Nick Reynolds spent his early twenties working in the South Point casino hotel in Las Vegas. He started as a bellman, then worked as an extra-board for three years before he was promoted into a lead development position. He did everything from concierge services (booking tickets, setting up tours and rentals) to helping supervise the team and ensuring that guests had a great experience. On top of this demanding job, Nick was also enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada studying Criminal Justice.
“I thought it would be a good idea to have a degree – that piece of paper, pretty much,” he said. “I didn’t like it, I just thought I needed it. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just knew I should go to college and try to get a degree for something.”
Nick started talking to his family about how he wasn’t very happy with either his job or his education. One of his family members who was a UI/UX Designer for Zappos began to encourage him to check out software development. “He thought I should check it out, so I switched my major to Software Development and started reading up and looking into it,” he said. “Then my family member told me about The Iron Yard coming to Las Vegas, and I did a bunch of research.” Nick decided to try the part-time course that was offered last summer.
“I really enjoyed the course, and just felt like this was something I needed to do,” he said. “My girlfriend and I talked about it and decided to really make an effort to save the money for me to be able to take the full-time course in the fall.” In October 2015, Nick began our full-time Front-End Engineering immersive course. “The first few weeks were sort of a review of what I’d already learned, but then we started getting into some really hard stuff. It was hell, and I worked really hard. It’s no lie when they say you will likely put in 60-80 hours a week.”
Having the support of his fellow students, along with the Campus Director and his Instructor, Mike Sweeney, helped Nick stay on track. “Some of the other students and I would work together after class and work on figuring out problems together,” he said. “It was really hard, but it was also fun. I can honestly say I’ve never done something that hard mentally in my entire life. Being able to push through it was an awesome experience.”
Nick is close with many of the people he met in class. “I’m thankful because I still have a lot of good friends because of The Iron Yard, which is awesome,” he said. In fact, he and the students he worked with to create a project for Demo Day are still working together today. “We started thinking of ideas at Iron Pints, and we thought of a sports web app that focuses on a player’s skill, so you can get matched with people with that skillset.” They decided to name the app SkillMatch.
During the winter break, Nick and his group spent nearly every free moment perfecting the app. After Demo Day, the group actually met with the Supervisor of Parks and Recreation for the city of Henderson, and pitched him their idea for the app. “He said he loved it, and he wanted us to implement a few specific things,” Nick explained. “We finished it and it turned out great – it was like our baby, because what started out as a Demo Day project is now a real app that we’re building for the City of Henderson.”
In the meantime, Nick also recently landed a contract position as a front-end software developer. “It started as an internship at a local tech company called Teamvvork. I was able to develop great relationships with the team, and they connected me with a company that is a golf course management system,” he said. He’s now helping the company improve their app.
When he reflects on his experience coming from the hospitality industry and moving into software development, Nick explains it best:
I don’t even know the best way to describe it. It’s like from hell to heaven. In the industry, I had pretty much no say in anything because it’s run by a hierarchy that’s beyond any bellman or valet or bartender. You can’t just talk to the president of the company, you know what I mean? My hair had to be a certain length. My sideburns had to be shaved a certain way. I couldn’t have facial hair. I had to wear this terrible uniform.
Now, I am more open to be myself. I can have facial hair. I can have my hair whichever way I want it. I can wear whatever I want. I am more free and open to be myself, rather than almost like an assembly line robot working for a corporate company.
This feels a lot better. I’m more happy. I don’t want to leave work because I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I used to count down the hours where I worked before and now I can’t wait to wake up in the morning to come here and I don’t want to leave when I am here. It is amazing. This type of thing isn’t for everybody, and I believe that, but I also know anyone can do it because I did it. The biggest risk that you can take is not taking the risk at all.