Mary Luz Gómez is a 36-year-old chemical engineer who worked for ten years on innovation as a product and project leader. One year ago, she quit her job at Kimberly Clark to pursue her new dream: becoming a Machine Learning developer.
Mary is a disciplined woman with clear goals and a persevering personality. When working for Kimberly Clark, she learned about technologies such as Machine Learning and Data Science. Mary remembered enjoying her programming classes back in college and knew this path was her future.
While looking for study options, she realized that traditional education was not right for her because she learned much better with practical projects. During her research, Mary found out about Holberton school’s project-based learning methodology and was drawn to it because she felt “Holberton is very similar to how we work in companies.”
Mary found the admission process fun because it challenged her to learn new things. She barely knew anything about programming and had never made a website, but she passed and started the program in September 2019.
“I didn’t want to be left with the question of What if I’m a programmer? I was passionate about innovation and technology, so I decided to do it,” she remarked.
The first day in school was difficult: she remembers crying when she realized the day was over, and she still hadn’t been able to do the assigned project, but she knew the idea was not to give up. Her peers were always there to help, and she is grateful for it.
One of the reasons that led her to choose Holberton was its Income Share Agreement (ISA) payment model: “I found it very inclusive. I will be delighted to give every cent after I graduate with the guarantee that someone else will have the opportunity to study,” Mary said.
While finishing the first part of the curriculum last June, Mary had the opportunity to work with Skillshare for her final project at Holberton. After starting the Machine Learning specialization, the company decided to hire her as a Software Engineer. So she decided to seize this great opportunity and paused the Specialization for the moment.
“I don’t have a plan for the long term, but I like to bet on what I’m passionate about. Today I have a new career and new goals. My next step is to finish the Machine Learning specialization and continue to challenge myself,” concludes Mary.
Holberton School Colombia was the first international campus that opened in Bogotá in 2019 with 50 students. Since then, it has grown to three more cities: Medellín, Cali, and Barranquilla and now it counts more than 700 students in Colombia. You can join one of the campuses for January 2021: Applications are open!
We are thrilled to announce the opening of the Holberton School Hauts-de-France (HDF) campus! Following Holberton School France online opening last August, this new campus, founded by Benjamin Dhellemmes, entrepreneur linked with the local Tech ecosystem, and Benoit Denot, former COO/CFO in healthcare and digital companies, is strategically located at Europe’s crossroads. The HDF region and Lille metropolis host more than 70 retailer headquarters like Decathlon, Kiabi, and Auchan. But also 17 startups incubators as well as 160 e-companies like OVHcloud, aDvens, and Showroom-prive.
“Hauts-de-France is home to the most successful retailers in Europe, and a flourishing startup ecosystem,” Says Holberton School HDF Co-founder Benoit Denot “Holberton School Hauts-de-France will train a diverse and Silicon Valley grade workforce that the local companies need.“
The campus is partnering with local investors, hiring companies, and tech communities, among which are: EuraTechnologies (one of Europe largest startup incubator), Jezby Ventures (OVHcloud Founder Octave Klaba’s fund), ÏDKIDS Group (a major French retailer), Vade Secure (global leader in predictive email defense), the French Tech community and many more.
“Tech ecosystems are growing all over France, we were impressed by Hauts-de-France region’s one,” Says Holberton Co-founder & President Sylvain Kalache “it is in this type of dynamic and vibrant communities that Holberton School shines.”
Holberton brings Silicon Valley grade education to an already robust education ecosystem. The Hauts-de-France region is where most French engineers are trained, with over 30 Grandes Ecoles and six universities. Due to COVID-19, the school will provide its education entirely online from January 2021. A physical campus will open as soon as the pandemic allows. Start your application today.
We are honored to welcome Alcover to the Holberton Board of Trustees! Milton J. Restituyo, better known as Alcover, will contribute toward Holberton’s mission to increase access to tech education with a focus on the Hispanic community.
The Latin Grammy award-winning producer is also a singer and influencer in Hispanic pop culture. Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, Alcover’s interest in music was sparked at an early age thanks to his father, a singer and multi-instrumentalist. After making the decision to move to New York, he took the first steps in commencing his musical career, enlisting his high school classmate Juan Abreu “Xtassy” as his creative partner. Together the two formed the award-winning production duo A&X, positioning themselves among the best producers in New York City’s urban scene.
