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Guest Post: My Time at HackerYou

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Guest Post: My Time at HackerYou

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This is a guest post from HackerYou Web Dev (Fall 2012) student Tyn Soltys. According to her (new) website, you may know her as "that creative person who finally decided to do something about it." You can find out more about her here: http://tynsoltys.com/

You know when you get a really good feeling about something, and you can’t stop thinking about it day and night, and finally work up the courage to just go for it? No, it was not love, but how I felt when I learned about HackerYou, and enrolling turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

HackerYou has not only turned me into an amateur (hoping to become professional) Swiss Army knife of a front-end web developer, but has been hands-down one of the greatest educational experiences of my life – and as a relatively nerdy person who never really liked going to class, this is saying a lot. This is what “class” should be. Before I knew it I was looking forward to Monday and Thursday nights more than weekends. I'd like to say I'm joking, but not really.

When I met with Heather before the course begun, she explained to me how this was not about marks – it was about taking what YOU want out of the course. Well. I have not only gotten an incredible education in all things front-end development, but the amount and quality of support from amazing mentors and instructors is what really sets HackerYou apart. No question goes unanswered, no student ever feels left behind. Students readily help each other out too, and not just with course work – the class is filled with an incredible roster of students, many of them entrepreneurs, designers, and leaders in their field, but all super creative and interesting people. Everyone is approachable and openly shares their expertise with others, and it really feels like more like a team meeting than a class (I’m not being cliché, it’s actually how it is – and if you read Heather’s idea of what she envisioned HackerYou to be, she hit it right on the head, so that deserves an incredible congratulations, too. Amazing job, and thank you.)

Led by the illustrious and #bada55 Wes Bos, two nights a week at the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex (another incredible place, definitely check it out) class typically begins with a review of last class’ content, followed by the introduction of shiny new content. We work through several examples together, and a few on our own, and are then given a bit of time to think and absorb all the crazy stuff we just learned and ask a ton of questions. Wes’ lessons are well thought out and full of wise wisdom, and there’s always some sort of “loot bag” of cool links or resources for us to use, many of which have become invaluable tools and favourite new morning coffee reading. Classes are very rarely overwhelming, but when they are, it’s just the nature of the content to blame (hello relative/absolute positioning). In that case, we aren’t allowed to leave until we understand everything (just kidding), but seriously, thanks to the mentors’ genuine interest in helping us learn, by the end of the night all of us were making some pretty cool collages and overlapping craziness from primary coloured squares. I’m now working on some really cool CSS3 “toys” that definitely, definitely take advantage of that lesson.

I am actually quite sad that it's over. I was never one for going to class much (ask my friends at university) but that’s because I rarely ever felt class taught me more than what I could just learn on my own. I know for certain that I would be nowhere near the level I am at now if it wasn’t for the intelligence of the curriculum, the incredible support of the instructors and mentors, and my truly inspiring classmates of the inaugural HackerYou class. Not only is class actually fun, but I can see its benefits clearly, especially when I open up the sites that I’ve made and really wish my Mom could hang them on the fridge. Web development is truly one field where watching online tutorials (though absolutely essential) won't really tie everything together so nicely, or learn things in the right order, and be told that “well actually, that’s one of those things that they’re (the w3) are working on, so you’re not going to find the answer, instead, try this…” – do you know how big of a time and sanity saver that is?

So – if you’re thinking about signing up for a development course or for HackerYou specifically, and you genuinely want to learn, know that it is perhaps one of the most worthwhile investments you can make. It’s a fun, efficient, and top-quality educational experience. Whether you just want to understand web development for your job or personal interest, want to create that blog or other pet project you’ve been dreaming about, or want to start a career in web-development (like apparently I do now!), I couldn’t recommend anything so strongly as I do HackerYou.

(No, they did not pay me to write this. Seriously, this is from the heart.)

With tremendous thanks to Wes, Heather and the HackerYou team,