#YesWeCode Fund: Scholarship application now open

This weekend at SXSW, we had the honor of sitting alongside leaders from DreamCorps, #YesWeCode, TechHire and TechSquare Labs to announce that applications for the newly renamed #YesWeCode Fund are now live.

The #YesWeCode Fund was initially launched as the Tech Opportunity Fund in September 2016 and is a collaboration between The Iron Yard, Code Fellows, Operation HOPE, Opportunity Ecosystem, Climb Credit, TechSquare Labs, We Can Code IT and #YesWeCode. By unifying the efforts of code schools, government, civic organizations and employers, the goal of the Fund is to increase diversity in the tech industry by removing financial barriers and increasing access to tech education. 

This is a huge goal and we are proud to be a part of the solution. Our CEO, Peter Barth said it best: “Creating an inclusive tech workforce can only be achieved if all stakeholders in the tech sector are represented in the solution. By uniting the efforts of employers, educators, government and civic organizations in the Fund, we can both inspire people who are currently underrepresented in the industry to choose tech as a career and empower them to pursue that goal through a full-tuition scholarship to attend a code school.”

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Friday Q&A: Who teaches code school courses?

Today’s Friday Q&A question is one we hear regularly from prospective students: who will be teaching my course?

Instructors are one of the most important ingredients in a code school student’s success and “who will I be learning from” is probably one of the best questions prospective students can ask. At The Iron Yard, we often describe our instructors as “part mentor, part development expert and part passionate educator.” This combination that is a tall but worthy order for students who have put everything on the line to pursue a career in tech.

So let’s break those characteristics down a bit further:

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The creativity of coding: Christa’s story

Before coming to The Iron Yard, Christa attended the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg and earned a degree in political science. From there, she joined the college management training program at Wawa, working in retail management for the next year.

“I always wanted to be in tech, but I didn’t want to do it as a salesperson,” Christa explained. “I wanted to build a technical skill set.”

“One thing I love about tech is the creativity,” Christa said. “I had all of these visions in my head, but don’t have the hands for drawing or painting. Learning to code, I could design and build anything I could think of.”

After hearing about the fantastic experience one of her friends had with code school, Christa decided to look into it for herself. She did research on schools in the Bay area and New York, but ultimately decided that staying in Tampa/St. Petersburg was the best decision because she already had a strong network and connections in the area.

After visiting The Iron Yard and meeting with Toni (the campus director) and Jason (the Front-End instructor), she knew it was the perfect fit for her.

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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:

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From ultramarathons to code school: Hannah’s Story

At the beginning of 2016, Hannah Swift set two New Year’s Resolutions for herself: Run an ultramarathon and become a professional software developer (neither of which are easy feats.)

In March 2016, Hannah completed a 55K run through Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border, and then in June she began the Front-End Engineering course at The Iron Yard in Nashville. By October, she landed a job as an Associate Interactive Developer at Nashville advertising agency, GS&F.

So how did she make it all happen?

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From staff to student and back: Adam’s story

This article was written by Adam Jahr, our campus operations manager in Orlando.

Working for The Iron Yard since early 2015, I’ve witnessed students’ brains change, minds unlock, and futures open up. The level of motivation, focus, and discipline required to transform oneself into a junior-level developer in just 3 months’ time is monumental.

I have never taken my job lightly. I am responsible for ensuring our campus is admitting students we believe can succeed through our model of education, and I support them every step of the way during the program and beyond. We’re literally changing lives, and I am honored to be supporting these inspiring souls.

And, as I’ve found, inspiration tends to rub off on you. That’s why last November I took a leap of faith in myself and became an Iron Yard student.

So… how was it?

In a word: incredible.

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Friday Q&A: Is starting to learn to code at age 21 too late to enter the corporate world?

In this week’s installment of Friday Q&A, we’ll address a recent question from Quora, Is starting to learn to code at age 21 too late to enter the corporate world?” 

This is a great question and the answer is simple: Absolutely not. It is never too late to start learning to code.

At The Iron Yard, we have had students ranging from 18 years old to over 65. Many are “career changers,” who are looking to learn to code so that they can begin rewarding careers in tech with huge opportunity for growth. The beauty of the code school model is that it allows students to learn the technical skills they need to be hired as junior level developers in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of a traditional university. And the model works (check out our post from last week about how immersive code schools help prepare students to start their career as a developer, including thoughts from employers who have hired bootcamp graduates.)

But bootcamp graduates – and particularly those who are career changers or learned to code later in life – have a lot more than just technical skills to bring to employers. Our Indianapolis campus director, Emily Trimble, said it best:

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The week in news

In case you missed it, below are this week’s top headlines from The Iron Yard:

A new kind of tech education program: corporate training

This week, the Wall Street Journal published an article, “A New Kind of Jobs Program for Middle America,” discussing how code schools are quickly teaching the software development skills employers across the U.S. desperately need.  

The article suggests that change is “coming for the ecosystem of employers, educational institutions and job-seekers who confront the increasingly software-driven nature of work,” and that “for code schools to have a meaningful impact on the overall labor market, they will have to continue their rapid pace of expansion.” While change is certainly coming for the American workforce – and indeed may already be here – it’s not just the number of code schools that will need to expand to make an impact on the market.

In most cases, in-person code boot camps immerse individual students who have little to no background in computer science in the programming language of their choice. The goal of these in-person immersive courses, like those offered at The Iron Yard, is to prepare graduates to join a company in entry-level software development positions. And that is a worthy goal; there is absolutely a need to provide training to individuals who want to change careers and join the booming tech industry.

But in order to equip enough people with coding skills to meet employer demand, individuals pursuing their own coding education are only half of the equation. For code schools to have the meaningful labor market impact the Wall Street Journal article describes, they also need to take training programs directly to employers and their current employees. Through a holistic approach that includes onboarding new developers, reskilling current employees to become developers and upskilling valuable senior-level talent with new technologies, companies across the U.S. have the opportunity to solve their own talent needs.   

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Jessica Mitsch is on the front lines of a national effort to get more women into tech careers

This week our executive director of the code school, Jessica Mitsch, was chosen to be the News & Observer’s “Tar Heel of the Week.” In an interview, Jessica discussed her role leading national partnerships for The Iron Yard, supporting the school’s alumni and how she is helping foster diversity in the tech industry.

Read an excerpt of Jessica’s interview below:

Jessica Mitsch recently quit using the term “guys.”

The Raleigh native and executive with The Iron Yard, a training school for software developers, adopted the term so that she could quit using “y’all” when addressing groups outside the South.

But she felt the sting it can carry in a field dominated by men when a young entrepreneur described to her what kind of “guys” he hoped to hire.

“He wasn’t using the word “guys” as a colloquial phrase for people,” she says in a post on the InfoWorld blog. “When he sat down to envision who he was going to hire, he thought ‘guys’ – that is, young adult men.”

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