This is a Guest Post by a Ari Picker, an Iron Yard Academy alum. You can find him here on Twitter.
I’ve always had a day job. Just to name a few; pet chauffeur, massage therapist, personal trainer, court reporter, box truck driver, keyboard department manager, security systems salesman, carpet cleaner, the list goes on… It was rare that I stayed at a job for more than a few months because they weren’t important.
I was more interested in the Arts. I did theater, voice-overs, dance, art, and a whole lot of music. I sang in opera choruses, church choirs, rock bands, jazz trios, acapella groups… Long story short, music took me around the country and overseas.
I got off the road for a lot of reasons, but the most important one was because my family needed me. I found myself in South Carolina with one child, and one on the way, and no idea of what to do when I grew up.
I took a minimum wage job, just to get out of the house, and started doing research on a career. Everyone said, ‘Go back to college.’ I wanted to learn how to do something and be prepared for getting a job. College never accomplished that for me; I was looking for an alternative.
When I heard about The Iron Yard, I thought it sounded too good to be true. I asked some programmer friends for their opinions. Some thought it was a great idea, some thought I should go back to college. I had never done any programming before and didn’t know a div from a dev.
So I did more research, and it looked like everyone needs people who can make the internets. I thought at the very least, I can get a reasonable amount of money for a reasonable amount of work. It also occurred to me that, with these skills, I could make things that matter to me.
I could breathe life into objects of my imagination. I thought my artsy fartsy tendencies could be an asset in this field. Plus the money back guarantee seemed pretty indisputable; I mean, it’s right on the website.
I never really liked school because I wanted to learn, and my experience has been that schools are more focused on memorization, tests, irrelevant subject matter, outdated information, doing what you’re told, baaaaaaaaaaaaa… The Iron Yard taught me how to learn, and that’s what I was looking for. They gave me real world projects while in class, so that when I started looking for a job I already had experience.
They also made a concerted effort to inform me about what’s out there, how to prepare, and what to avoid. Even after I graduated they were still helping me. I had been given keys to a community that didn’t go away when class was over. I still interact with people I met at the class on a weekly basis.
It seemed like most of my Iron Yard classmates got a job within a month of graduating. Not only did they get good jobs, they were the kind of jobs they were looking for.
Applying for jobs has never been a strong point for me. Eric, one of the partners, spent time with me every week after I graduated, for 3 months. We went over resumes, cover letters, and my portfolio. He recommended me to companies, he followed up with companies that I applied to, and gave me advice on a myriad of topics. I ended up landing a job that I never thought would get back to me, let alone hire me.
The only reason I found out about this job was because my teacher suggested I follow a blogger, who then tweeted the job opening 6 months later.
So, what did I get out of this experience? Skills, friends, a community, and a career. The Iron Yard changed my life.