4 Projects Sponsors, 8 Mentors, and 80 Devs Walk Into a Code School…

By: Elizabeth Scutchfield

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first Community Hack Night Initiative!

We were blown away by the commitment of the participants, the quality of the projects, the guidance of the project mentors, and the support of the amazing tech community to make this initiative a reality.

Our first three-month, open-source project cycle kicked off in July 2018 with five project concepts, four project sponsors, eight project mentors, and over 80 developers who wanted to dig in and get to work.

We launched the Community Hack Night Initiative with three goals in mind:

Help our students succeed: With over 1,000 alumni in the industry, we have developed a strong understanding of what it takes to make a successful career pivot. This includes always be coding (ABCs), always be networking, and keep building your portfolio. The Community Hack Night supports all of these key areas.

Provide value to the community: As Seattle’s first code school launched in 2013, we want to continue to set the bar for what it means to be a quality school by being good stewards of the local tech ecosystem. We are constantly looking for ways to add value for our industry partners, local entrepreneurs, and non-profits, while also supporting our graduates in the industry. Through our Community Hack Night, teams build apps proposed by our partners. This allows our partners to work alongside strong teams to flesh out their ideas while also creating dynamic real-world projects for our graduates.

Grow stronger together: Through collaboration, we can all magnify our impact. By partnering with Seattle JS Hackers and She’s Coding, we were able to create a supportive and positive environment for aspiring developers.

The Projects

Project concepts included an app that would support the Puget Sound Programming Python (PuPPy) community by automating their mentorship program pairings; a business travel network and forum; an app with a new approach to email management and responses; a music lesson-scheduling app; and AI and Search Engine technology to make it easy for people to recycle.

Nathan Straub, one of our project sponsors and owner of a Seattle-based music school, worked with a team to build the app for scheduling music lessons.

“Since I can’t code, I was forced to rely on my strengths. My focus on product and direction kept the team headed in the right direction and within the right scope,” he shared. “Our Project Mentor, Emmett, was brilliant at taking my ideas and explaining the process needed to get there to the team. By the end, the team assumed full ownership of creating my product, which was a dream come true for me!”

The Hack Nights

During the three-month project cycle, we opened up our space each week for Community Programming Nights, where project teams worked together on campus. These hacknights were also open to the public, to encourage and provide a space for anyone to work on individual or group projects and get the support they need.

Once per month, in lieu of a programming night, we hosted Community Hack Nights, where guest speakers gave motivational talks, mentors advised teams on next steps, and teams reported on their progress and planned for the next phase. Industry mentors joined us from companies such as Oracle, Amazon, Facebook, and Zillow, offering their insights and wisdom on job searching, lending some technical guidance, and sharing their own stories as sources of inspiration.

The Demo Day

At the end of the three months, we hosted Demos & Drinks, our Community Hack Night demo day to feature the outcomes of our first project cycle and celebrate what the teams had built.

Thank you to everyone who joined! We had over 200 hiring partners and members of the Seattle tech community join us for the final celebration.

What’s Ahead

We learned a lot through our first project cycle, and are excited to kick off the next round. It is so encouraging to witness the momentum from this pilot effort. If you want to get involved as a mentor, partner, or a team member for our next project cycle, get in touch!


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