Student Post from Daniel Donaldson: “Week 1”

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This is a post from our Greenville JavaScript student Daniel Donaldson. He came all of the way from Texas to be a part of our program, which is both humbling and incredibly exciting for us. Daniel’s story is incredible, and you can read more about it on his blog (check out Part 1 and Part 2 how he ended up at The Iron Yard). 

Also, if you’re interested, read this post and then check out our Front End Engineering class page—when we say we emphasize learning how to learn, we mean it. It’s amazing to watch students learn how to learn and realize they are developing rock-solid mental skills that will serve them the rest of their lives.


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Welp, my first week at The Iron Yard has come to a close and I have survived. So far I’ve listened to 4 lectures, created 2 websites (semi-functional), coded 20+ hours outside of class time and had too many cups of coffee to keep track. Our professor believes in the sink or swim method of teaching which completely frightens me. However, after a week of doing it I can honestly see why.

Someone asked me the other day, ‘Do you like the program?’ My answer is a resounding yes. I made a very deliberate decision when choosing to come here. I traveled a thousand miles from home, away from my family, in a place I’m completely unfamiliar with to learn difficult material I’ve never done before for a very specific reason: I believe this is going to change my life (and that of my family’s) for the better. On the meandering road trip to Greenville I felt like I was on the cusp of a grand adventure, like Frodo or maybe a Hardy Boy. Completing this program is about more than just getting a job for me. I want to make the world a better place (cheesy, yes, but there it is) and I’m certain this is the beginning of that path.

After week one, here’s a few specific things I’m getting/learning which I’m really pumped about (although my capacity for enthusiasm is only slightly curbed by lack of sleep):

Getting It Done

Essentially, we are being taught to work despite our fear of the failing miserably, introductory level of skill, and mental exhaustion. We are getting used to searching for the solution despite a hundred failed attempts. In a word, we are learning to be overcomers. Truly, I’ve learned more in the past week trying to meet these deadlines than I have for the past year of learning on my own and that’s a good feeling.

Sage Advice

They don’t just give you the answer, but they try to push us in the right directions and tell us which dark alleys on the internet to avoid. The advice of seasoned programmers is pure gold and can’t be understated.

Thinking Like A Programer / Problem Solver

Learning to program isn’t just about learning a new language (though you are). It’s also about learning to think through a problem thoroughly and well. I’m only just beginning to see the ways my own problem solving ability needs to be adjusted, but it’s an exciting self discovery.

Those are the highlights from the first week. So far we’ve only focused on HTML & CSS but more languages are just around the corner (as are many more late nights & cups of coffee, I’m sure).

On a personal note, I’ve been missing my family a lot this week. I can’t even believe it’s been only a few days… it feels like it’s been weeks already. I took a walk today for a break from my computer and it was such a beautiful day outside. I found myself being really overwhelmed by God’s goodness, which for some reason made me think about how much I miss the voices of my wife and kids. I love listening to the things they say, both the profound and the ridiculous. Lord knows I’m so grateful to have a wife who is making as much of a sacrifice (if not more) as I am. She’s a keeper.

My peeps. Took this picture the day before I left. They are all totally & adorably crazy.

Can’t wait to show you guys some stuff I’ve built. Stay tuned.

(This article was re-posted from Daniel Donaldson’s personal blog.)

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The Iron Yard exists to create exceptional growth and mentorship for people, their companies and their ideas through code education and startup accelerators.