It has begun.
Well, Austin, The Iron Yard has officially started. Our Front End and Rails Engineering courses are up and running. Future devs have taken over our awesome space at Penn Field, and I couldn’t be happier having them here. As the Campus Director, I was working in the office for a month before anyone else arrived, and it got kinda lonely. I talked to myself a lot. It was weird. Now, though, eager students are working hard to become developers, and it’s a glorious sight to behold.
We are just wrapping up our second week with our first students. These first couple of weeks are crucial. It sets the tone for the entire cohort. We want to make sure we communicate clearly with the students about our expectations for them and about what they can expect from us. Equally as important, we want to make sure the students understand that The Iron Yard is here for them. This is a huge challenge they are taking on, and they are entrusting us to provide them the resources they need to become developers in 3 months. We do not take this commitment and trust in us lightly. The instructors and I are here for the students, and not just to throw code at them and send them on their way. When the challenge feels too immense, the instructors and I are here for guidance and encouragement. We are here to share in the victories, and we are here to tell them to take a break when they have been staring at their computer screens for hours.
As I mentioned in my first post, I went through The Iron Yard’s Front End program in Atlanta so I have real empathy for what the students experience during these 3 months. It is a life-changing program, but it can be scary. You walk in on that first day, probably not knowing anyone, and you likely have no experience to compare this to. It’s difficult for some people to believe that we can actually teach you to code in 3 months, and “What did I get myself into?” is a very understandable question on that first day. So, it is my job and the instructors’ job to let our students know, we know what we are doing and we can get you through this. If you work. Work really really hard. And use the resources we offer. That’s why you’re here.
Each week culminates in our Friday Huddle. This is a time when we all get together and check in on how the week went. The structure will vary from week to week, depending on the needs of this cohort. The point, though, is to give the students (and us) time to share our experiences, offer encouragement when needed, offer advice when needed, and remind each other that we are in this together (it’s corny, but true 🙂 )
This first Friday Huddle was very rewarding. Hearing these students talk about how hard they’re working and how happy they seem to be here with us was the best way to end a busy and wonderful week. We had the students write letters to their future selves and we will return these when they graduate so they can realize how far they’ve truly come. For many of these students, this experience is a chance to completely change paths in life. This makes my work as Campus Director very meaningful, and I feel lucky to be a part of their journey. I cannot wait to look back at this post three months from now when all our students have graduated and are starting their new lives as developers.
I will use this blog to take you along the journey of our first cohort in Austin. It’s guaranteed to be a hoot of a time, so follow along! And as always, if you have questions for me about The Iron Yard or about how to cook an amazing meal in under 10 minutes, hit me up! Except not really about the latter because I don’t know how to do that… K bye!