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Great question. The answer depends on which school you compare us to, so we’ll talk through the most common options people ask about. If you want, give us a call (855-399-2275) or send us an email. We love talking about code schools and want to help you make the right choice (even if that means it’s not our school).
Let’s tackle what makes us unique by category.
Online resources and information
We love telling people that you can find almost all of the raw information in our curriculum online, for free. It’s no secret: “Google University” has produced many a fine programmer. In almost every case, though, their skill was forged over years of experience, trial and error, and learning the hard way just how much horrible information and advice there is on the Internet. With the ever-increasing technological advances in the world of programming, it’s becoming even harder to sort the good from the bad and keep up with what new tools you should learn. Our course is designed to trim the fat you find online, compress learning time by showing you the right tools and resources to focus on, dive far deeper than most Internet tutorials take you, and, most importantly, teach you the intangible elements of being a great programmer (collaborative coding, architecture, work flows, good communication, etc.)
Online code education programs
We’re huge fans of online education. In fact, we’re good friends with the people at Treehouse and encourage all of our students to sign up so they can expand their knowledge, learn new languages, and continue practicing the art of code. What’s more, most students who come to us have spent time tackling some sort of online code tutorial. Almost all of them have realized that becoming a professional developer in the near future is going to take more than a few hours of tutorials on nights and weekends. What many don’t realize is that most online schools fail to plumb the depths needed in order to be a top-notch developer in a short amount of time. Instead of scripted, step-by-step assignments, our exercises focus first on problem solving, meaning students complete the same assignment in a variety of ways. This teaches them the real-world complexity of programming and gives our instructor live examples to teach from—the closest analogue you will get to solving real engineering problems in the real world.
Offline code schools
There are offline code schools popping up all around the world and their quality varies widely. After talking with students and instructors from other schools, here are a few things that we know set our program apart:
You can read about tuition, financing and scholarships on our Tuition Page.
When you are accepted to The Iron Yard Academy, you join a family that extends far beyond your individual class or campus. Our code school and accelerator graduates comprise a national network of tech professionals, giving you access to people and companies in almost every sphere of the industry.
If you choose to enroll in the career support program, we’re committed to helping you get where you want to go. Every student who has fully participated our process has gotten a job in the field. Here are the details:
We are going above and beyond just your first job offer. We are currently building out ongoing edcuation materials on advanced topics so that as you progress in your career you can have continued access to proven resources from The Iron Yard. We're also laying the groundwork for an alumnit mentorship network, ongoing access to our staff, alumni events and more. Your first gig is just the first step—we want your relationship with The Iron Yard to provide ongoing value as you progress in your career.
We believe in what we do and our program is extremely selective, so if we can’t produce the right result, someone’s doing something wrong.
Give us a call (855-399-2275) or send us an email for more details.
Didn't you have an actual job guarantee at one point?
Yes, we did. And we still would have the actual guarantee were we not seeking to be fully licenesed post-secondary educational institutions in every state where we operate. What?? Yeah, seems crazy, doesn't it? You can read the full details in this blog post, but the short story is that in almost all cases, state licensing organizations have a rule against using the word "guarantee" in messaging, or even implying that placement in a job is promised. That has been a core promise of ours since the beginning, because we believe so much in our ability to get people ready for junior level web development roles. We have a proven track record—we've never had to issue a refund to a student.
Now to comply with licensing requirements we will be phasing out the language around the job placement "guarantee". For new locations launched from today, the job placement guarantee will no longer be part of the offer. Make no mistake: kick-ass career support and job placement will still be our goal, but we can no longer—by law—offer a guarantee or promised outcomes.
We've decided to go above and beyond simply job placement. As we said above, we're working to make our student experience better, taking you beyond just your first job. In January, 2015, we will be introducing several new programs to make our student experience even better, including ongoing educational opportunities, unique alumni mentorship relationships and continued career support.
We have a 100% success rate. We’ve never had to give a refund to a single student. Want to talk to our graduates? Give us a call (855-399-2275) or send us an email.
Our students pursue all types of programming careers when they leave The Iron Yard, from small web shops, venture-funded startups and marketing agencies to established product companies and design firms. Many of our students also choose to pursue freelance or contract work for the flexibility they provide.
Here’s a list of a few of our hiring partners to give you an idea:
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it’s true: we teach people who don’t have any prior coding skill. We do require people to dip their toe in the water by going through some basic online tutorials during the interview process, but that’s simply so they have a chance to actually write the language and be certain they want to dive into three heavy duty months of it. Don’t get us wrong—you won’t be a CTO when you get done with the program, but you will be one of the top junior-level programmers available for hire and have the foundation upon which to pursue a CTO-like role.
We will start our answer to this question by making an import an distinction: information isn’t the same as knowledge, and from our experience with work that students do ahead of time, information (and pre-work) only goes so far in helping you do well in our classes.
