Education Programs Seek Answers: To Scale or Not To Scale?


written by Matthew Keas (@matthiasak), Front End Engineering Instructor.

The Iron Yard Partner Eric Dodds (@ericdodds) brought to my attention the growing “openness” of education:

We talk a good bit about how education is changing. If you’re like me, your thinking probably tends to revolve around code education since that’s what we do when we go to work every day. 

It’s interesting to look around and see what other schools are doing as well—there’s quite a bit of testing and experimentation happening that will influence what we know as traditional education. 

Here are a few interesting things I ran across recently: 

Harvard Business Core
Other schools are offering online certificate programs. The Harvard Business School recently began offering a Credential of Readiness (CORe). The three-course $1,500 program is designed for people who don’t have a business degree but want to learn “the language of business.” 

The idea of Harvard offering an online certificate program for $1500 is, in and of itself, a pretty crazy thing when you stop and think about their reputation, pedigree and cost historically. Also, “Business Core” is a pretty awesome/hilarious phrase.

Penn State World Campus
For example, through Penn State’s World Campus, you could earn a bachelor’s degree in economics (among 19 fields of study), a master’s degree in finance (among 38 possibilities), or a doctorate in nursing.
Taken in-person, that econ degree would set you back $670-$770 per credit hour if you are a Pennsylvania resident or $1,200-$1,300 if you live out of state. Taken online, the cost is about $500 per hour no matter where you live. 

The idea of in-state and out-of-state is beginning to matter less. Even more interesting is that it seems Penn State seems to view the online and on campus degrees as equal even though the qualitative experience is almost certainly disparate.

What have you seen? 

What other types of programs have you seen that express educators’ attempts to adapt? 

I am overwhelmed by the permeability of these online markets and courses. It’s fantastic to have so many options, at a range of prices. Competition really is great for the consumer.

Information (especially that which you may find in textbooks) is ebbing towards an open-courseware approach. But with sites like Coursera, Khan Academy, MIT and Stanford’s online courseware, and so forth, maybe educators aren’t really adapting. In fact, textbooks, PDFs, and the like have been available online, legally and freely, for quite some time.

Maybe it isn’t an educators attempt to adapt, but instead a realization that there is a greater market and more cultural openness to learn online that pushes us towards rethinking education. Because of the cultural shifts set in-motion, rigorous online education is more acceptable, but it isn’t without it’s own woes.

We live in a world of options. We can specialize, or generalize, to become valuable. Now, I’ve written about my thoughts on specialization and generalization before. We can learn something effectively (like coding, or a new language), in intense, short bursts of time, and then broaden ourselves to multiply the effect. If that is true already here at The Iron Yard, could we as a society not benefit from short, intense bursts of focus on a single subject in broader education? Online courses are primarily singular-subject, but making an online course worth my time would almost certainly mean timely and unfettered human-interaction – both with my peers and with my instructor(s).

Thus, for code education (as I’m sure with many other types) there is still a missing factor - the human side. Software and customer experience is getting better with sites like Codecademy and Treehouse, but I think back to this article… and I feel like ‘fluency' still comes from a lot of in-depth feedback, curiosity, and discussion with an instructor, versus a computer program. Maybe when the IBM Watson API is released, educators can finally develop effective methods of communicating difficult analytical and intuition-based concepts through MOOCs and the like.

We don’t just need pretty courseware interfaces to learn, we need natural language engines that can empathize with a student. Online software currently doesn’t intuit, nor does it empathize, like a teacher can today.

From Quora: Is The Iron Yard Academy Worth The Investment?

This post is from Eric Dodds. He’s a partner at The Iron Yard and runs the brand and operations.

A Quora member recently posted a question about courses at The Iron Yard:

Is Iron Yard Academy Worth The Investment?

There were several responses. I wrote the first and one of our graduates followed up on my post:

My response

Great question. For context, I’m a partner at The Iron Yard (and helped found the company).

I’ll give a broad overview of what joining The Iron Yard means (and why it’s worth the investment).

As with all investments, determining value ultimately depends on what you desire as an outcome (i.e., your return on investment).

