De picar piedra a picar código

From being a miner to a security guard to a web developer

Some stories seem straight out of a movie. Actually if you saw them in a film you’d probably think they are too over the top, there’s no way this can happen to someone. Films have to make sense but real life doesn’t.

Héctor Fernández’s is one of those stories. We met when he started the Web Development Bootcamp in April 2017 and I had been working at Ironhack for less than two weeks. It was my first cohort as Program Manager (the role wasn’t even called that back then) and I had no idea what to expect from the students. I knew they came from many different backgrounds — some not related to tech at all — but I couldn’t imagine how unrelated they might actually be.

Meet Héctor 🙋‍♂️

During the first week of Héctor‘s bootcamp, I ran into him during lunchtime. He was drinking some kind of smoothie. The following day I noticed he was drinking the same thing. And the next, and the next, and the next… so I finally asked him what was that thing he was drinking every afternoon and he told me it was his lunch. In order to save time cooking, he decided that during the bootcamp he would feed himself with powder food. That was the first hint that his dedication to what he was learning here was exceptional.

A few days later, we were talking and he mentioned he was a miner before. “A data miner” I thought. “Maybe he’s been working with other languages and wants to learn JavaScript now.” But no, I was too immersed in my own tech filter bubble. He had been a miner, yes, but an actual one. Back in Asturias, where he’s from, he’d been working in a coal mine. He even told us that once he’d been trapped in the mine where he was working for so many hours that he didn’t know whether he would eventually get out. He even heard his colleagues talking about him as if he was already dead.

#tbt ⛏

I went back home and told my friends about it. I was so impressed. How do you go from almost dying in a coal mine from building a web game to learn to play the bagpipe? Thanks to a coding bootcamp and unparalleled dedication.

This was not all though. Later I found out something else. After leaving his job in the mine, he became a security guard and that’s where he had been working until he started at Ironhack. He even completed the pre-work during his free time working at a supermarket.

From that day on, I’ve told his story many, many times. At our campus he has become kind of a legend. Everyone — new students, new staff, new teachers — has heard the story of the guy who went from being a miner to being the first of his cohort to get hired. They have also heard the story of the student who was working as a security guard while preparing to get into Ironhack and they couldn’t believe it when they find out it’s actually the same person.

Héctor has been working as a developer @ Blueliv since he graduated from Ironhack.

We talk a lot about how a bootcamp can transform your life. From the outside looking in, I know this can sometimes sound like BS but Héctor is the proof that the change is not only possible, but also real if you work hard enough. It’s been over a year since he was an Ironhack student and I’ve seen many more with amazing stories, but to this day his is still one of the most inspiring to me.