An Onboarding Adventure: Atlanta Style

Hey all, Chris Hutchinson here! I thought it would be a neat idea to share my experience onboarding with The Iron Yard so that others might get a feel of what they might expect joining this great team. Here goes nothing…

Last week I headed out to Atlanta Campus for three full days of training, along with Joshua Cournoyer, my Nashville counterpart, and Tisha Looker who’s leading our Las Vegas location.

I was arriving to Atlanta not having yet met training guru Sarah Lodato in person, nor having had her yet visit the Indianapolis market. I was a bit apprehensive knowing that Sarah had already visited both Nashville and Las Vegas.

And, naturally, I wasn’t even sure what to expect about what the next few days would be like…

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I’m Thankful for These Three Incredible Women Leaders @ The Iron Yard

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to celebrate not just tremendous corporate and organizational growth but also (and more importantly) the individual growth of our staff and employees.

There are few greater joys than seeing people with great potential step up to the plate and consistently knock it out of the park, time and time again (and we are blessed with a lot of these types of people!).

With that in mind, recently we’ve had the pleasure to see a few of our staff grow into larger operational and leadership roles: Jessica Mitsch, Sally Kingston, and Sarah Lodato.

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Blogging and Personal Branding Workshop for New Software Developers

We are passionate about creating value for our students in as many ways as we possibly can which naturally includes quality software training and instruction. But we know that we do much, much more.

This is why we also create opportunities for the students to be coached in other non-technical areas including soft skills training (e.g. resume building, interviewing, introduction to freelancing, etc) and present them strategic and tactical opportunities for them to increase their competitiveness within the technical market.

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Learning Software Programming Will Test (and Grow) Your Emotional Resilience

Brit Butler is a Rails Engineering Instructor at the Atlanta Campus.

I can’t believe it’s already the end of week 5. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the most important quality for an “IronYarder“, instructor, and student alike is emotional resiliency.

An Iron Yard cohort is a serious endeavor: It entails 3 months of peak performance, without breaks. But no one is perfectly consistent (nor can we expect them to be). For the first 2 weeks every successful, engaged lecture was a high achievement, my proudest moment. Every muddled lecture that left my students exhausted felt like a tremendous burden and anything but a “high” achievement.

But this isn’t necessarily a surprise as it is part of the process of learning difficult things. Students will often times find themselves flipping back and forth between a feeling of empowerment when their code actually works and then despondence of “not getting it”.

There is almost no way around this. Every engineer is going to struggle with this back-and-forth when they attempt to apply concepts in written code, especially when these concepts are completely foreign. I, for one, experienced this heavily for the first few years of my programming experience and many seasoned developers would say the same.

But at The Iron Yard we have a plan and a method that works – you see:

One benefit of our program is that we have a balanced approach between teaching a student concepts and demanding execution. Through consistent execution (i.e. a ton of practice) we’ll get as much of that sh*tty code out of your system as possible.

This give-and-take, this “up-and-down” experience, if you will, is helpful to remember as a student because, as a natural result, you learn to recover and regroup after a very difficult day. You will learn to pull yourself together, rather than being harder on yourself or beating yourself up.

The Iron Yard demands patience and knowing when to have a beer, get outside for a minute, walk dogs, call friends, or see a loved one. That kind of self-care and patience with your progress is incredibly important. Especially for the moments where you feel like you’re not getting it.

When I talk to prospective students I’m interested in their motivation and their commitment, but I’m equally  interested in how they take care of themselves. Emotional resilience is quality number one. If we can avoid burnout and have some empathy, then we all will excel, together.

3 Simple Reasons Why Our Students Made 2015 the Year of Code

We get to hear a ton of great stories every single day about success and struggle that our students experience and we’re there to help in every way that we can. It’s the reason we started and built the organization in the first place and why so many great people on staff have joined our company over the last year.

Naturally, we do our very best to understand the ever-changing needs that our students have as they walk through the hyper-intense 12-week program. And although many have come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences there are a few common threads that tie many of them together.

In essence, here are a few top-level reasons why our students opted to make this a significant year both personally and professionally as it relates to code education:

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Working with the next generation

One of the things we really enjoy around The Iron Yard is participating in other educational efforts around programming and technology targeted toward younger students. 

We of course offer our own free Kids Academy courses (more on that below), but we also try to find time to work with educators in the community who are passionate about tech. In some cases, it’s simply serving as host for a field trip, bringing in a class to talk with us about tech careers or doing some hands on exercises with code. Other times, we dispatch team members to area schools to talk about the skills needed to become a developer and the resources to learn more.

This past Tuesday, our Front End instructor Jake Smith and I visited Greenville Technical Charter High School and spoke to the students about careers in software development. It was exciting to hear about the efforts of the school to offer opportunities like a new CS First club, as well as the popular robotics club on campus. 

New Kids Classes

We also kicked off our first Kids Academy classes for 2015. Starting the week of February 16, we’ll have 6 weeks of Scratch and HTML/CSS classes. While the Scratch class is already full, the Intermediate HTML/CSS class does have some seats remaining. If interested, please sign up!

If your child isn’t able to attend this time around, please make sure you are signed up on our mailing list to receive notifications of future classes. They are free thanks to our generous volunteer instructors and we’d love to see you here.