The primary reason is that in most situations, scripted assignments and even understanding the vernacular of a language doesn’t teach you how to think about the subject on a deep level. Let’s take learning a foreign language as an example. If you wanted to learn Mandarin, you could buy books on the language and listen to Rosetta Stone. You’d gather a lot of information about the language—sentence structure, vocabulary and more. As many people have found out, though, even if you’ve done well with those tools, it’s a different game when you get to the country and hear natives speak. It can even be hard to understand because they are speaking so quickly and with ‘imperfect’ pronunciations related to their region, etc. That’s why people say, “if you really want to learn Mandarin, go live in China.” Knowing sentence structure and vocabulary help, but only so much. And in fact, if you dive into the deep end first (by moving to China, for example), you find that those things come naturally because you’re learning the foundations of the language—its history, culture, mechanics and slang. Having context and foundation for details mean they fit easily into place as you grow in your knowledge of a subject.
Some schools use a huge amount of pre work as a substitute for intensity or instruction during the actual class. (Some only offer 20 minute lectures!) From our experience, that really does a disservice to students—complex subject matter like Rails warrant far more time in the classroom.
At The Iron Yard, we assign very light amounts of pre-work. There are a few exercises and some reading, but the goal is mainly to familiarize you with some terms and basic concepts.
Why? Our classes are so intensive that even if people do a huge amount of pre-work, the entire class is generally on a level playing field by the second week. In fact, most students have said that going through The Iron Yard is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. Part of the reason for that is we don’t give scripted assignments or follow-along-step-by-step projects. Everything is very open ended so that our instructors can help you develop the mental muscle required to think through the foundations of building an application, from architecture to user experience to security to design.
From our experience, hours and hours spent reading or doing assignments ahead of time might make the first few weeks of class easier, but it doesn’t actually make you any better of a programmer than people who didn’t do that same prework.
Black magic. (Just Kidding.)
First and foremost, we accomplish this through hiring the most talented people out there. Our employees are some of the most highly-paid people in their industry because they’re worth it.
Second, we all love what we do. The people we hire are passionate about changing people’s lives through code education, and they invest their heart and soul into making that happen. (Several have left huge companies and startups to join our team because they believe in our mission).
We are very clear with our students about how difficult this program is. We train professional programmers, not casual enthusiasts. Our average student puts in 60 hours per week, many have to invest more than that.
What makes it so demanding? You learn a new subject almost every day and have homework associated with that topic due at 8:00am the next day (or Monday if it’s a weekend). The assignments are cumulative, so you incorporate things you’ve already learned into new ones so that by the end you have muscle memory across the spectrum of the subjects you’re studying.
Don’t get us wrong—we’re not workaholics and we don’t want you to be either, but building the foundation for a great, balanced career is no easy task. Our policy is “work hard during class so you don’t have to afterwards.”
Here are quotes from people who have hired our students:
“When I hired Andrew McIntee to overhaul a handful of our web properties, I was blown away at how much he had learned from The Iron Yard Academy. We couldn’t be happier.”
-—Dan Waldschmidt, CEO of Waldschmidt Partners
“Tyler has been great. Each project he did had a unique layout and therefore needed a little more care than the templates for the rest of the site. The first week, I had him come in just to test the waters…and I hope to use him weekly/bi-weekly until they’re all live. He has a great personality, easy to talk to and work with. He takes direction well, and offers good solutions and alternative solutions. The markup that he produces is top notch—it was extremely easy for me to go in and make tweaks when I was stitching files together for launch. Overall, I’m really impressed. Can’t wait to see more guys like him come out of the program. Thanks for the recommendation.”
—Nathan Spainhour, Digital Guru at Brains on Fire
“Our latest programmer is an Iron Yard graduate and we’re impressed. She comes to us in learning mode from the academy and is picking up the languages that we need her to use quickly. She’s already added a lot of value and enthusiasm to the development team.”
—William Haynes, CEO of Sabai Technology
Want to talk about adding our grads to your team? Give us a shout.
We're so glad you asked. We'll let them tell you themselves.
“The Iron Yard has taught me a new way to think, given me confidence to move forward, and opened numerous doors on a path to a fulfilling programming career. Thinking about it? Stop, and just do it.”
—Daniel Jeffords, Class of April, 2013
“I came into the class as a small-time, self-taught web developer, the Iron Yard Academy helped me re-learn how to develop the right way. I can now write production-level code with confidence and collaborate effectively with other programmers. Going to this class taught me how to be a true craftsman of the web, dramatically increased my industry value, and opened up tons of doors for work.”
—Andrew McIntee, Class of April, 2013
“The staff is cool, easily approachable and encourages questions. The workspace and classroom are awesome. Aside from comfy furniture, they have a pool table, an open source video game console but best of all, you can draw on almost every wall in the building.”
—Ari Picker, Class of August, 2013
Want to talk to a graduate? Give us a shout and we’ll connect you.
We require all students to use a Mac laptop (specs below). Why, you ask? There are a few reasons:
Here are the minimum specifications required:
Mavericks is a free upgrade from Apple, so even if your operating system is older you can get the latest and greatest without having to spend any money. Not sure if your machine is compatible? Below is a list of Mac laptops that can run Mavericks. You can also read all of the details about Mavericks compatibility on Apple's website.
We don't offer formal housing in most cities, but we do help students locate potential short-term lodging for the duration of the course. Visit our locations page and reach out to local staff for more information.
We love talking to people about what makes our school different and how it can change their lives.