The Iron Yard is built for people who want to launch careers in technologyfrom the best possible foundation. We’ve designed our courses to prepare students as true professionals for a variety of jobs (not teaching them ‘just enough’ for a specific type of industry).

Learning to become a professional programmer in a short amount of time takes an incredible amount of focus and investment—both on the part of our students and on the part of our staff. Some people want to learn more about programming, develop a cursory knowledge of coding, or learn on the side while they work. There are lots of great part-time programs and online resources for them, but we’ve seen over and over again that becoming a highly-qualified professional is almost impossible without 100% focus and guidance from a qualified, experienced educator.


So, to answer your question more specifically, if you’re looking to learn from the best programming instructors in the industry, build a rock-solid foundation as a software engineer, learn how to learn (so you can teach yourself), participate in a best-in-class, holistic career support program and access The Iron Yard’s deep, international network of companies, graduates, accelerators, and more, then yes: The Iron Yard is absolutely worth the investment.

An analogy we often use is the process of learning a foreign language. There are thousands of options available for learning a new language, from mobile apps like Duolingo to more robust programs like Rosetta Stone or even night classes at a local college. Anyone who’s tried learning a foreign language, though, knows that for most people those resources only go so far. That becomes readily apparent if you visit a country of native speakers. Local dialects, slang and culture are hard to pick up from digital products or part-time classes.

The best way to learn a foreign language is to have a native tutor you and teach you the foundations—the why questions that underpin the culture and the way people view life that seeps into the language they speak. That understanding provides context for sentence structure, conjugation, etc. Syntax comes in time, but without a foundation, syntax alone isn’t enough to make you fluent.

The Iron Yard serves you as that guide, giving you the mindset, skills and tools you need to thrive as a native in the world of programming.

Student response:

Full disclosure: I’m a graduate of The Iron Yard’s front end engineering course. That being said, I am obviously partial to The Iron Yard in comparison to other code schools such as General Assembly, Hack Reactor, etc. As a student at the Greenville campus (TIY’s home base), I’ve also had the chance to meet a huge number of the company’s teachers, staff, and founders. If you’re going to hand over thousands of dollars and three months of your life to someone, it’s nice to know that, at their core, the person taking your money is a good person.

To answer the question succinctly: Yes, The Iron Yard is worth the investment.

I like Eric’s analogy comparing learning to program to learning a foreign language, but I’d like to expand on it a bit. You can use all sorts of books, apps, and software to teach yourself the basics of a language, maybe even enough to feel comfortable getting around a foreign city on vacation for a few days. But moving to a whole new country and feeling “at home” there? Not gonna happen.

Similarly, teaching yourself to code using online resources like Codecademy and Treehouse is enough to get by as a programmer. The problem, though, is that getting by doesn’t equate too getting a job. Being able to recognize and understand the fundamentals is great, but there is truly no one resource (or really, combination of resources) that will tell you how to set up your environment, which tools people in the industry are using to wireframe or to run repetitive tasks, or where to turn if you’re looking for UX/UI advice. In short, you’d have to spend so much time finding resources that you’d never have time to actually use them. That’s where having a top-notch teacher really pays off — he or she can set you on the right path without explicitly giving you the answers.

Being a developer is about more than just being able to follow along with tutorials or being able to replicate a solution to a common problem (copying and pasting code does not make you a developer); it’s about solving new problems or solving old problems in a new way. To reference Eric’s answer again, the most crucial skill The Iron Yard provides is the ability to “learn how to learn.”

If you’re looking for a job after you graduate, the ability to adapt and learn is necessary for survival. Companies expect you to demonstrate an understanding of the basics, but they’ve really hired you for your ability to push beyond the skills you already have to develop solutions that fit their business and market. As with all things, you’ll get out of the course what you put in; the more you invest, the stronger your commitment and drive to push yourself, the more you’ll learn and the further you’ll go after the three months have wrapped up.

For me personally, The Iron Yard’s connections to employers and companies were less important than the connections to actual people. My classmates continue to be an amazing source of support, and just generally great people. My teacher and TA have been there to answer questions and coach me through the transition from designer to developer, both during the course and after it had ended. The Iron Yard is essentially an invitation to a community; having a network of other developers to turn to is an invaluable resource, and can’t be replaced by online courses, virtual mentorships, or libraries of books, no matter how hard you try.

The Iron Yard’s Eric Dodds Talks Expansion and Code Academy at the BD Conference 2014

Head of Marketing at The Iron Yard Eric Dodds on Developing Southeast Developers

Where Can a Southeast Developer Learn to Code?

From expanding to eleven cities in only a year-and-a-half to launching both a startup accelerator and a code school, the team at The Iron Yard has been busy.

Fortunately, head of marketing Eric Dodds found a few spare moments to speak with me at the 2014 Beyond the Desktop (BD) Conference in Nashville, TN. In our short interview, Dodds covered his company’s rapid growth, tech trends in the Southeast, and one of The Iron Yard’s newest offerings, The Iron Yard Academy. We both share a passion for the relationship between tech and entrepreneurship in our home here in the Southeast, so this was an interview that made me even more optimistic about the tremendous initiatives that shape our community and culture.

Since launching in Greenville, SC in 2012, The Iron Yard now has locations in Asheville, Atlanta, Austin, Charleston, Columbia, Houston, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, Spartanburg, and Tampa-St. Petersburg. Such rapid expansion may be attributed to their knowledge and expertise of what works and what doesn’t—key factors for any startup. With that experience, they launched their startup accelerator in Greenville, NC in early 2013.

They later founded a code school, which has since expanded to six more cities. According to Dodds, The Iron Yard Academy develops developers at an astonishing rate, creating talented tech workers for the Southeast. Dodds is especially excited about the Academy’s newest course offerings on front-end web design, set to debut in the fall of 2014. To bring the interview full circle, those courses are in partnership with BD Conference creators Unmatched Style.

When I asked about the most difficult part of his job, Dobbs replied that it can be challenging to discover and hire qualified developers who also make excellent teachers.

I was also curious about The Iron Yard’s own conference, Grok. Dobbs differentiated it from most conferences by stressing that Grok focuses on intentional conversations between developers rather than keynote-heavy presentations and talking heads. For a company whose livelihood depends on collaboration, such a different conference carries out The Iron Yard’s mission quite well.

In closing, I asked Dodds a question that was itching me the entire time: What does the Southeast need in order to reach its full potential? To hear his answer, listen to the interview below.

The Interview was conducted by Clark Buckner from (they provide coverage content on employee and staff engagement, gamification trends, enterprise loyalty platforms and much more). Also be sure to check out their Tech Conferences calendar for more great events like the BDconf series.

On Long-Term Employment and Programming


By Matthew Keas, Houston Front End Engineering Instructor

The Iron Yard’s Partner Eric Dodds was reflecting on the relationship between education and unemployment this past week.

The Harvard Business Review’s blog posted a thought-provoking article about how trends in hiring methods are making long term unemployment—for older, educated people — a big problem.

The entire article is fascinating, but one quote really stuck out:

It’s not necessarily harder for older college educated Americans who have been laid off to find jobs than for those with less education. The surprising fact is that it’s not easier for them. Once laid off, the likelihood of becoming long-term unemployed is just as great for those with a college education than for those without.

Think about that for a minute: according to the article, a college education doesn’t necessarily make it easier for people to get a job once they’ve been laid off.

Eric lives and breathes excitement about our efforts at The Iron Yard. This topic is so deeply embedded in our culture and vision that is even part of our mission. There’s a significant need for people to develop relevant, marketable skills; and this message is a resounding passion you will find in every office of The Iron Yard.

On the topic of long-term employment, it seems to me that to stay relevant we must grow our capacity for “patient vigilance” and a focus on The Long Game. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always a priority in pop-culture (especially tech pop-culture), and still isn’t today. People used to be able to hyper-specialize in one topic, earn a living, and live the good ol’ American dream. But in the light of long term employment, technology and instant-gratification instill a rather unpopular stigma around age and aging as a whole.

I’m not alone in this point of view – check out comedian Craig Ferguson’s musings on the deification of youth in today’s media and social circles:

I also recently listened to a podcast that talked about “The Top 5 Reasons to be a Jack of all Trades”. Tim Ferriss provides his insights into the reason why hyper-specialization isn’t necessarily a good thing:

Are the days of Da Vinci dead? Is it possible to, at once, be a world-class painter, engineer, scientist, and more? “No way. Those times are long gone. Nothing was discovered then. Now the best you can do is pick your field and master it.”

