Meet Mike Sweeney: Instructor at The Iron Yard Las Vegas

Since The Iron Yard first announced their Las Vegas campus, the team has been hard at work contributing tremendous value to the #VegasTech community. From launching Iron Yard Ventures to impacting the lives of graduates, The Iron Yard is working directly with Zappos, the Downtown Project, VTF Capital, and The Mill Accelerator Program to bring tech education to the robust ecosystem thriving in Las Vegas.

Dedicated and passionate instructors are leading The Iron Yard’s impact on the community.

Mike Sweeney“I got involved with The Iron Yard through the other instructor at our campus, Jeff Newburn,” said Mike Sweeney, a Front End Instructor at The Iron Yard. “Jeff and I had worked together at Zappos for a few years previously and the two of us had tried something similar while working there called “Z.Code()”. It was essentially a code school before code schools were a thing. We had no idea what we were doing but we were both really invested in it and it turned out to be quite a big success.”

The Iron Yard approached Newburn to be an instructor when the Las Vegas campus opened. When they asked him if he knew anyone who would be interested in teaching Front End, he asked Sweeney if he would be interested.

“It’s a huge passion of mine and I just couldn’t turn it down. My dream job became a reality,” said Sweeney.

The Iron Yard launched free, community focused crash courses in Las Vegas to have an impact in their mission to spread the feeling of community in Las Vegas.

“The crash courses are typically just a one time course,” explained Sweeney. “It’s tailored to people who have never done development, but are interested in finding out what it entails at a basic level. So far, all of our courses have been beginner focused. I tend to do more advanced talks at other community Meetups, such as VegasJS. Who knows – that might change! We’re experimenting. We have the autonomy to update, change or create new ones at whatever levels we see fit.”

Sweeney said the team at The Iron Yard has tried to create a place where not only program students come, but the community enjoys hanging out as well.

“We open up our campus to those who need a place to work on their projects with only one stipulation: if a student needs help or has a question, you help out where you can,” he said. “We’re trying to make The Iron Yard somewhere everyone will feel comfortable coming to. We also open up our campus to completely other Meetups. VegasJS, ReactVegas, Python Meetup, Junior Devs are all Meetups that we sponsor by allowing them to use our campus cost free. We’re all about Vegas.”

Company-wide, Sweeney said The Iron Yard is extremely dedicated to the idea that they are there to support program students, not only while they’re taking a class, but for the entirety of their career that follows. Domingo Rosa recently echoed this sentiment – and how it has impacted his own career.

“All of our instructors and Campus Directors at every campus are full-time employees, not contractors,” notes Sweeney. “Their entire job is to make sure that students get the support they need. We allow our previous students to come and audit our new courses to either get a review, or possibly learn a new topic we weren’t teaching them before. We never give up on them and we’re always available to help them along.”

The Iron Yard Las Vegas

Interested in taking a crash course, for free, from Sweeney? The next course is happening July 7, 2016 and you’re invited.

“Front End Development, while a fairly young field, has become essential,” explained Sweeney. “Every website has a front end, and all of those websites run the same thing: JS, HTML, and CSS. That’s specifically what I teach. It’s a good mix of logic and creativity, fun and difficulty. The industry grows so fast, that no matter how good you are, you’ll never be bored. Sounds fun, no?”

At the crash course, participants will do a hands-on workshop and get introduced to basic programming concepts by creating a simple game using Javascript, HTML, and CSS.  This course is meant for beginners, and no previous coding experience is necessary.

Sweeney said he greatly enjoys his role at The Iron Yard. Instructors at The Iron Yard, he said, are getting treated the way teachers should be treated. Instructors receive support without being micromanaged.

“I get to not only watch people actively change their lives for the better every day, I get to be a part of it,” Sweeney added about his role at The Iron Yard. “These are sometimes people who thought it couldn’t be done or people who were worried they just aren’t cut out for it. I get to prove them wrong with themselves and watch them progress at an outstanding rate. Pretty cool, huh?”

Get to know other community members who call Las Vegas home! Read stories about how they are impacting the Las Vegas community each day.

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