From ultramarathons to code school: Hannah’s Story

The folks at The Iron Yard recently reached out and asked me a few questions about my experience as a student in the Front-End Engineering program last year. The following is their writeup, which you can see on their blog here.

At the beginning of 2016, Hannah Swift set two New Year’s Resolutions for herself: Run an ultramarathon and become a professional software developer (neither of which are easy feats.)

In March 2016, Hannah completed a 55K run through Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border, and then in June she began the Front-End Engineering course at The Iron Yard in Nashville. By October, she landed a job as an Associate Interactive Developer at Nashville advertising agency, GS&F.

So how did she make it all happen?

Prior to The Iron Yard, Hannah did a little bit of everything. Her undergraduate degree is in public relations and for the first few years out of college, she worked in PR for nonprofit organizations. Later, she worked at the YMCA on and off, as a nanny, worked at a hospital and also did freelance photography work.

Ultimately, it was her freelance photography work that got Hannah interested in learning to code. “I set up my website using Squarespace and I loved switching up the template and editing my website,” she said. “I found that I enjoyed the process of editing my website just as much as I did taking photos.”

She started by looking at online coding tutorials but eventually found that if she really wanted to do this, she would need to learn with a professional teacher. After doing her research, she decided The Iron Yard seemed like the best fit for her in terms of timing, cost and culture, and enrolled in the Front-End Engineering course.

“The Iron Yard was a lot of fun,” Hannah said. “It was such an awesome bonding experience with my classmates; one of them described it as summer camp. We got to hangout all day everyday together. It was so tough but we were all in it together.”

After graduating, Hannah landed a great job working on the development team at advertising agency GS&F. Her focus is primarily on Front-End, but similar to her past, she does a little bit of everything.

“I work on a handful of different clients and companies,” Hannah explained. “A lot of my tasks are styling and supporting other developers. I do a lot of back-end maintenance, but really it’s a million different little things. Everyday is different.”

And Hannah found the transition from student to professional to be surprisingly easy. “It was so nerve wracking the first few days, but the team I work on has two other bootcamp grads, two are self-taught and two have computer science degrees. There is a range of perspectives and experience on the team, and while there is a learning curve going into any new job, it has been great.”

Looking back over the past year, Hannah is excited about achieving her goals and confident others can do the same. “Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be born with a ‘tech mindset’ – I certainly wasn’t – just learn one thing at a time and eventually you’ll have a full skill set.”

“2016 was the first year I had ever set New Year’s Resolutions for myself and I achieved them both,” Hannah said. “It has given me so much confidence in setting new goals for myself in the future. You don’t get there overnight, it takes months of planning and hard work, but at the end of the day you feel really accomplished.”

Thanks for reading, friends! Let's not forget to challenge ourselves to learn and grow through all seasons of our lives.