Cheers! and Thank You.

My name is Kevin Collins. I started The Iron Yard on March 21st as a student. I started again on July 20th as a teaching assistant and I now come to the end of my tenure this week. This is my parting thought:

Sitting in a team meeting on a rainy thursday afternoon, my thoughts suddenly drifted off on their own. Thoughts inspired by a wise individual who spoke a set of everlasting words. He spoke of his delight, of his joy, that what he was doing was worthwhile. How in the most basic aspects of things, he was having a hand in people’s lives. Little did he know that every syllable he uttered was creating an undying memory in my head.

People come to The Iron Yard and forever end up on a different path in life and he was directly influencing that path. He had a hand in helping people change their lives, for the better. He was guiding them through what often times seems like a dark tunnel with only the faintest of lights ahead. We come into The Iron Yard with aspirations and goals, with thoughts and hopes of different lives only a few months down the road and they are here to help make that the most unbelievable of realities.

I have sat silent quite often recently just reflecting on where I have come from and where I am going. I have thought about these incredibly passionate, persistent and patient mentors that are helping us reach that light at the end of the tunnel. You are helping us achieve those dreams. You are guiding us along this path to make us what we want to be. You are changing our lives.

As I type this, the current class only has a week left before they present all their hard work, their blood, sweat and tears to a swarm of potential employers and family members. They get to stand up in front of that crowd and hold their heads high with the knowledge that they have garnered throughout the course of time they have spent here with us. I can not express the amount happiness it provides me to know that I have been able to help them. I can truly say now that I understand those words that so nonchalantly came from his mouth.

So here it is… Thank You. Thank you Peter, Eric, John and Mason for building an environment that allows us to change our lives, to follow our passions and to help make our dreams realities. Thank you Nick, Calvin and Sally for being mentors, for helping us reach that light at the end, for never giving up on the ones who have wanted this and for the words you spoke that you had no idea affected us as much as they did. All of our lives are changed, for the better, because of you. While I am honestly sad my time with The Iron Yard is coming to an end, I know that I will carry these relationships/friendships for life. I am utterly and completely excited for my future and for the future of all these others. Here’s to the future friends, cheers.



It has been a busy and rewarding past 6 months. The best decision I made was quitting my job, moving back to Charleston from Colorado and enrolling in The Iron Yard. I took complete control of my life and decided that I would never work a day in my life again unless it was doing something fun and challenging that required me to constantly learn and I could be completely passionate about. Enter computer coding and web development. I have fell completely in love. I get to solve challenging problems day in and day out. I get to write things that 90% of the world do not know how to. I get to create things from nothing. I get to takes ideas and turn them into reality. It is a great feeling, but, best of all…I am constantly learning!

What is even more awesome is the job prospects I have been presented with recently. I have had some amazing opportunities and have had the privilege to choose a job out of a stack of offers. Not only that, but it’s a job that I am so incredibly excited for. I believe in everything they are doing and can not wait to start this next chapter in my life!

I will leave you with some wise words that were introduced to me by one of the greatest women I know, my grandmother.

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. – Joseph Campbell

Always having fun and growing.

Man! I need to post more! That will be a habit I start as life continues over these next few months. I have had a great past couple of months! Since graduating from The Iron Yard a lot has happened.

I am a teaching assistant for the current Ruby on Rails course that is being taught. It is a absolutely amazing opportunity! I have been able to help students that are in the same spot I was just a short time ago. They are facing similar challenges and the same feelings that I was faced with. It has helped reinstill a lot of the basic ruby fundamentals and given me the chance to become better at debugging and understanding how others are architecting their code. It has been an extremely rewarding and exciting experience. I was brought on to a past classmate’s digital health startup.

This has been an incredible experience. I was lucky enough to have a past classmate bring me onboard to help do work on his startup. It has been a challenging, fun and rewarding experience. I have learned tons implementing new features for him. It seems every time I would implement something new, that it would break everything else. So, I found myself sitting there one day and I had this internal thought, “Man, I really wish we had more tests throughout this application!”. I never thought the day would come that I would be wishing for more tests, but, it did and I completely stand by that. This app is going to go far. It is a freaking amazing idea with a ton of potential. Head on over and check it out… . Apart from work, I have been keeping busy with fun stuff outside of it.

I recently took part in the 4th annual Sparc Hackathon. Pardon my language…. HOLY SHIT! What a fun and rewarding time. I spent 2 days hanging out with incredibly talented and smart individuals hacking away on what is a cool little iPhone app. After being assigned the category “Harry Potter”, we built a wand dueling app that lets you challenge other iPhones in “realtime”. We used rails for the back end and angular and ionic on the front to make it into a real iPhone app.  It was a ton of fun coding for 11 hours straight and seeing what some of the other teams came up with. I learned a lot and got to see some incredibly smart people come up with a ton of cool stuff.


