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Iron Yard code school to close all campuses (theironyard.com)
127 points by huntermeyer on July 21, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 124 comments

I am going to go out on a limb here and say it has nothing to do with the code school business model but instead by the for-profit colleges that bought both the Iron Yard and Dev School (which shut down recently).

It is my belief that for-profit schools (in these cases Apollo Group and Kaplan Test Prep) have looked at code schools as potential cash cows devoid of the complications of both federal financial aid and the gainful employment entanglements associated with the "type" of students that typical for-profits schools attract. While for-profits seemed like a perfect fit for acquiring code schools (and I'm sure led to handsome paydays for the founders), these businesses brought bloat, inefficiencies, and baggage that could not operate in the fast-paced and nimble environments they bought into.

I can't speak for these two code schools but I heard from a reliable first-hand source that when Dev Mountain was bought out by Capella Education, the founders "checked out." What checked in was a bureaucracy that was more concerned about asses-in-seats than providing a bleeding-edge, entrepreneurial-driven education. If you look at the reviews of Dev Mountain by recent students there is no doubt whatsoever that this is what happened. Is this possibly what befell Iron Yard and Dev School? I can't say. What I can say from decades is that when you sell out to a for-profit school, you are very well dancing with the devil.

I was one of the original advisory board members of DevMountain (and father of one of the three founders). I also run an entrepreneur bootcamp in Utah, where DevMountain is located. This assertion about the founders of DevMountain "checking out" is unfounded. Sure, they are now wealthier than they were and have security and may seem more at ease (a natural occurrence after an exit), but they take their continuing roles seriously. Only one of the three to date has "retired" (about 8 months after the acquisition) and the other two (including my son) are still there working every day. Capella has been pleased with them. Also, just 10 minutes ago I heard about some exciting things being worked on and arranged by the founders -- innovative approaches to the industry. These two founders are still the top two leaders in the DevMountain subsidiary of Capella. They continue to innovate in the areas of coding bootcamp curriculum development, student success, marketing, and much more. As a side note, Capella has been a great acquirer, basically leaving DevMountain as it was, only adding some financial clout and general oversight, leaving the original DevMountain CEO in that position with nearly full discretion over the enterprise.

I know some of the guys at DM pretty well and I don't think they've "Checked Out". Which DM reviews are you talking about? These seem to tell a different story.


I can tell you all without a doubt, The Iron Yard closing has nothing to do with its performance. Someone bought somebody else and the new people in charge just don't want to spend the money. That's all.

Unfortunately there's nothing to be learned about code-bootcamps from this. I can tell you, however, as someone who recently completed TIY and now has a better job than any of my college-completing friends have, going through TIY was the best decision I ever made.

And you can safely ignore anyone who dismisses the level or quality of what you learn at TIY. I learned how to code and I learned how to continue to learn how to code. That's more than I can say for any of my other learning experiences which were almost completely focused on "passing".

I'll have to respectfully disagree. I'll tell you apart of the story you haven't heard about.

I was a founding person in a bootcamp that Apollo actually started (not bought) in Phoenix. Apollo started us two years before buying Iron yard. We were successful and well respected in Arizona and Apollo was very hands off with us letting us run as if we were a startup. Apollo decided to buy a bootcamp (Iron Yard) because Apollo has such crappy relationships with "department of education's" in every state that they could never grow us into other states like California which is where we were looking to go. So buying one that was already in other states was a good idea (they thought.)

So even though our parent company bought another camp, it didn't feel to us that we were acquiring them, we were basically told that TIY was going to absorb us as they saw fit. In that process we were treated pretty poorly by TIY -- basically like we didn't matter. The Iron Yard was going to open up a camp in Phoenix (and planning to piggyback on our success), but they treated us so poorly that nobody wanted to help them anymore and they had basically zero support from our Alumni who didn't appreciate their lack of respect for our camp staff. Soon they canceled their expansion to Phoenix. One of our camp's managers went to go work directly for them though much earlier in the acquisition process and when I asked him why TIY doesn't care about our camp, his response was basically that TIY was ran so poorly internally that it wasn't personal, that it was a disaster over there in TIY. Soon he quit and went back to Apollo management.

So, I would have to disagree, while Apollo does destroy many things, I'm fairly certain that the unwinding of TIY is their own doing (from a managerial standpoint). I have no doubt that they had good teachers thought who poured their hearts into the curriculum and students. So don't confuse my words for accusing TIY of having poor curriculum or teaching.

I went to one of their showcase events where the students show projects and bring resumes to meet potential employers. The amount of progress the students made from "never done this before" to show day was really impressive.

Yeah, only one person in my 8 person class had ever done any coding before. It would've taken me significantly longer than 3 months to get to that point and I don't know if I ever would've understood as much as I do now.

Knew two people who worked at their Detroit campus. If I'm remembering correctly they had more jobs lined up than students. Now Detroit isn't even listed on their website, yet it only opened in 2015. This filled a real need in Detroit and it saddens me.

>This filled a real need in Detroit and it saddens me.

The same is true for Houston. I'm about to hire an Iron Yard graduate for a junior dev position, and if I had the budget to more people, one of the other top candidates was also an Iron Yard grad.

If you'd like you could send me that dev's info (also in Houston)

The comments are pretty heart warming and show they definitely got something right.

I was an instructor there for 2 cohorts. It was probably the hardest I ever worked. The same was true for my fellow instructors. We were/are senior engineers who took the job for reasons other than money (it was a pay cut for me). We wanted to contribute back.

A few students had pretty bad experiences, I think. It was a very demanding program. Several times, I had full-grown adults break down and cry during our 1:1s. But over all, the majority of students thrived. It was life-changing-- in a good way-- for most of them, and that's why I and my fellow instructors were there.

