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CEO of HackerYou, my favourite company & community in the whole world. Founder of Ladies Learning Code. Angel Investor. One of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women.

The Rise of Designers Who Code

Hamsa Ganesh was looking for answers: how could she offer her clients websites as tasteful and sophisticated as the graphic design work her firm in Pune, India was known for?

According to Hamsa, the answer came in a post quoting well-respected web design agency founder Jon Lax on where to find top coding talent: Toronto-based web development bootcamp, HackerYou.

It was the first time Hamsa had heard of a skills-based learning program like it. Impressed by the structure and rigour of the HackerYou curriculum, she decided to apply and after a Skype interview with HackerYou CEO, Heather Payne, and a tech challenge, she was accepted.

Two months later, Hamsa took her first trip abroad, travelling to Toronto to join HackerYou’s nine-week full-time front-end development bootcamp.

She was immediately charmed by the diversity of the city and her classmates.

“I got the feeling that there was something more than code I was going to learn at HackerYou,” she said. “I had found a community passionate about learning and helping one another. I felt at home.”

Hamsa quickly picked up HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery and WordPress — languages and frameworks that form the foundation of most websites, building a full web project from scratch each week that would serve as future portfolio pieces.

Though she’d dabbled with coding throughout the four years she’d spent running her own design firm, as more and more clients began requesting that their print projects be adapted for the web, she needed to learn how to build sites on her own.

Hamsa could see how valuable the combination of her design skills and new coding skills would be and grew excited at the prospect of helping better align the design and development communities.

“The best websites I see are mostly made by developers who have a good sense of design,” she said. “But I feel there’s a hidden and exciting voice yet to emerge — that of designers who can write code.”

Hamsa has returned to India and is now working exclusively on web projects, honing her development skills and picking up new ones, including SVG animations written mostly in JavaScript.

“I see art missing in the web and that’s what I would like to change. As a designer, you don’t need to be coding the final project, but to be good at web design, you need to know how the web works.

I now make really, really good style sheets. Developers trust me to manage projects because they know that we’re speaking the same language.”

While she knew she would gain solid technical skills at HackerYou, Hamsa says she’s equally impressed that the experience introduced her to such a vibrant and global community of talented and kind people.

“There is no other community online that has as much support as the web community. Everyone seems to keep their student spirit alive: to be fearless and go for it.

“The learning never stops. I couldn’t have chosen a better place.”


Hometown: Pune, India

Previous occupation: Founder of graphic design firm

Fun fact: Clocked 720 kilometres on her Fitbit in 80 days, discovering Toronto on foot when not in class.

Pivotal moment in HackerYou experience: Hamsa committed to HackerYou when a colleague in India said she was enjoying working on a project with a HackerYou grad who had been hired at Facebook.

Categories: Advice, Alumni, Alumni Stories, Bootcamp, Designers, From a Student, Learn to code, Web Development, Women in Tech
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