I’ve been writing a whole lot over the last weeks, but most of it has been internal communication at The Iron Yard or personal reflection. I thought I’d start the 2015 blogging season with a letter I wrote to our company earlier this month about what we do and why.
I’m not a huge “resolutions” guy when it comes to New Years, but I’m always for stepping back to look what we’re doing and why. The first Weekly Education Thought of 2015, right after we’ve kicked off a huge number of classes across the country (many taught by new team members), is a great time to do just that.
I could write a tome, but I’m going to keep today’s post brief. Being able to articulate what you are doing and why quickly and simply helps keep the mission in the forefront of the mind.
What are we doing at The Iron Yard?
As simply as possible:
“We create significant life change by training people pursuing new careers in the tech and design industries. “
A few important notes:
- Notice that we use the words “life change.” That’s important—our programs aren’t simply about ‘getting good at programming’ or ‘understanding interface design.’ Our high standards go far beyond skill and extend to integrity, respect, hard work and building relational capital.
- Training is also an important word. Imparting critical knowledge and skills is central to what we do. We are a teaching organization—a place where people come to learn, but also a place where we’re constantly learning ourselves. Learning will always be woven into the fiber of what we do and who we are.
- We specify the “tech” and “design” industries. These are, of course, interrelated in many ways, but the point here is that we’re focused. Our employees are widely talented and highly specialized, experienced professionals. We have built this company to have an authentic, material role in the industries that our graduates will work in.
Why are we doing this?
First and foremost,
“We are all here because we truly want to help people.”
That’s an easy thing to say, of course, but those of you who have been on the front lines of helping students know that the battle is sometimes fierce. It is sometimes draining. It is sometimes disappointing. It almost always requires lots of really hard work. And, ultimately, seeing someone undergo amazing life change is one of the greatest, most fulfilling privileges we get to experience—especially as a part of our jobs.
“We’ve decided to be part of solving some of the problems that are plaguing our broken education system.”
A more full treatment of this subject can be found in the many past Weekly Education Thought posts, but for our purposes today I’ll use a quote from Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity.
“We are in for a rocky ride—we are at an inflection point,” Thrun said. “Things like tuition rates, bureaucracy, and job investments, are all colliding right now. And the level of education that you need to have for even the most basic job has gone up. For an educator to ride the wave, you have to embrace experimentation and openness towards technology.”
We’re not trend-seekers and our goal isn’t to “ride the wave” (it’s to help people, as I said above), but there is no doubt that education has already begun it’s rocky ride of adaptation. To see this tangibly, we don’t have to look any further than our students. In our new promo video, which I will share with the team later today, multiple students mention that their experience at The Iron Yard was far superior to the ‘traditional path’:
- There’s no way I could have learned as much I did in twelve weeks. I probably wouldn’t have learned as much in 4 years doing a CS degree.
- I value this experience and this education even over my university degree.
As I reflect on the last year and the path ahead of us in 2015, I can’t help but repeat in my mind that we are doing important work. We aren’t perfect—no company is perfect—but we’re doing a damn fine job and everyone is working hard to make our work better every day.I feel incredibly privileged to be on this mission with each and every one of you.