Holberton > Misc

Student Spotlight: Max Johnson

Camden, New Jersey, if you’re not familiar, has at times been branded as ‘America’s most dangerous city.’ Max Johnson, if you’re not familiar, has at times been labeled Holberton School’s hardest working student. What does one have to do with another? Max grew up in Camden, NJ and in true poetic fashion, as his city experiences some positive changes, so does Max’s career trajectory.

In spite of the fact that Max had earned a degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology he struggled to find a related job in the field. He decided he was not going to let his tough surroundings dictate his future path and began looking into the prospect of breaking into the tech industry. Max was rejected by every program he applied to up until being admitted to Holberton School.

(L to R) Holberton School co-founder Sylvain Kalache, Max, Holberton School co-founder Julien Barbier

We are not our past. With this notion, Max set off to the west coast with a few thousand bucks, and the determination that he would come out the other side a full stack software engineer. However, the path to success was not paved with ease for Max. During his tenure at Holberton he experienced a few personal hurdles. These struggles coupled with the challenging curriculum eventually taught Max, arguably, his greatest lesson- it’s ok to ask for help. “My classmates had my back. They helped me, they supported me, they stayed with me after hours,” The peer learning structure and collaborative nature of Holberton School’s curriculum allowed for the network of helping hands that Max needed.

The confidence Max has gained due to his hard work at Holberton is evident. With his first high- paying job in tech secured, he felt compelled to share his journey with our most recent cohort of students. The overwhelming take away from Max’s talk was one of perseverance and that above all, hard work wins out. He shared with us the below Les Brown quote:

“If you want a thing bad enough to go out and fight for it,

to work day and night for it,

to give up your time, your peace and your sleep for it…

if all that you dream and scheme is about it,

and life seems useless and worthless without it…

if you gladly sweat for it and fret for it and plan for it

and lose all your terror of the opposition for it…

if you simply go after that thing you want

with all of your capacity, strength and sagacity,

faith, hope and confidence and stern pertinacity…

if neither cold, poverty, famine, nor gout,

sickness nor pain, of body and brain,

can keep you away from the thing that you want…

if dogged and grim you beseech and beset it,

with the belief in yourself, you will get it!”

Mentor Mania

Holberton’s curriculum is unique in the way that it’s continually iterating based upon feedback from mentors and industry trends. Mentors are professionals working in the Tech industry, from small companies like Gandi and Scality, up to the Facebook and Google of the world.  It is our pleasure to welcome new mentors to the Holberton family. We’re excited about the varying areas of expertise these tech professionals will be joining us with.

Without further ado, we introduce you to the newest additions to the Holberton School Mentor program…

Evelyn de Souza

Evelyn is a Data Privacy and Security Strategy leader who serves as an advisor to several startups and has been overhauling and re-institutionalizing security and privacy in the smallest to the largest organizations in order to protect user’s personal data, as part of her consultancy. She has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Women in Cloud by CloudNOW and as a Silicon Valley Business Journal Woman of Influence. During a sabbatical last year, Evelyn took six months to launch a non-profit affordable housing initiative in her community which has become the launch pad for her next generation community concept.

 

Michael Kehoe

Michael is a Staff Site-Reliability Engineer (SRE) at LinkedIn working with various teams within the company to improve their operability experience. Thanks for Michael that your favorite professional social network is always up and running. Michael has experience in systems engineering from frontend proxies to backend databases. Before joining LinkedIn, Michael interned at NASA working on the PhoneSat project.

 

Paul Guermonprez

Paul is an autonomous drone software architect and drone big-data analyst for Intel. One of his projects is working with Intel clients to analyze data gathered from drones with computer vision, 3D reconstruction and deep learning using Intel Insight, Intel’s drone data solution. Another one is designing autonomous drone solutions for complex cases like indoor navigation and delivery fleets. He started as bioinformatician in human biotech for 8 years, then moved to tech to focus on high-performance computing and IoT. He is now helping Intel partners build autonomous and data driven drone solutions. In his spare time, Paul is a pedagogical consultant for higher education and is teaching Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Toulouse University in France.

 

Han Yuan

Han, the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Upwork, has joined the mentor team at Holberton School. Han has a genuine interest in alternative education models. “Knowledge pays dividends for the rest of someone’s life.” In joining the mentor team, Han hopes to help pass along the valuable knowledge he’s gained over his 19 years working in tech. To Han, mentoring can be both personally and professionally gratifying adding that Holberton School is cultivating a strong and diverse talent pool.

