Jordan Anderson was doing well in his career as an audio-visual technician. He was at the precipice of entering a new position and learning new skills, but there was one big problem: he knew it wasn’t what he was supposed to do. At a Thanksgiving potluck, a friend brought up The Iron Yard. Having dabbled in some code before, Jordan chewed on the idea for a while and began asking for feedback from his family and friends who were already working as programmers.
So after doing some more research into The Iron Yard and other code schools, he applied for the Mobile Engineering with iOS program in Orlando. He met with the campus director and instructor, and immediately knew he’d found the bridge to where he was supposed to go. “Yeah, I could do well here,” he remembers thinking.
Having previously graduated from a traditional university with a digital media degree, he compared his university experience to The Iron Yard. “It was direct and straight to the point. There were no requirements other than learning what we needed to learn to be able to get a job, to be able to make an app. That was important.”
“I didn’t want to go back to school and take 20 credit hours worth of classes that I don’t need. No one has time for that anymore.”
With everything he’d need to know to get a job packed within 12 weeks, Jordan describes the program as intense. “It was a hurricane,” he said. “It went by really fast.” But he says it was a perfect storm of quality instruction, friendship with his cohort, and support from campus staff. “The environment was probably as good as it could get,” He said. “It’s more than just school. We all became friends. No one had a problem helping each other out. We definitely took a lot of ping pong breaks.”
As for his instructor, Ben, Jordan appreciated his willingness to listen to the needs of his students. “Ben was awesome. It was really cool to have a teacher who would ask you for feedback and immediately adjust his strategy. It was a good balance between not babying us and edging us along and forcing us to use the resources that are available.”
Jordan gained a lot of respect for the work programmers undertake. He remembers looking at apps in the past thinking, “Oh this is easy,” but his eyes were opened when he delved into the complexities of what it takes to build one.
Everything came together when it came time to create his final project. Attending class in downtown Orlando helped him find an idea for what to build. He noticed that, on game days, downtown was nothing but Orlando City [Soccer] stuff everywhere. This led him to research if the city’s soccer team had an app, which he learned it did not, so he decided to make an app for the fans. “To go from pretty much nothing to something with some design and actual functionality, it was really exciting,” Jordan said. “It was cool to see how far we came without really noticing it.”
Within the three weeks he had to complete his app, he was able to reach all of the milestones he’d set for the project and even add extra functionality. After presenting the app at Demo Day, he was asked to present at the Orlando Tech Meetup, the area’s largest tech meetup. “It was cool to be a part of the community and actually be the one up there,” he said. “They actually took me seriously and gave real positive feedback.” He attributes his confidence to The Iron Yard.
“Without The Iron Yard, it would definitely have taken me so much longer to get to the point where any company would take me seriously. The relationship of The Iron Yard to the community really helps. Being able to say I took the time and put all my effort into this to learn this, people actually respected that. It probably cut back on a year or two of trying to do it on my own.”
Jordan is now working as a software engineer at IZEA, a company that connects influential content creators to the world’s biggest brands. “It’s been awesome,” he said. “It’s a really cool company.” He enjoys who he works with and the work he gets to do.
“Everything is a learning opportunity,” he said. “A chance to grow and improve. The days go by so fast. I guess when you actually like what you do and you find it interesting, time does go by faster.”
Appropriately, Jordan is even a part of the company’s indoor soccer team. “I definitely don’t see any chance of me getting bored,” he said, referring to how technologies are always changing and being updated, and the projects he works on continue to grow. He’d eventually like to learn enough Ruby on Rails to work with his own APIs, but Jordan is focused on becoming a master at mobile development. For him, there’s something especially satisfying to be able to hold his creation in the palm of his hand.