It was one of the most meaningful periods of my career. I wouldn't go back and undo any of it, but I also won't be teaching at a code-bootcamp again. I'd consider a slower-paced program such as a university, tech school or high-school, though.

I taught at a traditional institution and had the same experiences you did. Although I had to leave because I lost confidence in the institution. I think you'd find the same challenges in a slower-paced program, to be honest - there's plenty to do. While I only spent 4 hours a day in the classroom, I spent the rest of it either grading, revising lessons to keep things fresh, or grading assessments. The most time consuming part was providing meaningful feedback. Sure I could've phoned it in, but nobody likes getting a grade without feedback. And nobody learns from it either.

Despite the hours, it was worth it tho. I love hearing from my former students. There are times when I wish I was still doing it.

When you care like you and I do, you put your whole self into helping people make a better life for themselves learning to do what you already love to do, you'll take the low pay and the stress because it outweighs the negative.

The sad thing is that people who run a lot of these places know that, so they can get away with paying you a lot less than you'd make if you stayed in dev.

Thanks for that perspective. I wonder if there's a better way to go about teaching? It sounds like the current model for both code-schools and universities is pretty crappy for the teachers. What can be done to improve this, do you think?

I have many many thoughts on what model would work. Sorry if this gets ranty...

I believe that the models that will be successful are models where there is curriculum designed to be done asynchronously, with ample time for practice and repetition to build skills, followed by assessment and feedback.

You do not need a classroom for this. A wise man once told me that a good teacher is not the sage on the stage, they are the guide on the side. And that's what adults need. They don't need to all sit in a room together being held back cos one person doesn't understand it. Lecture and talking and demos can all be done online on Youtube.

Or you make a web site, write some content and make some videos, give some practice problems with unit tests that tell the student if they got them right. Easy peasy. Nobody's time is wasted.

The third part is the part that doesn't scale - you need people to provide coaching and feedback. And you need one on one time to discuss feedback, options, choices, etc.\

Think about this:

If I tell you to make me a five page web site with a contact form, appropriate color scheme, valid semantic markup, clean CSS, appropriate color scheme, and content, then I have to do the following:

1. Develop lessons to give you the information on how to do these things 2. Give you ample opportunities and time to practice and excel at these things individually 3. Give you detailed feedback on your practice so you can practice more 4. Give you the time to do the assessment well 5. Review your work and give you detailed feedback on it so you learn.

Notice that I start with an end in mind, then work it out to get you to be successful - I don't just start teaching you a bunch of stuff and then make up some test... it's all planned out.

So the curriculum design takes time and planning. It's an art and science of its own and we learn new things about how people learn all the time. But a small group of folks can take the time to put curriculum together. There are people who study this for a living. They're not subject matter experts though, so you kinda do need both.

But notice all the places where there's review and feedback. That's the part that doesn't scale. That takes time. It takes a LONG time to give good, detailed feedback to a learner so they can improve. Your job isn't to fail them - it's to make sure they're successful - if they do their part and you do yours, they will be. (Obviously if you only put an hour into this final project there won't be much for me to give feedback on, so the learner has to put in the effort too) But you are their guide on the side, not the keeper of all knowledge that they must appease.

So to find people who are caring individuals who can be these instructors, who can help people understand the curriculum, who can coach them through the process, who can meet with them... that doesn't scale. People will need to be compensated for this. With benefits so they don't have to worry about their own well-being as well as their students'. But if you can figure out a way to scale this and finance it, it would work well. I interviewed for and was offered a position at a bootcamp that had a model very similar to this, but they were doing a commission-based salary based on number of students that chose you as their coach, so it was too risky for me. I hear they changed their model tho and are doing well. Hopefully more places will catch on.

Bottom line - good curriculum designed with outcomes in mind from the start, with everything aligned, is a good start. But learning happens through practice and feedback - I don't care how many times you read the book or watch the Pluralsight videos - you won't learn it till you practice it, do challenges someone else offers you, and internalize the feedback they give you once you're done.

Ah well... this got super ranty and I'm tired. I hope it makes sense. You can email me if you want to chat about this more. I'd be happy to do that.

Thanks for the rant! Enjoyed it.

Question: if the pay was such that you weren't taking a pay cut, would that have made you stay longer? What would the conditions have to be like for someone who's a senior engineer to even consider making "a career change" into teaching swe for the next 10 years of their career, rather than a 2 year moonlighting stint? (Wondering what the setup had to be too make this sustainable)

I don't know about the original poster, but I'd have stayed teaching full time if I could have afforded it. But I was literally making half of what my students were making after a couple of years in industry.

Another thing to think about is this: Just cos you know SWE really well doesn't mean you have the ability to teach it to others. Not everyone "gets" things quickly, or will understand your explanations on the first attempt, so you must be patient. Not everyone learns the same way, nor do they have the same educational experiences, so you must be kind. And not everyone has a great home life, and has a ton of distractions that prevent them from learning, so you must be empathetic. Finally, not everyone loves to code - they just want the dollars that come from a job and will do whatever it takes to get there, including lie, cheat, and do the bare minimum, so you must be firm and strong to avoid burning out and thinking they're all terrible lazy students.

There are people who can do this. But they're rare. And even rarer when they see the low paychecks offered.

It is too bad that these bootcamps can't find a way to invest real money in excellent teachers. A few of these teachers are great. The teachers are the core of the business, just like they are in a university. We all know what has happened to salaries there. I think if bootcamps and colleges keep paying teachers like they are worth less than one of the jillion dollar Vitra sofas these schools are furnished with, they deserve to fail hard. (nice sofas though) Perhaps this is one of the key areas of failure in the model? Just a suggestion. Most of these teachers really stink. These bootcamps value youth or a let's call it a"certain look" over teaching experience and teaching innovation and creative teaching techniques. They also hire a lot of sadly unqualified grads of their programs who are confused when current students submit apps that are slightly more complicated than what they are used to seeing. They have no idea how to reach out to a diverse array (no pun intended) of students, because they are usually the "tell me what to do - I just follow orders" type of student/employee themselves who are all too keen to buy into the positivity consensus so enthusiastically promoted by these bootcamps. I hope you can teach where you are appreciated one day.

Well, market-rate pay would be a good starter. TIY was really close. It was almost a horizontal move for me.

But there are a few other things that these kinds of institutions need to solve:

- How to keep your staff from burning out

- How to keep your staff up to speed

Both are hard problems. TIY (at the time that I taught there, anyway) was staffed by people who had 10-15 years (and more in some cases) of industry experience in a broad range of fields. If I spent the next 10 years of my career teaching, I suspect my value proposition would go down over time, as I began to have less and less relevant industry experience.

One thought was that schools of this nature should be a two-sided business. Instructors would teach for a cohort (or two) and then flip over into the consultancy side of the business for some time doing real-world industrial work.

I have a genuine question: What's different about doing consultancy that allows one to keep up to date? (As opposed to teaching)

My confusion comes from thinking of them both as full time jobs (so therefore where would you get the time to do extra study on the side).

Would the consultancy allow you to 'learn by doing' (i.e., you pick a new technology to use and figure it out as you build and deploy it)?

Consulting exposes you to problems in the field; teaching is where you tell others about problems you're familiar with. If you don't have an input of new problems, you're eventually just recycling the same material...

But then the great teaching would have to be informed by coding's great problems. Your average consultant doesn't encounter "the great coding problems" on a daily or even yearly basis. This is why it might be better for teachers to devote themselves to seeking and researching these challenges and problems as a part of their teaching like all great teachers of any lifelong pursuit have done. If these bootcamp teachers did that, the level of teaching would rise very high. It might finally be worth its price tag, even if students didn't get jobs. I guess that is why the pro-level musicians pay so much for a summer spent with master teachers with no promise of work at the end-- it is because those teachers actually teach them something of great value at the craft that pays for itself and helps the student become an artist at what they do. And for the most part, unfortunately, software engineers are not treated by their companies as artists of value either, like these classical musicians were, at least for many years before that began to decline sharply. There is so much precedent about where this bootcamp model and this "dearth of technical talent" will lead- and these places are not good. They lead to the worker getting paid very little and there being very few low-paying jobs in the end. But this is tech, so it will happen at speed and scale like never before. I've already watched tech do everything in classical music from 1950-1990 in about five years (including the sexism and its accompanying legal battles and outcries). Well, everything except great teaching at the "camp" level.

That is a good idea. Even though the code that students get into in these bootcamps is the industry equivalent of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and people keep saying that in various ways here to speak on why these junior devs can't get work, that doesn't mean that it will always be that way, nor does it mean that having industry experience would not be really helpful. More than that though, is that good teaching is lacking in most of these bootcamp teachers and in most bootcamp curricula. The writing of many of these lessons in general reflects our nation's years-long trend away from cultural literacy and the value of style and communication. These teachers at bootcamps need to be so stellar at their teaching jobs that they become famous for it. And then, they need to be paid well for bringing that level of expertise. The coding bootcamp industry seems to forget that there have been many very early predecessors in this space. Take classical music, for example. A college level classical musician at a conservatory is already a professional level musician. The teachers at conservatories must be true masters in their areas of expertise. Sure, it would be great if they had up-to-date industry experience, but it is generally understood that it is so difficult to be technically great as a teacher that no one really gives a hoot about "industry experience" per se. That is considered the student's job to keep up with. It isn't a perfect model, but somehow these conservatories get people to pay mountains of money to study with these incredible teachers. And you know what? They have stopped paying these incredible teachers what they used to as well, because there is an abundance of great music talent and a dearth of music work at this point. This was not always the case, but after many years of great teaching and lower and lower pay to musicians, this is now the case. Software engineering could learn from studying the failures of this very old model, because at least its teachers had these coding schools beat from the beginning.

How to keep our staff from burning out is an easy one. Give them real breaks and often, and pay them enough to have time to do their own projects on a sabbatical year every two years. At great pay with these things in place, you can ask them to get and keep themselves up to speed. Basically, treat the teachers like they have real value and you will get real value and real competition for those positions. Or, just make the corporations pay for the labor training they say there is such a huge need for?

and I get down voted for this? why? because you doubt that this has been the model in classical music? I know. I was there in conservatory myself. or is it that you doubt that the bootcamps could learn from this model? Offer something constructive to this discussion regarding the fact that these students are not getting work. Because I can tell you for a fact that every single graduate of the Juilliard School can sit in the New York Philharmonic and sound absolutely fantastic at it, and they could do that at age 18, on day one of their freshman year. At some point, as this field progresses, lots more 18 year olds will be skilled in software just like Juilliard pianists are at age 18- or rather just like many who don't even get into Juilliard are as well. Do we have to wait until then for the bootcamps to get hip about what great teaching is? I guess that is what I'm asking. It just seems like an obvious first pass solution for right now. Stop with the "industry experience" stuff, because your students aren't even skilled enough to play the equivalent of the Mozart-Kreisler Rondo. Not yet. Hopefully, with better teaching at all levels, they will be. Know what I mean? It just seems that many founders don't want to hear the truth about what isn't working. I know this because I have spoken with them. I get it. They are (not all, but many) young. They think hey- this is technology! It is all new! Everything is different! But still Stanford and MIT lead the way. Nothing new about excellence. Excellence will always win. Well, that and truly valuing great teaching (and knowing what that looks like to begin with). But most of them seem bent on finding students who would do well with or without their help. Do you think Dijkstra would be able to churn out junior devs who could get work? I sure do. And I'd pay him well for it.

And I might as well add that I've been studying this space, let's call it the "bootcamp space" since it began because of its potential similarity to places like Medowmount, Marlboro Music Festival, and Tanglewood. I've been to a (tier one! tippy top! woo hooo- I was "good enough" ha ha to "get in"- please, I should hope so- I'm breathing aren't I?) bootcamp myself to learn about the teaching there, and have also experienced the online learning modules offered at these places. I'm sorry but they are so far behind their analogues in other advanced fields of study that don't even use technology. I've known a few incredible teachers these schools regularly pass on who are considered too "old" to get a job in software engineering. (yeah, it's illegal to discriminate, but it happens all the time based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and even more instensely- strangely in this field on age ?!) or who are turned down for reasons like "not enough industry experience" as an excuse to turn down an "older" worker (read: over 30) when their current slate of teachers have only had the experience of working on various incarnations of omni-auth at a durian delivery service for six months out of Toledo. But yeah, Durain.ly. Industry experience. Ok. Let's please make these coding schools get real, shall we? I would have LOVED to have worked with some of the folks I've met with zero up-to-date industry experience over some of the hip, younger "teachers" (former graduates of said programs) I was paying to "learn" from.

I think you got downvoted because you criticized bootcamps and basically claimed that they produce beginners. I dunno why, but people in these discussions tend to talk about skills in black and white - you are either awesome nearly genius or bad. Rarely somewhere in between and never on pro missing learning path. No one ever says that he is in the learning process now.

Interpreted from this point of view, you had put into camp of elitists who will write off any theoretically cheaper entry path to industry.

Well, thank you, and let me clarify then. I absolutely think there should be a shorter cheaper path to entry. I just think it requires great teaching and some critical analysis that is honest about what it is getting wrong. I'm sick of the "be positive" model that is designed to keep people quiet while they are paying for stuff that won't really help them and they know it mid-class. And also-isn't 12 weeks of software development really just the beginning? If it isn't then why do so many senior devs with years under their belts know so much more than junior devs with 12 weeks under theirs? Nothing against beginning, in my view, we should all always be learning, and that definitely includes these camps.

I agree with you. I think everyone would be better off if we admitted that all of of were beginners and learned things gradually at some point. No one got born knowing javascript syntax. No senior knows everything now.

Simultaneously, plenty of positions are ok for beginners and it is good idea to hire people who are still learning basics for them.

absolutely. could not agree with you more there.

see, the culture of positivity I spoke of exemplified right here on this forum- downvoting legit critiques while not engaging in any productive discussion about them. I could name names and bootcamps and specific examples, but I really don't think anyone wants me to do that. I think they all know exactly who they are, are hoping I do not, and I'm in turn hoping they will reflect on their choices. I'm also very much on the side of these students, all students of any ability, especially students saddled with debt without many financial options, and I'd prefer not to devalue any one's paid-for bootcamp before they secure the all-elusive junior dev role. I'm a student advocate. I believe in low barriers, shorter education, on-the-job-paid-training, corporate responsibility, and I believe in helping people get jobs, especially those in underserved groups.

Thank you for teaching. I'm a Dev Bootcamp grad from 2014; people like you, who took on that challenge, completely changed my life for the better.

> A few students had pretty bad experiences, I think. It was a very demanding program. Several times, I had full-grown adults break down and cry during our 1:1s.

I think we could all learn a lot from their failures. Is there anything about their experience that could help you predict who would make an ill-suited applicant? Or some helpful advice on how folks should be prepared to approach the program ("you should expect to put in X hrs per day over the next 180 days if you want to be successful")?

Is the issue the applicants? With all due respect, in terms of effective practice, the sheer number of hours put in has nothing, well not "nothing", but a lot less to do with it than the quality and type of hours spent. One needs a lot of the effective type of hour. It is about what one practices, the repetition, the evaluation of one's mistakes, and the fixing of these mistakes. And then the doing it correctly at least 22 more times. In a row. But mainly, it is the doing, with very short bursts of targeted critique at regular and frequent intervals delivered by a master who can help you learn to spot these pitfalls sooner than you would yourself. Respectfully, a lot of time can be wasted in a shortened educational model like a bootcamp for code with extraneous stuff as a part of the "firehose" method of teaching, which has become a beloved buzzword in the industry. The science on effective practice for efficient skill acquisition is not new. http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracti... That isn't to say that students should not prepare to put in hours. But schools should prepare to make the very most of a few hours. I don't know about TIY or Dev Mountain, but I do know that several of the schools in NYC have not yet revised their curricula to optimize the hours spent. Getting better students doesn't help ineffective curricula. The school's job is to teach those who are willing to set aside time and money. When one wrangles ineffective curricula or online teaching materials that behave wonkily and waste one's time because they malfunction constantly, those are precious minutes one could have spent in effective practice. The students also need teachers and advocates who blame themselves first if effective learning isn't occurring. They need schools who blame themselves first if they aren't getting work. As a student, I'd be reluctant to spend money at a school that didn't blame itself for its own outcomes failures.

The thing is, students can't hear about the outcomes failures as much as they should because no one on the student side (the non-moneymaking side of it) can afford to be honest; they are the victims of this, especially once they have spent money. This is why I'm trying to help with that here. "Review sites" (not to name any names) are often just glorified advertising services. (literally handled by the marketing departments of these coding schools) I know this because I have been on both sides of this- inside the school and out. But since we are talking about failures that cause closings of schools here, and since so many will be seeing this page, I think it is time we talk about these issues honestly. The victors will be the schools who take responsibility for their own failures. They will be those who are brave enough to invite anonymous critique they can't control. (not "independently verified" claims of their success metrics they can control by virtue of what they measure and who is doing the verifying, and how much detail they go into in these metrics, and how much they get to leave out of that whole story- which is a lot, by the way.)

Hey Chris, give me a call, this is your mother.

Ok not really your mother, since I doubt your mother's beard is as luxurious as my own, but we need a call to catch up.

