Holberton School – We want to tell you the story of two french guys who are disrupting Silicon Valley teaching standards. Based in San Francisco, Holberton School offers a new type of education that is training the next generation of highly skilled software engineers. At Holberton, there are no formal teachers, but technical mentors. They just announced a $2.3 million fundraising with daphni. It’s just the beginning!
Holberton School is training highly skilled Software Engineers and it turns out that the US economy will require a lot of them within the next decade: about 1M according to US CTO Megan Smith.
The school took inspiration from a methodology created in the 19th century: progressive education. Students learn by doing by working on projects with their classmates instead of sitting in hours of lectures.
I was recently interviewed by Pat O’Brien on Business Rockstars, “an Entrepreneurial Business Show that brings together some of the world’s biggest and most accomplished CEO’s as well as successful small business owners and Entrepreneurs,” about Holberton. Entrepreneurs are individuals with a lot of creativity, who are able to learn and figure out problems very quickly — a skill that is mandatory for many jobs including a Software Engineering type of job. That’s a big reason why Holberton convinced VCs to invest into our alternative to College based on progressive education, we are training Full-Stack Software Engineers that their portfolio companies need.
On Monday we celebrated. We celebrated our first year and we celebrated our third class of students arriving!
It has been a wild first year. First, we raised a $2 million seed round from investors Trinity Ventures (Dan Scholnick; board of directors, Docker and New Relic), Jerry Yang (co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo!), Partech Ventures, Jonathan Boutelle (co-founder of Slideshare) and we were off. Then we welcomed our first class of 32 students with an automated admissions process that accepted (and continues to accept) fewer than 2.5% of applicants (making it more than twice as hard to enter as Harvard). The process also made Holberton one of the most diverse software engineering schools, boasting a 40% class of women and nearly 50% people of color.
In October, we welcomed our second class of 29 students.And with less than half of their two-year program completed, the first class of Holberton students found internships and jobs at top Silicon Valley companies including Apple, Dropbox, NASA and Docker. And because students are trained to “learn how to learn,” companies remarked on their level of knowledge and skillset and how quickly they learned new languages and integrated with their teams.
On Monday, we were delighted to welcome students, relatives, mentors and investors for nice talks, while enjoying tasty food.
What challenges and successes are ahead for the next year, and the new students? We have some ideas 🙂
Holberton is both exciting and challenging. Students spend the first 9 months of the 2-year program in our office in San Francisco, the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Becoming a great Full-Stack Software Engineer is a lot of work, and students spend hours at the school working on their projects and collaborating with peers. We work hard to make the school comfortable and imitate the collaborative setup that tech companies have in the Valley. Our local community including students, mentors, and guests who attended our meetups.They all loved the school design and we thought we would share also share it with you, our online community!
Are you living close to the Holberton and you are curious to see what is Holberton like IRL? We are organizing tours, get in touch with us to schedule a time: http://bit.ly/holberton-tour
We don’t want to brag or anything…scratch that…we really DO want to brag. In just the first nine months of study in our two-year program, most of our students in our inaugural class have already been offered jobs (or in one case, got funding to start his own company)! And, yes, they still have 16 months to go to graduate.
We could not be more proud of the success of our students and knowing that we have clearly done something right by them in offering the project-based curriculum that we have created. But we have to be clear, it is the students who really have done all the work, from the start, we have just set up the right environment and challenges for them.
To get started at Holberton, each student had to prove they not only could be part of the team, but that they wanted to. To become students at Holberton, candidates go through a four-step selection process, based solely on talent and motivation, and not on the basis of educational degree, or programming experience. The selection process actually begins the curriculum so that applicants start learning — and collaborating — through it. The process, which does not require technical knowledge or programming experience, consists of three levels:
Level 1 – Small online projects and tests that applicants can complete at their own pace
Level 2 – A step-by-step challenge during which applicants create a website. At this level, the candidates are encouraged to begin collaborating, an important component of learning at the school.
Level 3 – On-site or Skype interview
Once at the school we give the students progressively more difficult challenges– like waking them up at 2am to fix their servers! Teaching them to learn, not just to spew back facts they memorized. One student even had a summer internship at NASA SETI. This success further goes to show that students from any background, from high school to a cashier at Trader Joe’s or from teacher to customer support representative, all have the same opportunity to create the success that they crave by applying themselves in this self-learning method.
So, where have our students been hired?
