Holberton School, a college alternative educating the next generation of digital workers, today welcomed Chitra Rajeshwari, executive director of Avasant Foundation, a private not-for-profit organization that empowers youth in emerging economies through education, employment, and entrepreneurship, to the board of trustees.
Rajeshwari joins the board to focus on the school’s sustainability, innovation, and its impact on society as a whole. Rajeshwari has been a leader in a number of industries, including banking and travel. She is joining the board of trustees to help Holberton bring affordable, quality education to the many, especially in growing economies across LATAM and Africa.
“Nearly 70 million youth are unemployed worldwide, and that number is only expected to rise further. Looking more broadly at the role of women in labor markets, we found a disturbing trend: the continued uneven progress toward workforce inclusion. The global rate of young women’s participation in the labor force has dropped to 48.5%. It’s imperative that we focus on getting more young people, especially women, into the labor force in order to dramatically improve their lifetime opportunities,” said Rajeshwari. “Businesses are desperate to hire more software engineers and we have a rare opportunity to bring Holberton’s world-class technical education to young people across the emerging markets to help them access today’s life-changing opportunities.”
Rajeshwari joins our collective of trustees which includes Grammy award-winner NE-YO, actor and social activist Priyanka Chopra, CloudNOW CEO Jocelyn DeGance Graham, Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel, and Docker co-founder Solomon Hykes.
“Our mission is to bring high-quality education to people and areas that may not have the opportunity — whether it’s because of geography, money, age, gender, ethnicity or even learning style,” said Julien Barbier, CEO and co-founder of Holberton. “Each of our trustees brings a unique set of skills, knowledge, and leadership to our program. We are excited to welcome Chitra who will help us expand even more rapidly into growing economies.”
Please join us in welcoming Chitra to the Holberton community!
Our third campus in Colombia, Holberton School Cali will be training the next generation of Colombian software engineers to help drive Colombia’s digital revolution.
If you’re thinking about how you can get a world-class software engineering application, apply now!
Our newest campus is located in Cali, the third- largest city in Colombia with a population of 3.4M and is home to many of Colombia’s top tech companies like Carvajal, Open Software, Delima, Datecsa, Eficacia, Colombina, Tecnoquimicas, Lafrancol, and more. Within Cali, our newest campus will be located at the local Zonamerica, a special Free Zone to encourage the development of global tech services and multinational companies in Colombia.
Students who attend class at Holberton School Cali will receive the same Silicon Valley-level software engineering education that helped get students employment at companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Nvidia, and more. And with ourt special curriculum, which is designed to help people become world-class software engineers even without prior coding experience, Holberton will provide more incredible economic opportunities to the population of Cali.
Students who are accepted through our blind application process, which doesn’t test on existing coding knowledge but instead tests the ability to learn, will have the opportunity to join a worldwide cohort with students on three continents. Students at Holberton School Cali will be able to cooperate and learn in parallel with students in San Francisco, New Haven, Bogotáa, Medellíin, and Tunis. Not only will our students learn the fundamentals of programming and the ability to think like an experienced programmer, but they will learn critical international cooperation skills, be able to sharpen their English speaking and writing ability, and the ability to train others who are of a similar skill level. All of these skills will help Holberton students at Cali springboard their career the most well paying job opportunities around.
The Cali campus will feature many of the same great amenities as our other campuses, including collaboration spaces, conference rooms, rest areas, and places to watch content streamed from our other campuses worldwide. The Cali campus, with its location in Zonamerica, will place students in the center of Colombian technological development for the international market.
If you’re currently in Colombia, you’ll want to start your application now. The close date for September 2019 cohort is approaching rapidly, so if you want to be one of the first in Cali to achieve your dream and Define Your Future, start your application today!
To read our press release on our new expansion, please click here.
We’re proud to announce that our newest addition to Holberton, Holberton School Tunisia, is now open and accepting applications!
Start our application process now to be ready for the September Cohort: Apply here
Located in Tunis, Holberton School Tunis is our first campus in Africa. In this city of 2.6 million people (across the greater metropolitan area), we are excited to be part of the digital future of Africa with Tunis leading the way. By bringing the exact same curriculum that has helped people with no prior coding experience land jobs at companies like Facebook, Apple, Tesla, and more, our education will complete an already strong education system to help Tunisia develop their own local, Silicon Valley level software engineers.