I didn't have the chance to take their classes (timing for Cohort Zero in 2013 was just a LITTLE bit off), but all the people I knew involved were passionate about giving a quality education and moving the industry forward. I had no hesitations recommending them over other for-profit schools. And that's not even getting into how well they sponsored the local tech scene.

Cheers to everyone involved with this, and I hope you all land on your feet.

Shouldn't place like these be growing instead of closing down? What did they get wrong? The demand for qualified developers isn't slowing afaik.

1. People who can effectively teach others to program well enough to secure professional employment may have better options than teaching open-enrollment entry-level programming classes.

2. Because of that, and for any of a number of other reasons, we may generally be overestimating how effectively these kinds of schools are educating people.

3. It's an open secret that hiring in the technology industry isn't based on aptitude, but rather on credentials and hazing rituals. Something like 3 decades of cultural development have trained developers that the most important risk they face in hiring is accepting someone underqualified, rather than passing on someone who is in fact qualified.

Given all these problems, it's not surprising that a school with a model of charging a 4-5 figure tuition in exchange for attempting to increase the likelihood of graduates employment would fail.

Training junior developers is something I enjoy & think I'm good at.

I actually looked at working for a boot camp once. To do so would have required more than a half pay cut. If I'm going to do that it will be as an underserved public sector educator, not a for profit company.

Out of curiosity, how much were they paying?

The pitch was "up to 80k" which I assumed was a ridiculous attempt to start a negotiation, but they really didn't move off of that number.

This was in Chicago.

If they paid 160k, they might get the type of teacher who could deliver the goods, and who would love their job. There would be competition for these jobs because people could afford to take them.

Regarding #1, an Iron Yard competitor offered a six-month contract for $45,000, 1099, here in Boston (with "an option" to re-up, at the same rate). It would not exactly be difficult to beat that number by doing almost anything else.

Another was talking about $80K/year...in freaking Ohio.

I would love to teach more than I do, and I'm starting to work on some web courses because I've learned from corporate training that I'm good at it, but the money doesn't make sense at all.

> $80K/year...in freaking Ohio

I don't get this sentence, is this good or bad? I grew up in Ohio and for the majority of people I know there, they would be absolutely thrilled at that salary. The cost of living is nowhere near SF levels.

The "freaking Ohio" part, yeah I can understand that for a lot of parts of Ohio, but it's highly dependent on where in the state you're talking about.

80k is great in Ohio - I think that's the implication. 80k goes a long way when rent is 800/month.

Agree that it's great, but the feeling I got from the OP was along the lines of "They only offered 80k, and on top of that it was in Ohio"

I don't live in SF, I live in Boston. But I don't know what could make me move to Cleveland, that's all.

would it be more interesting if phrased as a form of sabbatical rather than a full teaching career?

I can make more contracting though, while working about half the hours.

Maybe I'd consider it if I owned the company. Other than that...eh.

> Something like 3 decades of cultural development have trained developers that the most important risk they face in hiring is accepting someone underqualified, rather than passing on someone who is in fact qualified.

I blame the easy investment cash that is often given based on the surface impression your company can make than on its efficiency and GAAP numbers. This promotes overhiring and reduces the role of a single developer to a point where the professional duties take a vanishingly small amount of time, so the efficiency (and hence aptitude or experience) is no longer an asset, while the ability to entertain the earlier hires becomes one of the most important requirements.

Point 3 is overly pessimistic, but firing is a lot more difficult than not-hiring, so there's good reason to be careful.

I know the US is not the world but since we are discussing Iron Yard, it's worth pointing out that the private sector in the US is almost exclusively at-will employment.

Wrongful termination suits are something that all large companies have lots of scar tissue around though

Companies that size should have well-documented processes to follow to minimize liability around that. The much larger problem I've seen is that managers - since ground-level engineering managers tend to overwhelmingly be young and first-time-managers since the industry is dominated by youth overall - are green, don't know what they don't know about firing, and wait to bring in HR until they've already made up their mind, at which point they find out about the six month official process they should've started following six months ago. Or are just afraid of having the conversation, period.

New manager training is an even bigger hole in most orgs than on-the-job entry-level engineer training.

Small companies usually have a lot more leeway here, I've been the replacement employee for a guy who only lasted a month and a half at a startup before.

After getting past my initial uneasiness around dealing with poor performers (defining poor performer as "someone the rest of the team feels is a net negative and can't trust with important features"), I'm less afraid of a not-good-enough hire (effort and conscientiousness in looking for the right solution is the most important thing I look for there), and withhold my "definitely not" calls for people I think would be truly toxic to the team's rhythm.

Well that's because they have poor hr its not hard to fire a genuine NCI (non culpable incompetence) employee.

This is probably true. It's just been my experience that it is extremely hard to get managers to evaluate performance and reliably go through the long drawn out process of letting people know they are under performing, and then removing them.

That's not the whole explanation, IMO. If you had the same distribution of accepted candidates with both the loose and strict policies, I'd still expect interviewers to use the strict one.

Why? If their hire doesn't work out, they've got a much better story - "Our hiring processes are really strict and everyone got on board with it, it must've been something else that went wrong". And when the hire does work, people at the company get to self-congratulate about how "elite" they are.

The costs of extraneous interviewing and leaving positions unfilled is borne more by the company, while the costs of making a bad hire is borne more by the hiring manager, so the hiring manager makes choices that offload costs more onto the company. Principle-Agent problem.

"qualified developers" is probably the key word there. These bootcamps are all trying to train out a pretty specific set of basic proficiencies. That's not to say the training can't be useful, it's just to say that they all seem to be going for the same basic web development skills, and probably the majority of companies looking to employ developers and looking for more than that, or something entirely different.

Could also just be saturation in general. This is not the first closing announcement in recent weeks.

I think this comment nails it to be honest, I am a bootcamp grad and a lot of the time I do feel that most junior web devs are pushed into the cult of Javascript very early, React is pushed as if gospel and whilst much "emphasis" (IMO only in spoken ways) is placed on being a full-stack, I feel that there is next to no real education provided on basic back end/operations skills. So most of the grads come out as front-enders with front end skills and very little understanding of how front end decisions impact (and help in many cases) the back end and as a result, the entire stack. It makes me kinda sad tbh, because I find the back end tasks super engaging and they really fill out the gaps in your knowledge, especially as a Junior.

Is there any emphasis on teaching data structures or algorithms, or is it really just front end web?

I don't know where the parent graduated from, but as mentioned above, I'm a DBC grad from 2014 and we were mostly taught Rails, which is entirely a backend framework. There was a decent amount of data structure work, a little bit of algorithm work, and very little ops. Students quickly and shallowly learned JS frameworks for their final projects. After 2.5 years employed, I've found that the relative lack of algo work didn't matter in the least - I'm a web dev, at least right now, and I'm not implementing algorithms. Ops/infrastructure/deployment is the area where I was most lacking, and where I've grown the most, but I don't really know where you would fit it into the curriculum, or even if it would be valuable, given how many different permutations of infrastructure you can encounter, even working in the exact same coding stack.

My hunch is location, iron yard had a bunch of locations in 3rd and 4th tier markets where there just aren't that many programming jobs. Even in Austin which is probably one of the better markets they had, entry level coding jobs are somewhat scarce compared to demand for them

This is definitely part of it. They had a location in Orlando. The only companies here large enough to be able to train entry level coders are the exact same companies who wouldn't hire a junior without an accredited degree in a relevant field - basically large military contractors.

The consultancy I used to work for passed on quite a few Iron Yard candidates because we were too small to have a place for them.

I think they were even based out of a 4th tier market in Greenville, SC.

They were. They've done a lot for and been very active in the tech scene around town, so I have no idea how successful/unsuccessful their other campuses have been.

Houston: Lot of .NET here (oil and healthcare), but I believe IY here was teaching Ruby and React.

There is no demand for qualified developers, only a demand for cheap, skilled labor. If there were a demand, these coding schools would not have such a devil of a time getting decent jobs for their grads.(and they do- just talk to some honest, recent grads-- it will be tough to find honest ones who are unemployed/underemployed on a public forum, if you know what I mean.) Why, if there is such a great demand, isn't the burden to educate on the employer who needs the labor? It used to be, back before we made students pay for several degrees with no employment in sight. Now, it is all the fault of the individual. The corporations are just looking for honest work here, right? ;) We all just got used to being blamed if we could not fully fund faux-careers for our LinkedIn profiles a decade before any real employment emerged for us. If these bootcamps are actually filling such a great need in the industry, why should the students pay? I get why people pay for Harvard: the connections!! (but...is even Harvard free now if you can't pay?- so there's even that too, for Harvard!) Those law students get wined and dined for free and multiple offers from great jobs without even asking, much less "applying". This is NOT the case with these bootcamps, no matter what they claim. They are all struggling to get these junior devs decent work. Their meager "connections" got used up with their first crop of students, and now the ladders have been pulled up after them. Sure, there are a very very few exceptions, as always. If a school aims to teach, they should be able to keep enrollment low, and they should be able to teach anyone from zero with an interest serious enough that they drop out of society to do it for several months of their life. Because employers would pay big money for that service, just like they do for Harvard grads. BUT THEY DON'T. Instead, they seek those who could already do it without their help, and they seek payment from them too, thereby getting the benefit of looking like they "helped" an actual ivy league grad get a job, when it was more that that grad helped them look good. I wrote a more detailed response to A CIRR.org representative on the shorter of the threads about Dev Bootcamp's recent closing, if you are interested in a deeper analysis on what these bootcamps "did wrong", or are doing wrong. Here is the link to my response to "ewisesg" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14773016

I imagine that the simplest explanation is that costs end up killing these programs.

Good educators cost a decent amount of money, so if you have a high quality bar you're looking at a lot of (mostly fixed) costs. Add building rent + admin costs.

Public schooling costs $10k/pupil on average, and I imagine most of these code schools have a slightly higher bar.

That sums it up pretty well. I took a pay-cut to work at TIY. I did it for reasons other than money, obviously. But it's hard to find senior engineers who:

1. Are willing to put their career on hold to teach

2. Are capable of communicating in that capacity

3. Can deal with the intensity of a code-bootcamp for very long

> The demand for qualified developers isn't slowing afaik.

Does anyone in industry really count a 6-month course, no matter how intensive, as 'qualified'? It's hard enough breaking into your first job after a 3-4 year degree, most places still want more experience for their 'graduate' positions. I can't imagine it'd be easier for someone changing tracks mid-career with only a few months' coding experience.

There are plenty of easy position throug. The other industry problem is that we like to pretend that every position is super difficult and requires genius. And once we attract someone on that proposition, genius developer finds himself doing repetitive work and moving buttons there and back - all the while less experienced junior with three months js learning would be happy, challenged and perfectly suitable.

I've certainly seen this in past jobs. They advertise for smart, creative people and that's what they get. The job is to maintain some awful 5-year-old web app, changing fonts and twiddling fields around to please an internal customer.

I read a great quote once to the effect that a scalpel isn't better than a bread knife, it's just a different knife, for a different job. Don't hire a scalpel to cut bread.

They were a staple of the community in Greenville, SC. This news was a shock all around.

I was surprised by this as well, when I think of Greenville and tech startup-ish companies, I think of the The Iron Yard. Are there any other companies around with that sort of strong presence? I haven't lived in Greenville for two years now but I've had thoughts of moving back there.

