Two years after code bootcamp: Lessons from a graduate

Emory graduated from our Atlanta Front-End Engineering course in the fall of 2014 – nearly two years ago. The below video interview was recorded right around the time that he graduated and was just about to enter the software development field. We recently caught up with Emory, who now lives and works in Boston and is a Business Analyst for Cure Forward Corp. After watching the interview again, he reflected on his journey since graduating from The Iron Yard and talked a little bit about how his code bootcamp experience has impacted his career and his life. 

Emory Griffith – The Iron Yard Front-End Graduate – Atlanta from TheIronYard on Vimeo.

What do you know now that you didn’t know then about starting a career as a developer?

When you start your first job as a developer, there’s a learning curve that has less to do with how to write code, and more to do with how to be a developer on a team. I had done team work at The Iron Yard, but I had never worked on a large project that was supposed to last more than a few weeks. I knew that I could contribute in my new job, but I had to learn how this new team prioritized tasks, collaborated, reviewed code, and even where all of the different components lived in the code base. In my first job, I found myself writing a lot of SQL and working on requirements for an analytics project. I felt uneasy at first, because I went to The Iron Yard to be a front-end developer. That experience really helped me grow as a “technologist,” however, and I was more equipped when it was time to work on a WordPress website or a web app later in the year. It’s okay if your first year doesn’t match exactly what you had in mind. As long as you’re writing code everyday and you are in an environment where you can keep learning, you’ll be fine.

emoryWhat happened after you graduated? What has your career path been so far?

While I was at The Iron Yard, I had the opportunity to attend the Iron Yard Digital Health Accelerator pitch day in Spartanburg, and I knew that I wanted to be involved in healthcare technology. After I graduated, I accepted a job at a Boston-based technology consulting company called Archetype. We were a small company, and my team specialized in data warehousing and visualization in the healthcare space. My team worked with the State of Vermont, creating data visualizations and metrics around the business processes of signing everyone in the state up for healthcare. Archetype was a small company, so I also had the opportunity to build a new company website and work on a few custom application builds in a front-end role as well.

After a year and a half, I knew that I wanted to work on the product team for a healthcare startup rather than in a consulting role. I was connected with Cure Forward, and I accepted a job in August of 2016 as a Business Analyst on the product team. It’s interesting – I don’t have the word “engineer” or “developer” in my title, but I lean on my experience at The Iron Yard every day. In this role I focus more on what to build than writing the actual code. I design and prototype new ideas, gather requirements, and work with the team to see new features through the development cycle. It’s helpful to have a code background. I prototype new features in HTML and CSS, but it’s also helpful because I understand the architecture and functionality of the product and I’m able to work closely with design and development teams.

What’s the most important thing you remember about your experience with The Iron Yard?

JavaScript. Just kidding. I think the most important thing I learned was to ask the right questions and to describe problems productively. When I was learning on my own, I remember hitting snags where I didn’t know why my code didn’t work. I would ask questions like, “why isn’t this function returning the right thing?” At The Iron Yard, I learned to talk about issues in a productive way. My questions became more focused, and I started to troubleshoot the same situation in a different way: “When the page loads, this function doesn’t return what I want. I wonder if the API call is having a problem, or if it’s an issue displaying the data that I received.” It’s easy to hit a wall and think, “I’m not cut out for this,” or “I’m not the engineering type,” but there are plenty of resources out there and people willing to help.

What advice do you have for those interested in trying a code bootcamp?

If you’re thinking about a code bootcamp, my advice is to read as much as you can and give coding a try first. It’s okay if you don’t know the difference between Ruby on Rails or JavaScript. But you can Google it and see if you can figure out what they’re used for. A bootcamp is a big investment in yourself, and I would recommend trying courses on Codecademy, Team Treehouse, etc. before taking the plunge. Find a software developer and see if you can pick their brain about learning to code. Ask them what their typical day looks like and see if it sounds interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.