At tech boot camp Iron Yard Academy Tampa Bay, students learn to crack the code →

Matt Schwartz recently graduated from the Iron Yard Academy-Tampa Bay, a relatively new code-writing school that is sending waves of local residents into a job market clamoring for programmers.

Iron Yard just graduated its seventh cohort from its intensive, three-month local course, and is garnering the attention of the area’s tech community.

Read the full Tampa Bay Times article here, including insights from Toni Warren, The Iron Yard’s Tampa Bay campus director, recent graduates and advisory board members.

From going by the book to the adventure of a lifetime: Nick’s story

Nick Pizzo followed the plan. He graduated from college with a degree in business and started his career in accounting doing financial statement audits and tax work.

“I had very much taken the ‘check the box’ route – go to this school, go to that college, get the job,” he said. “I was confident that with accounting, I would never be unemployed, but after a full 10 years, the monotony was setting in; I wasn’t being challenged intellectually.”

All of these factors began to add up for Nick, and he decided that it was time for him to change career paths. He always had an interest in tech, and is savvy with computers and all types of operating systems. As an added bonus, his group of friends from high school had all gone into the tech world, so choosing to explore a career in tech was a natural fit.

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Journey to new horizons: Jonathan’s blog

Jonathan Colegrove is a current student in our Ruby On Rails course on the Tampa Bay/St. Pete campus and has been documenting his experience learning how to code on his blog.

After trying to learn to code on his own, Jonathan decided that the only way he could break into the development world would be by immersing himself and attending The Iron Yard full-time.

Read Jonathan’s blog post about the first week of his cohort below:

Journey to New Horizons

I just started school at The Iron Yard in St. Petersburg, FL last week, & have to say I’m impressed.

After deciding to switch from teaching English in Taiwan to software engineering, I tried to learn it on my own for free through (a wordy, but good site). Most of the material linked to CodeCademy (very useful site), others to Ruby Monk (too annoying & harder to navigate). I found Derek Banas’ concise videos later (absolutely amazing) later.

Welcome to learning programming on your own

There were a lot of “bang my head against the wall” moments, only to discover super-simple solutions. I realized I could advance much faster through a bootcamp, but didn’t want to take out a loan. I felt I was getting somewhere with my current skill level though, & wondered the next step.

LaunchCode, I thought! What better option than a program that placed accepted applicants in “lower”-paying ($15/hr) jobs ($15/hr is more than all my previous jobs!) for 3 months, followed by $25/hr, with no risk?! Turns out there’s a lot of competition, & that meant “learn more.”

Next I applied at an internship, which had a coding challenge. Following that, they mentioned Test-Driven-Development. How did one make tests? After hours of trying to muddle-through, I realized it was time to take out a loan.

Long story short: I ended up in St. Petersburg, FL @The Iron Yard. It’s been a week so far, & while much is review, there has been some important new material (specifically flexbox in CSS) & a WHOLE LOT of practice! (PS: “a lot of review” = 85% of everything I’d previously learned in a couple months covered in a few days!)

The new material combined with practice doing their detail-intensive projects has been absolutely beneficial. It’s also been an educational experience because The Iron Yard requires you to use a Mac (I’d previously only used Windows). Working alongside others has helped productivity so when 1 gets stuck we can bounce ideas off each other. I’m excited to keep on learning & can only imagine the depth of knowledge + experience I’ll achieve if we keep at the same pace for another 11 weeks!

Follow along with Jonathan’s journey here.

Full Speed Ahead: Sarrah’s Story

For Sarrah Vesselov, life is all about being in motion. The former roller derby player worked in graphic and web design for nearly 10 years, most recently serving as the creative director for a national sign company. Sarrah also taught web design courses at the International Academy of Design and Technology focusing on HTML and CSS principles.

“After a while, I felt bored and stagnated in my career,” Sarrah said. “I knew that my skills were stagnating too. JavaScript had progressed and there was a lot that I didn’t know anymore. I knew I needed to change up what I was doing and try something else.”

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From the newsroom to the classroom: Sandra’s story

Sandra is a veteran journalist who spent years working for the Tampa Bay Times. She did everything from assignment editing to writing stories and serving as the senior web editor before taking a position as the executive director of the Edible Peace Patch Project, a nonprofit that creates sustainable food systems in St. Petersburg, FL.

After taking a few months off to take care of some family matters, Sandra saw an ad for The Iron Yard while she was in her hometown of Charleston, SC with her mother. She was reminded that there was also an Iron Yard campus in the Tampa Bay area, where she now lives, and she made a quick decision to join the Fall 2015 cohort.

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Campus Spotlight: The Iron Yard Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg

Our Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg campus location is licensed and ready to accept new students this July, so we thought we’d take a few minutes to put the spotlight on this coastal campus location. Course Report recently checked in with our Campus Director, Toni Aliberti, to find out more about why The Iron Yard Tampa Bay is such an integral part of the local tech scene and how our alumni are doing.

Here’s an excerpt from Toni’s interview: Read More

Join us in St. Petersburg for National Day of Civic Hacking

This Saturday, we’ll join thousands of people from around the country to celebrate National Day of Civic Hacking. Organized by Code for America, National Day of Civic Hacking is a very cool concept. It’s a day of action where developers, government employees, designers, journalists, data scientists, non-profit employees, UX designers, and residents who care about their communities come together to host civic tech events leveraging their skills to help their community. It’s community solutions for community issues – and we’re excited to be able to play a small part.  Read More

Helping kids learn programming for Hour of Code

One of the most rewarding parts of what we do at The Iron Yard is hosting kids coding classes. Our instructors volunteer their time on a regular basis to make sure kids in every community where we operate have a chance to be exposed to what it’s like to code. Plus, our kids coding classes usually feature fun topics like how to build games or recreate popular characters characters.

Teaching kids is something we’ve done since we launched, and it’s remained a big part of our DNA. Our CEO Peter Barth put it this way:

We believe in investing in the local tech economy for the long run, and that means impacting the next generation. Hosting these events is a great way to help kids take their first step down a path that could unlock a passion for technology.

We’re so passionate about exposing kids to technology and coding that we are hosting free kids coding events at every one of our locations during the week of Dec. 7-13 for the global “Hour of Code” effort created by The goal of the effort is to introduce students to computer science – even one hour of learning to code might be the start of something great! Last year, every Apple Store in the world hosted an Hour of Code and even President Obama wrote his first line of code as part of the campaign. Pretty cool. Read More

The Iron Yard scholarships available in Tampa

More great news for The Iron Yard’s Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg campus: we have not one, but two sponsors for our “what would you build?” scholarship for the next cohort.

First, Bisk Education is offering a $1,500 scholarship to one student in our Front-End Engineering program. Bisk Education is an online education company focused on helping universities expand enrollment, increase revenue and advance their mission by developing online undergraduate degree, graduate degree and professional certificate programs. Read More