This vision for the future of Tunisia has already attracted top Tunisian companies like VERMEG. VERMEG is a leading international financial and regulatory software services firm with over 1100 employees worldwide in 40 countries. Headquartered in Tunis, this exciting company has already committed to hiring 30 Holberton students. This highlights the quality that top tech companies see in our curriculum and the engineers that come from Holberton school.
Our curriculum will help develop the new wave of technological innovators and leaders in Tunisia. With 70% of the Tunisian population under the age of 29, a high-quality, innovative approach can help a huge portion of the Tunisian population prepare for the careers of today and tomorrow. And with our blind admissions process, which looks not at what people know about software engineering or anything about their race, gender, or background, but is specifically designed to help find the people with the potential to learn the Holberton way. In other countries around the world this has enabled us to bring in underrepresented populations into technology, and with Tunisia’s amazing 50% of professional Information and Communication Technology roles being held by women, Tunisia may be poised to have one of the most gender-equal software engineering populations in the world. Through this same curriculum in the USA, Holberton has helped people from farmers to retail workers to artists and musicians obtain high-paying software engineering jobs, and we hope to bring these same successes to Tunisia.
The curriculum is also designed to prepare students for international business. With a worldwide usage of English, the common language of software engineering, Tunisian students will be able to practice conversational English with cohort partners around the globe. Tied with a program that also targets soft skills development, the software engineers that graduate from our program are ready to engage in international business and cooperation.
To support the students’ learning environment, the Tunisia campus will feature many of the same amenities as our San Francisco campus, like 24/7 access to students, high-speed internet, meeting rooms, auditoriums, and rest and relaxation areas. All of these are present to help students make the most of their education, and prepare themselves for a career in software engineering.
If you’re in Tunisia and you want a better career or a high-tech future, begin our application process today. It’s free to apply, so if you’re ready to be part of the digitization wave of Tunis, don’t miss this opportunity to be a member of the first cohort at Holberton School Tunisia!
If you are a journalist and would like to learn more about our curriculum and how we’re planning to bring our Silicon Valley education to Tunisia, email us here.
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Born June 23rd, 1912, Alan Turing would have been 107 this week.
Although he’s been immortalized in media (The more biographical The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch, or more fictionalized and incredibly more technical novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson), this man’s vision for the future of computing, and passion for math, basically defined modern computing. He developed the Turing Machine, the idea of a computer that, through well-applied math and logic, could basically handle any computation required of it.
Basically, he envisioned the modern computer.
True Turing Machines were only hypothetical in his lifetime (EINAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, considered “Turing Complete” and programmed by our namesake Betty Holberton, was not powered on until the year after his death), but they represented an important first step towards the future of computing, and one that we take for granted: That a machine could be programmed to handle different tasks, then compute those tasks logically. Or, even more radically, that a machine could be programmed with a program that resides in digital memory, and that program could be changed as needed.
He was also an early proponent of Machine Learning, and effectively, AI. The “Turing Test” is the benchmark for AI performance: The development of an AI that communicates so well that humans would not be able to tell it is a computer. He also wrote the first videogame, Turbochamp, that was simply too complex for any computer at the time, but was the first time a computer could play (with albeit a low level capability) an entire game of chess. The program would observe the human move, compute the next step options, weigh out the next logical play through a weighted decision tree, then adapt to the next human move. His vision was then to add in the capability of the program to track its wins and losses, and compute the value of its moves to ever refine itself and become a more capable opponent. Or, as we know it know, Machine Learning.
His vision to see what computers could be capable of basically any computation basically changed modern society, just as his codebreaking in WWII literally saved thousands of lives and directly contributed to the defeat of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately, Alan Turing, who was homosexual in a time that it was a criminal offense in the United Kingdom, committed suicide at the age of 41, just a few years after pleading guilty to “gross indecency”. During this Pride week, we hope everyone can see how far we’ve progressed in LGBTQ+ rights, and just as importantly, remember the contributions of a singular man who envisioned basic groundwork of the technology all of us use each and every day.
If you haven’t seen the letter that we cosigned, we recommend you check it out: We have the entire letter at the end of this blog post. If you have, we’d like to share the “Why” behind our support of this statement.
We believe Income Sharing Agreements (ISA) are part of the future of student funding for their education. When properly set up, ISAs have incredible benefits:
ISAs tie student success to school success. We invest in our students by providing them an education and they only contribute back financially if they are professionally successful.
