Iron Journeys: A chat with Jesse Flores, UI Design in Austin

Our next Iron Journeys student conversation is with Jesse Flores, one of our UI Design students in Austin. Before beginning The Iron Yard, Jesse was in sound engineering. He landed at The Iron Yard after trying several tutorials online and part-time but realizing that he needed an immersive learning environment to really grasp programming.

We sat down with him about halfway through his cohort to see how things are 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: All right. We are here with Jesse, who is studying UI design, at our Austin campus. Actually, Quincy is joining us, in the background. Say, “hey,” Quincy.
Quincy: Hey, everybody. What’s going on?
Eric: Jesse, thanks for chatting today.
Jesse: No problem.
Eric: Tell us what you were doing before the Iron Yard. What was your career before you decided to change it?
Jesse: I’d been working in Sound Engineering for the past eight years or so: live sound, studio work, you know, that sort of thing.
Eric: Wow. Very cool. Had you always had an interest in music?
Jesse: Oh, yeah. If it weren’t for the music, I wouldn’t have gotten into it. I’ve been playing since I was a little kid, 12 years old.
Eric: Sure. Very cool.
I’ve always, the idea of being in a recording studio, you know, with the vibe and everything, has always kind of appealed to me. I know it’s probably more stressful than that when you’re actually trying to make a recording but-
Jesse: It can be.
Eric: Yeah.
I mean, Audio Engineering is pretty technical. Did that help lead you into discovering that you wanted to write code?
Jesse: Definitely. Exactly.
I would have probably not, I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for having grown accustomed to have, I mean using software and relying on it and, you know, that being a part of like my work flow every day. Then, realizing that like a program can become your best friend after a while. At first, it’s like the worst thing that ever happened to you. You know?
Eric: Yeah. Yeah.
Steep learning curve on some of this?
Jesse: Yeah, definitely, especially when you’re like not really wanting to like learn how to use the program. At first, you just want it to do basic things. Then, over time, you start to realize the power of it. “Oh, wow. I’m going to watch a tutorial, now.” Then, you know-
Eric: You start to learn it.
Jesse: -1,500 tutorials later…
Eric: Did you, how did you transition from using software for Audio Engineering? Did you start tinkering with code? Is it something you did on the side?
Jesse: I just was kind of looking to expand my skill set because, with audio, it’s kind of one of those fields where it’s really difficult to end up at the top, you know? It’s real easy to find work and everything but it’s like really hard to find like really great, like high-paying work. You know?
Eric: Sure. There’s lots of work-
Jesse: It’s not bad. It’s fine, you know, but I just want to be able to grow. That’s all. I’ve got a long ways to go in life so I figured I might as well learn something else. It seemed like a good idea, you know.
Eric: How did you decide on code or was it just something where you’re like, “This is a transferable skill,” and…
Jesse: I just kind of messed around with the Hello, World thing, you know?
Eric: Yeah.
Jesse: Just like creating, like just being able to type into the browser and see that happen or whatever. That was just kind of like my first tinkerings, you know?
Eric: Yeah.
Jesse: It was really just kind of like a, just a faint, just random occurrence of my imagination for me to think, “Oh, maybe one day I’ll mess around with code.” That was maybe two or three years before I ended up deciding to take a course.
Eric: Interesting. Okay.
You were kind of interested in it. How did you decide, what was the thing that made you decide, “I’m going to actually, going to take a course and go for this?”
Jesse: Just got older, you know?
Eric: Yeah.
Jesse: I have a child so it’s like I might as well learn something that’s going to be a little bit more fruitful, I think. You know?
Eric: Sure.
Jesse: It’s kind of frustrating with audio. You really, it’s very technical. It’s a science. It’s all sort of things so you really have to learn a whole, whole lot. I feel like, since it’s such a saturated market, especially here, in Austin, you know.
Eric: Right.
Jesse: -It’s like you’re not really getting what you’re worth, you know? I figured, if I’m going to learn something that’s really complicated and like it takes a while to get good at, I figure, once I come out on the other end of that, like I think I would probably end up getting paid what it’s worth to be able to have gone through learning all of that stuff.
Eric: Yeah.
Did you try online? I know you mentioned you had been through a part-time course, in person. What were the steps you took before you came to the Iron Yard?