Till next time…


“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” – Steve Jobs

New Persepctives

I am currently a TA at The Iron Yard. I get to help people everyday, even in the smallest of ways. Only a short time ago I was just a student struggling to get through my first week of class. Now I’m a software engineer / Teaching assistant. That is freaking awesome!

I get to come into TIY each day and help people, wether its with their code or simply by letting them know that it’ll be ok. That what they are doing is worth it 110%. I get to help someone that is in the same position I was, that might be having the same anxious thoughts I was or simply having a hard time understanding a .each loop. I don’t know about you, but I love being able to help people and that is what goes on day in, day out here at TIY. TAs helping instructors, instructors helping TAs, instructors helping students, TAs helping students, students helping students… so much help!!! This is where the new perspective begins…

I have such a greater respect for the instructors here because of being able to help. I could easily tell someone what to type to get what they want working, but instead I have to dissect their code in my head, formulate a good way to solve their problem and then get them to figure out how to solve their problem without ever actually telling them the answer. That is freaking hard! So this is my hat off, my nod to all instructors at The Iron Yard. You guys/gals are freaking awesome!!

“Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee, and do not try to make the universe a blind alley.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It has only just begun.

I have finished up my schooling(crap, my sarcasm font is not working). I will never ever be done learning. Everyday I read some snippet about code that makes me want to get lost in pages and pages of articles trying to wrap my head around a new idea. Unfortunately, there are still only so many hours in the day. Now that I am done with school, the job hunt has begun. I am actively applying to numerous awesome jobs. I have already had some interviews and those alone taught me so many lessons. But the biggest lesson, is that it has all just begun. I have barely scraped the surface of what software engineering is. I have so much to still learn and could not be more excited for it. For now, my current goal is finding a job working with some awesome people on some awesome code. I am so pumped to see what comes from all this job searching/applying.

Problem Solving

Everyday my mind is blown. I realize I can do something I never thought I would be able to do. Whether it is in my life as a programmer or in some other aspect of my life, like rock climbing. Rock climbing and programming are very similar. They both involve extreme dedication and hard work. They require a unique passion and love. They require being calculated and focused. They require tons of planning and methodically thought out decisions. They are both about solving problems. About viewing something massive and breaking it down and tackling it in small chunks. Tackling what I never thought I could. About tackling things in a thought out planned way. It’s about being able to distinguish the million different ways of accomplishing a goal/task and executing against that in an educated/planned fashion.

I am able to approach things in a different manner now. To understand the final goal and know that there are 1000 steps to get there, but its all about taking it one step at a time and just taking that first step. I have become someone who sees a problem and does not get worried about the complexity of it but rather embraces that complexity. I have become someone who does not need to be worried about failing, because some of the best lessons are taught in the face of failure. That being said, it is only a failure if you learn nothing from it. I have become someone who is able to do so many more things then before because of the individuals at The Iron Yard. Because of both what I have been taught and what I have been challenged with.  I can only become successful if I can take the risk.

Giving Back

I’ll make this quick…


Yesterday I had the opportunity to volunteer. I helped out at an elementary school in North Charleston with a bunch of 3rd – 5th graders that are learning to code. It was their first class and there are only 11 of them. They are using a program that MIT made called “scratch”. It is really cool and after only barely playing with it, I can see how it can help kids learn to think in a more logical manner when it comes to programming and life in general.


It felt really really good to be able to help out. To be able to help others at all. To be able, on the most basic level, to give back. Because, god knows, I have been lucky enough to get to where I am and it would not be that way if it were not for those important people in my life that have afforded me the chance to get to here. It is my turn to help, to give and to hopefully make the smallest difference in another persons life. I hope to have the opportunity to do it more.


We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. ― Winston S. Churchill

World Changing

I recently talked in a previous post about how I believe all my classmates would do something to better/change the world. Recently, some of us were taking advantage of half off burgers at one of the local eateries, when this was said (this is not verbatim) “ man, if for some reason i don’t succeed, it certainly will not be for the lack of trying or for the lack of effort. everyone is talking about leaving this class and changing the world. not me, I just would really like a front end job at a brewery and be able to drink beer and code.”

Now, I found this statement incredible. He said everyone wanted to change the world, but not him, like he didn’t think he could. But I wonder if he actually realized that he already was. He was going after what he wanted. He was trying to become what he wanted to be. To make a reality out of those words he so ineptly spoke moments before. If he continued to say things like that. And if he happened to share his story down the road, it very well could inspire someone to go for it. To take a chance, to take a risk, to follow their dreams and passions, to do better for themselves. Because that, right there, would be changing the world in my opinion. There are so few people that are willing to risk it, to chase their dreams, or do something others think they can’t. If we could only get more people to do the same thing, to give up the fucking complacency that they seem to hold near and dear, then the world would be changing for the better in my opinion.

What I truly envy are those that are changing the world. Those that are improving others lives. Those that are helping to help others change the world. And most of all, those that are changing the world without realizing they are even doing so, even if they think they might.