“Pop culture allows us to see what is needed now and what is important in our communities. It has enabled me to use my voice in an uplifting and encouraging way. Music, art and technology that is created and distributed by ethnic and socioeconomic diversity helps create unity and accessibility,” said Alcover. “Holberton provides to any students, including the ones from disenfranchised communities, access to education in tech, and gives them a way out. I want more people to leverage the Holberton opportunity. Tech companies are seeking diverse, and motivated software engineers to drive them towards the future,“ he added.
Join us in welcoming Alcover to the Holberton community!
Kevin Giraldo is a 21-year-old Holberton School Colombia student from district 8 of Medellín, a low-income neighborhood with an average household income of US $135 per month. He grew up in a low-income family. Kevin occasionally worked with his father in a manufacturing company and understood that education was the way to have a better future. He discovered programming in high school and convinced his parents to buy him a computer, promising that this was the key out of their situation. Kevin recently started fulfilling that promise.
At fourteen, as he witnessed his teacher automating the voting process at school, using code, he understood that he wanted to be a programmer. “It was a straightforward case, but since I didn’t have any programming knowledge at the time, I found it very interesting”.
Kevin decided to switch from his high school to one that would offer programming classes. He continued to pursue his dream to become a developer by enrolling in a computer engineering undergraduate degree while working as a Rappi delivery to make some money on the side.As he was working, Kevin received a message from Rappi about Holberton School. A Silicon Valley software engineering program was opening in Medellín. Registration was closing the next day, and he decided to meet the deadline and apply. As he was going through the application process, Kevin thought he would never be good enough to be accepted into the program.
Kevin started his training at Holberton in September 2019 and recalled that one of his biggest challenges was having to comment on his code in English. However, “the fact of not having teachers and having to do projects among ourselves [the classmates] made us very autonomous and independent.”
Because Holberton’s program was very intense, Kevin decided to only do delivery work on weekend nights, as he was one of the students who could not go to sleep until he finished the entire project.
For the final part of the training, Holberton partnered with tech startups Rappi, Kiwi, Ubidots, Skillshare, and Torre so that students could develop a final project that would solve these companies’ needs. Each company presented its challenges and provided mentoring through its engineers. That is how Kevin, together with two classmates, developed a crowd lending platform so people could obtain a loan to get the necessary tools to work as Rappi drivers.
Rappi was so impressed by Kevin’s project that they offered him a software engineering job.
The 21-year-old programmer’s goal is to stand out with his performance at Rappi and to grow within the company. He also wants to create a programming community at El Pinal school, located in Enciso neighborhood (District 8 of Medellín), where he studied most of his basic training.
“As my family is low-income, my ambition was always to get out of here and grow. It is not hating or being ashamed of my roots, but wanting to grow and help my family, my friends and my community”.
Holberton School was named after Frances Elizabeth “Betty” Snyder Holberton who was one of the six programmers of the ENIAC, which was the first programmable, general-purpose electronic digital computer. Betty Holberton helped create what would later become modern-day software engineering.
We recently had the honor to welcome Phil Holberton, who is Betty’s nephew, for a fireside chat with our students. Former CPA, Phil Holberton delivers executive-level excellence via his consulting firm, the Holberton Group, and publishes a periodic online bulletin, Speaking of Leadership.
Below is a highlight & edited version of some of the Q&As that happened during the fireside chat. The discussion covered Betty Holberton, leadership, and diversity.
Would you mind telling us about Betty Holberton and what made her such a great problem solver?
Betty Holberton had a very strong analytical brain. Believe it or not, when she went to school at the University of Pennsylvania she wanted to join the math department. A profession in the math department said “uh uh” you’ve got to go to Home Economics, Political Science, Journalism or some other department. That began her career in saying, “I am not going to take no for an answer”. She was a very intelligent woman and she had a very strong voice in what she believed in and she just went about it and her problem-solving skills, which I am sure we will get to a little bit further down the line of conversation here, she got to use them quite a bit.