ISAs help expand education to more students who may not otherwise be able to afford a post-secondary education. Since ISAs are not loans, people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to achieve success relative to their capability or drive, and not to their ability to secure a loan.
ISAs eliminate the lifetime of student debt. Because the repayment period is limited in time, after a certain number of payments have been made, the repayment ends regardless of the remaining balance.
ISAs help us set a success floor. Until students hit a minimum income threshold, no payments are due.
But, as with anything that works this well, bad actors may appear. We’re proud of what ISAs can do, but in the hands of predatory lenders, we may just end up with Private Student Loan Debt 2.0: the exact opposite of our vision.
As a part of creating this letter sent to leaders of both parties and both branches of Congress to ask something simple, and honestly respectable, of any new industry: We want regulation that protects students. With ISAs, we’ve been able to serve an incredibly diverse population, with 60% of our student body being people of color. Also, with 37% of our student body as part of the first generation in their family to attend a post-secondary school, ISAs promote upward economic mobility. ISAs, combined with our blind admission process and unique curriculum, helps us break open the stereotypical racial and economic demographics of the tech workforce: As of today, 100% of our graduates find employment opportunities in three months at an average starting salary of $108,000.
We hope this letter in Washington helps spark bipartisan cooperation and support for regulation that protects our students of today and tomorrow.
The original letter, as sent to both branches of Congress, follows:
And not only first. As of June 17st, 2019, he is also the only GitHub certified “Campus Advisor” in the entire San Francisco Bay Area:
To further our commitment to providing the best education and opportunity to our students, our staff are constantly exploring new ways to gain more knowledge, toolsets, and capability to help our students make the most of their education, and thus Guillaume’s steps to become the first GitHub Campus Advisor in the SF Bay Area.
So, to learn more about this, we sat down with Guillaume to talk about being a GitHub Campus Advisor.
How did you find out about this?
The first day at Holberton School, we ask students to create a GitHub account for all their scholarship at Holberton. By testing the user flow as part of our normal curriculum tuning, I realized that students can have advantages within GitHub if they define themselves as students. So I looked deeper on the Education program of GitHub to see how we can work with GitHub for our students and not just be a regular customer of it.
What benefit do you feel this brings to the students?
One important benefit is the classroom feature of GitHub Education. Indeed, we have only one project at Holberton for basic Git commands but nothing about “complex” git usage or GitHub collaboration features. We are starting to add additional projects entirely based on GitHub Classroom and with GitHub resources for our students. The second part is the Pack: credits to access online services: AWS, Algolia, DataDog, etc. It allows our students to explore new tools for building personal projects, which are critical to springboarding their careers..
What did you do to get qualified?
I applied, took their courses about git and submit all their challenges for becoming an advisor.
Was it a challenge, or was it fun?
Challenges were quite interesting, but to be honest, they were a little basic for me. I’ve been using git and GitHub for the last seven years. One thing I uncovered was that the way of validation was manual. Since I’m totally behind driving efficiency and automation, in the last interview with the GitHub staff, we talked about ways to improve the process I went through. They were incredibly receptive to my feedback! I’m extremely glad there are companies like GitHub and organizations like GitHub Education who are working hard to improve collaboration and workflows for software engineers; professional and student alike.
Did you feel like you improved through the process?
Mostly it was review: It was more a validation of my git knowledge and I’m pretty sure it’s what the GitHub education team wants to do. After all, when they’re looking for a campus advisor, they’re looking for someone who’s already an expert. After, I did take a look at all resources about git and GitHub – they are really awesome and will be incredible helpful for our students.
I did learn some tricks on the git modules section, but programming is about learning something new every day!
What’s your vision for the future? Are there any more speciality certifications you’re looking at pursuing?
For me and my team, yes. We’re always looking at ways we can gather more knowledge to both improve the technical tools of Holberton and the technical skills of our students. But with GitHub, I would like to have some students, like our teacher assistants, to pursue Campus Expert certification. It’s something I feel would be extremely valuable to the TAs and the student body as a whole.
To learn more about becoming a GitHub campus advisor and what they bring to the student experience, click here!
We’re proud to announce that Holberton School New Haven, one of our US campuses based in Connecticut, has just been recognized by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) as “Murphy’s Innovator of the Month.”
In partnership with District Innovation and Venture Center (DIVC), a Connecticut based non-profit, we opened up our first remote US campus in New Haven. This campus addresses the shortage of qualified and diverse tech talent in Connecticut. Currently there are over 2,500 open software engineering jobs in the state, but in 2016 CT-based institutions only graduated around 430 students with Computer Science degrees. The training provided by Holberton helps to close this talent gap, and we are looking forward to our program’s graduates being a core part of Connecticut’s plan for future economic development.
