An unusual goodbye

Allison Kaptur, a long-time Hacker School facilitator and dear friend, has decided to take the next step in her career and join the team at Dropbox. Allison’s contributions to Hacker School are innumerable, and we’re sad to see her go, though we are happy that she will be joining many Hacker School friends at Dropbox.

Like many things at Hacker School, Allison’s departure is atypical. Allison told me in our weekly one-on-one a couple of months ago that she was ready to move to a pure programming role at a software company, and so continuing to be a Hacker School facilitator was no longer the best way to pursue her personal and professional goals. I was sad, but quickly understood that this is indeed the right path for her after hearing her reasoning.

Being transparent here turned out to have a lot of benefits, both for Hacker School and for Allison.

For Hacker School, it meant time to plan, and an opportunity to help Allison choose a minimally disruptive time to depart. As a small company, it’s especially tough to lose a key employee, and having a significant heads up is helpful. It also gave Hacker School the opportunity to be involved in Allison’s job search (our business model is, after all, recruiting).

For Allison, it meant she didn’t have to lie to or be evasive with us or her colleagues, or worry about finding time to interview or take surreptitious trips to California. It also meant she could use us for references and referrals for potential employers, and draw upon Hacker School’s resources and community for interview prep and negotiation advice.

Many companies and people are unnecessarily closed off about their future plans, opting to pretend everyone’s jobs will be their last. But that’s rarely true nor productive. My cofounders and I have had similarly candid conversations with other employees when they’ve been approached by other companies or were considering medical school. Each time, we have tried to be frank about our goals and to hear and understand our employees’, and to genuinely try to find what’s best for Hacker School and our employees. I don’t think this would work in all contexts or for all people, but it has worked well for us.

Thank you, Allison, for helping build Hacker School these past years, and for continuing to contribute, even as you move on. We wish you the best of luck, and can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.