An Onboarding Adventure: Atlanta Style

Hey all, Chris Hutchinson here! I thought it would be a neat idea to share my experience onboarding with The Iron Yard so that others might get a feel of what they might expect joining this great team. Here goes nothing…

Last week I headed out to Atlanta Campus for three full days of training, along with Joshua Cournoyer, my Nashville counterpart, and Tisha Looker who’s leading our Las Vegas location.

I was arriving to Atlanta not having yet met training guru Sarah Lodato in person, nor having had her yet visit the Indianapolis market. I was a bit apprehensive knowing that Sarah had already visited both Nashville and Las Vegas.

And, naturally, I wasn’t even sure what to expect about what the next few days would be like…

My fears were immediately eliminated however when I arrived at the Atlanta campus and received a very warm welcome from the team and was given a facility tour by Front End Instructor Tim Whitacre.


ATLTraining2Very quickly me and my colleagues-in-training were introduced to the Atlanta Dream Team of Delleon McGlone (Campus Director), Lindsay Sutton (Campus Operations Manager), Lindsey Owings (Director of Talent), Kyle Van Pelt (Marketing) Jo Albright (Mobile Instructor) and Brit Butler (Rails Instructor).

They had a fully-functional team and one of the largest in the entire Iron Yard family (and they had the space to boot).

The first thing I noticed about the Atlanta campus was how much space they have, and how great of a job they have done utilizing the space to make it a challenging but yet relaxed learning environment.

They also positioned themselves well for future growth and are expecting a double cohort in Front End for the May term.


After a team lunch, the rest of Wednesday was devoted to Demo Day dry-run presentations with collaborative feedback for the presenting teams.

It was a huge benefit for Tisha, Josh and I to be able to participate in these presentations and feedback conversations. What stood out to me was how eager and responsive the students were to hear what they did well, but more importantly, receive feedback on how to improve.

Having the opportunity to see both the dry-run presentations and the actual Demo Day presentations was fantastic and validated the process. I can speak for myself and my training partners and say that our campuses will be modeling the Atlanta campus model, both for dry-run and actual Demo Day.


This hands-on approach and live-fire onboarding and training creates obvious and tangible value, not to mention modeling the right types of meta-level thinking how to handle campus operations.

ATLDemoDay-DryRun3As far as the projects presented by the students in the dry-run, there were multiple that I would have strongly considered funding if I had brought my checkbook to Atlanta with me.

The innovation, real-world usability, technical competency and creativity surpassed my expectations. Additional one-on-one conversations with students after their presentations revealed the following student quotes:

I was in finance and accounting and my wife was in software development. I really liked what she was doing, but didn’t want to go to school for a 4-year degree. I am so glad that I discovered The Iron Yard.

Here’s another one:

I can’t believe how fast the 12 weeks went and how much I learned. I honestly wish I had another month here.

On Thursday, Sarah spent some time educating me particularly on The Iron Yard’s internal platforms and processes. This included the ever popular Nutshell, Slack, Trello, and of course our internal database, Swayze, which was a web app and project created by the staff to help onboard new staff.

Having worked for a number of companies in my career, I was very impressed with the systems in use by The Iron Yard. There are a number of moving parts, but the level of detail and existing systems in place for new Campus Directors is very reassuring. Most startups don’t have nearly the groundwork created for scale but this company has been doing it right.

Sarah also had all three of us sit in on a TA interview for the May cohort as well as provide feedback for the instructors on their Demo Day dry-runs. One idea that the team came up with during this breakout was to offer some The Iron Yard swag to Demo Day attendees that visited every student booth. This is an idea that I know I will be implementing in Indianapolis.

Lastly on Thursday, Delleon gave a presentation to the students on career preparedness and freelancing. Here’s a video of that experience:

Demo Day Friday started off with an awesome team breakfast:


Next, Sarah walked all three new Campus Directors through The Iron Yard’s Student Storage file system, Student Progress Reports and Assignment Tracking on GitHub.

ATLDemoDay1And then, finally, it was time for Demo Day! To say that the event was impressive would be an understatement. Lindsay Sutton did an incredible job reserving a space within our facility and having it set up very professionally.

The introduction presentations made by Delleon and the instructors really set up the event nicely. An audience of approximately 100 people watched as the students received their certificates and The Iron Yard t-shirts, and then were able to approach each student project separately and have individual conversations about the projects.

I also walked the floor and spoke with nearly all of the students. Conversations ranged from how they planed to monetize their app, to how many business cards they were handed, to what employment offers they had already received. It was definitely validation of The Iron Yard model and how an immersive, disruptive educational experience can positively impact local, regional, national and international markets.


On a personal note, I really want to thank the Atlanta team and their hospitality. They welcomed three newbies into their space during the most stressful week of the term.

But they never hesitated to include us, engage with us or answer any of our questions. I can’t wait to get back to my market and implement what I learned while in Atlanta in Indianapolis.

Let’s do this!

[Oh, and we’re still very-much hiring. Take a look at our available opportunities!]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About hutchirish

I am the Campus Director for the new The Iron Yard - Indianapolis location. I am passionate about collaboration, edupreneurship and nimble enthusiasm. My greatest assets are my beautiful wife Lilia and my amazing daughter Mia.