Coaching at Hackership

We often get asked what is needed to become a coach and what sort of time commitment is involved...

In brief: Everyone involved shares in common that they are passionate about helping and training others, exploring new territories, love learning themselves and leave their ego at the door. Hackership exists due to the amazing and voluntary contributions of our community.

Ben's coaching style: sipping coffee at workshops

How it works, structurally.

Coaches typically freelance from the workspace and make themselves available to talk through queries with learners when they come up. The time each person spends coaching therefore varies, from day to day. It could be one hour, or a few hours, depending on the specific focus of the learners. We run with a ratio of 1 coach to every 5 learners, and also have a body of remote developers on our community chat, happy to help. You might be a strong generalist, or have an expertise in one technology that a few of our learners are looking into (as defined during each batch application process.)

The Approach

We say ‘talk through’ queries above, rather than just ‘answer’ them, because coaches are more of a facilitator or guide, than a know-it-all-guru. Being a good coach has more to do with helping a learner figure something out themselves, than just given answers. Great coaches make all the difference to the speed of progress and enjoyment for learners. They do a host of different things like:

  • attend daily stand up and address when someone gets stuck
    • give feedback on learners’ project plans
  • answer and ask questions, talk through issues with learners
  • pair programme and whiteboard problems with learners
  • do code reviews and let learners walk them through what they did
  • give feedback on the weekly Thursday demo sessions
  • participate in our weekly lightning talk
  • give workshops

There are lots of ways in which our coaches help the learners, whilst still giving the learner ultimate control of their project.

The Experience

Coaching with Hackership is a quite a different experience. Learners have specifically signed up for a self directed learning programme. They apply with a technology focus and project idea, and develop their project plan themselves. They are self-motivated adults, smart and keen to learn, come from a variety of fields and experiences and also have a lot to teach each other. This doesn't only make every batch special in it's own way, it creates generally a great environment to be in, with lots of amazing, motivated people around. At the same time, the Hackership team put structures in place, to not only keep everyone going but also ensure no one goes above their limits or burns out in the process.

(On a side note, despite being busier than ever, my personal productivity always peaks during a batch, from the great energy and enthusiasm in the room, and stimulating discussions that come up.)

Further Benefits

As if working around amazing people, helps them learn and grow, wasn't enough already (for many it is), Hackership also enables coaches to grow. Many, if not all, join with at least some form of coaching or teaching experience and one of their interest is to improve themselves. Hackership provides support and structures for coaches to become better at what they do, too. Through workshops, weekly check-ins and feedback from the team as well as the learners, coaches have the opportunity improve their communication and coaches styles. Of course, there is more to it. As you can learn from our coaching slide deck.

Interested in becoming a coach?

We are starting our Berlin batch on 3rd July 2015, and though we have sufficient coaches, we also have desk space thanks to our great venue hosts. So if you specifically have experience in NodeJS or Ruby/Rails and are interested in coaching, let us know! You can fill out the coach form on our website, or just send a brief email to and we'll get in touch with you.

About the Authors

Charlotte Hayne

Hackership Organiser. Experienced Teacher, Education Specialist and Social Justice Activist. Former Fundraising and Growth Consultant to NGOs and early stage (social) businesses. Passionate about learning, skiing, and real equality of opportunity. charlotte at hackership dot org

Benjamin Kampmann

is freelance Software Developer and Product Creator. Aside from helping with the organisation of workshops and events, he is part of the strategic team and author of many of the blueprints. ben at Hackership dot org