Student story: Josh Matos

Josh was transitioning from the Army back into civilian life when his friend decided to attend a coding bootcamp. Inspired to challenge himself with a career change, Josh enrolled at The Iron Yard’s Houston campus. Today, he’s working full time as a software engineer working on a mobile and web app for Omnitracs. Below, he tells us about his journey and gives advice for future Iron Yard students. 

What were you doing before you decided to attend a code bootcamp?

After transitioning from the Army back to the civilian workforce, I spent six months as a project manager in order to save up money to join The Iron Yard. I got tired of working on endless Excel documents and the zombie-like work of analyzing blueprints and managing inventory in a warehouse/office environment.

What inspired you to attend The Iron Yard? How/why did you make the choice to attend?

Inspiration to join The Iron Yard came from my best friend Mark who went to another bootcamp in Austin. The allure of a challenge and career change made me want to do a coding bootcamp and TIY had a great curriculum with locations and networks spread out all across the nation.

Tell me about your career path since graduating from The Iron Yard.

Since I graduated from The Iron Yard, I accepted a job offer in the Dallas area with the help of the Dallas TIY campus director, Caitlin Studley. Building on the JavaScript (React) foundations that I learned at The Iron Yard, I have worked with React, Angular, Node.js, Mocha, Chai, WordPress, and Postgres. I’m now a software engineer for Omnitracs.

Where would you like to be in 5 years? 10? more?

In the next 5 years, I plan on becoming a full stack JavaScript engineer, while dabbling with mobile app development. In 10 years, I want to have a diverse background in both front-end and back-end development and serve as a software dev consultant or become a motivational (public) speaker in the software dev community.

What advice would you give to potential students considering The Iron Yard?

Do your pre-work! The work we do is abstract and your mind will benefit from any and all practice. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right away or if you make a ton of mistakes. A software engineer spends the most time on troubleshooting, and making mistakes is an opportunity to learn from them. Reach out for help, alumni, fellow students, stackoverflow. A software engineer is resourceful and knowing yourself is knowing your learning style and your best problem solving tactics… but no one person knows everything. Know your limits.

Last but not least… treat yourself. One person can take 10 hours of non-stop work to solve a problem… burnt-out, hungry, sleepless, frustrated, exhausted. That same person can solve the same problem in five hours with breaks in between. Moral of the story is its not about the amount of time you put into a problem… learn to step away from your work and re-engage your problem with a fresh mind, a new perspective, or with a friend (a fresh pair of eyes)… you’ll get it done a lot faster that way.

How have your past educational or work experiences helped you in learning to code/your current job?

I have a bachelor’s degree and extensive work experience in hospitality management. Those soft skills helped me to effectively communicate with my peers in order to work together to solve complex problems. My four years of military experience as an intelligence analyst contributed to a laser sharp focus and discipline in giving The Iron Yard 100% of my attention and a resilient attitude… in the face of adversity (new coding concepts and difficult coding problems) never give up, never surrender. So many tough moments.

What surprised you most about attending The Iron Yard?

The Iron Yard had some of the best people I have met in my life. From the campus staff to the students, I always felt a warm fuzzy feeling of being welcome and accepted in an environment that promoted friendship and professional growth. The experience has been so positive that even after relocating for work, I still keep in touch with everyone I met at The Iron Yard-Houston and have made new friends at the Dallas campus. Every time I go to Houston, I always stop by the campus to say hi to the staff and the new students there.

Justin Richards – Best Teacher Ever

Brian Dorton – Super Cool Campus Director

Christie Loyd – Friendliest Operations Manager

How do you stay up-to-date with programming techniques?

Hacker News is my go to spot for industry news, trends, and new software. For design inspirations, I head to http://www.awwwards.com/websites/clean/.

What else should we know about you?

When I was close to graduating from The Iron Yard, a potential student reached out to me and after seeing my portfolio he decided to join TIY. I was a volunteer Teacher’s Assistant during his cohort and months later he reached out to let me know he got a job at one of the best companies to work for in the Houston area.

Nothing compares to the pride and joy I have in helping others. And if there is anything I can do to help you, reach out to me.

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