Hack Reactor LA Week 2 Post-Game Analysis — Failing into Week 3

One of the difficult realities you must accept at Hack Reactor is that no amount of practical work experience or advanced preparation can ready you to take on the numerous toy problems, self assessments, or coding “sprints” the HR instructors/staff lob at you.

Last week was no exception as I tried tackling a jQuery-based app sprint, learned about Algorithms solving the N-Queens problem, and attempted to make a game app with a confusing data visualization technology.

Most of the exercises either leave you confused and or feeling like a failure because you really have no idea what you’re doing. Today was no exception as I started Week 3 with a rough start. I attempted to use jQuery and AJAX to make an chat application with my sprint partner. We were off to a good start when all of a sudden, bam, we hit a wall.

Failure pursued us for the last 36 hours if for no other reason that we couldn’t “conjure” or intuit how to solve the coding sprint within the allotted time. Add that to the list of topics I have to review. It’s week 3, and we’re 3 weeks away from our TA, our technical assessment where we’re required to code a functional app in one day in order to continue studies at Hack Reactor.

I imagine that my cohort mates are just as scared as I am. I couldn’t fix my chat application and get it to work properly. Tomorrow we start working on another application using Backbone and get into MVC frameworks. Did I mention I’m just barely learning how to use ES6?

My sprint partner had a bit of a min-meltdown. He’s a great guy and a brilliant coder. It was my fault for having a heart-to-heart with him to gauge how he felt about the sprint. Sadly when I asked him how he got into HR, and he told me how unproductive he felt about the sprint’s outcome, he started crying.

With all my heart, I tried consoling him and assured him that the same self-determination and moxy that got him admitted into Hack Reactor is what will ensure his success for the duration of the program. I really hope he bounces back. He deserves to be in the program because I know the material, while difficult to grasp and fast-paced, is not beyond his skill set.

At Hack Reactor, you constantly feel like like you’re either failing, “not getting it” when you compare yourself to your cohort mates, and suffer fear and doubt about the unknown outcome of the week going into the next major milestone of the program.

I suffer the same fear and doubt everyday. But I take it a day at a time, coding sprint by coding sprint, and toy problem after toy problem. Going forward, I think I’ll fail more times than I succeed doing any of the exercises I’m given. But that’s the point: I’ll keep moving forward. And forward. And forward… Inch, by inch, inch. That’s how winning is done…