Iron Journeys: Meet Maira Luna-Flores, Back-End Engineering in Austin

This week in our Iron Journeys video series, we sit down with Maira Luna-Flores – Mira for short – one of our Back-End students in Austin. Before starting at The Iron Yard, right out of college, Mira worked as a bank teller. After a year, she decided it was time to find something that she was passionate about and something she wanted to do long-term.

We sat down with Mira just three days into her Java cohort to see how she was adjusting to the course and what her 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: All right, we’re here in Austin, Texas with Mira. How’s it going?
Mira: Good, how are you?
Eric: I’m great. So you are currently in class.
Mira: Yes.
Eric: And which class are you taking?
Mira: In Java.
Eric: In Java. So back-end engineering. Very cool. What were you doing before you decided you wanted to learn to code in Java.
Mira: I was working as a teller at a bank.
Eric: Okay, cool. And had you been there for awhile?
Mira: A year. I graduated college and then didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I started working at a bank.
Eric: Going from working at a bank to quitting that job, presumably, and jumping into a full time code school, what was that process like for you? How did you decide you wanted to jump into writing code?
Mira: Once I graduated, I was in limbo because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my degree, so I just got a job as a teller because I needed to make some money, obviously. So then, I was not really comfortable or not really feeling like I was doing something that I was passionate about, so I was always looking around. I got to a point where I was, like, no, I need to find something that I really want to do.
Mira: So when I started looking up things that I’m good at – and I think I’m logical and creative and all these different things – things like coding started popping up. Then this one day, The Iron Yard popped up in my searches, and I started looking into that. Then things quickly spiraled …
Eric: It just spiraled out of control.
Mira: Yeah, it was like, one search and then all of a sudden a couple of weeks later, I was here almost.
Eric: Oh wow. So it was a pretty quick process for you.
Mira: It was a very quick process.
Eric: Did you try coding online at all?
Mira: I started actually with The Iron Yard, because they have, “try Ruby On Rails,” online, so I started with those, and those were really cool and those were really interesting. Shortly after I started those I heard from Quincy, and so I was like, yeah, this is interesting, yeah, let me go down there and actually see it and see what it’s going to be like. I realized that this really was really something I wanted to do.
Eric: Very cool. Man, that is super fast. You just said, I’m going to quit my job and I’m going to jump in both feet.
Mira: Yeah, it was very fast. I tried not to think about it too hard, because then if I questioned it too much, I might revert back.
Eric: Has it been a good decision?
Mira: Yes, definitely. Actually, the Java course was initially starting in October, so I quit my job, but then we got delayed, so I actually got the opportunity to sit in on the UI Design course for a month. That was super exciting too, because it really wasn’t something I had looked into. It was also just great to see something and to see how quickly I absorbed all of it. Day one, I was already doing some HTML/CSS, and I was like, wow, this is crazy.
Eric: So you loved it from the get go.
Mira: Yes. Just the whole process of learning, and learning how to learn, which is super cool.
Eric: Has it been intense? I know we try to tell students all the time, this is really hard. Has it been that way for you?
Mira: It’s challenging. It’s not like it’s … I don’t know how to describe it, because it doesn’t feel like something that’s overwhelming, but it’s definitely challenging. And it definitely does take a lot of your time, obviously. But because it’s something that I really enjoy, it doesn’t even feel like a lot of work.
Eric: You’re going to get lost in it.
Mira: Yeah.
Eric: Describe the process of learning how to learn. Is that different from previous educational experiences you’ve had?
Mira: Definitely. Definitely, the immersive part of it is so much more revolutionary than anything else. I went to college, and it’s different than any course I ever took in college. It was different to see it, and then in that moment apply it, and see how it works, see why we’re doing what we’re doing. You kind of see more of an instant feedback of why we’re doing it.
Eric: Directly applying what you learn every single day.
Mira: Yeah. So that’s really been the difference, and to actually be retaining everything that I’ve learned. There’s definitely so much that you’re learning.
Eric: How far are you into class?
Mira: In Java this is our third day.
Eric: Your third day! Okay, so you are, you are just diving into it.
Mira: Yeah.
Eric: Very cool. What’s the experience been like? Is the instructor helpful?
Mira: Definitely. That’s a cool thing too, it’s like at The Iron Yard, we’re both learning. They’re learning to better teach us, so it’s like a back and forth, where they’re not just sitting here, like, ‘I know what I’m doing and here’s the information.’ It’s more on an equal level where they’re teaching us something, but they’re also learning how to best teach us. There’s a lot of us also giving back that information. So it’s beneficial to both of us.
Eric: That’s very cool.
Mira: Yeah.
Eric: I know you’ve just started but, I always like to ask people, do you have any ideas of what you want to do afterwards? I know that it’s going to go by quickly, and that’s a couple months away. Do you have any ideas about that yet?
Mira: Well, definitely getting a job in developing, and so I’ve looked into different opportunities. That wasn’t even something I initially looked at, but once I came to The Iron Yard, I talked to our Professor Gil, and he kind of showed me, there are so many opportunities in Austin for Java development. They’re everywhere, and there’s a surplus of jobs. So that’s exciting to see that, and I’ve talked to Karly a little bit too about different options, so I don’t know. But it’s all exciting.
Eric: Either way there’s a ton of opportunity out there for you.
Mira: Yeah.
Eric: Cool. Well thank you so much for taking a few minutes to talk today.

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