Iron Journeys: Meet Jennifer Meier, Front-End Engineering in Austin

This week in our Iron Journeys video series, we meet Jennifer Meier, a Front-End Engineering student in Austin. Before starting her course at The Iron Yard, Jennifer was a court reporter. After a recommendation from a friend who took a course at The Iron Yard in Greenville and putting a lot of thought into what she wanted out of a career, Jennifer took the plunge and enrolled in the immersive Front-End Engineering course.

Check out our conversation with Jennifer below to see what it’s really like to be a student at The Iron Yard:

(full transcript below video)

Eric: Howdy. This is Eric Dodds. I am here in Austin, Texas with Jennifer. Thank you for joining us today.
Jennifer: Thank you for having me.
Eric: Yeah. Alrighty. Tell us your story. What were you doing before the The Iron Yard?
Jennifer: Most of my adult life, most of my big girl jobs, I’ve been a court reporter, actually.
Eric: Really?
Jennifer: Yeah. I was a voice writer. I didn’t have the little keyboards. I was a court reporter for about five years, and then I actually got an office job in a courtroom firm. That’s mostly what I’ve done my entire life.
Eric: Is being in court mostly exciting, or mostly boring?
Jennifer: I actually wasn’t in a courtroom. We did depositions. I did mostly personal injury, workers comp. It was very interesting. You would be amazed what people would admit on record.  I’ve heard a lot of really interesting things. I have a really good poker face now, you know? I have to get used to not looking at the witness going, “Why did you just say that? Why?” I mean, I loved it. It was just, as a contractor, especially with the economy getting bad, when I first got out of college people weren’t suing people as much. They weren’t taking big workers comp cases. It was not quite enough to be a full-time job. That was why I went into the office and started looking for other things.
Eric: Sure. When you started looking for other things, did you know you wanted to get into software development?
Jennifer: No. Not really. I think it was more that I started thinking about what I wanted out of a job, what I wanted out of a career. Having worked from home as a court reporter, I mean, a lot of what you do is the typing is from home. I knew I had that ability to work from home. Some people they need a little bit more structure, but I knew I could do something like that. I like creating things. I like solving puzzles. I had a friend that went to The Iron Yard. After talking to him, talking to some people, I mean I went through a huge list of stuff I wanted to do. Real estate. All that kind of thing, but I just kept coming back to more tech stuff. That was kind of how I landed in this.
Eric: Did you tinker with any code in that process, or did you just say, “This is what I want to do,” and dive in?
Jennifer: After I talked to my friend who actually went to the Greenville campus, he had recommended, “You know there are other schools, and there’s also free classes.” Little did I know actually that was actually our pre-work. I was starting to do the pre-work before I even knew I was going to The Iron Yard. I took a lot of the free tutorials, like Code Academy, just because you don’t want to get into something and not have hands on experience. I took the HTML and the JavaScript ones, and just played around with that. I did like it. Obviously, I was doing it by myself online, so I knew I would need a teacher because I’m not one of those people that could be self-taught. I like the idea of the class atmosphere. That was how I got my feet wet.
Eric: What has it been like going from tinkering around with it online, hearing your friend’s experience, and then now actually being in class and doing it yourself?
Jennifer: I will say everybody here does a really great job of prepping you for, “Hey, this is full-time. This is not a fly-by-night thing. You need to make sure you love it.” Everybody that I’ve met really cares. They don’t want to just take your money and say, “Okay. Well, good luck with the school.” Everybody I talk to, even my friend especially, they set your expectations properly, which I really appreciated. My class is really small. There’s only six of us. I really benefit from that one-on-one, and the structure. It’s been really good. It’s insane how much you can process and learn and comprehend in such a short amount of time. The way everything’s set up, it helps immensely.
Eric: Awesome.
Jennifer: Yeah.
Eric: Have you thought about what you want to do after you graduate, or is that still we’re just focusing on writing code right now?
Jennifer: Well, we’re working on final projects right now, so my brain is still like out in the back of my head and thinking about the errors I’m getting. You know at first I thought about doing freelance work. That was something kind of working at your own pace, and also being able to pick what kind of jobs you want. I don’t know a whole lot about that. I know we’re going to talk about that in coming weeks. I do also think I would like to be in an office environment were I can have a mentor relationship and grow because I really think that’s the best way to learn and grow.
Maybe I can do freelance stuff on the side too, but I would love to be set up with a company that has that kind of a plan. We’ve been told that some company’s do. Some companies don’t. Knowing what to ask about in the interviews with the companies actually is a really good thing because I hadn’t even thought about that. I just kind of assumed everybody was going to help newbies. What I’ve been told is not everybody helps newbies. They just kind of throw them in there.
That’s kind of my plan. I don’t really have a specific … I mean, I would like a job, but I’m pretty much open to anything.
Eric: Cool.
Jennifer: Yeah.
Eric: Cool. All right. One last question. One piece of advice for someone who might be considering going to The Iron Yard.
Jennifer: I would say definitely, and this is something I wish I had done more, I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to do this because I was employed full-time, but coming in and seeing the classroom, doing those free classes online, maybe coming to one of the classes that they have at night where they…
Eric: Yeah. Crash courses?
Jennifer: Yeah. The crash courses. I definitely think that that would help. I’ve talked to some people, and they said it was really beneficial to just immerse yourself. Definitely do your research. I mean, this isn’t for everyone. You guys are, everybody here is so welcoming they’ll definitely answer any questions that anybody has. Just be thorough about it, I would say.
Eric: Great. Awesome. Well, thank you for your time Jennifer.
Jennifer: Thank you.

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