Our students have been hired by promising startups but also some of the biggest names in technology, while some others have started their own companies and have even raised the starting capital! Many of our students will be moving on as high paid, Software Engineers at companies including Docker, Apple and Dropbox. And if that wasn’t amazing enough, one of our students has been hired at HealthTech, a startup company that had interviewed 100 other candidates before deciding on our student!
Get in on the action!
For those out there who are aspiring to be like these students, the registration for our January class is now open for enrollment. Also, check out the video below to learn more about our student backgrounds, we accept students from all walks of life.
We are proud to announce a partnership with the leading domain registrar and hosting company Gandi, joining us in the mission to train the next generation of full-stack software engineers.
Holberton School has expanded into Gandi US offices, where it will use the 12 spots to welcome more wannabe full stack software engineers. Gandi has already been supporting us by donating server access, domain names and coaching with multiple DNS keynotes given by Gandi CTO Pascal Bouchareine.
The office is conveniently located 5 minutes away from Holberton School HQ, on the same block as the new San Francisco Transbay Transit Center in the middle of SoMa, surrounded by startup and Tech companies like LinkedIn, Algolia, Twitter and Uber.
Holberton School’s mission is to train anyone to become a Software Engineer using a project based approach: no formal lectures, everything learned by practicing. We heavily collaborate with companies via our network of mentors that Gandi CEO Stephan Ramoin is also part of. Students will now have the chance to be trained along to the talented Gandi team.
The first international Botathon organized by VentureBeat, San Francisco edition, took place at Holberton School. The school is training full-stack software engineers with an innovative approach: no formal teachers, no lectures, students learn by working on projects and happened to be learning about deep learning and neural networks which recently rapidly evolved — offering great opportunities to build the bots of tomorrow.
The goal of the Botathon was to build bot prototypes taking advantage of these recent improvements and to explore market possibilities. It is interesting to notice that most bots used Slack or Facebook as communication channels, reducing user friction and acquisition but also leading to harder monetization strategy. Bots makes users life easier: tracking food intake (Amino), finding the dream home (Real Estate Assistant), booking your next restaurant or doctor appointment (Host Buddy)… The oddest (in my opinion) (Stop,dating bot) was offering to let a bot handle a breakup with a lover over text message.
Two bots were dedicated to the Tech industry: (Oxy) which allows developers to interact with their servers via a bot and (Ibo) a recruiting platform that would take care of chatting with the candidate, scan the resume and adapt the set of questions depending on candidate’s skills and how the candidate performs on give exercices.
The winning team, composed of Omar Sharif and Mike Chang built a waiter replacement: Botender. Contrary to other hacks, the bots was using SMS to taking customer’s food orders, menu questions, payment and even bill split(Stripe integration). Customers can quickly get their food and leave as soon as they want via a few text messages. For restaurants, they can reduce staffing and improve customer satisfaction with quicker and better service (the staff can focus on service and hospitality). And because Botender is over text message, it reduces the friction – no need to install any app.
The hacks quality was very high and all bots actually worked. While we are at the beginning of the era and some bots might actually not be as efficient as our good old web forms, we are definitely creating interesting cases. The web industry is entering a new era where a big chunk of websites will be replaced by AI, it’s time for developers to start getting skilled!
Nicolas has been a Senior Software Engineer at TechCrunch since October 2012. As part of the dev team, he was one of the core developers for TechCrunch’s redesign in 2013. He is also a mentor at Holberton School. Prior to this, Nicolas was working as a Web Operation Engineer for the famous hospitality exchange website CouchSurfing.
Born in San Francisco, but raised and educated in France, Nicolas graduated from EPITECH with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. During his 4th year at Epitech in 2010, he attended California State University, Long Beach, and UC Berkeley for a yearlong exchange program.
Mentors are the backbone of our school, sharing their experiences with students by giving speeches, participating in Q&A and even 1:1 mentoring sessions, organizing workshops and more. Thanks to them, Holberton School students get acclimated to the Tech industry while still at school. We are very proud and honored to have such amazing people joining us today.
Please join us to welcome them to the Holberton School family!
Tech companies in the Silicon Valley tend to pay more attention to what candidates can technically achieve rather than look at their credentials. An obvious way of doing that is by looking at code candidates wrote, having a Github account with up-to-date code is a must-have in today’s Tech industry. It gives the opportunity to potential employers to easily see a candidate’s coding style, what types of technologies they worked with, and their fun side-projects. That is also a the place where many open source communities are contributing on open source projects.
That’s why Holberton School students will publish all their school projects on Github. In order to easily find the projects that have been done at school, their repositories will start by a “holbertonschool-“.
To see what students are working on, follow them on Github: