What a strange trip it’s been…
The Iron Yard, a month into my journey and this already feels like the most rewarding professional experience of my career. I decided before the start of the cohort that I would completely immerse myself into the program, but I never thought it would be like this.
The Lead Up
My love for computers and anything related started with my first exposure to it, the Macintosh LC II. I remember being so excited to go to school where
our new middle school had 8 computers per classroom. While I was interested in playing video games like Oregon Trail and Civilization than any type of coding but the seed was planted. By 7th grade my parents bought my first personal computer, the Compaq Presario 425. This was the computer that I grew up with, this was my first love. I had an AOL account and the digital world was my oyster. One of my fondest childhood memories was when I decided I needed to add more RAM to my computer. I used to mow several lawns around the neighborhood, and within a month or two I had enough to double my RAM. I was so excited to go to the CompUSA, I literally didn’t sleep the night before. My mom drove me to the CompUSA on Hillsborough Ave. at the intersection of Dale Mabry Hwy and I plunked down $135 for 4MB of RAM(hahaha). I felt so proud of myself being able to install my own RAM, it made me feel like Wozniak when he built his first circuit board. In High School, I take my first programming class Pascal. This was a very basic course but I felt empowered by creating something from nothing. Fast forward a year and now I’m graduating High School and going off to study Computer Science at the University of North Florida. My parents tell me that for me High School graduating present that they will buy me a computer…I say no. I want to build my own computer. I do my research and decide that I was going to buy the AMD Athlon CPU with a mid-tower setup. I don’t remember the rest of the details but I went to a local computer store this time and purchased all the necessary parts, picked the store owners brain for what seemed like two minutes but by the look on my parents face it must have been at least an hour. I spent the next six hours putting together the computer and installing Windows 98. My college years were mainly spent on the water surfing and immaturity reigned supreme. My focus waned from computers to the life lived by a bartender. Then came the realization that working in restaurants wasn’t the life that I wanted to live. So, I went back to the family business which is jewelry manufacturing. I got back to my love of creating something from nothing, meanwhile I spend a lot of my time reading and watching various technology related publications. A few more years pass and I start reading about the world of CAD/CAM and how it could be applied to the Jewelry Manufacturing process. I completely immerse myself in these programs and continue learning new techniques and programs. I spend about a decade perfecting my craft and becoming quite proficient in jewelry manufacturing. But there was always this feeling that this wasn’t what I really wanted from my experience with computers. So, with my father approaching retirement age, I decided to change careers. I decide to go the local college and enroll in the Cyber Security against a few of my friends’ recommendations who are web developers. They said I would be better served in the programming field due to my background in CAD. A year later I came to the realization that they were right. The security field while interesting was becoming rather boring and tedious. I already took a Python course and was really excited about it, so much so that I read the textbook after the course ended to further my Python learning. Then at a Christmas party I start talking with a family friend who works at Malwarebytes and tell him that I’m probably switching to programming degree at the local college. I tell him while I’m not exactly thrilled with the curriculum they offer, what were my options. He proceeds to tell me about a school that while extremely difficult, very rewarding. He himself has gone to what they Demo Days and hired a few graduates of The Iron Yard. A few more months pass and I find myself waking up at 6:30 in the morning and drive 50 minutes to St. Pete and looking forward to being pushed to my limit every day.
Pay the Iron Price
When I signed up for The Iron Yard I decided that I would shut myself from the world and completely immerse myself in the program. While I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade and have had to wear many hats in my business, I don’t ever remember feeling like this. I’m excited about all the new things I’m learning, and learning to forget. This is because TIY is teaching us the basics and the hard way to program in Ruby and HTML before we get the frameworks. It was comical to watch the instructor take our code that we spent all weekend writing with at least 200 lines of code and whittle it down to about 50 lines in about 5 minutes. I’m glad for this teaching method because it truly explains how to solve a problem before we get to the more automated processes. One of the many aspects of this course that I love is the way the instructors push us to find the answers on our own. They show us where the documentation is and push us to seek those answers where other teaching methods may have given us a snippet of code but gained nothing from the teaching exercise. While we have worked on many different parts of Ruby and HTML this has been the best part so far, because this will be used for the rest of professional life. New versions, frameworks, languages will come out and be used but these techniques will always be there. In the three weeks at TIY it feels like I’ve learned more about coding and myself than the last two years at the local college.