Scenes From Seven Cohorts

Two years ago, my first cohort graduated at The Iron Yard in Houston, Texas. 12 students received their diplomas and started their journey, their career, and their new life.

Five cohorts followed; today my seventh, and final, immersive cohort will present their final projects and begin the next phase of their live. I look back and remember:

  • A young student and his mother and grandmother, all dressed up, crying because of the job offer he received, and never thought he’d have access to this type of career.
  • The mom, who used to develop software, took 6 years off to raise kids, and received their job offer to rejoin the workforce and support her family.
  • The lawyer, who, while crying, thanked me for helping her to realize the dream she’s had for years.
  • The anthropologist who has gone on to multiple jobs, press interviews, and generally kicks all sorts of ass.
  • The musician who graduated, brought his friends to The Iron Yard, and all started a company together.
  • The waiter, who felt stuck in a dead end career, giving meetup talks and negotiating better jobs.
  • The veteran, coming back to the US after Afghanistan, and starting a career.
  • The scientist, always pushing herself to do more, learn more, and be more. Watching her build up the nerve to negotiate her salary/benefits, not for herself, but because more women should.
  • The star of the course, developing open source software and sharing interesting things he finds on the internet with me. (I’m learning from him)
  • My TA, coming back and sharing her time with students, one-on-one, and helping run RailsGirls and helping even more people.
  • And so many others…

I want to thank you all; I was a smart part of your journey, and you were a big part of mine.


Something that actually matters

Overall, I’ve graduated nearly 100 students over 7 cohorts. I started at the Iron Yard in 2014 with a healthy skepticism on code-schools – I thought, ‘hey JWo, you’ll be able to help with things you care deeply about.’ Namely:

  • Helping to solve the diversity problem in Tech.
  • Teaching kids how to code.

Being a part of something that actually matters to you is an experience I highly recommend. I spent the first 18 years of my career trading my time and ability to tell computers what to do in exchange for money. You know, as you do.

But being able to do so AND help people AND align with your core desires – it’s an emotional experience I cannot fully describe.

I’m proud of what I’ve done at The Iron Yard in Houston, believe whole-heartily in TIY’s ability to affect real and lasting change for people, and want to expand the scope of the people I can help.

Add some zeroes to that number

On Monday, I’ll start a new position at The Iron Yard as the Director of Back-End Engineering. I’ll lead the effort to wrangle the curriculum for the back-end stacks we teach at TIY nationally: Rails, .NET, Java, and Python, as well as help develop curriculum for non-immersive courses.

I hope to be able to expand the people we can help, including those who cannot take a 12 week immersive code school. Additionally, I’m excited to experiment with other formats and show off the technology TIY’s internal tech team has built. So Excite. Such potential. Very future.

My goal: as bittersweet as it is to finish leading 15 students on a twelve week journey, I hope to add some zeroes to that number. At 20 campuses (currently), The Iron Yard is the largest codeschool in the country; helping instructors help students has the potential to change even more lives.


I’m like this:


No really, see: