Family Matters @ 42 Silicon Valley

Family Matters @ 42 Silicon Valley

The community atmosphere at 42 Silicon Valley often feels like one big family. Students bond over the challenges and triumphs that come along with learning how to code. There are some students who are literally family here. Oftentimes a student will recommend 42 to a sister, brother or cousin. We sat down with family members who attend 42 together or have in the past to learn more about their experiences.

Brothers-in-law: Igor Lucic & Changhyun (Edgar) Jeong

L to R: Edgar and Igor
Tell us more about where you are from and what you did before 42: 

Igor: I was born in Germany but grew up in Ohio. Before I came here I studied Electrical Engineering and I was a testing engineer. 

Edgar: I was born in Korea and lived there until I was 37. My major in college was Business and English Literature. I was an English teacher in Korea and taught for 4-5 years.

I met Tina, Igor’s sister when she came to our academy as a native English teacher. We got married and that is how I met Igor. 

How did you learn about 42 and what has your experience been like? 

Igor: I came to 42 first. We were living together in Korea at the time, teaching ourselves programming. Edgar was studying Python and I was studying Javascript. We were looking up a problem online and my sister found 42 for us. At the time it was still for people between the ages of 18-30, so Edgar was too old at the time. So they decided to send me as as a guinea pig to see what it was like.  I would also send projects home so they could work on it and see what it was like. I came in November and Edgar came three months later in February. 

Edgar: My wife is interested in programming as well but we have two kids and they are still in Korea. The piscine was intense and I felt like you can learn in one month what would take an entire course at a traditional university. It was intense, it was really stressful but it suited me. I didn’t like traditional teaching, the way we learn here was really effective for me. And I appreciate the freedom. 

What has it been like attending 42 at the same time as a relative?

Igor: Overall, it is pretty positive. For a long time, we were actually roommates as well. It is nice to have family here so there is always someone I can count on.

Edgar: It is relaxing to know there is someone you can rely on mentally. As a foreigner, if something urgent happens I can always ask Igor for help. 

Do you have advice for anyone thinking of encouraging a family member to try 42? 

Igor: Don’t think about it, just do it. Since you already have someone you can rely on, attending 42 at the same time as a relative can be a really nice foundation when you start.

Edgar: I agree. If you come here with family it is much easier because you feel more stable. For some people, coming to 42 can be a strange and challenging moment. You have friends here at 42, but family is different. 


Sisters: Karynne and Kirstin Black

Tell us more about where you are from and what you did before 42: 

Kirstin: We are from Houston, Texas. I went to the University of Houston and I majored in sign language interpreting. About two years ago I moved to the Bay Area and accepted a job in sales at an electrical sales company. I wanted to do something different. Karynne was doing 42, so I quit my job and did the piscine, got in and started right away. Prior to 42, I was doing some online training for web development so I think I want to go down that path. Eventually, I want to do the PHP piscine to do web development. After that, I want to go back to Austin and work there. 

Karynne: I graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a nutrition degree. Halfway through my junior year I decided not to do nutrition and joined a bioinformatics lab which is half bio and half technology. That is where I learned programming in Perl and Linux and that was pretty cool. I went into research after that, I did work with a cancer research center, and I did management after that for a little while.

I worked as a researcher in biotech before I joined 42 as a cadet. Originally I came here to learn computer science, and I planned to go back and combine that with bioinformatics. But after coming here I went to meetups and learned about VR and AR and all these different things. So I am trying everything right now to see what I like. I want to find a way to do something tech-related in biology. 

L to R: Karynne and Kirstin Black
How did you learn about 42 and what has your experience been like? 

Kirstin: Karynne started before me and I followed. So far it has been a great experience, the vibe here is laid back and everyone has been wonderful. It has been great so far.

Karynne: I heard about 42 Silicon Valley in a Reddit post the first year it opened. So I researched it and there wasn’t much about it yet on the internet. Later on, I heard about it through a podcast interview. So I applied in 2016, then I applied again in 2017 and then actually came here in January 2018. It has been cool, a lot different than a traditional university. At a traditional university you can get by without talking to people, but here you don’t have that luxury, you can but it will be more difficult than necessary.

My roommates are all pretty great, except for my sister (laughs). I guess I learned a lot since I have been here and met a lot of people, and went to a lot of events. I went to the Tulip Conference, they had talks about fintech, blockchain, and zero waste. It was a smaller conference so you got to talk to people. I also started volunteering with IGNITE.

