Many think that becoming a software engineer is reserved for math geniuses who spent their lives in front of a computer – “I am not smart enough for that.” Yet, the stories of countless Holberton School students show that their background does not matter and that they have enough motivation and passion; that becoming a developer really is possible.
Dora Korpar is one of these stories. She first came to Holberton with no former coding experience but went on to become a software engineer at a San Francisco startup. And now, Business Insider has decided to highlight Dora’s amazing story.
About four years ago, Dora Korpar was looking for her next adventure. She had finished college but could not find a job and wasn’t interested in continuing her college studies. To pay the bills, she took a job at Trader Joe’s.
As she was catching up with a friend, he told her that he had recently got a job as a software engineering at Apple. He was a philosophy major in college, so Dora knew he never studied Computer Science. That intrigued her and she realized that she too could give it a shot.
Dora went online and tried a few online coding tutorials, learned some HTML and understood that this was something she could both do and enjoy! But she was stuck. “Amidst the sea of resources that are online, I was lost. I was looking for more direction. I ran across an article on an IT site talking about a program called the Holberton School.”
She decided to apply and the application process, which guides candidates to build their first website, sealed the deal; she loved coding. She was accepted, and, long story short, Dora is now a software engineer at Scality, a San Francisco storage company. She could not be happier with her decision to attend Holberton. If you want to read more about Dora’s story, check out the Business Insider article!
In case you haven’t already seen, check out the NY Times! Actor, producer and social activist, Priyanka Chopra, has joined our Board of Trustees and invested in the school – to take an active role in attracting women to software engineering.
“No path to success is linear, but it’s staggering that women make up half the workforce and have held fewer than 25 percent of jobs in tech for the past two decades,” says Chopra. “At the Holberton School inclusion and diversity are more than just buzzwords, it is prioritized and infused in their DNA, and I’m looking forward to joining the Board of Trustees to help further their mission and close the gap.”
Priyanka joins our amazing collective of Trustees which includes Grammy winner, NE-YO, Jocelyn DeGance Graham, CEO at CloudNOW, Stephane Kasriel, CEO at Upwork, and Solomon Hykes, co-founder at Docker.
Priyanka will work with us on making sure that our mission of providing high-quality education for the many is fulfilled. She will focus on accessibility, and more specifically inspiring more women into a tech career. In the US, only 20% of software engineering positions are filled by women.
As software and artificial intelligence are becoming, by the second, a bigger part of how our world works, it is essential to have gender parity in the teams that are building the product and systems that are impacting our society and life at large.
We at Holberton have been training the next generation of software engineers, and many are women already working in the field: from hunting asteroids at NASA, contributing to the future of self-driving cars at Tesla and building technology that will power artificial intelligence at Nvidia.
Priyanka has been an outspoken advocate, and role model, for women for many years and we are thrilled to align our values and actions to solve the diversity gap in the Tech industry.
Our world is entering the fourth industrial revolution, led by software, automation and artificial intelligence. Companies, to survive, have to run at the pace of technology and leverage these tools, or risk becoming the next Blockbuster or Kodak. They need a workforce that is skilled and able to constantly retrain and retool.
Our post-secondary education, that was really developed during the last industrial revolution, is falling behind on equipping today’s students with the skills they need to thrive. Some institutions have managed to adapt – but only for the elite. Only a fraction of Americans can access this Ivy League club.
Tech companies, and really any company that is going through a digital transformation, is suffering from the lack of a trained and diverse workforce needed to take over 500,000 open positions. That’s what Julien and I decided to tackle by founding Holberton in 2015 – provide high-quality education to the many.
We took inspiration from progressive education, a movement that emphasizes learning by doing, problem-solving, critical thinking. A movement that leads students to develop their social skills and become lifelong learners. We wanted to make sure that the Holberton opportunity was accessible to anyone motivated to become a software engineer. We designed a free and blind admissions process selecting on grit, and made the school free until students find a job.
We welcomed our first cohort of 30 students in January 2016 and since moved to a new building that can accommodate up to 1,000 students every year. We have alumni working in Silicon Valley’s top companies including Tesla, Apple, LinkedIn and Facebook. Today, we are making the Holberton School opportunity accessible to even more Americans by opening our second campus in New Haven, Connecticut.
