The Iron Yard has been off to the races in 2016. We have opened several new campuses, participated in the White House Opportunity Project and welcomed many more graduates into The Iron Yard alumni family. We’ve also made some exciting updates to our executive team, including promoting Jessica Mitsch to code school Executive Director.
Most recently, Jessica served as the Director of Global Campus Operations and before that, she was the first Campus Director in Durham – needless to say she’s a veteran at The Iron Yard. In her new role, Jessica will focus on building national partnerships, increasing diversity and inclusion efforts, and supporting our growing alumni network.
Jessica is an operational guru who understands exactly how each moving part of The Iron Yard works together to provide an amazing experience for our students and staff. Below is more about Jessica’s new role and what’s next for The Iron Yard, in her own words:
One part of my role as Executive Director that really excites me is building partnerships with companies nationwide. As The Iron Yard has grown, so have our employer relationships, which now span across the country. We do a fantastic job of creating a network of employers in each one of our local campus markets, and it’s an exciting opportunity to translate that to a national level. I look forward to working with all of our campuses to continue building relationships that will strengthen opportunities for our graduates and ensure that we’re teaching to the needs of the industry.
I’m also really passionate about strengthening The Iron Yard’s career support services and alumni programs, and working on initiatives to foster diversity in the tech field. Both of these areas will be major priorities for me in my new role, and I look forward to making an impact on the future of the tech workforce both by supporting and staying involved in the lives and careers of our graduates, and by ensuring the tech field and our programs are welcoming environments for people of all backgrounds.
How have your previous roles at The Iron Yard shaped how you’ll approach the Executive Director position?
I’ve had the great privilege to be part of The Iron Yard’s growth from the early days. I joined the organization in 2014 by opening our Durham campus as Campus Director, which was one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget the feeling of graduating the first group of students. I was (and am still) in such awe of all the people that have the courage to step up to the challenge of our courses. Working alongside students and instructors was nothing short of inspiring. As someone who started their career at a large tech company, seeing senior developers from the field mentor and train aspiring developers was incredible.
As a campus director I also learned how important the community is in supporting newcomers to the industry. I built the first Advisory Board in Durham and worked alongside employers big and small to answer their call for diverse technical talent. I learned more than I could have imagined opening and growing the Durham campus. I understand the challenges of the classroom, the struggles and successes of our students, and how vital it is to be in tune with each local community. The lessons I learned on the ground in Durham will be invaluable as I step into this new role.
Over the past year I’ve had the privilege of helping The Iron Yard scale as Director of Global Campus Operations. We’ve hired a great team of people as we’ve entered new markets and I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished. Managing and scaling a geographically dispersed team is tough work. If I’ve learned anything from that role, it’s that it takes a village. I love seeing the combined talents of our team to come together towards a unified goal.
I feel incredibly lucky to have held my previous roles at The Iron Yard. I’m genuinely inspired by the talent we’re privileged to surround ourselves with, from our students to the communities we serve.
As I enter my next chapter with The Iron Yard, one word sticks out and energizes me – “drive.” To be part of an organization that has grown from a dozen staff to over 120, and has the reach we have now, can’t be accomplished without the drive of many. Everyone that plays a role with The Iron Yard – from our students, to our staff, to the hard working companies on our Advisory Boards – are incredibly driven. Driven to succeed, driven to have an impact, driven to have a positive effect in the world. Reflecting back on the past few years and looking ahead, I’m thrilled to bring that energy and drive into a new role.
What are your goals for The Iron Yard over the next year? Next few years?
We have many goals to accomplish over the next several years and I certainly have my own list as I step into the role of Executive Director for the Code School, but the most important goal is to ensure we’re continuing to have an impact on the people and communities we serve. This means maintaining a positive culture for our staff, ensuring that our students have the tools to succeed, and that we teach to the industry’s needs. It also means staying highly conscious and aware of creating a diverse workforce and being a welcoming place for all learners. I look forward to connecting the dots for the many organizations we partner with by building a national Advisory Board. I’m also thrilled for the support programs we’re putting in place for our #IronGrads as we grow our alumni programming. We always want to be here for our alumni.
The Iron Yard empowers people by teaching them the craft of coding and by learning how to learn. When you’re in the business of teaching, you have the privilege of learning every day. As long as we keep learning from each other and from our students, we’ll accomplish big things.