorah.

## Welcome to Hack Reactor I won't give away to much on what goes on inside of Hack Reactor, just because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who is considering attending... which you totally should. But here is a look into the curriculum.

12 hr days, 6 day weeks

Let me just re-enforce the rate of which this program was going. We would learn everything from Big-O time complexities to building a full-stack app in just 3 months. The amount of knowledge that was distributed to us is just sheer amazing.

Month 1: Vanilla Javascript

It was a deep dive into the underpinnings of javascript. Understanding the context of this, Big-O, and the javascript engine were a few topics we'd get comfortable with. We ran sprints from week 2 on. This would have you partnered with a peer and doing pair programming. One would be the "driver" the other would be the "navigator". This was teaching us how to work and think like a team. That software development was not a one man/woman show.

Month 2: Introduction to Libraries

We'd learned mainly vanilla javascript at this point and programming paradigms. We manipulated the dom with the use of jquery or other libraries. They wanted us to struggle and see what all these different libraries/frameworks were abstracting out for us.

Front End

The first library we'd use was backbonejs. It was a nightmare. Trying to wrap our heads around the MVC pattern was difficult. In all honesty, I still don't care for backbone. Later we would run sprints with Mithriljs and AngularJS. My personal favorite was Mithriljs, it just made sense to me. Looking back, it was the closest to react with its component-based architecture.

Build tools

We would learn all about the world of build tools. At this time, browserify was still hot and webpack was just starting to take over. We would also dig into grunt, bower, and gulp. This would open my eyes to all sorts of optimizations that should be made prior to deploying anything. I've personally used webpack for the past 2 years and still love it.


For the backend, we started with making plain xhr calls to our server. We also responded with pure nodejs code. This was, convoluted. So many lines of code, so much lack of structure. Very low reusability. Then we got introduced to libraries like axios and the best yet, express.

This made things click much faster for me. Soon enough I was handling http requests and responses like a pro.


After building with plain ol SQL and writing some of the longest queries to date, we were introduced to KnexJS and postgres. Which I'm still personally a big fan of for tight relationship applications. We'd also explore MongoDB with the mongoose layer on top. This made much more sense to me since I'd been writing and learning all about schemas for the past few months. The schema-less architecture didn't make sense to me at this point, in the coming weeks it would become clearer.


After we'd learned how to communicate from the front-end to our server and db, we needed to learn about authentication and security. Just like before, they made us do things the hard way. We would hash our own passwords using bcrypt and learned about techniques such as SALT-ing your passwords.

After we'd struggle enough we would move into using a library called passportjs. This was not as easy of an integration as express or knex was. This had a lot of different moving parts and would require a lot of trial and error to understand. I still use passport till this day.

MVP - HubHunt

It was time for us to put our new found knowledge to use. At week 6, we were tasked with developing an MVP in two days. Me being the ambitious person I am decided to create a design to go along with my MVP. This was a mistake... two days was short, I barely slept.

For my MVP I decided on an idea to fetch all the top repos within the last 6 months for HTML, CSS, and JS from Github. I'd use Mithriljs for the front end and make calls with express and nodejs on the backend. Below is what I was able to accomplish in this short period.

### Month 3: Thesis Project Our last month and half was spent creating a thesis project. We would be placed into teams and be given certain roles. My primary role was `Front-End` developer.

The App

We met and discussed possible app ideas for our thesis. We knew the time constraint was going to make things interesting, but we were fairly confident in our abilities by this time. We decided to go with an idea I had for a marketplace app.

From our `ReadMe`: > MPLOY was designed to allow the hiring process to become more transparent and efficient. At the moment job seeking and hiring is incredibly difficult and stressful for both job seekers and employers. Productivity lessons taken from Trello and Tinder have inspired the design and implementation of this application.

The execution

We bit off way too much. We had to learn React,Redux, and how to build an interactive kanban board. We also made a decision to leverage a very dense boilerplate, Rubix. With all of this and only a month, even our instructor doubted our ability to pull it off. It had to be deployed as well.

Ship it

After living off Redbull, javascript, and pop tarts for far too long, we had an app. The entire repo has 500+ commits, and it's some serious code. Take a look if you'd like. This was the icing on the cake, we all felt like full-fledged developers. I mean, how else could we have done what we did in the time we had?


Canidate Dashboard


Employer Dashboard

100% Responsive

Farewell Hack Reactor

Soon after I completed the thesis project, a good friend convinced me to leave a week early and join his startup. I was the first to be hired from my cohort but many more would follow. I like to think our cohort was one of the tightest nit bunch to come through HR. A lot of us are still here in Austin working and meet up as often as we can. I've hosted a few parties for everyone actually! It's hard to go through something as long and intense as Hack Reactor and not form lasting relationships.