This recognition validates that the hard work of our students and staff is making waves and inroads, while bringing economic growth and change to the local communities Holberton is a part of.
To read the full press release from Senator Murphy’s office, please click here.
A brand goes deeper than a logo and a color. Deeper than a catchy mission statement. Our brand is the promise we make to our students, to our partners, and to ourselves. Today, we invite you to Define Your Future.
Today, Holberton is launching our new brand identity and our new website; both developed to more closely align with who we are. We are a school that helps our students achieve their dream career in tech. We are an economic growth engine that helps partners, governments and countries develop their own local Silicon Valley workforce. We are opportunity for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or background. Our system, method, and scalability helps everyone we serve in defining their future.
At Holberton, our purpose is to create the best outcomes possible for our students regardless of where they come from or what means they have. We define our success by the success of those we serve; the very model for our school depends on us helping our students achieve lifelong and meaningful changes to their careers. Our new brand identity, with how critical our students are to our shared success, put our students and alum at the very center of how we express ourselves.
With our new brand and website, there are no models or actors: Every person shown on our site is student, alum, or staff. The environment they were photographed in is our San Francisco campus. The outcomes we promote on our new site are real results. As we invite everyone to Define Your Future, we want our current students, future students, and future partners to know that our results are making real and positive impacts in lives around the world.
Special recognition for extraordinary contributions to our new brand:
Brand identity development
Amandine Aman, Director of Marketing at Holberton School
Jannis Seymens, Marketing Manager at Holberton School
Agency: Savagecorp, with special thanks to Brett Mascavage and John Yi
Website Development and Testing
Guillaume Salva, CTO at Holberton School
Kiren Srinivasan, Software Engineer at Holberton School
Modelling & Photography
Aaron Smith, editorial and advertising photographer The Holberton School student body, models
So, serious question: Just how do you rapidly and accurately check over 10 million lines of code, submitted from students around the world, each and every week? On top of that, lets students know that they have made an error to fix before final submission, but does so in a way that helps the students learn and without giving the answer away?
For us, the answer is simple: Please meet Checker, our automated, scalable, accurate, and slightly devious testing tool, developed under the watchful eye of our CTO, Guillaume Salva.
Oh, and before we get too far, and in case you didn’t do the math, Checker analyzes, tracks, and scores over half a billion lines of code a year. If we were to print out that code to A4 paper then stack it up, we’d have a pile about 820m tall. Or, roughly, 3 Transamerica Pyramids stacked on top of each other.
Who is Guillaume Salva?
Let’s pause and think a little bit: What kind of person would be best suited for developing the technological front-end and back-end at school that’s dedicated to upsetting the status quo of tech education? If you’re picturing a six foot tall, long-haired half-coder-half-professional-chef with a cryptic sense of humor, then you’re correct. While Guillaume hails from France (“From Normandy, born and raised with cream and butter; Viking style” is a response you might get from him), he currently resides in San Francisco, CA, and it’s here that he became one of the original tech employees for Holberton School. “Why not?”, was Guillaume’s response when asked why he started working for Holberton School, “It’s the only place where I could have a direct, personal impact with people and help them change their lives.”
And it was here at Holberton that he ran into a very specific requirement: How could we scale and automate the correction of all of our projects in all of the languages we teach, while also allowing for student testing of code before project deadlines? And thus, Checker was born.
Checker: The code that checks code
The Holberton community and student body is a collection of seriously dedicated people who are, in just a short period of time, mastering the skills that will land them their dream career. Through our peer learning and project-based curriculum, they’re expected to not only learn and master the fundamentals of programming, but also the fundamentals of self-driven learning. And with a first “year” that completes in just nine months, at the end of which students are expected to develop and launch a wholly working software product, rapid and consistent feedback is critical.
Enter Checker. This platform allows students to submit their code for review, and through our proprietary software’s well-programmed magic, will check the students work, and alert them to any errors that may exist. And Checker is thorough. Not only does it check for proper functioning of code created by students, but it can check for dozens of other critical supporting elements like proper code documentation, code styling, code efficiency, and more.
