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Thank You and Goodbye, Ironhack

A few weeks ago, on a Friday evening, I was working late at Ironhack. The campus was crowded. Full house. Three cohorts just graduated and they were enjoying their Hackshow. Although I didn't join the party, I could still see and hear all the action taking place.

Right after the winners were announced, one of them came right to me. She just won the UX contest with a magnificent project.

However, to me, she was not just the "UX winner". It signified something bigger. The ultimate reason I joined Ironhack. But more on that later.

She came to say "thank you". She did it because she joined the UX bootcamp with a full scholarship granted through the wallapop program. She thanked me because I was the one (randomly) assigned for her interview during the application process. As if I had the last say on the matter...

I didn't deserve the credit. Nonetheless, it made my day.


Probably, what I just told you makes no sense. By the end of these lines, I hope it does.

Hey team,

I'm reaching out because I wanted to personally announce to all of you that, after more than four years, I'll be leaving Ironhack by the end of the year.

As much as I enjoy writing, I can't remember the time when "the process" became so painfully confusing. For this post, I have faced the blank paper screen countless times with meager to no success.

Eventually, besides endless frustration, two things came out of it:

  • A handful of drafts that will endure as frozen bits in the hard disk of my computer.
  • The seed of the email I have sent to the company announcing that I'm leaving Ironhack by the end of the year.

This is why, if you have read some posts around here, you might find this one a bit confusing — at least unfamiliar. Since I have borrowed the only finished thing I had, the email, as a template to guide my narrative throughout the post. At least this route got me til the end. Better done than perfect, they say.

Yet it doesn't come easy. Only the second time in my entire professional life that I'm undergoing a career change. However, this time around, it tastes completely different. If there's such a thing as bittersweet, it must bear a striking resemblance to this.

This has been one of the most difficult decisions I've made in my lifetime. I'm leaving behind an amazing company, with an inspiring mission, but most importantly, an extraordinary group of people that I'll always be proud of having been part of.

It feels like I'm leaving behind the best job in the world.

The kind of job and workplace any mother would like you to have — granted you were first able to explain what you actually do. One that I carefully molded over time, but unfortunately, outgrew me in ways I probably expected.

It didn't use to be always like this, though.

Back in 2015, I joined Ironhack as Barcelona Campus Manager — a puzzling title since by that time there was still no campus nor people to be managed :) Everything was yet to be made and the company looked like nothing it does nowadays. Those were by far the hardest times at Ironhack, but also, at a personal level, the most fulfilling ones.

The challenge back then, easier said than done: kickstart the Barcelona campus. From scratch. Ground zero. On my own. Go figure. It was a job for the crazy ones. Tailor-made.

[...] during the firsts six months, I was literally alone, handling operations, marketing, sales, customer support, even teaching, and assessing coding exercises!

I didn't even know where I was getting into, but ended up loving every bite. Building the Barcelona campus from scratch has been one of the most rewarding deeds I've undertaken so far. Something I'll remember fondly and look upon with nothing but pride.

Notwithstanding, after two intense years, both the role and the organization had evolved. I found myself in a position where there was no time for the building anymore. My schedule turned into an endless array of meetings, presentations, and PR events. Being the campus manager was no longer about creating, but growing.

It now required a completely different skill set than the one required when I got started. Back then Barcelona needed to go from 0 to 1; we achieved that. Now it needed to go from 1 to 100.

Which brings us to part two of my Ironhack journey.

After two years, late 2017, when we consolidated the Barcelona Campus, I got a second chance to start from scratch within Ironhack helping assemble a non-existing product team. A department that has grown to become a major cornerstone for the company.

By the end of 2017, I was presented with the opportunity to kickstart Ironhack's product team. The proposal came bundled with the keywords "product", "from scratch", "impact", and every single requirement I could be possibly looking for.

Yet the biggest challenge at the time could be reduced to a simple and daunting statement: what even "product" meant at Ironhack. Not even myself had the answer. That's what excited me the most about such a quest.

Fortunately today we do have the answer. A really good one. Looking back at this second epoch at Ironhack, I'd argue the thing I'm the proudest of is having incontestably answered this question.

Our team has managed to create unique, unforgettable learning experiences through software. Nonetheless, the beauty of this product resides in the fact that its reach transcends the digital realm.

The tools we've built have empowered our team of rockstars in an offline world to make a leap. We have bridged the gap between the digital and the physical — creating a seamless experience that blends the best of both worlds.

Yet again, it is easier said than done.

And despite I've enjoyed every single moment of this journey, I miss the times when everything was yet to be made. I thrive in the chaos and Ironhack has now reached a place where there's no chaos anymore. Ironhack has become a "big boy" now, and lately, I've struggled to find my place within the organization.

That's the ultimate reason why I'm leaving.

Next up, I'll be pursuing the chaos again, seeking out new opportunities where, still, everything is yet to be made.

There's not much I would add here. The quote speaks for itself. I like starting things up, getting them off the ground — from 0 to 1. It is my thing, and can't help it.

At the same time, both a gift and a curse from curiosity. On the one hand, it grants an opportunity of being involved within the most creative, and thriving stages of a nascent project.

Unfortunately, on the other, it presets the boundaries of your contribution, and stamps on it an expiration date in advance. Programmed obsolescence of sorts.

Lastly, I just wanted to say that it has been a privilege to be part of this team. I also wanted to thank Gonzalo and Ariel for their blind trust, for giving me (twice) "the keys of the castle" and making all of this possible.

I know that I have mentioned it several times during this post already, yet I can't help it but do it again.

The unique set of individuals that Ironhack has managed to put together is astonishing and has been since the very beginning. Do you still wonder how such a conventional, simple business model has managed to transcend beyond its wildest expectations? Look no further.

I still vividly remember the day I was formally introduced to the team. I strolled to my apartment later that night, with the lingering thought that each of them could have perfectly been my friend all along. It felt like family, still does.

Even today, every single employee — and we are about to reach the 200 mark — lives and breathes Ironhack. They joined because they care about changing people's lives. They truly believe we can do it by empowering them to become digital creators.

Which brings me to the last, and most significant, point.

But most importantly, I wanted to remember all of you the significance of what we are doing here every day: empowering and changing our students' lives through education. After more than four years I've seen it happen, again and again, something we should all reflect and be proud of.

It might sound cliche, but Ironhack has made me realize the importance of contributing to a project that has a positive impact on the world. A noble cause, bigger than yourself. Everybody brags about this; just a handful know what they are talking about; even fewer have experienced it first-hand.

If you do happen to have experienced it, you will know that once you've been "cursed" "touched", there's no turning back. You will certainly have a hard time in a future job that lacks this heartfelt component.

Ironhack has given me one of the best rides of my life. I feel grateful for the opportunity Gonzalo and Ariel gave me almost five years ago. I will keep it dear and close to my heart, and always bring it with me wherever I go.

Bittersweet. Yet it is time for me to leave.

Best.

Marc — I never add a signature to my emails, so I'll do it here :)

🙋‍♂️ Curious about where I'm headed next? Read here the answer.


Published on January 15, 2020