When One Teaches, Two Learn

To conclude our first week of “javascript bootcamp” at The Iron Yard (SLC), we had two former student visitors today, to provide more visceral and authentic advice. By ‘more’ I mean, all the motivational maxims and inspiring quotations aside, there’s something far more digestible to me when the motivator is just a rung or two above ‘peer’ in my present struggle. I sense their admiration mixed with true empathy for what we’re undertaking. Drew and Kevin finished the last cohort, but — as Teddy Roosevelt extolled — they remember and admire the striving valiantly and erring, coming short ‘again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.’


Here is some solid advice they passed along:

* network effectively (instead of just getting accepted into senior programmers’ and recruiter’s LinkedIn accounts); take folks to lunch and find out about them as people, not just potential check-signers.

* Expect to emerge into a local job culture a bit over-crowded with many other hungry ‘junior developers’. Strategize how to leverage our life experience.

* Never say ‘I don’t know’ to an interview question. That’s not inviting any kind of conversation. That’s a period – end of discussion.

* My favorite advice, though, recalls Robert Heinlein’s dictum, which titles this blog entry. Drew and Kevin offered their cohort’s great lesson: ‘help stragglers. It’s kind but more selfishly, they’ll return the favor when you are lost.’

I’ve been looking for collaboration baked into a course’s teaching design. I think I’ve found it. I hope so! Yesterday was our first time but 6 of us will perfect our mob-coding in a group project every Thursday for the next 2 months; we move seating 2x a week, to work alongside new folks. Friday has Iron Pints at 1:30, where everyone leaves their computers and gathers in a code-free zone, to socialize and imbibe, and be congenial.

The IronYard offers an intense 12 week front-end engineering curriculum with what seem like a palpable intention for supporting us.