ChartSpan and eRad are 2 'startups' in the area growing relatively fast and blend tech and healthcare. Other than that it's a lot of smaller groups. Lot of automotive and Windstream, GE, Fluor, INFOR have strong dev presence here as well.

Don't forget Benefit Focus. They have office in Greenville and Charleston (HQ), have been growing like crazy and went public a couple years back. That company is doing really well and can't seem to hire people fast enough.

Benefit Focus from everyone I've known who has worked there pre-public said the company is absolutely terrible to work for from the engineering department perspective.

I worked there for two years. Loved the people there, but the engineering definitely wasn't great. Imagine a Java application that started in 2000 and hasn't really had any significant rewrites and is now too big to change. They run a good business and offer a lot of value to companies who use their product, but the engineering was definitely tough in the not-so-fun way due to the sheer amount of legacy code.

Anyone care to shed some light on what precipitated this?

Can I make a comment which is not specific about this school, to which I have no connection, or to coding bootcamps?

For-profit education is a regulated industry in the United States and is experiencing significant adversarial attention at the moment, as a result of widespread looting of federal tuition assistance programs, to the tune of billions of dollars.

Can I name a Greek god who has non-zero relevance to this story? Apollo.

Why Apollo? I got this from Wikipedia: "...Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague." In that case...I see your point.

oh, okay. thanks. but still funny anyhow.

thanks.. that reference was a little too oblique for me

The sad thing is that all higher level education in the U.S. is for profit. 30 years ago you could go to an average state college for $4,000 a year, that cost is roughly 10x as much.

Where has all the money gone? Take a look at the salaries of school presidents, administrators, coaches, even professors, especially their pensions and benefits programs. Its as if all our non-profit institutions are really profit hungry corporations in disguise, and the "shareholders" are the administrators who control them.

It's not the administrative salaries so much as the bloat. Look at the org chart of any major state school 30 years ago compared to today.

Coach salaries tend to be eye-catching but they are generally entirely funded by the athletic department and its supporters, not tuition or state funds.

Athletic department revenues are entirely property of the school, and partly funded by mandatory student fees. The NCAA could cap coaches salaries at $250,000 and the line of qualified candidates to become a NCAA coach would still be out the door for every school.

Instead they allow coaches and athletic directors to coordinate a conspiracy where they and their employees get to skim all of the profits of the program for themselves. When you are "forced" to pay your AD over a million dollars a year, that's the best possible thing to justify paying the president far more.

> Coach salaries tend to be eye-catching but they are generally entirely funded by the athletic department and its supporters, not tuition or state funds.

This is only true at a small number of schools. Most subsidize the athletics department through fees they levy on students in addition to the normal tuition.

This is correct, in any given year there are less than 10 schools whose athletic departments are profitable. However, this simple fact ignores the positive economic impact that athletic programs can have on a university that aren't purely P&L in the department.

Public school tuition doesn't cost 40k a year. An employee is not the same as a shareholder.

Your right, it's only about $30k per year. And an employee isn't the same as a shareholder, unless that employee controls a non-profit, runs it to make substantial profits and skims those profits by paying themselves and their cronies massive salaries. Go look up the salaries of your state school President, Administrators, Athletic Director, Football and Basketball Coaches, and Professors.

I dunno about elsewhere, but in-state tuition in Texas is no more than $10k (varies by school, but none are above that). Still too high, but it's not yet at private-school levels of absurdity.

Look at total cost of attendance. Schools could set tuition to zero, but require students to pay $40,000 a year for "room, board and books" and it wouldn't actually make tuition cheap.

Tuition + fees (possibly + books, but that is highly variable from term to term and generally substantially less than tuition) is the correct way to evaluate the cost of higher education. Room & board is generally optional at state schools (there are a few exceptions).

My institution's in-state tuition + fees are about $9K/year. The TX state university I taught at for two years was similar.

well said and so true.

There's no way state schools currently cost $40k. Maybe $15k.

Easy federal aid money certainly helps push up the price tag. It's effectively a subsidy.

UO -> In-state: $26,000, out of state: $49,000

OSU -> In-state: $26,000, out of state: $45,000

PSU -> In-state: $30,000+, out of state: $43,000

MSU -> In-state: $27,000, out of state: $51,000

UM (Michigan) -> In-state: $29,000, out of state: $60,000

UM (Miami) -> $64,306

UM (Miami) is actually a private school, and not state-run.


These prices look like they include room and board and such after spot checking a couple, e.g. http://undergrad.osu.edu/cost-and-aid/basic-costs gives in-state tuition for an incoming freshman of 11K per year.

You can argue that talking about tuition alone is misleading, but it wasn't included 15 years ago either, and yet 10K/year for in-state is around where things were back then too, IIRC.

11K is still a lot of money. I paid for all of my school on my own as I went through it, but if it was 11K I would have had to get loans!

It was experiencing scrutiny from regulators, but now we have a new Secretary of Education who seems to think that sort of regulation is bad and is letting up on it.


I'd like to know this too. Their prices are very high, so maybe the demand subsided?

It seemed to be a gold rush. Too many schools opened, crowding the market and driving prices down.

I've personally been swamped in bootcamp graduates' resumes, even though my listing specifically says "5+ years experience". That tells me that they're desperate and bulk-applying. I've also heard this anecdote from others -- totally swamped by bootcamp grads.

It's a free market, and the demand for bootcamp grads is now lower than the supply. That's exactly what you'd expect, isn't it?

Makes sense. Thank you.

Dev Bootcamp just shut down also - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14758364.

What is the root cause for the decision to end this business?

Insufficient income? Costs too high? Cash flow issues - unsustainable inflows vs outflows? Mismanagement or something else?

So according to the numerous comments below asking the relatively similar question, it was difficult to run the business, partially because good teachers are hard to find and partly because the program is intense on the student and lastly because the money to run such operations is unsustainable in the long run.

There is a business model that works but the industry is still in an exploratory phase in trying to discover it.

