March 12, 2016 - by Angela Chandra

Spotlight – Meg Bishop, Engineering Student

Meet one of Hackbright’s current software engineering fellowship students, Meg Bishop. Meg had been programming on the side for quite some time before deciding to make it her career. She took the Intro to Programming part-time course at Hackbright before applying for the full-time Fellowship, and is now on her way to becoming a software engineer! Part data analyst, part trapeze artist, and 100% awesome, she sat down with me to chat about her experience as an engineering student and her goals for the future.

So! Tell me about yourself. What’s your background and what brought you here?

I started programming early, in high school. It was all in BASIC, but I enjoyed it! In college, I ended up being an English major. I knew I liked programming though, so I took some classes at SF City College, and online at Coursera and Code Academy, but it got to the point where I wanted to take classes in person.

What made you decide that the online classes were no longer enough?

The more in-person interactions I get, the more likely the material will stick with me and the more excited I will be about the learning process. I knew that about myself. I had taken programming classes in different modalities and the one I liked the most was an in-person Ruby bootcamp. It was only a week long but I liked it so much, I knew I needed something similar.

Even in the Hackbright part-time class, I was so impressed by the engagement and quality of the curriculum, and the students were interested and participating. I knew that if the Fellowship was even a fraction of the Intro to Programming course, I’d have a wonderful time.

There’s also something about showing up in person that adds a level of accountability. When you have a deadline to meet, nothing compares to showing up in person, asking questions in person. That kind of learning is a really good way to find out what you know and what you need to learn.

Are there any mantras you live by?

I think that you always continue to learn. Just because you don’t have a skill now doesn’t mean you can’t learn it in the future. You just haven’t learned it yet. Like learning music! That doesn’t happen overnight.

Do you also play music?

I played piano for 4 years, and clarinet for 8 years.

Very cool! What did you love about the part-time class?

Honestly, I was just so impressed by the other students and their fearlessness to ask all their questions. Everyone came in with different backgrounds. A lot of us are still in touch and one other person is in the Fellowship with me now! I know that some of my friends are applying for the next Fellowship too.

The level of project complexity from part-time students was really impressive! There was some serious data visualization and math. I was just really impressed and it was so great to see what people had been working on.

I was looking forward to class every time. It was the high point of my days. Pretty early on I knew I was going to the Fellowship right after the part-time course ended, so I was always reminded that my path was set ahead of me.

What finally made you decide to go after such a huge career change?

I had a friend who had made a similar pivot, and she became a developer. It was so helpful to have an example of someone who had done it successfully.

I went to an Intro to Programming Info Session at Hackbright, and I figured that was a good time to also apply for the next Fellowship. It lined up perfectly and I went straight from the end of Intro to Programming to the beginning of the Fellowship.


So how is the Fellowship going now?

Things are great! I’m expanding on my previous project from Intro to Programming. I’m really excited about it and I’ve been getting feature ideas from friends and mentors.

Where do you see yourself after the Fellowship ends?

I am going to be a software engineer in SF. Preferably back end, but I’m keeping an open mind for web development.

Why did you choose Hackbright?

I went to a women’s college (Smith) so I knew that I would really like the environment. I knew I liked Python and Hackbright was the only bootcamp that focused on Python. I had taken workshops in Ruby but wanted to do Python and really learn from the ground up, take it slower.

I knew the Hackbright model was extremely selective in admissions, and that they provide an environment that sets students up to get what they need to succeed and be a good developer.

I had been following Hackbright for a few years – they had a good reputation and good partners, so there’s definitely an infrastructure in place. There’s the career development that Hackbright offers. I did a ton of research in advance because it is a huge commitment between time and money, and I wanted to make sure I was making the right choice. Turns out, Hackbright was the only school I applied to.

Soon Meg will graduate from Hackbright Academy’s Software Engineering Fellowship to pursue her passion. Women like Meg are a huge inspiration to our community and we admire her tenacity. We are so excited for her and can’t wait to see the impact she will make in the industry!

Are you or someone you know interested in learning how to code? Enroll in one of our Intro to Programming classes that begin this July!


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