Mentor Spotlight: Neha Jain

Neha Jain, Senior Software Engineer at LinkedIn, definitively sets the example of how the tech community should mature. Neha’s résumé is impressive, and once you add on initiatives she’s contributing to outside of her 9-5 at LinkedIn, her work ethic becomes very apparent. Neha’s journey to tech was hard fought and well earned and it is her belief that if she doesn’t provide for aspiring software engineers the way her mentors did for her, then really… what’s the point?

Neha presents to Holberton School students and guests at a Meetup.

Neha very strongly believes in democratizing the knowledge and sharing the information across the industry and the world. “it’s important to me to pay forward what I received.” explains Neha. This notion coupled with her admiration for project-based learning made her a fit for Holberton School’s mentor program. Neha was attracted to Holberton’s curriculum in addition to its business model; no upfront tuition costs. Jain points out the benefit that “students are free to learn without the looming financial stress” and as she explains her draw to learning by doing, you could say that Holberton and Neha are a perfect match.

She shares how mentoring is gratifying in itself, but also mutually beneficial. When posed with the question – Have you grown professionally due to mentorship? – Neha emphatically explains how mentoring is a way for her to grow personally and professionally. Neha sets a scene where mentees are asking questions she never even thought to ask, or proposes a solution to a problem she had never considered. All of these things are of added benefit to Neha; tools and information to be stored in her toolbox of professional development. Framing her experience by stating “Mentoring has helped me to unlock the other side of my career” is perhaps the biggest example of this symbiotic mentor/mentee relationship. Through mentoring, Neha further developed her management and leadership skills bolstering her already glowing personal brand.

 

Neha participating in a Q&A with Holberton School students


By modeling the mentor behavior and cultivating a transparent view of her journey, Neha’s success is a roadmap for the next class of software engineers. Neha demonstrates that your education does not and should not end after your classes are complete. This type of example enriches the tech community on a broader scale, allowing future engineers to strive for the type of leadership Neha has displayed throughout her career.

Navigating Your Way Through Tech

It’s no accident that Ludovic Galibert is finding success in his career. Senior Software Engineer at Netflix, he came to chat with Holberton School students about the ins and outs of navigating the tech industry from an engineer’s point of view. Holberton Students Sue Kalia and Lee Gaines interviewed Ludovic; asking him a myriad of questions from interview advice to favorite Netflix shows. Ludo detailed many pro tips including advising students to obtain a public library card and espousing the importance of what he referred to as ‘soft skills.’

The emphasis on development of professional soft skills (i.e., – effective communication, teamwork, etc.) ran a constant thread throughout all of Ludo’s answers. When asked about what characteristics a good engineer should have, he pointed to traits such as ‘determination’,  ‘resilience’ and being a ‘team player’ as well as noting not to “underestimate things like social skills and communication. You’ll have to talk to and work with a lot of people.” You can see these elements becoming habits by looking at Holberton’s curriculum. For example, all students participate in a project where they are split into two teams and each team self organizes into a corporation; there’s a CEO, a marketing “department”, a product development team, etc. Both teams are given the same problem and it’s a race against when the clock strikes 5:00 to solve the problem in a more efficient way than your opponent. Now that is certainly the type of project that produces resilient team players, that know how to communicate!

Furthering his point, when asked about how to go about landing an engineering job his answer focused on gaining experience, as well as interview preparation – “any type of interview here in Silicon Valley, or generally in tech, it’s all about preparation.” Preparation for interviews goes beyond learning the code. Interview preparation includes skills ranging from technical understanding to understanding social cues.

When Sue asked Ludovic if he had made any mistakes throughout his career, we gained an even clearer insight into the importance he places on soft skills. He gave an anecdote of a time when he wished he had been more selfless as a mentor to a group of junior engineers;

I would go back and learn more about mentoring because it’s really important for the next generation to think about that – take time to help people. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to be a mentor for Holberton.”

During the student Q&A, Ludo touched on a couple of the industry’s current pain points including diversity and inclusion. He reminded the audience to remember not to get so wrapped up in your career that you forget to take a step back and help people around you. It is clear Ludovic has a handle on the larger picture. Engineering success seems to be a delicate balance of technical and non-technical skills.

 

Watch the full interview here.

Ludovic Galibert, Senior Software Engineer at Netflix & Holberton School Mentor, designs and implements highly scalable tools and services that indirectly impact millions of users.

Courageous Coding

Last night we were joined by Batch 2 rockstars, Naomi Sorrell and Kristen Loyd, who shared their secrets to maintaining success within the Holberton program with their pro tips and advice. In other words: it got real! The pair of students understand that there are many emotions and moods that come along with the fast paced nature of this program, and recognize that the struggle and the hard work make the learning much more gratifying.

They focused on ways to manage the course load with a few strategies that each student can mold into their own. The main strategies were broken down into six categories or themes:

  1. Assessing the situation
  2. Whiteboarding
  3. Time Management
  4. Communication
  5. Self Care
  6. Support Network

To highlight a few golden nuggets of wisdom, let’s focus on a few of these. Whiteboarding is something that Kristen and Naomi take seriously! The two regaled us with an anecdote of a four day project they were given of which they spent three of those days solely whiteboarding the code for understanding. This was the main point of the two aspiring engineers. They both agree that whiteboarding helps them fully understand the code they’re going to push out before they jump right to their computers. Check out Kristen walking us through a problem here.

Time management is something that so obvious that many forget to budget their time. Naomi suggests using timers to keep yourself on task. She explains the feeling of frustration from working a problem and getting the same error over and over. However, with a timer you can measure your progress. She suggests picking a length of time that feels comfortable for you and once you hit 20, 30, or even 40 minutes the timer will go off and signal to you that you should reach out and ask someone for help.

Building and embracing a strong support network seems to be the secret sauce. Both Naomi and Kristen emphasize the strong community aspect at Holberton as an underlying catalyst for their success. Actions as simple as understanding when your partner needs to take a walk around the block, grabbing a quick sweet treat, or even just asking a classmate for help all aid in creating the strong bonds we see between the students.


When following up with Naomi and Kristen they shared some final thoughts with me that seem to sum up the culture and environment Holberton prides itself on. In their own words:

“Grateful for such an engaged community that is always cooperatively exploring ways to grow as future engineers and empathetic humans.” – Naomi Sorrell

“Energized by the amount of conversation it sparked during and after the workshop; we are continuing to create a supportive community where we grow as individuals and take ownership of our education and goals.” – Kristen Loyd

Chat with Naomi about all things tech & community on Twitter and LinkedIn
Kristen loves to talk tech & whiteboarding on Twitter and LinkedIn

Scality S3 Server hackathon at Holberton School

Do you like Javascript? Are you interested in S3-compatible AWS apps? Join us for this hackathon that will take place on October 21–23 at Holberton School!

Attendees will write applications using S3 Server and the Seagate Kinetic rack (disk over IP).

Attendees will have have access to:

  • One or more Kinetic enclosures from Seagate
  • Open source components, including S3Server and kineticlib and eclib in node.js from Scality

Kinetic Seagate rack

Teams of up to 3 people will be judged at the end of the competition on 4 criteria:

  • Execution
  • Performance of the backend (latency, throughput)
  • Design quality
  • Creativity (placement algorithms, rebuild algorithms, etc.)

Competitors will be supervised by Scality engineers specialized in S3Server and other node.js components and Seagate engineers specialized in Kinetic SW and setup.

The judges will be:

The hackathon is free of charge, food and drinks will be provided by Scality and Seagate. Join us!

Meetup: Don’t code the weakest link

TL;DR;

Title:  Don’t code the weakest link, introduction to security
Speaker: Nicolas Bacca
When: Friday, January 29, 2016 – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
RSVP here.

More info

The security of a system is equivalent to the security of its weakest link – to build a secure system you need to understand the general interactions between its building blocks.

* What connected systems look like in 2016
* From computer hacker movies to real world security exploits – the future is now
* Network security basics
* Understanding attacks and threats (from malware to code injection to sophisticated phishing)
* Gentle introduction to cryptography
* Death of the password

Exercises / Hands-on

* Find my PIN (Level: beginner)
* Decrypt me (Level: beginner)
* Decrypt me 2 (Level: medium)
* The lost machine (Level: advanced)

Bring your laptop and an ID.

Important: We will check IDs at the entrance. You will not be able to enter the school if you are not on the list.

RSVP here.

About Nicolas Bacca

 

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Nicolas is the co-founder and CTO of  Ledger, a startup designing Bitcoin hardware wallets and other auditable, open and secure Personal Security Devices. He has been involved in the embedded security industry for more than 15 years as R&D engineer, and independent consultant for major industry players; CEO and CTO of several startups. He built the most cost efficient FIDO U2F Security Key implementation with his team, is passionate about optimized code and well implemented security protocols, tries to push for more open standards at every possible opportunity. Also, he is not afraid of nudging closed objects into being more open when diplomacy fails.