> There is a business model that works but the industry is still in an exploratory phase in trying to discover it.

Industry business model? The cynic in me says that there is still interest in how to best extract money from the growing flood of people interested in programming as a job.

bizarre that this basic question was left unanswered. Any one of the above would have given some satisfaction to the many people who have a vested interest in Iron Yard/the success of coding bootcamps in general

The successful model would have to be one that turned out grads who beat out Stanford grads for jobs. That means it would have to be constantly improving and changing at a blistering speed. In the end, this means that the successful model has to be run by true visionaries who see a solution they can sustain over time. It won't look like a huge scale money-making venture that anyone can hop in on with VC money.

more of a luxury model, and less of an every-person solution to the college debt and job crisis

Maybe the truly surprising thing about The Iron Yard is that they were able to run so many campuses in third tier markets for as long as they did.

Ex TIY employee here. I only left the place because I wanted to go back to developing fulltime.

As someone who worked with the instructors and campuses, the global team, and taught for years at The Iron Yard, I can tell you the team -- especially the campus teams -- were largely the right mix of talent - great engineers that cared about communicating well and respecting folks from all walks of life.

With that said, after the investment rounds some things definitely began to take shape:

1. The global staff slowly became more and more steps removed from the daily convo's of the instructors and campus directors

2. There were regional managers and others who were brand new to the business; the company hired mostly from outside to bring in management team and half of them never ran a local campus first (to me their credentials from prior positions didn't always matter). They should have hired all mgmt from within, as they sadly did not mirror the culture of the campus teams.

3. There's such a plethora of schools out there now competing for the same customer-base. The Iron Yard spent a LOT of time, effort, and money making some of the best curriculum I've ever seen - including its own platform for distributing content, videos, running live-editable code blocks of any language on Docker instances on the fly, and homework and review features for staff. But a lot of places competed on price and still operated without approval from state education boards or meeting any national standards.

4. Instructors needed a change of pace, as they are constant learners too. Any churn and change of staff usually meant that "If it wasn't documented, then the lessons were not learned in-full for the next employee". So, I definitely saw some campuses run into trouble because when a veteran employee left (no upward movement for them, etc because there was already too much mgmt in-place) the impact was quite hard.

I loved the team, but ultimately a few miscalculated moves and operational/strategic retries burned the candle at both ends faster than the mgmt expected.

This is the first I've heard of them, and having colleges/universities dedicated to teaching coding is impressive, and hearing positive things out of it.

There are a great number of excellent reasons not to be in Detroit, as a business or an individual. The taxes are outrageous, the government is corrupt, the people who could afford to leave have all but left, the infrastructure is even worse than you'd expect given the ratio of revenue to services. 90% of murders go completely unresolved. That is, out of every ten people killed, and there are a lot, the perpetrators in nine of those murders will likely walk completely free. I don't know how anyone gets by, except perhaps in the gated communities, and in the communities which have organized more closely despite the odds. Even there, the shallow/immediate opportunities are effectively gone.

You truly can not expect many with another option to choose Detroit as it stands. My family on my mother's side grew up there, and it seems it's really breaking their heart to see it today. My mother holds on to hope that the artists will somehow "save" Detroit, which could be somewhat true. I'm of the opinion that nothing will save Detroit until it is so bad that the politicians no longer get anything for their corruption and excess.

> You truly can not expect any sane person with another option to choose Detroit

This is the second time today that we've had to ask you to stop posting uncivil comments to HN. I don't want to ban you, but if you don't fix this we'll have to, so would you please fix this?

(Re-)reading the following might help:



We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14817477 and marked it off-topic.

I guess I didn't see it that way, I hope my change is adequate.

That said, I think that what I said was about as tame as newsguidelines.html itself: "If your account is less than a year old, please don't submit comments saying that HN is turning into Reddit. It's a common semi-noob illusion, as old as the hills.", which resorts to some light chiding which I personally do not mind being subjected to.

Note: I think you'll find Detroit1234's and Detroit12345's genuine account by looking at the list of people who have downvoted all of my comments in this thread. This is, assuming you folks aren't already doing work like this.

And again, sorry to waste your time. The expected colour of discourse here is a bit different from what I'm used to in person.

The burbs seem "fine", and crimes get solved. I could see living in the burbs and not minding it too much. I wouldn't live in the city limits, but I wouldn't live in NYC either..

You've never tried to take I-75 into the city or back to the suburbs during rush hour, have you? The burbs are fine if you like that and paying way too much money for a tiny apartment or house, sure.

No idea, I just went to visit. I would way rather live in Chicago if I wanted a midwest city with bad weather.

I am just saying that it isn't ALL a barren wasteland. You can live in the Detroit metro area and have an OKish life.


> go fuck yourself.

A spirited defense of Detroit is certainly welcome, but we ban accounts that resort to personal attack. Would you please not post like this here?

Seconding this. I have a bunch of friends who live in Detroit. It's not Robocop World over there.

> From a Detroiter to one who clearly has never been here, kindly go fuck yourself.

I have been to Detroit. It was pretty low energy, and that was some years ago (six?). Since then the crime has risen and the population and economic activity have declined. The mere fact that some buildings are being built in some places does not indicate that things are getting much better.

I understand the Michigander pride, but I don't think Detroit compares favourably to almost any other decent city in North America. I like the character of Detroit, but I'm not going to pretend it's booming. It can get better, and a broken city presents a lot of opportunity that a functioning city does not, but that doesn't make it any less broken in the moment.

Detroit is a city where about one in two thousand people are murdered every year, nearly nine times the U.S. average. A city where ~1.4 per thousand women are raped every year, about twice the national average. This is, in relative terms, not a pleasant or safe place to live.

Michigan in general is actually about on par with the national median, Detroit has suffered especially harshly.

Never heard of it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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