Now, what happens if Checker detects an error? Well, it would be too simple for our program to tell the students what the exact error is: We’re training programmers and developers, and for these professions, you have to learn how to find and fix the errors on your own. If students submit their code before the deadline, they will be alerted with how many detected errors they have in their code. From there, with our students working hard to get the highest score possible, they will be expected to review and find those errors by looking at the instructions of the assignment, looking for errors in their code, and other troubleshooting steps.
In this sense, it’s good to think of Checker like that awesome teacher or professor that never gave the answers away on the test, but helped give you the tools to find out the solution on your own.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at this scenario: Two students, running the same project, where they each get different errors. One student gets errors on Check 1 and Check 2, and the other gets errors on Check 3 and Check 4. Our students are smart; they know this, and we know this. So, if things were easy at Holberton, they could just huddle together, compare their code, find the errors by comparing their work, then both submitting for a perfect score. But, at Holberton, we’re not training people to be good at gaming the system: We’re teaching them how to program and solve problems.
So, in Checker, each individual student’s Check results are randomized. Two students who share the same error number in Checker are unlikely to have the same problem with their code. The students will still benefit from group code review sessions, but they can’t just treat their projects as comparison tests. They have to develop the skills they will use for the rest of their career as programmers, find the error in their code, and fix it. They can also coordinate with their cohort to help others who are running into roadblocks, but they can’t just copy their work off each other and breeze through our curriculum. After all, our students didn’t come to Holberton to learn what they could learn at any other school; they came to Holberton to challenge themselves and learn how to truly develop the skills that will help them with their dream career.
In the end, if there are standing Checker errors even after deadline submission, students are given the specific Checker alerts that matched their caught errors. This feedback is so they can learn and prepare for the next lesson, but until they complete the project, they will have to figure out the issue with nothing more than an alert that there’s a wrong answer.
Through Checker, our students are getting real-world training they need. Checker gives us the ability to automatically scale and support more students around the world, to reduce human error and oversight issues, and to help our students develop skills that they would not find at any other school. And when you’re chatting with a Holberton graduate, whether they’re someone you’re meeting at a conference, a coworker, or someone who you’re interviewing, make sure to ask them about their favorite Checker experience; the one where they worked the hardest to get that Check 0 (aka, no errors). While you might get a thousand-yard stare, you’ll definitely get a story full of trials, tribulations, and a fantastic coding success.
Checker and Holberton School
Checker, at its core, sums up Holberton School quite well. It’s a homegrown tool, built to address a problem, designed to give its users a qualitative real-world learning experience, and does so with efficiency and scalability in mind. Checker pressures students to check their own work, by themselves and in a group, without the ability to copy-paste someone else’s work to get the solution. It prompts the students to solve their own problems, and if they can’t get a perfect score on the assignment, it still gives them feedback to help them grow more. And with Holberton students ending up with great careers in some of the best tech companies around, we’d say it’s working pretty well.
Holberton’s efforts were recently recognized at the CloudNow Top Women Entrepreneurs in Cloud Innovation Awards hosted at the Facebook campus. The non-profit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing and converging technologies that is supported by Facebook, Google, and Intel.
CloudNow’s STEM scholarship was generously awarded to 9 of our students to assist with their living expenses while studying at our San Francisco campus. Previous scholarship recipients at Holberton School went on to work at Change.org, Apple, Pinterest, Doctor on Demand and more.
The CloudNOW STEM scholarship program doubled its support this year, awarding 50 percent more individuals with opportunities to pursue an education as a software engineer. We here at Holberton School are grateful for CloudNOW’s ongoing and increasing commitment to improving opportunities and diversity in STEM.
Facebook COO and women’s advocate Sheryl Sandberg also attended to recognize the mission of Holberton School to get more women in tech and congratulate the Holberton students who received scholarships. Sheryl emphasized the fact that diversity is not only a social imperative, but that diversity and fair gender representation has broad, positive economic benefits for any business that embraces it.
Holberton School’s mission and commitment to developing and encouraging a more gender-representative world of tech has received praise from leaders in the equality space like Priyanka Chopra and Melinda Gates. These work of these luminaries, along with the support of organizations like CloudNOW, helps Holberton School to increase female participation in tech and STEM.
“We applaud the achievements of our winners, and thank them for blazing trails for diversity, inclusion and entrepreneurship. We also honor our STEM scholarship recipients as we work together to support the next generation of tech leaders.”–Jocelyn DeGance Graham.
Please join me in congratulating the CloudNow scholarship recipients, and stay tuned for these future innovators to make waves in STEM and tech!