Connecticut has always been known for innovation. Leading in insurance, and a major actor for aircraft & parts manufacturing and ship & boat building. Technology-related jobs grew by an estimated 1,060 jobs in 2017 and contributed $16.2 billion to the state’s economy. In this context, Holberton will both help local companies to successfully navigate the digital transformation they are going through by providing the talent they need and also attract businesses to join the area, as the war for highly-skilled talent rages nationally.
New Haven’s low cost of living is also a big advantage. While the Silicon Valley is providing countless advantages, the cost of living can sometimes prohibit potential students from attending the program.
We have been working hard for months along with David Salinas and his team at District to make this happen, and we expecting to welcome our first cohort of students in January of 2019. Thanks to Comcast, CT Next, District Innovation & Venture Center, Indra and Raj Nooyi, Seedlings Foundation, State of Connecticut, and The Community Foundation for their support. Enrollment have started, apply here!
Holberton School students recently participated in a 24-hour Docker Hackathon! While there were various cool hacks, there were a few that stood out; placing these teams as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Let’s take a look at the hacks that won these budding software engineers tickets to the most coveted container community event in tech – DockerCon!
Isaiah Becker-Mayer, Spencer Taylor, and Nick Teixeira: We wanted to make a container image that would act as a data science lab that you could work out of. It’s really hard for people who work with data to recreate the same circumstances that produce a given result. Different operating systems and computer specs make this really difficult. Using the container you’re able to save a snapshot (Docker Image) of your current lab with the same operating system and specs, and send it to your colleagues so they can reproduce the results.
David Yoon, Sue Kalia, Yunju Chen: Docklio! (the name comes from Docker + Twilio) If you already have your Docker environment set up, how about deploying your app with a single push of the button? That’s what we want to achieve with Docklio — to make system admin’s lives easier. Docklio allows users to control their Docker containers by sending text messages and Docklio will send back a message to confirm the container status.
Katya Kalache, Kim Wong, Spencer Cheng, Stuart Kuredjian: Our goal was to learn more about how Docker can enable a scalable distributed system on both virtual and physical machines. We decided to run a image recognition model using three Raspberry Pis and set up a three node swarm cluster using Docker. One node was set up as a swarm manager which executes and distributes commands to the two worker nodes. We also explored the OpenFaaS framework, developed by Docker Captain Alex Ellis, a scalable framework for building server-less functions with Docker swarm.
These hackers have skills and will soon be in search of their first software engineering gigs! Thanks to folks like our mentors and volunteer hackathon judges, these students are able to fine tune their skills with the advice of industry professionals! Shoutout to Mason Fish and Andrew Hsu for volunteering their Saturday afternoons to help judge the hackathon presentations! The support these two gave to the hacking efforts will not soon be forgotten!
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.
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…
Due to the success of last year’s summer coding camp Holberton School will be sponsoring our second annual summer camp for students aged 15-18. Last year we facilitated introductory programs for high schoolers with no programming experience. Each of the campers were able to successfully construct their own website from scratch.
This year, in addition to providing a track suited for someone with no programming experience, we’ve added an iOS/Swift curriculum to the mix. We’re excited to accommodate the novice as well as the tinkerer this year with our two separate curricula. The summer coding camp will closely resemble the structure of Holberton’s software engineering program by sticking with the peer based and project based pedagogy that’s made our students successful. You can catch campers working in teams sprawled across beanbags or huddled together around some computers. We’re excited to provide these high schoolers with a glimpse into what it’s like to work and innovate in the tech industry!
Campers will have an opportunity to meet with various industry professionals throughout the 3 week summer camp. Additionally, as eliminating barriers to a quality education is part of Holberton’s overall mission, we are proud to say we will be offering this program to campers free of charge. Providing high quality tech education is the goal, and we believe that this summer coding camp is one of the first steps to exposing these teens to a viable future. Apply here!
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 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 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, 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.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; the varied student body is an integral ingredient in our Holberton School’s secret sauce. We look forward to having more high school students like Corbin Coleman join the Holberton School community. I caught up with Corbin over a complimentary (and tasty!) lunch at Docker HQ to chat about his time at Holberton, his internship at Docker and how his hard work has recently paid off with a transition from intern to full time software engineer!