So how much more would a specialist know on a topic versus a generalist? I believe that as you learn to code at The Iron Yard you spend your effort learning 80% of the core fundamentals of programming with 20% of the effort it took even the instructors to do so when they were learning. We focus on the theories of pedagogy, learning, effective communication, and deliberate practice to help our students ramp up as fast they can manage. Under consideration of that, our students learn all the tricks and tools of the trade up until the point of rapidly diminishing returns.

We at The Iron Yard focus on process, and “learning how to learn”. Ferriss even discusses this and his own timely and worldly experiences, such as learning a language, while comparing the idea of a generalist and a specialist:

Generalists take the condensed study up to, but not beyond, the point of rapidly diminishing returns. There is perhaps a 5% comprehension difference between the focused generalist who studies Japanese systematically for 2 years vs. the specialist who studies Japanese for 10 with the lack of urgency typical of those who claim that something “takes a lifetime to learn.” Hogwash. Based on my experience and research, it is possible to become world-class in almost any skill within one year.

So why are we aligned and formatted to effectively teach programming fundamentals AND semi-specialized courses? Many people might overlook the fact that they can keep a “model T approach" in continuing their own education. We adopt this paradigm in the context of self-improvement to focus on learning something to a very deep and focused level. With that investment, we gain the ability to create analogies and insights to other – possibly unrelated – topics. Thus, by adopting mental models from deep studies on singular topics, we can make analogies to other topics, see patterns, and ultimately alter our perspective of a problem or hurdle to learn it or solve it faster.

How is this relevant to long-term employment and The Iron Yard? I believe, in the end, finding others who value you or your skills and connecting with them is a by-product of grit and infinite curiosity. I believe those ideals stem from working to experience (and not just to earn).

The pursuit of work (be that monetarily or otherwise) can be fleeting, but paradoxically the pursuit of experience and knowledge leads to great jobs.

Welcoming Sam Kapila to the Team!

Recently we posted about introducing Web Design courses here at The Iron Yard. It’s an exciting step for us, but the best part is the team that we have leading the effort. We mentioned before that we are partnering with Unmatched Style, and today we’re excited to announce that Sam Kapila as our first Web Design Instructor and Web Design curriculum lead.

Sam will be teaching our inaugural Web Design course in Greenville, SC this fall. Yes, there’s still time to apply. Head over to our site for more details.

At the beginning of the year she’ll head back to her hometown of Austin, TX to help launch our first round of classes in the capital of the Lonestar State.

Here’s Sam’s story (originally posted on her blog):

For the past six years, I’ve been teaching topics in Communication Design at Texas State University and getting my MFA for the first three years. As I finished writing and designing my thesis, which was brand, web-site, and content strategy redesign for a student-run and internationally recognized online literary journal, I was asked to stay on full-time for one year. That one year turned into three, and during that time, I worked an exceptional colleague to build out the web courses that needed some serious updates. I was given full freedom to replace the “flash class” and explore a topic I was very interested in—Responsive Web Design—and have been teaching it ever since. The course went from having one section of 15 students to three sections of 20 each in three years, and the students have spoken to Ethan Marcotte, designers from Happy Cog, Big Spaceship, and Paravel about RWD. It amazes me that the course has grown as much as it has, and that it is a topic students want to learn.

The students. They learned and I learned with them. They taught me patience, some taught me basic JS, or shared recipes (all my design metaphors are food-related), and explained how binary numbers can be used to convert hexademical and 0-255 RGB values. Best of all, they taught me that I really did want to be a teacher.

It’s been a great six years and I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Texas State family. The 2013-2014 school year was my last at the university. I’m thankful for the time I had there, and mentors and students that taught me so much more about design and life that I could ever imagine.

The Iron Yard

I am excited to announce that, starting in October, I am joining The Iron Yard as a Web Design instructor. The Iron Yard is a start-up accelerator and a code academy that started in Greenville, SC, and has expanded to Spartanburg, Columbia and Charleston, SC, Asheville and Raleigh-Durham, NC, Atlanta, GA, Tampa and Orlando, FL, Houston and soon—AUSTIN, TX! The Iron Yard teaches 12-week immersive courses in Front End Engineering (I sat in on a few classes and it’s AWESOME), Mobile Engineering, Rails Engineering, Web Design, and soon, Python! I’m so impressed by the quantity, but especially the quality of work coming out of the courses and the students I’ve met. I, myself, want to teach every course they offer!

I’m ecstatic about the Web Design course which will be a mix of both design and code. The course is designed in a way that allows students to understand the bigger picture and process of web design, from design history to principles, typography to color theory, HTML to CSS to Sass, Responsive Web Design (yay!), and Javascript from an interaction stand-point. It prepares students to wear the multiple hats designers frequently have to wear in this ever-changing industry. It’s going to teach design students a lot of different topics, but cover them deeply enough and reiterate them so they becomes second nature. Students will leave with a portfolio of work and The Iron Yard will help students with job placement after they complete the course. The Iron Yard is currently taking applications for the course in Greenville, SC this fall, and Columbia, SC and Austin, TX in January 2015!

I can’t wait to join the team and get started!

My laptop sticker arrangement, currently!

Introducing Web Design Courses at The Iron Yard

The Iron Yard is proud to announce a new 12-week Web Design course at our Greenville, Columbia and Austin campuses! Our first one starts in September and already has students, so apply soon if you’re interested.

We built this course to solve a major issue in web design education. (Well, that and we love design.) While foundational design principles and theory are incredibly important, many higher ed programs are falling behind in digital design instruction, unable to update curriculum that needs to change as quickly as the web does. Also, most schools don’t have programs focused specifically on web design, meaning graduates who want to work in the digital space have to learn additional skills. That’s where we come in.

The Web Design course at The Iron Yard is multi-faceted, covering all aspects of the web design process from start to finish. Students will practice creative discovery, ideation, and critical thinking, collect research, wireframe and prototype, learn HTML, CSS, Sass and Javascript for interaction, consider web standards and best practices, ponder user experience theory, design interfaces with pixel precision, test their products on multiple devices and deploy them seamlessly. Further, students will learn design principles such as grid systems, typography, color theory, branding and systems-based design, a bit of design history and research methods. By the end of the 12-week course, the new designers will graduate with a well-rounded portfolio of work that shows everything they have learned and can achieve in the work place.

The Iron Yard will partner with industry designers, developers, and agencies to ensure that the latest industry standards and technical tools are taught in the classroom, preparing graduating students for current, real-world design roles.

In fact, we’re partnering with Unmatched Style team to develop this course. They bring years of web design, UX and UI expertise to the table from the industry side, but they have educational chops as well: two of the partners have built curriculum for and taught web design courses at the university level. We couldn’t be more excited to work with them on such an important course.

Our thorough instruction and industry partnerships will allow students to step into a variety of design roles: web designer, UX designer, UI designer, front-end designer, freelance designer, and more. And, our campus staff will work with local design communities to foster relationships that will benefit and further the education the students receive.

We believe bridging the gap between education and digital design will have a massive impact on the products we use in the future and we couldn’t be more excited to be on the front lines of that change.

Apply today to study Web Design any of our three locations.

(Our first one starts in September and already has students, so apply soon if you’re interested.)

Education and Leadership Podcast(s)?

Internally I’ve created a small podcast which I’ve titled The Education & Leadership Podcast and on it I share some thoughts on this growing company, provide insights via my “guests” (which are our staff members), and also tidbits on the growing trends within our market and vertical.

I have a few questions and thoughts that I’d like to posit – so if you don’t mind indulging me for a moment…

First off I’d love to hear from you if you know of any other great podcasts that tackle a combination of technology, education, and leadership – I’d love to download them and listen in, especially if they are podcasts that target specifically the growing code school arena. That would be amazing.

Second, I’d love to hear about other podcasts that you think I and my team might benefit from. There is always room to learn more about our industry, education, and especially leadership and I’m always open to trying out a new podcast or two.

Third, would releasing the internal podcast publicly be of interest to anyone? Obviously I’d have to rethink my approach if I knew that it was also going outside of these hallowed TIY walls but I’d love for your thoughts if you have any. And, if you have or know of any examples of internal podcasts that were developed for staff but that are also shared publicly.

Which brings me to my fourth question: If I were to release them publicly I’d love to increase the quality through and by which I record them. I’m a complete podcast noob and even though I’ve tried it once or twice I’ve never really done it well or “right”; I’d like to get some decent equipment and start out strongly. Suggestions?

Finally, what do you look for in a podcast and what keeps you “hooked” and continuing to subscribe to them? What differentiates a mediocre podcast from an amazing one? What can we do or borrow from others that are “best in breed” that might make sense?

Appreciate the thoughts folks!

New (and Old) Territory: Python at The Iron Yard

Our traditional portfolio of courses cover the three primary areas of common tech stacks: front end, back end and mobile.

Those are broad terms in the world of programming—technologies abound within each category. We’ve chosen JavaScript, Ruby on Rails and iOS development because of demand, flexibility and the variety of opportunities each gives our students upon graduation.

One of the great things about our school, though, is flexibility. If there’s demand, we can meet it and we’re not tied to certain technologies because we know they will change and adapt (or even see the end of their life).

JavaScript, Ruby and iOS aren’t going any where for a while and have served our students well, but recently we’ve had conversations with certain employers who have demand for other languages.

Specifically, over half of our Raleigh-Durham Employer Advisory Board expressed interest in hiring more Python developers. That’s exciting for us—Python is a venerable language with an extremely robust community.

After several more conversations and some planning, I’m excited to announce that we will be offering our first Python course at our Raleigh-Durham campus in January, 2015.

We are actively looking for an instructor, so if you’re interested or know someone who might be, let us know.

Lucky for us, both of our Durham instructors are adept at Python, so we already have a head-start on curriculum. (Our Front End Engineering Instructor, Julia, just finished a book on Django, published through Oreilly! More on that soon.)

Wondering what Python is?

Python is a very versatile server-side programming language. It has been around since the 80s and is used heavily in both academics and the sciences, but is also found in both large and small scale consumer companies and products around the world (like RedHat, Instagram and more). You can learn more on the official Python website or Wikipedia. If you want to take a test-drive, do a few tutorials.

We’ll post more information soon!

Important Updates to our Job Placement Program

Here’s the short story (full details are below) 

In order to comply with state licensing requirements, we are making updates to our job placement program in some states. This is primarily a difference in the way we communicate about job placement—we aren’t legally allowed to offer a placement guarantee to students. For us and our students, though, that won’t change our commitment to having the best career-support possible and job placement for all of our students. In fact, we’ve decided to raise the bar for ourselves by offering even more ongoing career support and training for students who graduate from The Iron Yard.

Full details are below and we encourage you to read more about licensing and education. As always, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions at all.

Code Schools, State Licensing, Job Placement and You

Part of our mission at The Iron Yard is helping people launch new careers in technology. Here’s how we explain that in our mission statement: “We are committed to training the highest-quality developers and startups in the world, both in skill and in character. Our mission is to find people who want to pursue the craft and life-long adventure of technology, teach them the tools of the trade, and then release them into the world with the drive and capability to make a difference.”

Part of that commitment relates specifically to jobs. When we launched the school we decided to draw a line in the sand and guarantee that our grads got job offers or their tuition back. It was a way to keep us honest to our commitment as well as keep the bar incredibly high. In our “playbook” for new employees, here’s how we explain that decision:

First and foremost, the job guarantee keeps us honest and forces us to put our money where our mouth is. The question for us is simple: either we can train job-ready engineers or we can’t. We won’t accept anything less than excellence, so the answer is that we can train job ready engineers and we’re willing to prove it—that or give someone their money back if we don’t deliver. Having a very clear measure of success establishes our benchmark for quality.

Second, we truly desire to lower the barriers people face in starting a career in programming. If someone is a working professional and they want to learn to code and get a job in a short amount of time, their options are very limited. Online education isn’t deep enough for most and self-study on nights and weekends can take a very long time. Traditional 2-4 year training programs are expensive, time-consuming and worse, out of date. Our school is the cheapest, quickest, lowest-risk way to launch a career in programming. That’s something to be proud of!