Is it true that in the beginning due to ENIAC projects being classified, Betty and other computers could only work from diagrams and blueprints?
True. As I understand the story, six of the best and the brightest we call to program computers for artillery during World War II. Computers were as big as most rooms are these days. They handed the plans to Betty and her five cohorts and they say, “All we do is have the wiring diagrams and you have to go and figure and help us program this”. And those women, as smart as they were, they figured it out. We are grateful for her past because that was the first computer basically in the United States, the Antioch.
Is it true that Betty solved more problems while sleeping?
All the people in psychology and social sciences would say [that] more stuff is done at the subconscious level than any conscious level. Whatever she did at the conscious level was worked over 2 or 3 times in the unconscious level. I don’t know it for fact, but I’m following what goes on in science, but probably presumably so.
When is it necessary to sacrifice individual needs to fulfill team goals and how do you reconcile these differences afterward?
The most important attribute of any company or any organization is to have a vision and a mission statement and you have some culture to help you get there. The interest of the company proceeds the interest of any individual and any team. I am often reminded of the event [with] Johnson & Johnson [about] twenty years ago when they tampered with Tylenol and put poison in it. I can’t remember how many people were killed but it was devastating to America. The CEO at that point in time says, “I don’t care how much it costs. We are taking all of the product off of the shelf and we are all going to start over on Tylenol”. Tylenol was the biggest brand in the world but no one person trumped the ideal mission. “Our customers come first and we protect our patients and out users of our product”. I read somewhere that it may have cost them 250 million or a half a billion dollars to do that and where they probably could have done something different, but that showed integrity. You have to live, I don’t want to say a higher power but you have to have a higher North Star which is usually organizationally driven.
How should leaders best motivate their employees and try to build a sense of community?
The most important thing about leadership is to think of it in two dimensions: Transactional Leadership and Transformational Leadership. Transactional Leadership is when you have control of their paycheck, bonus, and time off, so someone is working for the transaction. The best type of leadership is transformational when they work for you because they want to work for you and they aspire because you are a really good human being. Granted, it is hard for a lot of leaders to behave that way because they were brought up to be A-Types and command and control. When I work with CEOs today, we spend a lot about putting water and sunshine on their executive team and the people inside their organization because If they grow they will be able to grow themselves. I turn it around. If you ever heard the concept of Servant Leadership- it’s like flipping the leadership chart around where the leader is always serving the organization- that’s their higher power. If you can inspire an organization to reach for that North Star and achieve things that otherwise don’t appear attainable, you’ve done a really good job. During this COVID period some of our CEOs rose to the occasion more than I would ever imagine. They are less about command and control and they are more about how they can inspire their entire team to come with me and help us get through this COVID period.
How can one become smarter, more adaptable, and emotionally intelligent?
There are diagnostic tests that help you get a baseline on your emotional intelligence. I advocate a test called Mindsets by a professor in California, Ryan Gottfredson. It is free and it will help you understand whether you have a defensive posture or an offensive posture in the four different dimensions.
When I was teaching at Brandeis my students would ask if leaders were born or were they made. What do you think my answer was? I would say “Yes”. Some had more natural talent than others but like anything, in life, you have got to keep practicing. Some people may have zero knowledge of what the word emotional intelligence means and they may have absolutely incredible natural talent and don’t have to worry about it as much as people that it’s more awkward for. From my perspective, if you want to navigate and get the best out of life, learning this skill is really important for you to learn over time. It will help you in your marriage, in your community, and in your business. I would say to learn that early and often. Practice it.
Why has there been more focus on emotional intelligence separately from IQ recently?
Most hiring practices in North America look at two things: your prodigy and where you grew and they try to assess intellectually your intelligence, particularly if they are trying to hire someone on the inbound side to help them grow within the company.
IQ has always been an important barometer for any hiring organization. I would say companies are now getting more sophisticated in understanding people’s emotional intelligence because they are beginning to recognize that this is a more important attribute as people move up the ladder. I’ve seen statistics that say 75% of the people that work in the company say that they like the company but they don’t like their boss. That says something about your boss in terms of emotional intelligence and if your boss is oppressive, it is going to make it very hard to work for. That being said, emotional intelligence together, we as a society can get much further.
How can those of us in STEM help support diversity?
One thing I am inspired by at the Holberton is it’s a diverse organization and prides itself on admitting students of diverse backgrounds, nationality, color, and ethnicity. The Holberton school within itself is the living practice of what needs to go on in this world. One of my CEOs says “It’s our behaviors that count. It’s not our talk”. Holberton invites people of different nationalities to come in different stages of their career-which is a wonderful attribute. I would opine that the more you get to know people that are not of the same ethnicity as yourself build those friendships and those strengths. Make sure to include time in your schedule every day to build those relationships. When you go work for and they have a couple of hundred programmers, get to know the people first. That’s more important than all the technical skills. Having those relationships is really important. I encourage every man, woman, Black, Asian, American, Indian, regardless of nationality, get to know the people first; get to know your peers and your bosses. We are all human beings. Even though they might be a boss…
When a leader makes a mistake, how do they apologize and make things better for everyone?
First of all, an “I’m sorry” goes a long way. I am learning a lot about communications in my job now working with CEOs. There is a difference between communication that comes from the head and communication that comes from the heart. If you say I’m sorry from the head, forget it, nobody will see it and nobody will believe it. If you come and you talk from the heart, and a lot of CEOs find that hard because they are on defense and want to have a strong view of themselves and not vulnerable. I encourage you to follow Brene’ Brown and her work on vulnerability. She is one of the sought after forefront of thinkers in terms of emotional intelligence, vulnerability, and how to behave as a leader. You have to say it from your heart. If you are not programmed that way, to speak from the heart, one activity you can try is to turn up your music and microphone and speak or write like you are journaling and journal from the heart and usually, you will have something that will start to work there. I have had several CEOs in the last week give me communications they want to share with staff, they were all fine but they did not come from the heart. You will be far more effective if it comes from the heart. Everyone needs to develop these skills.
We are very grateful for Phil for sharing his time, wisdom, and knowledge with our community and for his support of the Holberton School since its inception. The full chat recording is available below.
We are thrilled to announce that Holberton School is opening in France! The opening has been fast-tracked as Julien and I (Holberton founders), both French, wanted to help our country. Unemployment rates in France rose to 22 percent due to COVID-19, and one of the biggest software engineering schools, SUPINFO, is in liquidation.
Director of operations Julien Cyr and I are both alumni of SUPINFO, one of the largest software engineering schools in France. Due to SUPINFO’s liquidation, a thousand students who already paid for their education – some of whom already paid for several years of school in advance of completing it – may suddenly find themselves out of school and unable to recoup their costs, beginning in September. To support our community, Holberton School France will cover the cost of the first year of our program for any SUPINFO students who wish to enroll, making the first year completely tuition-free.
In addition to helping SUPINFO students, we also wanted to help people impacted by the economic consequences of the pandemic and resulting unemployment rate. As such, Holberton School France will cover the first-year tuition–valued at €6,120–for the first 165 admitted students, the equivalent of €1,000,000 of scholarship value.
Holberton School France’s first student cohort will begin online on September 7th in synchronization with Holberton’s 12 other campuses spanning 6 additional countries.
Today, we are going to go through the following code.
The very interesting thing about this code, is that when compiled and ran, it seems it is working just fine. But actually it is not working properly and there is a big problem with it 🙂 And by going through it we are going to learn a ton of things.
At Holberton, we have a strict coding style for each programming language we are using. Let’s start by applying our coding style for C. – main() should be written main(void). Is that a huge mistake? No. But this forces us to be more structured, and always explicitly write everything. – We don’t want to initialize our variables at the same time as we are declaring them (Exceptions can apply for arrays.) – Also we want to group our variable declarations together. – No empty lines within the code. Only one empty line between declaration and code. So the code should look like this:
It’s cleaner, more professional, follows the style of the school (remember that in any company we have to follow the coding style of the company, so it’s important that we get into the habit of following strictly one particular style).
We are using the function printf without including its prototype. So when we will compile, we will get a warning from the compiler, even without additional flags.
In order to know the prototype of a function, we can always look at its man page. In this case, man 3 printf.
