Nick Pizzo followed the plan. He graduated from college with a degree in business and started his career in accounting doing financial statement audits and tax work.
“I had very much taken the ‘check the box’ route – go to this school, go to that college, get the job,” he said. “I was confident that with accounting, I would never be unemployed, but after a full 10 years, the monotony was setting in; I wasn’t being challenged intellectually.”
All of these factors began to add up for Nick, and he decided that it was time for him to change career paths. He always had an interest in tech, and is savvy with computers and all types of operating systems. As an added bonus, his group of friends from high school had all gone into the tech world, so choosing to explore a career in tech was a natural fit.
“Through my friends, I’d always had a general idea about what was going on in tech and the idea of code schools always felt known and was in the back of my mind,” he said. “It wasn’t until I decided to pull the trigger and switch careers that I started investigating specific schools. Fortunately, I found The Iron Yard, which happened to have a campus in Tampa Bay – my backyard.”
Nick was able to start prepping himself for his course a few months in advance so that he could hit the ground running. “Coding was honestly something I really took to, especially Front-End work. It was great therapy after so many years of accounting to be able to play with visual elements like shapes and color – it’s a whole new frontier.”
On top of the hard skills he was learning in the classroom, Nick also felt the affirmation of his decision to take on this new adventure. “Professional happiness, especially the lack thereof, really reaches into all areas of your personal and professional life. It’s extremely important to get yourself on the right path and fix anything that feels broken – it’s really an act of self-care.”
And with the encouragement of Toni Warren, the Tampa Bay campus director, Nick brought this mindset and self-care philosophy to his cohort, “Toni had found out that I discovered yoga a few years ago, and offered me an opportunity to bring it into the classroom. When you think of yoga it’s relaxing and zen – for people going through 12 weeks of intensive training, staying in a good mental state is so necessary.”
About four weeks into his course at The Iron Yard, Nick’s friends – the high school group that was already entrenched in Silicon Valley – launched a startup and offered him a position after he graduated. The company, Leet, (where Nick still works today) provides an end-to-end tournament management solution for eSports and online gaming.
The week after graduating from The Iron Yard in Tampa, Nick caught a flight to Honolulu to represent Leet and work in a local accelerator space. He then traveled to San Francisco to continue pitching the company and working with investors, before settling full-time in Las Vegas.
“Working for a startup is a very deliberate lifestyle decision,” Nick said. “You make sacrifices in terms of stability, but the upside to the whole venture is enormous and you wouldn’t get to taste it in a traditional 9 – 5 setting.”
And the startup life suits Nick perfectly. “If you get the chance to experience the startup world, I promise there won’t be any disappointment. I am now working on bigger problems than I ever have before in my career, I have the most autonomy I’ve ever had, I’m a jack of all trades and wear many hats. It is incredibly rewarding.”
Learn more about the awesome things Nick is working on by taking a look at his portfolio and the Leet website – and as a bonus, check out some videos of the Westminster Chorus, an acapella group he sang with for eight years!