So far we are proud to say that we have lived up to that commitment having never issued a tuition refund based on an inability to find a job. In other words, every student who has fully participated in our job placement program has gotten a job in the field.

Another part of our commitment to students is working to become officially licensed as an educational institution in every state where we operate. In fact we’ve had a team working on licensing since we started expansion. We want to ensure that students are confident in their commitment to us. So what does being a licensed educational institution mean, exactly?

For any organization offering formal education, there are state rules created for the protection of a student as a consumer, put in place to make sure that we as an organization have worked with the state commission(s) to understand expectations and operate in a manner consistent with those expectations. As you might expect, that is a good thing. Many “schools” have taken advantage of large numbers of people by accepting tuition fees—often in the form of federal loans with no regard for student debt—and not providing the education or opportunities they said they would. Graduation rates at those schools are abysmal and career support is virtually non-existent, revealing the unfortunate reality that some people selling education are more interested in money than actually helping people.

We welcome transparency and consumer protection. Guidelines for official certificates, refunds and other policies help make everything crystal clear for everyone involved.

Unfortunately, the process works the other way as well—sometimes state guidelines keep us from doing things we’d like to do for our students. In almost all cases, state licensing organizations have a rule against using the word “guarantee” in messaging, or even implying that placement in a job is promise. That might be an issue for some and semantics aside we’re fine with the word-change—this doesn’t alter our commitment to prepare our students for junior level, software development roles and we will continue to strive to maintain our track record of success.

For us, evidence will always be more important than wording, and that’s why we invite curious parties to connect directly with our graduates to hear their stories of success.

What does this mean for students who enrolled under the “guarantee” program?

The guarantee is still in full effect.

What are the details of our career support program?

When you are accepted to The Iron Yard Academy, you join a family that extends far beyond your individual class or campus. Our code school and accelerator graduates comprise a national network of tech professionals, giving you access to people and companies in almost every sphere of the industry.

If you choose to enroll in the career support program, we’re committed to helping you get where you want to go. Every student who has fully participated our process has gotten a job in the field. Here are the details:

  • Our careeer support program requires active participation from both our students and our staff. As we said above, our support is individualized and focused and we require the same of our graduates.
  • Throughout the semester our staff walks students through a curriculum that lays the foundations of understanding job postings, interviews and hiring processes in the tech industry. We cover what goes into great portfolios, cover letters, communication and project management. Through all of those components we focus on empathy as it applies to all parts of a job in programming.
  • In each city, we involve companies and their key staff (many from our Employer Advisory Boards) who guest lecture, conduct mock interviews, facilitate in hackathons, advise on final projects and join us at a Iron Pints throughout the program. This allows both our students and employers to get to know each other before the program is even over.
  • Upon graduation, our students have built an impressive body of work as proof of their skill and have developed the skills needed to search for and interview for jobs.
  • After the program ends, the work of finding work begins. This is a collaborative effort between our staff and the student. We help our grads build out a job-application toolkit that they can adapt to fit various opportunities. This allows them to rapidly create high-quality cover letters, portfolios and answers to questions, meaning they can pursue a large number of opportunities in a short amount of time.
  • We have relationships with employers—local and national—who are interested in hiring our students and provide job opportunities, apprenticeships and internships for them. At the same time, we require students to (and support them in) quickly building out a top-notch portfolio and identifying job opportunities that interest them. (Our most successful grads apply to more than 20 jobs per week post-graduation.) Wherever needed our staff provides personalize guidance and recommendations.
  • For students who choose to freelance, we provide project guidance and introductions to opportunities for work when available.

We are going above and beyond just your first job offer. We are currently building out ongoing edcuation materials on advanced topics so that as you progress in your career you can have continued access to proven resources from The Iron Yard. We’re also laying the groundwork for an alumnit mentorship network, ongoing access to our staff, alumni events and more. Your first gig is just the first step—we want your relationship with The Iron Yard to provide ongoing value as you progress in your career.

We believe in what we do and our program is extremely selective, so if we can’t produce the right result, someone’s doing something wrong.

We’re here to help and answer any questions you have. We are committed to transparency, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.