We are proud to offer a malleable mentor program in which mentors have the opportunity to choose what areas they want to help with as well as how often they would like to be involved. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor at Holberton, check out the info here.

Throwin’ It Back to 2017: Holberton School’s Year In Review

The past year has been notable for Holberton School in a variety of ways. We’ve welcomed growth within our student body, forged new relationships with a tech heavy hitters, and even received rave reviews from industry titans. In addition to these newfound relationships, our students are succeeding in all of the way we had hoped. Holberton students are landing jobs and internships at great places including but not limited to Tesla, LinkedIn, Apple, and IBM! We’ve narrowed our list to 5 memorable moments, check out the highlights below:

 

5. Home is where the students are…

We are excited to be settled into our new home in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood! Our new spot boasts plenty of comfy nooks for studying, meetings, and even relaxing. Our spacious digs provide us with plenty of room to grow and welcome more students into the Holberton School family. We feel right at home in our new space, located on Mission and 5th/6th. With neighbors like Slack, Eventbrite, Yahoo, and Y Combinator, the networking possibilities are endless!

Soft seating and iMacs abound in Holberton School’s new space!

Located at Mission and 5th/6th in the SOMA district of San Francisco, the new location is close to tech companies including Slack, Eventbrite, Yahoo, Y Combinator and more. Location is critical because students are required to intern for as much as half of the school’s 2-year program. The 28,500 sqft is in a six story building (61,000 sqft), with an option to take over the entire building.

 

4. If you’ve got it to give, give it away…

It has been with tremendous gratitude that we have partnered with Google, Scality, Accenture, and CloudNOW to present Holberton students with scholarships to alleviate the cost-of-living associated with the San Francisco Bay Area.  These scholarships were presented to students at Google’s annual #TopWomenInCloud event by Vint Cerf, father of the Internet and inventor of the TCP/IP technology.

(L to R) Sylvain Kalache, Vint Cerf, Kristen Loyd (student)

3. Talkin’ the talk while & walkin’ the walk…

Holberton School students are tenacious by nature. Student, Elaine Yeung, caught the attention of Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the Linux Kernel system, with her rap all about bash. So, when Holberton School co-founder, Julien Barbier, challenged Elaine to take a selfie with Linus in a Holberton t-shirt it was game on. Torvalds graciously obliged Elaine with a selfie and conversation. She walked away from the meeting elated to have been able to meet an innovation legend.

Linus Torvalds w/ Holberton School Student, Elaine Yeung

2. “We’re a movement by ourselves, but we’re a force when we’re together…”

NEYO joined Holberton School’s Board of Trustees. “I just love the fact of what they’re doing with the school — that they’re making it easier for underrepresented people in the world of tech. They’re giving them a platform and access to this knowledge that they probably wouldn’t get otherwise. I think that’s one of the coolest things about this whole situation.” With his support and guidance we are proud to have a diverse student body. In addition to growing our Board of Trustees, we welcomed the support of LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, as an investing advisor. We are thrilled at the opportunity to be under the tutelage of Jeff and look forward to working together with him towards fulfilling our mission to provide quality education to the most!

(L to R) Sylvain Kalache, Jeff Weiner, Julien Barbier pose for a #selfie
(L to R) Sylvain Kalache, NEYO, Julien Barbier

1. They like us, they really like us…

We were sincerely honored by Business Insider’s decision to include Holberton School on it’s list of the 19 hottest San Francisco startups to watch in 2018. Recognizing us as an organization that “flips education on its head” is something the Holberton team is profoundly proud of. We are currently hiring, check out our open positions!

Holberton School staff pose for Business Insider’s list of 19 Hottest SF Startups!

Thank you to everyone who played a role in the school’s success this past year, we truly appreciate each and every one of you! We look forward to an even more exciting 2018!

Who Run The World? Ada!

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, everyone! Software engineers, computer programmers, UX designers… you name the tech position, and chances are you wouldn’t have it without Ada Lovelace’s design of the first computer implemented algorithm. This makes Ada the first ever computer programmer.

Ada Lovelace Day is meant to recognize and honor the various women across STEM. Lovelace was a visionary; and her legacy is being used to inspire the current tech landscape. Ada’s ideas serve as a reminder that innovation is always happening. It was the 1800s when Ada was contemplating the idea behind the computer, pontificating a machine that would one day be able to react to things like ideas and opinions, not just numbers and letters.

