Iron Journeys: A chat with Drake Fish, Front-End Engineering in Austin

In our next Iron Journeys video, we meet Drake Fish, one of our Front-End students in Austin. Before beginning The Iron Yard, Drake worked in retail as a store manager. When he started to feel burned out from working 80 – 90 hour weeks, he knew it was time to make a change and seek out a career that he was really passionate about and could see himself doing for the rest of his life.

We sat down with Drake a few weeks before his cohort’s graduation to see how his course is going and what his plans are for the future. Check out the conversation below to see what it’s really like to be a student at The Iron Yard.

(full transcript below video)


Eric: Right, we are here in Austin, Texas with Drake. Thanks for joining us. You are in what class, currently?
Drake: I’m in the front-end engineering class.
Eric: Awesome. Let’s rewind. What were you doing before you decided you wanted to switch careers and be a software developer?
Drake: Before this, I had been working a lot. I worked retail, before this. I just decided that it was time to make a change. I got really burned out working retail, as a store manager, working 80-90 hours a week, just not really caring about what I was doing. I decided that it was time for me to do something that I was passionate about, something that made sense, that I could do for the rest of my life. Coding was right there in front of me. I took a bunch of personality tests and decided I was going down the wrong path.
Eric: Yeah. Did the personality tests point you toward coding and software development?
Drake: Oh, absolutely. Some of them were just like, “Hey you should go to coding school,” just pop-ups and stuff. I was like, “You know, that sounds kind of cool.” I’ve been against the idea of college and all that, up until recently. Just because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. If I go to college for four years, I get out, what am I going to do with it?
Eric: Yeah. You want to make sure that you have a purpose for everything.
Drake: Right. Exactly. Yeah, if I go to school for four years, and I’ve seen a lot of my friends go to school for four years and they’re working jobs they could get without degrees. Why would you spend all that time and money to do something you could do without [a degree]? Making money is nice. It’s nice to have money, than to be poor. Then I started researching the coding schools, just three months. I was like, “Heck I could bang that out in three months.” It’s been really great so far.
Eric: Was there anything unique about The Iron Yard? I know you were probably considering multiple options, but what were the things that led you to decide to come to The Iron Yard rather than another school?
Drake: There are a lot of coding schools in Austin. I definitely checked out all of them. It really came down to, I hate to say this, but price. It was between MakerSquare and The Iron Yard. MakerSquare was $3,000 or $4,000 dollars more, so [I chose] The Iron Yard. I had also read a bunch of reviews, scoured the websites, scoured Google and all that. The Iron Yard just stood out as a place to learn how to learn. In three months, I’m going to just need to learn how to do it and have a basic knowledge of it, and then go from there.
Eric: Did you think about doing any part-time programs? Or did you know you wanted to dive into it full-time?
Drake: That’s kind of how it worked. I tried going to college. I went to college for two years, and I did work and college at the same time; it didn’t work out. I ended up putting all my effort into working and let college go away and dropped out. If I’m going to go to school, it’s going to be full on in. No working, nothing, just headfirst.
Eric: Do you think that’s been a beneficial experience? What’s it been like, being in class and just focusing 100 percent of your time on learning how to learn the language and to write code?
Drake: It’s been great for this. It’s very immersive. It’s very challenging. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to work and do this at the same time. There is no way. It’s code, eat, sleep pretty much.
Eric: We hear a lot of students say they’re surprised at how much they learn in a short amount of time. Has that been your experience?
Drake: Oh yeah. I tried to build a portfolio before I came here so I could have something to put my work in, it’s total garbage. I was looking back, and I was like, “This is so awful.” It was like Photoshopped, it was not good. Going from there to what I can create now, and I’m not a pro, in any sense of the word, at coding or anything like that, but it’s just lightyears from where I started.
Eric: Sure. Sure.
Drake: I did Code Academy, and I did Treehouse before this. I’ve learned so much more here, than I ever did staying up late, watching those videos and stuff. Here, it’s way better.
Eric: Yeah, awesome. You’re in final project mode. What’s your final project? Are you working on it by yourself or with another student?
Drake: Yeah. I’m doing it by myself. We’re all working by ourselves, this cohort, since they’re all staggered on this. I’m doing an “I Don’t Care You Pick” app. Basically, it’s this thing between me and my girlfriend. Every time, she goes, “Let’s get some food.” I’ll be like, “What do you want?” and she says, “I don’t care, you pick.” Every single time. So, it was like, I’m going to make an app that just picks something for you, whether it be events, food or an adventure. Basically, it searches the Yelp API and just gives you a random result back based on what’s around you.
Eric: Nice, really cool. Solving your own life problems.
Drake: Exactly, yeah. I’ve already used it a few times. I don’t know what I want to eat. Click. Yep, I want that.
Eric: Perfect. That’s so good.
Drake: And it bases it on the weather too, which is cool. If it’s raining outside, it’ll give you indoor stuff to do. If it’s sunny, it gives you outdoor stuff to do.
Eric: Very cool. That’s awesome.
Drake: Pretty excited about it.
Eric: Graduation’s coming up. Have you thought about what you want to do? I know, we try to help people focus on code during class, and then ramp up career stuff as you wrap up your final projects and everything. After being exposed to different companies and all that sort of stuff, what are your current thoughts about what you want to do after?
Drake: Honestly, I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into it. I’m just now building up my resume, and my cover letter, portfolio, stuff like that. I’m hoping to move to Colorado. I’m looking for a company that’s either in both or maybe some remote work. Just kind of get started. The ultimate goal is to move to Colorado and live out in the mountains and stuff like that. I don’t know yet. I’m thinking more of a bigger company, just to get started, just because there’re more resources. I can get the feedback and the help that I need, as a junior developer. Startups can be a little crazy. I actually worked at a startup before here, in retail. It was pretty intense, luckily I had all that management experience so I could knock that out. With this, with coding, it’s way different. Considering I don’t know a lot about it to figure out a lot of problems.
Eric: Cool. Awesome. Thanks for taking time to chat with us today, we really appreciate it.

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