Zachary Lopez

Why Hack Reactor?

Hack Reactor

I wanted to write about this topic to give back to the community that led me to Hack Reactor. It is posts like this that influenced my decision making. I will cover all my reasons for choosing HR over other schools, so that you may gain some insight into your own choice.


The first thing you need to know is that I have a Computer Science and Computer Engineering Bachelor’s of Science from UC Davis in 2004. In the time since graduation, I have not used this degree save small visual basic scripting in excel.

Additionally, I am someone who enjoys a challenge and needs to be pushed. Pressure is an environment that I strive in.

I trust my gut and my immediate inclinations, so generally in a situation like this, I will choose one and press forward. I don’t ascribe to the apply to all and then see, but that’s just me.

For these reasons, and more, I was looking for an elite program that met the standards that I hold myself to.

Other prerequisites

I wanted to attend an in-person course and I currently live in San Francisco. This limited my geographic search.

I also wanted to focus on a program that provided a full stack curriculum. This eliminated front-end camps.

The bootcamps

Check this link at SkilledUp to see just how many there are now. These were the ones that I considered:

Gathering Data

I checked out all the websites, watched their videos, then hit the review boards. The two most helpful resources for me were Quora and googling student blogs.

As I sifted through this information, it became clear that Hack Reactor was the front runner for me. I liked how selective they were (3% acceptance rate) and I liked their placement rate (> 99%). The student blogs also gave me a good picture of the intensity of the course and the teaching/learning style.

Making the choice

Even with all the info, I still had to be sure because the cost for HR is higher than most. I decided that I would work through the prep info on their website, and if I felt good about it, I would apply.

I ended up applying about a month later and set my interview for a month hence. This gave me time to work through an optional project that isn’t a requirement any longer. This project was probably a key moment for me as I enjoyed solving this project and was gratified by the result.

The interview

Live coding in front of someone is so weird, if you have never done it before. I am very comfortable in job interviews and don’t tend to get nervous, but this coding made me so incredibly nervous. I think the key to the interview is to be yourself, and to communicate as you code. I got stuck in parts, due to nerves and/or not knowing how, but I kept talking. I didn’t guess at anything, but I did explain what I knew, what I didnt’t, and what parts were tripping me up.

I think the goal of the interview is to see you sweat and see what happens to you. Do you clam up? Do you press on? Do you get upset? How do you ask for and take help?

Reflection after 2 weeks in

Hack Reactor is everything I expected and more. My cohortmates are super awesome people who I am impressed by and also who I enjoy working with. All of the staff at Hack Reactor are so helpful and smart. The curriculum is very intense and exactly what I wanted. I have absolutely zero regret about making this choice.

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