Iron Journeys: A chat with UI Design student Betty Koshy

Next up in our Iron Journeys student story series, we’re talking with Betty Koshy, one of our UI Design students in Austin. Before beginning The Iron Yard, Betty was frustrated. As a customer support tech for an education site, she hated how her company’s database was so poorly developed. She soon realized, “I want to be in the beginning stages of those kind of things where I keep the end user in mind and kind of come at those problems beforehand so we’re not getting so many phone calls.”

She landed at The Iron Yard after doing tons of research because she really wanted to focus on UI design. We sat down with her during week six of her course – the halfway point – to hear more about how it’s going. Check out the conversation for more about what it’s really like to be a student at The Iron Yard. (full transcript below video)

Eric: Hey, we’re in Austin, Texas with Betty. Hey Betty, How is it going?

Betty: Good, how are you?

Eric: I’m awesome.

Betty: Great.

Eric: Okay, so you are almost halfway through the UI design class.

Betty: Yes.

Eric: Let’s rewind. I want to hear how that’s going, but let’s rewind, what were you doing before you came to the Iron Yard?

Betty: Before I came to the Iron Yard I was working in a customer support role within the technical realm I guess. I was kind of like the administrator of a website in the education sector and whenever people would call us with problems, technical problems regarding the website, or just main general questions, I was the one that answered their calls or their emails. Then I also worked with AV equipment as well so I maintained the AV equipment for the conference center as well. Lot of different hats.

Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but sort of in the technical realm.

Betty: Yes.

Eric: Very cool. Did that lead you into thinking maybe I want to do software development, instead of sort of managing requests about the website, actually …

Betty: Yeah, absolutely. I make the joke that I’m trying to run away from computers my whole life. I kind of think of myself as a creative who just wants to write with pen and paper, but every job I’ve taken since college has been in the technical realm in some way or in some fashion. Yeah, this last job was the one that finally convinced me like, “Okay, you’ve just got to go for it,” because our database was so poorly designed and so poorly, not managed, but just poorly developed. I was like, “I want to be in the beginning stages of those kind of things where I keep the end user in mind and kind of come at those problems beforehand so we’re not getting so many phone calls and …”

Eric: Because it made your job harder.

Betty: Absolutely, and it wasn’t an intuitive site at all. That frustrated me on behalf of my clients and also for myself as kind of like, “This is kind of tedious and it’s not very intuitive.” Yeah, that’s what lead me to the Iron Yard I would say.

Eric: Did you start exploring code schools? How did you find out about the Iron Yard, and what was that process like for you, what was that point in which you said, “I think I want to do this and then I want to go to a school”?

Betty: I started exploring code schools, and then kind of looked into … There’s so many in Austin so I was kind of overwhelmed at first and then starting doing basic searches. I knew I wanted to go into user interface design and user experience.

Eric: Because of your experience at your previous job.

Betty: Yeah. I knew that that was my end goal, but not a lot of schools offer this course. I was kind of restricted so at one point I applied to a code school for web development. I got in but I had the Iron Yard on the back burner at the same time and I saw that you guys were offering the UI design course and I was like, “Oh my god, that’s exactly what I want to do.” Pushed web develepment over to the side and decided to come here.

Eric: Very cool. Very cool. You’re halfway through class.

Betty: Yes.

Eric: What has it been like?

Betty: It has been grueling. It’s a lot stuff. They’re throwing a lot of information at you, but it’s so exciting at the same time. I don’t want to scare anybody, but my first week here I got four hours of sleep a night, but it wasn’t because I was just overwhelmed by work it was because I was so excited. I was like, “I don’t want to sleep because I just want to code.” That’s so nerdy but that’s what I wanted to do.

Eric: Not bad for someone who’s been running away from computers their whole life.

Betty: Yeah, now I’m deep in the trenches. Then I talked to my instructor and he was like, “Okay, it’s about balance so maybe get some sleep, protect your sanity.” Anyway, I am really excited. It’s grueling but it’s really exciting, because every week just confirms to me that this is what I’m meant to do.

Eric: It sounds like you have a good relationship with your instructor, has that been a big part of the experience?

Betty: Yeah, something I really like about the Iron Yard is that everyone here is so open to helping one another. Even if, for example, we have an instructor in the java course that he doesn’t do anything with Y design but if my instructors out he’s willing to help us. I love that. I love how open everybody is and how transparent everybody is, it’s really refreshing, nobody is trying to hide anything, there are no politics or anything. My instructor is really good about just meeting us where we are, and I know that that seems like a general term, but really he knows when you’re struggling and he’ll approach you and he’ll say, “Hey, I noticed you’re kind of getting frustrated. Tell me what’s up.” He does a lot of check ins with each of us which I think helps a lot.

Eric: I know you’re about halfway through, just out of my own curiosity, have you thought about the types of things you want to do after class?

Betty: I’m so focused on learning right now that I haven’t devoted to much time to thinking about what I want do outside of this.

Eric: Which is probably a good thing.

Betty: Yeah. We did have some people from the tech company next door come over and they’re going to start their mentorship with us next week.

Eric: Oh, wow. Great.

Betty: I’m sure after that I’ll get a little more of an idea of what I want to do.

Eric: Very cool. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.

Betty: No problem.

Eric: I’m so glad the class has been a great experience for you.

Betty: Yeah, awesome. Thank you guys.

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