From building apartments to building apps: Luke’s story

Construction isn’t a new skill for 19-year-old Luke Settle. As a Web Developer for Metova, his job is to build things. However, like numerous graduates of The Iron Yard, his journey to building web apps begin much more tangibly–building houses and apartments in his hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky while attending his local community college.

“I had always planned on going to college,” he said. “They had a program where you studied two years at the community college before transferring in to a full university.” A fondness for computers prompted Luke to enroll in two programming classes that were offered at the community college. “What we were learning was very outdated, but I still enjoyed the process of coding and my coding classes…more so than math or science courses.”
Wedding PondLuke found The Iron Yard when he started looking for ways to follow his inclination for coding. “At first, I just thought a coding school would be cool thing to do. It took me a couple of months before I thought it was a real possibility,” he continued. “After talking with Josh (Nashville Campus Director), and hearing about the culture and experience that he wanted to provide, it just sounded so much better than what I was doing at the moment.” After a conversation with his fiance, Luke joined the inaugural Ruby on Rails cohort at The Iron Yard’s Nashville Campus.

Despite his familiarity with coding, Luke found the course challenging. “I was actually one of the more experienced ones in the class. Which only meant that I’d Googled around and done some code classes online. I was still very inexperienced, but a little more experienced than some of the other people.”

Part of his initial challenge was going from building something that was very physically tangible, to something that didn’t feel “real.”

“During exercises, I just kept thinking ‘I’m not actually building anything that somebody is going to use.’ What kept me going was looking at where I was the week before and realizing how easy that work seemed now,” he said. “It’s a process. A cycle. Over and over again you say ‘there’s no way I can do this’ and the next day you’ve built something cool.”

Luke’s drive and determination persisted outside the classroom as well. His ambition even garnered the attention of his current employer, Metova. “Our cohort would go to a lot of Meetups around town and that was where we met the people from Metova,” he continued. “I ended up interviewing with them two days before Demo Day, and they offered me an internship four days later. That internship led to my now full-time job as a Rails developer.”

His work at Metova has been rewarding and challenging a completely different way. “It’s a totally different experience working on actual projects, but we have a lot of smart people here who are keeping me on my toes, showing me the ropes, and that’s what employers are looking for. They want people who are able to do things, but they want people who are willing to learn.”

While he hasn’t ruled out a future in freelancing, Luke says that at 19, he’s pretty pleased with where he is. “Working for Metova is great, because I can just learn without the distraction of having to figure out what to learn next. They’ve done an awesome job of doing that for me.”  

When I asked him what advice he had for anyone considering The Iron Yard he said to be prepared for a lot of hard work. “You have to put yourself out there. You have to go above and beyond. The whole process was a lot more work than I thought it was going to be, even though a year later––I can’t complain at all.”

Photo by Craig Hodge Photography.

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