just the beginning part II…

I recently started a new job. it is freaking awesome. I work with a tons of incredibly smart individuals that are far beyond what I only hope to become. They make me look forward to what I hope to become. I have been given the option recently to complete my project in the languages I am used to writing in or to write it in something completely new. I have decided to take that path “less traveled”. I want to expand my knowledge base as much a possible so I went with the ‘not knowing’ route.

I will not lie, it has been hard, even trying at times. What I know I could accomplish in a mere hour with something like rails/ruby, takes me a solid hour to 4 in JS/Node/Express/Angular. I spend most of my time just googling how to do something or looking at other individual’s code examples. Which makes me want to post more and more tutorials on how to do things because god knows they have been a saving grace for me (and yes, I am going to start writing more and more technical tutorials and tidbits on this blog)… So to those of you that provide open source material and tutorials for dudes like me, I appreciate you.

**I started this post at the beginning of the current project I was working on and time is quickly approaching to the end. I have learned so much about the MEAN stack and couchDB. I never thought I would be creating an API with node. It’s awesome. The days seem to go by too quick. I have created a node module in my app for scheduling jobs (queries to run against selected DBs on selected servers). It may not be the craziest piece of code written, but I wrote it! Everything from event emitters, to chaining underscore methods, to using document stores in a noSQL db, to using streams to cut down on memory footprint. It has been a blast… and its only just the beginning!! I can’t wait to see how much I know in another 6 months time. Having the chance to learn tons of new things everyday make using the word ‘work’ seem almost wrong. Because on the FUNdamental level, yes, that is what it is, but it is so hard to call what I do “work”.

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. -Pablo Picasso

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.

Bliss

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… Myrallyfit.com . 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.