The organization Finding Ada holds an annual event on the second Tuesday in October. The event is centered around women in STEM and features talks, workshops, and even entertainment. The main event is produced in London, but many individual ALD celebrations happen all over the globe. To find out what events are happening around you, click here.

Holberton is NOT a coding bootcamp

by Kristine Bredemeier
by Kristine Bredemeier

Last week Bloomberg’s, Sarah McBride, posted a great article on the perils of coding bootcamps. We have, and will continue to say, that many coding bootcamps serve their purpose for different reasons. Maybe you:

Then a coding bootcamp might just be right for you. However, just like colleges, not all bootcamps are the same, so if you are looking into a bootcamp, be sure to do your research.

And while this article is very helpful for anyone considering attending a 12-14 week program, it may have confused some about the nature of The Holberton School in its reference towards us. Holberton IS NOT a coding bootcamp, but rather a software engineering university. We are training highly-skilled software engineers from scratch over a course of two years, the type of engineers who are working at prestigious companies like Dropbox, Docker, Apple or NASA.

The Holberton School prides itself on being an alternative to college and the traditional university style setting. We offer a two-year course that is very different from colleges and coding bootcamps:

  • Everything is learned by working on projects that are becoming increasingly complicated to reach industry level – the curriculum is full-stack, meaning that students master the basics that any software engineer must know, not just a few hyped tools.
  • We cover the fundamentals of Computer Science including data structures and algorithm which are a mandatory piece of knowledge that any great software engineer has. Students are becoming software engineers, but most important, they are learning how to learn, giving them growth potential that will follow them throughout their career. Even after graduation, Holberton School students will continue to acquire new skills without needing to go back to school to learn something.

Speaking of alternative style, we also offer an alternative style tuition method. Unlike colleges and coding bootcamps, Holberton School students are not expected to pay tuition until they have graduated and found a stable job. Then, over the next three years after they land their job, we only ask for a percentage of their salary. It’s win-win for our graduates. They get to learn more than they would in a traditional style setting and they graduate debt free!

So again, while bootcamps are great for teaching the basics of a programming language or framework, Holberton School is training the next generation of software engineers.

Understanding the value of Uptime

laptop command line dark siren

Companies creating web applications spend most of their time and energy on building the product: identifying the needs, building storyboards, designing, developing, testing, marketing and pushing to production. Then the Operations team becomes responsible for the work the whole company puts together.

That’s obviously a very important and critical responsibility, Operations teams have to juggle between stability, by making sure that the product is always available, and agility, to support product evolution (described in the concept of Bimodal IT designed by Gartner). Yet no schools are training students for these responsibilities and it is very challenging for the industry to find skilled professionals.

That’s why Holberton School has a system administration and DevOps track, training students to deploy, monitor, scale and be responsible for the uptime of the product that they built. Incident management becomes a mandatory tool. And that’s why we decided to partner with PagerDuty —  to give students access to the best tool to support their uptime.

Students who are using PagerDuty have fast incident escalation, which helps them to have faster incident resolution. For every minute that their website is down, they lose points, which translate very well to the real world points, which are dollars. Holberton School is a full-stack school, students work on all aspects of a web product: designing, coding, testing, shipping, maintaining. Whether they end up working as a full-stack software engineer or in a more specialized role, they will understand the implication at every level of the stack and will make sure that:

  • it fits well with the others parts
  • It will be easy to handle for co-workers

A great incident management tool allows engineers to engage not only the Operations team but other teams, in maintaining the product uptime and performance. This by allowing flexible schedules and escalations policies. On-call developers should have better insight on application-related issues, act faster, which reduces the time to resolution and helps to build a culture of trust and transparency. For junior staff it allows them to quickly gain knowledge by exposing them to every level of the escalation path, at first by shadowing more experienced staff and by then putting them in first line where they can quickly escalate if they are uncomfortable with the issue.

“Uptime is the number one goal of any SRE/DevOps/System administrator team,” said Casey Brown, manager, Site Reliability Engineering at LinkedIn. “Nowadays, well established companies like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google are also expecting developers to be fully responsible for their code in production. Having production in mind and being ready for it is something that every good developer must have, yet no school prepares students to that.”

By following the sysadmin/DevOps track at Holberton School and using PagerDuty, students will be able to deliver on agility, performance, and uptime during their time at the school and career.