My career is in political communication. Over the last few years I realized that even this field is heavily impacted by technological changes. I wanted to learn more about it, so I started reading loads about the topic. I started reaching out to researchers and developers, in order to learn from them.
As I found out more and more about the tech world, my curiosity only grew bigger, too. So at some point I decided to take a small sabbatical from my job and dedicate two months to learning how to code. I am very happy with this decision, because these new technical skills have definitely helped me to better understand the bigger picture.
I was already a little bit comfortable with tech, but I didn't know anything about Ruby, GitHub or Rails. The tech world can seem quite intimidating at first, but it is amazing how welcoming and accommodating the majority of people in the scene are, and how much they are willing to share their expertise and help someone who wants to learn."
My life after the bootcamp
"I felt incredibly proud. In only two months I not only learned how to code, but I also built a couple of websites and applications! That's a pretty amazing learning curve, when you think about it. I was also very sad that the bootcamp was over, because I really enjoyed going back to the classroom, and I made some great friends among the students and teachers, whom I still hang out with now.
How did you find your job at Google? How does it fit with your previous experience?
When I finished my bootcamp, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. Do I want to be a developer? A product manager? Something else? When the options are endless, so is the potential for anxiety: Will I pick the right thing? What if I choose wrongly?
I’ve had two important realisations in this process. First: there is no wrong choice. I can never know how something will play out, so I can only do what seems right in the moment, and make the best of it. If I don’t like it, I can always change. Second: my gut feeling is much smarter than I give it credit for. As I started interviewing, I had a weird feeling during some interviews, and a really good one in another. When I found the right thing, I just knew.
As I said in my last interview
, I wanted to merge my previous professional experience in communication with my new digital skills. This is why the new job at Google was perfect for me - I am now working there as a communication professional on artificial intelligence, sustainability and philanthropy.
You founded the School of AI Brussels in 2019. What about now, does it continue?
Yes! Though, as many other things during the Corona pandemic, the School of AI Brussels has changed. Our community has moved from Slack to Discord to allow for easier webinars, live-streams and collaborative learning.
It’s funny: one of the reasons we started the School of AI, was to offer an additional offline element to people’s online learning. We’ve had to adapt, but we’re making the best of it. We are now expanding our online teaching capacity, and Saïda, my co-founder is offering courses and coding-sessions free of charge, to allow anyone who wants to learn the opportunity to do just that.
What did you learn on the way and how do you feel today ?
First and foremost, I learned that technology - whether a Ruby on Rails programme or an artificial intelligence algorithm - is not a black box. People have written and developed these tools, and so we all can, and should, get involved. Making coding more accessible is one of the benefits of Le Wagon, and that’s also the mission of the School of AI Brussels: showing curious people a way to develop new skills and advance on their goals.
If you had any advice for those wanting to add tech skills to their career, what would it be?
Two pieces of advice. Number one: Do it. Number two: Talk to people who work in tech about it.
It is so much more manageable than you might think, so don’t be scared to go for it.
One of the biggest challenges can be finding the right programme though. I was looking at dozens of online and offline courses, and it got pretty overwhelming pretty fast. That’s why I got in touch with developers - via personal contacts as well as Le Wagon’s Alumni network - to ask them for advice. I told them what I wanted to do and what my end goal was, and asked: I know it’s a long journey, but is this a step in the right direction? And I did that until I found the right thing for me at the time. This is what made the important difference for me. It made me feel less alone and more in control.