Meet the team: Spotlight on Raleigh

Raleigh is a major center for high-tech and biotech research, and was named the number one “fastest growing city for technology jobs” in 2012. To prepare the next generation of developers for opportunities in the Research Triangle area, we have campus locations in both Durham and Raleigh.

Today, we’d like you to meet our outstanding team in Raleigh – Stacey Vernon, Campus Director; Kaitlin Saunders, Operations Assistant; Doug Hughes, Java Instructor; Lexi Namer, UI Design Instructor; and Heather Robbins, Student Enrollment Representative. Below we talk about their backgrounds and what led them to The Iron Yard, what they love about Raleigh and advice they have for people who are interested in code school:

What is your professional background and how long have you been with The Iron Yard?

  • Stacey: I worked in leadership roles in tech support with Apple Retail for 3.5 years, and then transitioned into the software side of tech when I became the Technical Director at a local web development agency. There, I interviewed and hired Iron Yard grads, and I was sold! When the Raleigh campus opened, of course I applied. I just celebrated my one year anniversary with The Iron Yard.
  • Kaitlin: I was a tutor and instructor’s assistant during my academic career at Appalachian State and have had many customer service jobs spanning over a decade, most recently activating cell phones at Best Buy. Tech and education have always been of interest to me, so when I heard about The Iron Yard and how it perfectly joined the two, it blew my mind. After graduating from Durham’s Front-End class last fall, I joined the Raleigh team and have been here for about four months.
  • Doug: I started a web development business, Alagad, in 1996, when I was still in high school and managed to find a way to live off it through my college graduation. After college I took a few “real” jobs, but kept working on Alagad on the side. In 2005, I took the plunge and switched to Alagad full-time. By 2008, I had several employees and clients around the world. In late 2014 I closed Alagad, but continued working as a consultant through Doug Hughes, LLC. Then, in early 2016 I was approached by The Iron Yard about teaching Java. I had been looking for a new challenge and this fit the bill. I accepted the job and just celebrated my one year anniversary!
  • Lexi: I joined The Iron Yard a year ago this June, and before that, I was an Adjunct Professor at UNC Chapel Hill while working on my Master’s degree in interactive media. Before that, I worked as a freelance designer and photographer in New York City. The UI design course at The Iron Yard is similar to the class I taught at UNC, but provides the space for students to learn at a much deeper level.   
  • Heather: My previous work experience has included about 12 years with a proprietary school working in admissions both as an Enrollment Specialist as well as a Director of Enrollment. From there I went into Corporate Recruiting for an advertising company and am now finishing my second week here at The Iron Yard!

What has been your favorite moment at The Iron Yard to date?

  • Stacey: Demo Day and every time a student gets a job offer!
  • Kaitlin: I always love getting to see students’ final projects! Their creativity and growth make me proud to be part of such an impactful organization.
  • Doug: It’s difficult to pick a single favorite moment. What I enjoy most is seeing my students accomplish their goals. Everyone comes to The Iron Yard for a reason. Some people want to get out of a dead end career. Some want to pursue something that has always interested them. Others seek financial security. I can’t help but smile each time my students take a step in that direction. I tear up with pride and happiness when they graduate, and I cheer out loud when they land jobs. There’s so much awesome, it’s hard to pick just one moment.

What advice do you have for people who are considering code school?

  • Kaitlin: I encourage people to research which coding languages and frameworks are best aligned with their goals and interests. Also, code is a lifestyle; learning doesn’t stop after graduation! 
  • Lexi: Be ready to commit 150 percent during your time in the course. It is intense but students who come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn and put in the work succeed.
  • Heather: Do your homework and research what program is the best fit for you. Going to school is a huge commitment both in time and money. Take mini courses, talk to people already in the industry, visit the campus to speak to students and instructors who offer valuable insights into the career paths you have to choose from. The best decision you can make is a well informed one!

What excites you about the Raleigh Tech Community?

  • Doug: One of the primary reasons my family moved to the Triangle is because it’s such a significant tech hub. There are diverse opportunities for all types of developers at all skill levels. Furthermore, the tech community is engaged, supportive and vibrant. To put it simply, it’s a great place to work in tech!
  • Lexi: All the awesome design organizations and events around here! AIGA Raleigh, Hopscotch Design Fest, and Creative Mornings just to name a few.

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