Corbin’s story starts like a lot of American students, he graduated high school and decided that he would attend a community college to complete his general education classes. “I was accepted to a four year university but looking at how much debt you have to go into, I thought it was ridiculous.” While community college can be a more affordable option than university, the education model is based on passive learning where instruction is mostly about theory. Corbin was looking for a more practical education where he would learn by doing, preparing him for the industry. Holberton School was a natural choice for Corbin with its project based curriculum, and the fact that there is no upfront tuition sealed the deal for him. “I did not have to choose between quality and affordability, Holberton was offering both.”
Not unlike many 20-somethings, while attending community college Corbin was working as a server during the “in-between” time after high school. It was during this time Corbin discovered Holberton School. “My dad first introduced me to Holberton. Then he explained to me that this school was the direct opposite of everything I didn’t like about traditional education.” This was the type of program Corbin could see himself succeeding in being that Holberton’s education model follows a project based and peer learning structure.
Fast forward to the point of the internship period in Holberton’s curriculum. “One of the key elements that got me prepared for job interviewing was white boarding.” Corbin explains that the built in technical interview practice increased not only his whiteboarding skills, but his confidence.
“Beyond the technical concepts, Holberton does a great job of making it [school] feel like what work feels like.” Corbin noted that the peer based learning structure prepared him to work on the software engineering team he’s a part of now in one of San Francisco hottest startup, Docker. “I learned how to communicate with people that didn’t come from the same background as me.” We’re increasingly seeing the trend in Silicon Valley of skills, not (necessarily) degrees. The soft skills we bolster at Holberton School bring that phrase to life and Corbin is here to prove it.
Corbin’s seamless move from high schooler, to server, to Holberton School student may show an unconventional path but he seems satisfied with his ultimate decision. “Because the way Holberton is run, and the way the curriculum is written I now have a skill set available of being able to teach myself new concepts.”
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!
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.
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.
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!
Everyone in the Holberton School family from staff, to mentors, to Holbie fans are delighted with the move from San Francisco’s FiDi to it’s SOMA- or, South of Market- neighborhood! 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. This move comes at the perfect time as staff and students get ready to welcome the January 2018 cohort. The building can eventually accommodate up to 1,000 students and we are looking forward to opening the space to many more future software engineers.
In less than two years, the school has grown from 35 students in January 2016 to more than 150. With an expected January incoming class of 65, the previous space, even with a generous donation of space from tech neighbor Gandi could no longer accommodate the growth. In January, Holberton will graduate its first “cohort” of students, 90% of which are already working at companies like Apple, LinkedIn and Dropbox.
The upgrade is made notable by more than doubling the amount of space of the school’s original site. The new spot already feels like home to Holberton, complete with hardwood floors that glow in the natural light provided by the space’s sizable windows. We’ve decorated the space with both comfort and functionality in mind- as whiteboarding is one of the foundations of solving any programming problem, we’ve outfitted the space with enough whiteboard space to satisfy even the most voracious dry-erase-programmer!
While the average classroom setting is configured with desks in neat rows, facing the front of the room. Holberton has sought to accommodate all types of learners- are you the type to be most productive curled up in an armchair, sofa, or even a bean bag chair?! No problem, Holberton has a variety of options in that department with various living room-style vignettes. However, if you’re one to appreciate the typical desk/desktop setup we’ve got you covered, too. We’ve equipped our space with brand new iMacs accessible to all students.
The community vibe has not been lost in the larger space thanks to the finer details. Students can be found collaborating in the kitchen over a meal or sipping coffees, and even gathered in the meetup area bouncing around ideas with a student-led peer learning session. The ample space for collaboration lends itself to the peer learning model Holberton has founded its success upon. There are plenty of conference rooms for groups to work on projects if the open space doesn’t provide the vibe you’re looking for.
If you’re curious about the new digs or just want to check out what Holberton is all about, our doors are always open for a visit and a chat. We’d be delighted to show you around and give you the 4-1-1 on Holberton’s curriculum and the opportunities in software engineering! We’ve even got an Open House scheduled for Thursday 1/18 @ 6:00 PM! This is the perfect excuse to come check out the school and chat with Holberton students, staff, and mentors!