What has it been like attending 42 at the same time as a relative?

Kirstin: It is an adjustment for us to be in the same room, same city, and the same school. She already experienced the first year, trying to coach me and tell me what path to do. Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don’t. She is very helpful. It isn’t bad, it hasn’t been terrible. We haven’t pulled each others hair yet (laughs).

Karynne: I guess because I am the older sister and have been here longer than her, I have been like, “Just do this, or do that.” And she is like, “You’re my bigger sister, you can’t tell me what to do.” We haven’t lived in the same city for 12 years. I get to use her stuff so I don’t have to buy my own stuff, it is a symbiotic exchange. 

Do you have advice for anyone thinking of encouraging a family member to try 42?

Kirstin: I say even if you have no experience, it is always good to try. I walked in with no experience, I doubted myself that I could get past the piscine. I realized that everyone has the opportunity as long as you focus, I would definitely recommend anyone trying this program.

Karynne:  I guess the biggest benefit coming as a family, you already have a support system that you know. Friends are great, but it is a different support system because family has seen you grow throughout the course of your life. So I guess you are more likely to succeed if you have a strong support system, and it is cool when you wake up and your support system is right there. I encourage family and friends to take a chance and come and learn together. And our parents are super happy, they think we are super adorable going to the same school. 


Brothers: Alex and Dani Ezzeddine

L to R: Dani and Alex Ezzeddine
Tell us more about where you are from and what you did before 42: 

Alex: I am from Ukraine. I went to University for a few months before dropping out and moving to the U.S. While in the U.S., I spent two semesters at a community college. I didn’t want to complete the general education requirements and just wanted to concentrate on computer science. So that is what I didn’t like about traditional college. I moved back to Ukraine for an internship and I spent around 6 months in that position before I found out about 42 Silicon Valley and moved back to the U.S. to study. I was at 42 Silicon Valley for around a year and a half before getting an internship in May 2018 with Poshmark and got offered a full-time position in August 2018. My position is a Core Infrastructure software engineer, I mostly work on backend stuff and focus on optimization performance and supporting the infrastructure.

Dani: I have been learning programming since the 8th grade. I knew that was what I wanted to do, I didn’t think of any other options. In 11th grade (which is our final year of high school in Ukraine)  I understood that is the only thing I wanted to do, so I decided to be a programmer. I went to a community college in Las Vegas for two days but didn’t like it because it was boring. My skills and programming ability were higher than the stuff they were teaching there and that is why I left. In the future, I am hoping to get a remote job as a  full stack developer. I like working on web development and building web pages. I want to work remotely so I can travel around the world.  

How did you learn about 42 and what has your experience been like? 

Alex: Someone told me about a 42 franchise opening in Ukraine. I went to their website and read about the whole system, I found out about 42 Silicon Valley and thought it was cool, so I decided to apply and moved to the U.S. I didn’t convince Dani to come to the same school but he heard a lot of stories about how cool it is here and how happy I was so he wanted to try it out as well.

Dani: My brother came to 42 first, and he told me about the school. Several months after he was here I came and joined him. I enjoy 42 a lot, I like the community here and how 42 helps people learn. I have gained a lot of knowledge from 42 and moved really far with my programming skills.

What has it been like attending 42 at the same time as a relative?

Alex: When Dani joined the school I was kind of finishing my studies and looking for internships. We were here at the same time for about 2 months, but it was cool because I could always speak to him whenever I wanted. We also got to spend more time together and go to lunch. He would come and ask me questions about projects, and I would help him, but not too much to still let him learn on his own.

Dani: We were living together, we were in the same room. It was okay but since we lived together before, it was a normal thing for us. When he moved after he got his job it was difficult to not see him on a daily basis.  In the beginning, I didn’t realize it at the time, but when he left, I realized it was a big gift to be around family when I was starting college.

Do you have advice for anyone thinking of encouraging a family member to try 42?

Dani: Yeah sure, it is a great place, it will be a nice experience.

Alex: Don’t force the person and just let them decide for themselves. And whenever they decide to join, do as much as you can to make their journey easier and more fun.


Having a Strong Support Network @ 42

When we think about family, the word support often comes up. At 42, we believe that having a strong support network is an important part of the learning process. One of the greatest benefits of attending 42 with a relative is that you will get a chance to not only learn how to code together but also spend more time with each other. Whether you are related by blood or not, our peer-to-peer learning model naturally leads to being part of a community that will be there for you.

published by Stacey Faucett – July 18, 2019