Jesse: I did a little bit of Codecademy and, at first, I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll want to be a programmer,” because I didn’t really know anything about code. The first thing you think to yourself, if you’re an outsider is, “Oh, I’m going to be a programmer.” You know?
Eric: Right.
Jesse: I started on like a three course track at the ACA. The first course is basically just an intro to Front-end. It was concentrating on HTML and CSS and responsive design and all that. Basically, going through that 10 week course, which was just two days a week for 10 weeks, it’s not an immersive program, kind of realize, “Hey, this is like pretty hefty and I probably don’t want to get into programming but I really like coding.” I think I’m more into the way that things look and lay out and, you know, the user side of, I just kind of realized that I’m more of a visual person and being, coming from an artistic background, I realized I don’t want to just program.
I, at least, figured that out going into that course. It was tough because, going into it, I didn’t have any real experience, you know, just a little bit on Codecademy. I kind of realized, about halfway through it, that I needed to be in an immersive program because, even just the day between, because it was a Tuesday/Thursday and just the one day between Tuesday and Thursday was like bad enough of like not being able to get help or just not fully understanding the assignment. You’re not in the class. You’re not around other people to where you can kind of bounce things off one another. I’m going in the next day and it’s like I’ve forgotten some stuff, you know, and all that. Then, there’s the four days between Thursday and Tuesday, again. It’s like, “Oh, my gosh.”
I just kind of, I learned a lot, like I got my basics going, you know. I’m saying, like out of the whole course, I probably actually learned like 40% of what they were trying to teach me but it was a strong 40%. I came in here with a little bit of knowledge of, at least, the basic workings of responsive design.
Eric: How did you, after that experience, you decided, “Okay. I need an immersive program that’s just going to allow me to dive in and work on this every day.” Did you look at other schools? How did you decide to come to the Iron Yard, specifically?
Jesse: I, actually, just, I’m not really sure. I think it was online. I just was looking around Austin for other schools and then I came to one of the open houses. I just kind of really liked the vibe and I think you were, actually, still the UI Design teacher, at the time, whenever I came, like a year ago?
Sam: Yeah.
Jesse: I remember you were one of the teachers, at the time. I’m sorry.
Eric: That’s Sam.
Sam: Hi.
Eric: Off camera.
Jesse: Just threw you in my-
Eric: That was great.
Jesse: -meeting.
Eric: That was great. Spontaneous. Spontaneous.
Jesse: It just seemed like a really good environment. I could tell that like this would be like somewhere that I could get my hand dirty, you know, really get the extra attention.
Eric: Yeah. Has that happened? Have you seen that play out-
Jesse: Definitely.
Eric: -in a classroom experience?
Jesse: Totally. Totally. It’s been very rewarding and just, you know-
Eric: Hard?
Jesse: Oh, my God! Yeah. I’m definitely like having a hard time, for sure. It’s not easy at all. You expect it to be heavy, like a normal amount of heavy, but it’s like an abnormal amount of heavy. Not really sleeping.
Eric: Yeah. We hear that. We hear that.
Jesse: It’ll work itself out.
Eric: Do you feel like, even though it’s an abnormal amount of heavy, that your instructor and everyone are giving you
Jesse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Eric: -the support you, is the environment conducive to dealing with that?
Jesse: Definitely. Definitely. I feel like I can definitely get the attention and help that I need even if it’s just from another student, you know, who happens to just maybe grasp the concept quicker and that’s pretty much everyone else. For sure.
Eric: I think you’re being too hard on yourself.
Jesse: No. No. No. No. I’m not. I’m, I definitely like, I kind of like go through things kicking and screaming. That’s just like my learning pattern. I don’t know why but it’s only after like a long time of like messing with things and completely screwing it up that I’ll actually really have a grasp on things.
Eric: Yeah. Things kind of click.
Jesse: That’s just how I learn. I don’t know why.
Eric: Do you feel like you’ve made progress so far, thinking about where you started out, coming in, and you’re, what, halfway through, now?
Jesse: Definitely. Yeah.
Eric: Very cool.
Jesse: Very happy.
Eric: Awesome!
Thanks for taking the time to chat today.
Jesse: Thank you for having me.

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