The Iron Yard in 2017: Strong, ambitious and focused

With 2016 at a close, I’ve taken the time to reflect on The Iron Yard and the amazing journey we’ve been on with so many incredible students. It’s been a rewarding process and I want to share my thoughts with you as we dive into an exciting new year.

First, in 2017, the code school industry will turn 5 years old. In that time the market has grown from a handful of players to over 90 full-time schools and tens-of-thousands of graduates. At The Iron Yard, we will enter our fourth year of operating as one of the first national code schools. Our mission remains to create real lasting change for people, communities and companies through technology education, and we consider it a privilege to be a part of a growing movement that is changing so many people’s lives.

Looking back

As the industry has grown and evolved, so has the way we’ve worked to accomplish our mission. Here are a few highlights:

  • We’ve gone from one subject at one campus to nine subjects at multiple campuses across the country;
  • We launched a robust learning and classroom management platform for our instructors and students;
  • We’ve given out hundreds and hundreds of scholarships (worth well over a million dollars) to help increase diversity in tech (with many more to come!);
  • We’ve been a part of our grads’ incredible stories of life change and landing amazing jobs (you can read a few here, here, here and here).
  • We’ve seen our commitment to operating as a fully-licensed school give increased confidence to our students and have made a strong case for why code schools are a great option for career changers
  • We’ve had the pleasure to work with some incredible Advisory Board members around the country, all of whom help us refine our curriculum as well as hire graduates—businesses like AT&T, Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, Benefit Focus, Amazon, Github, Ally Bank, Active Network, Eli Lily, Salesforce, Zappos, Red Hat, Fidelity Investments, AOL, Wedding Wire, Living Social and more.
  • Those efforts have culminated in us being named among the Training Industry’s top Coding Bootcamps of 2016 as well as receiving a Top Bootcamp Award from Switchup.

Most importantly, though, we’ve attracted some of the smartest, most passionate people to guide our students. Each of our team members gets up and goes to work everyday because they are excited about helping people change their lives by learning to code. I could not be more thankful to be a part of this amazing group of people.

What a year it’s been!

What we’ve learned

We’ve learned so many things throughout our four years of operation and know that each of  these discoveries has helped us improve our offerings and impacts the way we approach our mission. Here are a few of the top takeaways:

Each city is different. We’ve always made the effort to match our programs and career support as closely as possible to local markets. That decision has proven to be a big differentiator for our school as we increase the strength of our relationships with local employers. Evaluating the best subjects and formats to offer at each campus can be a long process, but it is worth it for our graduates.

New course formats help different people. Our full-time immersive courses have proven to be incredibly effective for people who want to launch a new career in technology in a short amount of time. But at the same time, we’ve heard from many people who want to learn different levels of skills in non-full-time formats and have acted on that feedback to introduce new course offerings.

Companies need training for their employees. We’ve also heard from many companies who have happily hired our graduates, but want high-quality training for developers they’ve already hired as well. Our Corporate Training programs are custom built to meet individual company’s specific needs.

Looking ahead

So, what does 2017 have in store for The Iron Yard?

As always, we will continue to focus on our immersive courses for career changers, making sure we are offering the right courses in the right markets where we can have the most impact. There will certainly be changes as we continue to refine how we serve students and cities, but our focus will never shift from providing the highest-quality experience and outcomes for people who attend our school.

As we’ve learned more about how we can meet the needs of non-career changers over the past several years, our Academics Team has worked hard to build several part-time courses that we have been testing at several campuses. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, so I’m excited to announce that we’ll be rolling out new part-time courses across our campuses over the coming year. Here are a few details on who the courses will serve:

  • Foundations Courses are designed for beginners who are frustrated with online tutorials, but want to take one step deeper and learn how to build websites from the ground up.
  • Sprint Courses are designed for career-advancers who are already familiar with basic coding, but want to level-up in their career by learning how to build basic JavaScript applications.

Our Academics Team has also been working hard on adapting our time-tested curriculum to be delivered online via a world-class platform that we developed ourselves. We’ve already launched several free Mini Courses that give people an introduction to new coding languages. Hundreds of people have tried them and we’ve received great feedback. We’ve also been testing longer-format courses for people who want to dive deeper—but I’ll save the details for a bigger announcement later this year.

Last but certainly not least, we will be doubling down on our efforts to increase diversity in tech. We’re proud of how many scholarships we’ve given away to date, but know that there is more we can – and want – to do to help shape an inclusive future. On that front, stay tuned for more exciting announcements from the Tech Opportunity Fund this month.

Happy New Year!

Sitting down and writing this post has made me even more proud of how far we’ve come and all of the exciting things we have ahead. We wish everyone a Happy New Year and wonderful 2017!

 

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