Climb Credit Student Story: Aaron Newcomer


Aaron financed through Climb Credit to attend The Iron Yard in 2016 and currently works as a front-end developer at Automated Insights, Inc. Check out his story below, and for even more insights into his experience as a web developer, head over to his YouTube channel Aaron in Beta!


Aaron Newcomer

The Billboard That Changed My Life:

How It Led to a Coding Bootcamp and a New Career                                                                                                                                                                                                    By Aaron Newcomer

It was a typical day. A typical drive. My wife and I were coming back from something, grocery shopping, or lunch, or any other random Sunday task. That detail has slipped my mind. What I do remember is seeing the billboard that would change my life. It was simple—a blue-gray background with white text. “Learn to Code.” It spoke to me. I’d driven down this road hundreds of times. I’d lived off it for six months at this point, but the billboard had changed. “Learn to Code.” It was like the universe was trying to tell me something. I’m glad I listened.

Let's back up a couple of months. In December of 2014, I had an idea. I wanted to make an app to destroy the evil demons that are movie spoilers. I obsessed over the idea, writing down details of how it would work and how it would help. I had it all planned out and then I hit a wall. “How in the world would I make this?” Past writing some simple HTML to make my Myspace profile look snazzy, I had no experience coding, I wasn’t a computer whizz, and I hadn’t even heard of JavaScript. Regardless, I didn’t give up right away. I reached out to an old friend who I knew worked in software development. He liked the idea. He threw out some words I didn’t understand and pointed me in the direction of Codecademy. I started learning HTML/CSS. I enjoyed it and rushed through the courses quickly. Then life happened. I don’t remember what it was exactly—but like most non-job related tasks, I took a break that I promised myself would only last a day. That day turned into a week, that week turned into months, and all of a sudden my drive to learn had vanished. Then there was that billboard. “Learn How to Code.”

I got home and immediately fired up Google. I searched the name of the company from the billboard: The Iron Yard. I read through their website and was introduced to the concept of “coding bootcamps.” I have to admit, at first glance it all seemed too good to be true, possibly even a scam. They promised to teach the skills I would need to become a professional developer in 12 weeks. How could that be? Would I be employable? What kind of job would I get? All these questions weighed heavily on me. Going to a coding bootcamp is a huge decision—and definitely was for me.

It took me a full five months to decide to go for it. In May of 2016, I quit my job as a retail sales manager and went back to school. I had spent these five months doing more research...all the way up until my first day of class. I was never 100% worry-free about my decision. What I knew was that the bootcamp would give me the structure and accountability I needed to learn how to code. These were the two things I was missing when trying to learn on my own. I also knew that if I gave the bootcamp my all, I’d be in a position to build what I wanted to build. It has been a year now since that first day of class and attending The Iron Yard is still one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Over the next 12 weeks I spent a lot of time on the Iron Yard campus and at home mashing away at my keyboard, learning things that were no more understandable than a foreign language before I got there. 10, 12, or 14-hour days weren’t uncommon. I spent every weekend learning and building. I navigated the world of HTML and CSS and as soon as I started to feel comfortable, the beast of JavaScript was thrown my way. Then jQuery and lodash and SASS...it was an endless assault on the mind and it was amazing! I kept a blog while I was attending The Iron Yard. It’s funny to read through it now. Almost every week followed the same cycle: start something, feel like you were never going to understand that something, almost understand that something, move onto the next thing, somehow realize you understand that original something.

The whole process is completely transformative. You pick up the skills you need to make awesome web apps, sure. But something else happens too: you start to think differently. You pick up on patterns. You learn the right terms. You dream in code (yes, this actually happens). Tasks that seem impossible become obvious, or at least you have the knowledge to find the impossible answer. You go from a student to a developer. That is what a coding bootcamp can do. In 12 weeks.

It’s kind of ironic to think about now. A billboard, not exactly the most technologically advanced form of marketing, led me to becoming a developer. It sent me on the wild ride of attending a coding bootcamp. It allowed me to build that app that sparked my curiosity about the world of programming. It completely changed my life.

Since graduating from the bootcamp, I’ve been working as a front-end developer at a software company here in Durham, North Carolina. I love my job. I work with some of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I have ever met. The work-life balance the job provides has improved my quality of life tremendously. I have continued to learn and hone my skills everyday, and I had another crazy idea for an app that I am currently building on the side. I also run a YouTube channel in the hopes of educating people in the same position I was in back in December of 2014. Someone who has an idea that they want to build or someone who wants to learn how to code in order to start on a better career path. The world of technology and software development has opened so many doors for me and I hope my experience can help it open doors for others as well.