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The first 60 days: A retrospective

I’ve officially completed my first two months at The Iron Yard. I’ve moved the campus to a location across the hall from our permanent space, navigated the halfway point through graduation of my first student cohort, built connections with our existing and growing advisory board of local tech companies, and continued to develop our strategy for engaging our next cohort of students starting this October.

I’ve connected with tech influencers and reporters in DC, developed the foundation for additional partnerships for the DC Campus, and assisted with the expansion of the DC operations and team.  I’ve attended meetups, met with representatives across higher education, non-profits, k-12 education, local and national government, business developers, recruiters, developers, and even started writing a little code myself.

crashcourse_brianfleduc_codingI’ve navigated everything from difficult student conversations, regulatory visits, and challenges with furniture deliveries.This role feels like the synthesis of the broad range of my experiences, requiring operational acumen, relationship management, community engagement, student support, marketing and branding.

And despite being challenging and frustrating (as any fire hose of new information and experiences can be) at times,it’s been a blast.

I look forward to this week, and to “Demo Day“– the “reveal” of our student’s work to the DC technology community to an audience of more than 50- one that serves as the physical representation of the network, community, and connections that I’ve been so lucky to build through meetups, coffee, emails, and social media over the last two months.

What’s more, I’m excited for the work ahead at The Iron Yard, and the dedication and commitment to increasing diversity in technology that’s been shared and supported by the highest ranks of our government.  A bright path is ahead!

My Next Step

IMG_0747It’s hard to believe that over 2 and a half years ago I packed up my life in Georgia and made my way to DC- it feels like it’s been home for so much longer than that. Even moreso, I’m thankful to have spent that time working for a firm doing some of the most innovative work in higher education research and technology.  I’ve learned an incredible amount during my time at EAB, and had the opportunity to work with so many amazing teammates both here and across dozens of Universities. I presented and sat across the table from Board of Trustee members, Presidents, and Provosts, Deans, Faculty, Academic Advisors, Tutors, and my student affairs counterparts at large, flagship state universities and small private institutions alike.

The experience was a lesson in life outside of higher ed while getting the crash course in what makes an academic leader tick.  I’m so thankful for the relationships, skills, and opportunities that resulted; a polish of presentation, relationship and project management, case study design, data analysis, and so many others- it afforded me chances to maintain my professional networks in ACPA and NASPA, and expand into terrain as foreign as improv with courses by The Second City.  I faced some of my greatest professional hurdles as I adapted to an entirely new type of organizational culture and became acquainted with a host of new skill sets. I watched as Universities I worked with closely were highlighted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, and Inside Higher Ed, and had the opportunity to present in front of the most senior ranks of leadership at The Advisory Board Company including its’ CEO.

That said, when opportunities knock that are impossible to ignore, I answer.  So a jump is in the works– next week I’ll be starting as the Campus Director at the DC Campus of The Iron Yard, an international code academy providing 12-week immersive boot camps to folks interested in learning front-end or back-end development. I’ll be the voice of TIY in DC, responsible for the entire student lifecycle (from recruitment to job placement in tech firms across the DMV area), operations of the campus, and support of the instructor and operations teams- a natural synthesis across my residence life, student services, advising, and student success experiences alongside my exposure to tech through EAB.

It’s an opportunity to work with non-traditional career changers as an advisor, career coach, and cheerleader, while broadening and honing skill sets to carry me forward.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suspect that higher education and the private sector are likely to discover points of intersection by way of enrollment and partnership, and I look forward to building my skill set and background with the ability to influence and shape that future!