Take that comment and insert my current instructor, Nick. Dude is a beast at what he does(beast in the most awesome freaking way possible). He is teaching us ruby on rails. He is teaching us how to find answers. How to work through problems on our own. He is never leaving us hanging. But it is equally up to us to put forth the effort to find those answers, though at times it is incredibly trying. But he is enabling all of us to do things, that in my opinion, I never even thought I could do. He is helping us to become what we want to be. Giving us the tools to be successful, if we choose to be. He is providing us the opportunity to change the world. And that, is world changing.

Here’s to the crazy ones — the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. -Steve Jobs



What is The Iron Yard?

Man! i never know where to begin with these blog post… its so hard to write when I have a million thoughts in mi brain that all want to be ejected onto this one post alone. I apologize if at any time it gets hard to follow.

It is so hard when someone asks me “What is The Iron Yard?”. I could give the simple, easy answer… its a code school. But even that would generate blank stares from some. But really, what I want to say is this:

“It is a place that tests every ounce of will you have, it is a place that you don’t enter into unless you have the dedication and the drive and the passion. It is something that is not for the weak at heart. It is a place that completely destroys your current way of thinking and replaces it with an entirely different mindset. It is a place that teaches you the syntax, teaches you to think like an engineer and teaches you how to persevere among many other things.”

This place is freaking awesome! We come into it as person A and we leave as person B. It is not just somewhere that produces software engineers or coders or front end engineering guys/gals, or ruby developers, or iOS developers. But a place that produces awesome people. I will be a completely different person when I leave here. A different person for the better. It is not just teaching me to be a developer/programmer/engineer but to be a better person. I will approach life in such a different manner then I did when I walked through those doors on the first day. It is brilliant! My way of thinking has completely changed and we are still 2 months from graduation. I understand what it means to have drive, to do everything I can to find answers on my own (not that I don’t have badass instructors to show me those answers, but hey, you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach him to fish and feed him for life).

It may sound incredibly strange but I seriously feel privileged to be able to attend a school like this, to be taught/mentored by the people I currently am, and to form the relationships that I currently am. I have said it in past posts but I am part of a group of some incredibly intelligent and cool people. I’m lucky. I wrote a rails app this week that is essentially a giant rolodex for all Iron Yard students (so cleverly(sarcasm) dubbed “The Iron Book”). Because I really want to keep in touch and follow each and every one of my fellow schoolmates after we all leave here, cause I expect that they will all do crazy awesome things that will do better for the world.

Also, did I mention how pumped I am every day to wake up and get to class. It is such an incredible feeling loving the challenges you’re faced with, being stoked to wake up early to do something you love, and to do it along side people that are generally fucking good/cool/awesome/smart/creative individuals. I chose this life, I chose to give up everything to do this, to risk so many things (just like many many of my fellow schoolmates did). But you know what, you got to be willing to risk it all if you plan on making it anywhere worth while in life. I wouldn’t trade any of these challenges or hard times, or complicated/mind boggling classes for anything. This is the Iron Yard!!!!


“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

— Robert F. Kennedy

Life Changing

Where to begin, oh where to begin? hmmm, heck if i know. I have never done a blog, not good at writing or being articulate and certainly do not think anyone cares to read this stuff. So i’ll just go for it. Let me explain how I knew life was about to take a major turn. It was a few days before class was slated to begin, the school was hosting an open house with founders and guests and classmates. It was a nice gathering filled with good conversation amongst everyone. Also, plenty of booze for everyone (as there seems to be at any tech event). Towards the end of the evening, John Saddington ( broke everyones conversation to politely tell everyone to get the fuck out so the hosting party could get back to their own lives. But not before giving a speech, that unbeknownst to me, would stir quite a bit of emotion. I can not restate it verbatim, nor will I try. But he basically thanked us for letting them be a part of a life changing experience and it was not till this point, that I had taken the time , not only to think about that, but really let it sink in.

This moment was just that, a life changing moment. It brought up an immense amount of emotion within me. Excitement, fear, happiness, anxiety just to name a few. All of those raced through my body at once. It was like being hit by a mac truck, in the best way possible. I was embarking on a journey to better my life, a challenge to test my will, an adventure that would allow for me to be able to wake every morning and be absolutely stoked on what I will be calling work. It was overwhelming and satisfying all in the same moment. I had the courage to drop everything, to move across the country, to risk debt, to risk failure (though there is no way I would let myself fail) just to chase what I wanted to do. But it was not until that moment, that life changing moment, that I realized my life would be changing. Forever changed, for the better, I will be.

I am so incredibly excited for the rough times ahead, the lack of sleep and the roadblocks I will surely face. Because I know, that there are these badass, caring and awesome people leading/mentoring me. Not only that, but the entire cohort here, front end students and back end students, are fucking awesome! So glad to have such great people to face these challenges and changes with. And to end things off here on my first post (of many), I’ll use a quote from Maya Angelou that sir Saddington uses, because I believe he exemplifies it:


“people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”