The man page gives us the prototype and what header to include. We can use either to indicate to the compiler what is the prototype of the function printf (and make the warning go away). We don’t strictly have to include the header, we can simply include the prototype itself. Like so:
But it’s a good habit to include the header (which includes the prototype).
Now let’s see what is happening in the program and why it is working but not really. We will go step by step through the code and look at what happens in memory. Let’s start with the declarations:
At this point, this is what the virtual memory looks like (we are going to assume we are working on a 64-bit, Linux machine):
– The string literals are copied into the addresses of the arrays. The arrays have been automatically sized (the compiler can do that because it knows the size of the string literals to copy). – a and b are pointers so on a 64-bit machine they take 8 bytes in memory. – The variable aa, is an array of chars of size 14 bytes (14 chars, so 14 * sizeof(char) = 14 bytes). – At this point the variables a and b have a value but we do not know what it is. The next two lines of code will initialize them.
After these two lines of code, a points to the first letter of the array aa (so it contains the address of the first letter of the array aa, which is also the address of the array aa) and b points to the first letter of the array bb. This is what the virtual memory looks like:
So far so good. With the next lines of code we are going at the end of the “string” (remember there is no type string in C). This code is correct. So at the end of the while loop, a points to the \0 of the array aa.
At the end of this while loop, the virtual memory looks like this:
The next lines of code are the following:
The above loop copies the content of the array bb (remember, b points to the first char contained in bb) at the end of the array aa (as the variable a, at the beginning of the loop, points to the last char (\0) of the array aa). And that is both what we wanted the code to do, AND the problem 🙂
The content of bb is copied, one char at a time, starting from the memory address 19 (in our example). But, our variable aa ENDS at 19 too. That means that we are writing the content of bb AFTER the variable aa, not inside. After 12 iterations, the virtual memory (in our example) looks like this:
In red, we have written 11 bytes outside of the memory reserved for aa, and will continue to do so via the loop for another 10 bytes. The problem of course, is that we are probably replacing the values of other variables, or writing in a memory address that we do not have write access (and will get a beautiful Segmentation Fault). In this particular case, the program still runs “properly” and without warning (because we are unlucky), and as a result, we don’t realize that we are making a mistake.
In fact, in this example, we are actually “destroying” our array bb. Let’s modify a bit the program in order to check that out:
It seems like we changed bb by concatenating it to aa. But bb is not 1 char “shorter”, it still takes the same size in memory, but its content has changed. It is happening, because in the actual virtual memory of our running process the two arrays are next to each other, like so:
So when we are concatenating bb to aa, we are doing this (concatenated letters in pink):
After this concatenation, bb size doesn’t change, but now the content has changed, and it “seems” it was shifted to the left by 1 char. But that’s because the - of the beginning is now part of aa as the last letter in the reserved memory for aa. Note that bb now has two \0, the one copied, and the initial one.
THE END 🙂 If you would like to learn more about the virtual memory, you can read these articles:
While the COVID19 pandemic has been easing in some Holberton communities, the trend isn’t going in the right direction for most of them. Many of our students have been sheltering and studying from home, for months.
We were able to quickly move Holberton education online, without any interruptions for students, and have been adding features to make Holberton online education better. Among many features and initiatives, one is particularly adored by our student community: the weekly live-coding session.
These sessions were historically done by San Francisco Resident Software Engineer Kristen Loyd and I. For 1 to 4 hours, we would whiteboard and code live 1 or more projects that students had worked on, streaming it to our students in all campuses across the world.
Live coding sessions allow students to witness the thought-process of a senior software engineer solving a problem and how it is then implemented into code. Students can ask questions at any time and clarify concepts they may be unsure of. Students enjoy the learning benefits, but they also get to hang out with fellow students from all across the world – which can be a mood booster – in a time where we are all far from one another.
Given the success of these live coding sessions, we came together as a community and are now very happy to bring this to the next level. Starting next week, we will offer even more live sessions every week, with more formats! These live coding sessions will be given by software engineers in residence from Holberton campuses around the world.
As an example, here is next week schedule:
Monday: printf concepts review with 🇨🇴Holberton Medellín SWE Fredy Mena Andrade (this is a project where students get to code their own version of printf)
Wednesday: Binary trees with 🇺🇸Holberton San Francisco SWE Kristen Loyd
Thursday: Introduction to assembly with 🇨🇴Holberton Bogotá SWE Nicolaz Pérez
Friday: Singly-linked lists with Holberton 🇺🇸Tulsa SWE Derek Webb
With at least one software engineer in residence for every Holberton campus, more campuses will mean more live coding sessions! With locations all across the world, it also means that students can learn from different points of view, ways of thinking, with more diversity of background, culture, and experience!
These live coding sessions are extracurricular. They are following our belief of helping one another and learning from each other – live-coding sessions are an embodiment of what our education is: project and peer-based learning.
If you are a software developer and want to do a live coding session with Holberton folks from all across the world, please reach out to me! Keep coding!
As reported in Forbes, we are thrilled to welcome Savan Kotecha to Holberton Board of Trustees! Savan has written musical hits for many of the world’s best artists. His songs, performed by Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, Madonna, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and numerous other headliner artists, have earned 17 Grammy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination.
Savan and his wife founded The MyLeo Foundation in 2017 with the mission to provide college study and vocational training scholarships to students from impoverished backgrounds.
The Holberton Board of Trustees is helping us to achieve our core mission of providing high-quality education for the many. Trustees meet multiple times a year to discuss successes and to provide advice on how to address the challenges facing the organization. Trustees also leverage their large public platforms to make the tech industry more accessible and diverse by encouraging a broader swath of the population to continue their educations beyond high school.
“Pop culture has shown me the importance of representation. It’s important that the people shaping the world via music, art, visual media, and technology come from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds so that everyone feels represented. Holberton’s focus on that is very inspiring and is why I wanted to be involved. During this ‘new normal’ we’re experiencing during the pandemic, we’re seeing just how important software engineering is with regards to shaping our new world. Software engineers’ creativity and vision will be key in helping us all move forward,” said Kotecha.
Savan joins the board which currently includes Grammy award-winning artist NE-YO, actor and social activist Priyanka Chopra, CEO of CloudNOW Jocelyn DeGance Graham, Avasant Foundation Executive Director Chitra Rajeshwari, Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel, legendary Educator Esther Wojcicki and Docker co-founder Solomon Hykes.
Join us in welcoming Savan to the Holberton community!
Originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, he moved to Bucaramanga to study mechanical engineering but his prospects and initial work experience after graduating had left him disillusioned. Sergio’s passion for breakdancing brought him to Medellín to join a dance crew with his friends. In Medellín, he discovered Holberton School and with it, his second passion: software engineering.
Sergio decided to go through the admissions process as a challenge to himself and considered it sort of a game, but as he delved deeper into Holberton he decided becoming a software engineer is what he really wanted to do.
After being admitted and just three months into the program, Sergio had to relocate from Holberton Medellín to Holberton Bogotá so he could live with his family, as he could no longer make ends meet.
At first, Sergio would get frustrated because he could not finish the projects as fast as some of his peers, but he quickly learned to put his ego aside and developed the most important skill: learning how to learn. Even in the most trying times, he never thought about quitting and realized that no matter what personal challenges he was facing, starting a new programming project for Holberton always brought him happiness.
“I found a lot of support from the staff and my peers, they are now my family”, said Sergio.
Finding a job
Sergio says that being a programmer and a dancer make him very happy, each discipline compliments the other and brings about a balance, dancing helps his programming and programming helps his dancing.
When Sergio began his job search after finishing foundations, he discovered that it was his soft skills, not just his technical skills, that made him stand out as a candidate. Rejections were common, so he narrowed his search to companies that valued soft skills as much as technical skills, and that is where he found the match with Mercado Libre.
“They were looking for a senior developer, so I told them:Let me solve the technical test, then you could know if we can work together now or in the future”, said.
After a battery of soft skills and technical skills interviews, Mercado Libre made the offer and despite the fact that the job opening was for a senior candidate, the hiring manager in Mercado Libre told Sergio that they wanted to work with him because they saw his potential.
Join me in congratulating Sergio on his accomplishments, all the hard work he put into going through the Holberton program and getting the job of his dream. Well done!