1 Year Latter: Was Attending The Iron Yard Worth It?

It recently dawned on me that I graduated from The Iron Yard one year ago. Wow. Time flies. I started reflecting on all that has taken place over the past 12 months since I graduated. I recall all the internal questions that I had prior to attending The Iron Yard (which I will refer to as 'TIY' for the remainder of this post) The biggest question I had was will this really change my career and life? Will I really become a professional developer in 3 months??? Read on to find out about the ups and downs of the last 12 months of my life...

I'd like to start out by saying that this is my story, and I have no clue what the average student's success or failure is. So don't take anything I have to say as gospel truth that applies to everyone who chooses to attend TIY.

I want to cover really 3 main things in this article:

  1. Where I was at when I graduated. (skills, finances, employment status etc.)

  2. What I hoped to accomplish over the upcoming 12 months, post-graduation. (same categories as number 1)

  3. Where I am today (in other words, what actually happened)

3a. What I hope to accomplish during the 12 months of 2016

Where I was at when I graduated from TIY

Skills: While I didn't really 'feel' like a 'professional' developer, but I most definitely was one. Though at the time I didn't realize it. (I suffered from a full-blown case of Imposter Syndrome)

It's hard to articulate my skills. I know where I was prior to attending TIY, and where I was at on the day I graduated. Comparing the two would be like comparing night and day. I was on a new level skill wise. I knew zero JavaScript when I walked into TIY, and when I graduated I'd built an app from scratch using Ember (a JavaSCript framework), and I'd won a Google Startup weekend competition. I took first place, and won crowd favorite for the app I built over a weekend!

Finances: Just about a week before I graduated (I was in the last cohort of 2014 in Greenville SC) I was broke as a joke, I mean 100% out of money. I used every penny that I had (and every penny I could borrow) to get into and then through TIY. (paying for all my expenses back home(my house, daycare, bills etc.), plus all my living expenses while in South Carolina. My checking account had a negative balance it was a time of uncertainty for me personally.

During that period I heard the voices of every single person who told me I was a fool for quitting my job to attend TIY. I heard my family members who laughed in my face when I told them I was going to TIY, they were convinced it was a scam and wondered how I couldn't see that. I recall standing on the steps outside the building wondered if they were right??

Employment Status: I was unemployed and had no plans to get a job. I wanted to freelance, or work remote doing contract work. However, my campus director recommended that I apply for jobs, and submit proposals for freelance gigs simultaneously. He said that he wanted me to have 2-3 options before I had to make a decision.

I thought that was sound advice and decided to follow it.

+++ Update Nov 5th 2016 +++

I started writing this post near the end of 2015 and never finished it. I have neglected to blog for over a year :o\ I have opted to post this draft as is even though it far from finished.

Here's the cliff notes version of things:

TIY changed my life and financial future forever. To date, it is the best investment I have ever made. I went from making $30K a year to today making six figures. At the time I am writing this update almost 2 years have passed since I graduated from TIY.

I have a great job, and have turned down multiple high five figure job offers (all $90K+) It's so crazy to look at where my life is now vs where it would have been if I had skipped TIY and stayed on my old job (which everyone in my life told me to do!) I was making $15.40 an hour when I quit my old job prior to attending TIY, if I had stayed in that position I would be making $17 - $18 bucks an hour today. (at best!)

I plan to start blogging again and will catch you up on where my life is at now and where I am going moving forward. (and of course, I'll be talking about all the cool stuff I am building. There will be some cool technical posts coming!)

Until next time,


Jay Wilson Jr.

Did you know: Jay is a Emergency Medical Technician & Front-End Developer. He enjoys spending time with his daughter and learning new stuff. He likes to make people laugh and is a all around cool guy.

Bedford, Va.