Co-founder of Mindly (made in Silicon Valley), Madrid native, woman and, of course, Ironhacker, Marta Fonda tells us about her Ironhack experience as a student of the Web Development bootcamp in Madrid.
When and why did you decide that you wanted to sign up for a bootcamp at Ironhack?
When I graduated from college where I studied engineering and business administration, I realized that I hadn’t been exposed to any kind of web or mobile development other than in the final project. Despite this, I started looking for jobs but I didn’t feel comfortable with all of the typical options like consulting or auditing. Also, back then I was completely out of the loop in terms of the startup ecosystem and I had no entrepreneurial contacts whatsoever, so I settled for the multinational technologies that have been around forever, like IBM and Microsoft.
I went through countless unsuccessful interviews for which i clearly lacked work experience, but also in which my passion and motivation for my career was recognized and appreciated. It was August when I received an email from Xavi Leal (thank you, Xavi!) telling me about this new and revolutionary educational model called Ironhack: an intensive eight week course that taught full stack web development.
On the site, I was pleasantly surprised at seeing familiar faces like Javi Jiménez and Carlos Ble. It was love at first sight for me when I started reading into the full time Web Development bootcamp, so I decided to apply to the next course in Madrid. After only a week of admission and interview processes, I started my incredible journey as part of the Ironhack family.
Tell us about a time during the bootcamp where you faced a problem and had to solve it.
Throughout your time at Ironhack, you’ll face multiple problems, but the important thing is to not give up and figure them out. My most memorable problem at Ironhack came up while I was working on my final project. I decided to use Bootstrap as my framework for the frontend and Heroku to launch my app on Rails, but when I tried to compile the assets things didn’t exactly go as planned. Countless headaches and two days of Google searches later, I decided to launch the app on Amazon with help from my mentor Alex Martin.
Eventually I had a lucky break: the first event I went to after graduating Ironhack was the Christmas MadridRB where all the alumni came back and reunited. That’s where I met Raul Murciano, software engineer at Heroku, and I told him about my final project problem. It turns out it was the same bug they were working on fixing at Heroku. A few weeks later, Raul sent me the solution to the problem we both had. This example of sharing solutions and lending a hand is fundamental to the value of my experience as an Ironhack student.
What was your biggest personal achievement at Ironhack?
That’s a hard question! My time at Ironhack was filled with learning experiences and personal accomplishments, but the one I’m most proud of is my newfound ability to manage stress. There was a moment during the bootcamp where I needed to learn and soak everything in at once, and the Ironhack founders that joined us during social events like talks and networking gatherings helped me get a sense of how to do that.
Would you agree that Ironhack isn’t all hard work, but fun as well? Can you tell us about a time where you experienced this?
Of course! There were plenty of fun times experienced during my two months at Ironhack, from the afternoons with Sergio Arbeo to the many yoga sessions with the class. If I did have to highlight a single most special experience, though, I’d choose the weekends spent working with my classmates. Thanks to our diverse group of mathematicians and strategy game experts and a lot of hacking, we developed a robot using Ruby to compete against another bootcamp’s robot in Canada. Of course our robot was so advanced that the Canadian bootcamp didn’t dare compete against us!
Learning is undoubtedly Ironhack’s key factor. What was your biggest learning experience?
Ironhack leaves you not only with programming knowledge, but personal and interpersonal skills as well. I think my experience at Ironhack developed a fundamental change in my life in terms of concrete and technical skills along with intangibles. I owe all of this to the incredible people I met here who taught me that there’s no need for fear or pressure, just the desire to keep learning and working hard.
Given your experience at Ironhack, would you recommend someone else to join?
Yes! Without a doubt. This is why I started writing a blog in the first place, for future Ironhackers to have an inside look at the whole experience from the perspective of a student. For instance, I was part of Ironhack’s very first Web Development bootcamp in Madrid and I joined completely on a whim. If someone is actually planning on joining the bootcamp, my testimonial would be a huge help to them. I came into Ironhack to simply learn web development, and I left with not only competency in the languages and theories, but also with the knowledge of best practices, a great family and above all an amazing network of contacts that were crucial when it was time to develop my professional career.
After graduating Ironhack, what kind of professional opportunities did you have?
From the very beginning (of the end), in fact, during the Hackshow, I was offered several positions. It wasn’t until two days later when Floqq, an educational startup, reached out to me. It was only a matter of weeks before I passed their coding challenge and was already working in their office.
I started off as a front end developer and earned the title of product manager a few months later. Floqq has not only been a place where I’ve met incredible people who are also fundamental to my career, but it’s definitely been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. A month after leaving Floqq, I went to Silicon Valley to co-found my startup, Mindly. This was a huge leap for me, and also the greatest challenge of my life to date, although I’m sure there’s lots more to come.
A basic component of Ironhack is learning. What does learning mean to you?
For me, learning is sharing knowledge and experiences. I’ve always said that the best way to learn is by teaching, so I’ve sought experience in teaching different things including web development, both in person and online. Going to events, talking to friends and sharing experiences is all part of learning and, in my opinion, much more effective than memorizing content from a book. I really think the best way to learn is by teaching and doing.
A basic ingredient of Ironhack is “building.” What does “innovation” mean to you?
For me, innovation comes from nonconforming. For example, I’ve always considered myself innovative because I’ve never conformed. I always want more, I want to keep learning and improving not only technically but also personally. When you stay stagnant, that’s when you stop being innovative.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to the new generation of Ironhackers?
Commitment and consistency. With these two things, you’ll be set. One of the things I’m most proud of is that I took complete advantage of my time at Ironhack. I remember leaving events late at night and falling asleep on the train or bus on my way home. The exhaustion completely took over my body, but I never stopped coming in on the weekends to work, going to events and meeting people, or attending talks or classes. Time flies at Ironhack, so be aware of this and take advantage of every minute. And once it’s over, continue learning the way you did the weeks prior.