The post below was originally published on Medium.
Hi there! I am a 27-year old woman, living in East London. I have spent the last six years working in the tech startup industry trying to figure out what I really want to do with my life. In this quest for the dream professional life, I have tried a bunch of different things: community builder and crowdfunding master, head of marketing, analyst in a VC fund, … I’m your perfect startup jack of all trades.
There have been some awesome highs:
- spending two years in the bitcoin industry,
- raising $1M in a 3-day crowdfunding campaign,
- working for a Parisian VC fund,
- helping create one of the most successful startup accelerators in Europe,
- expanding a European business in NYC,
- getting a few of my articles published on TechCrunch,
- learning from amazing entrepreneurs I am very grateful I got to meet…
And some very low lows:
- seeing a company I was working for go bankrupt and people I trusted behave unethically,
- going back to live at my parents’ during a tough time,
- going through a few “spiritual awakenings” / breakdowns .
I have learned more than I ever thought I would in such a short amount of time . I have developed skills that my business degree could not have given me. By the time I got my degree, my graduate school still had not adapted its curriculum to our digital era: there were absolutely no classes on digital marketing, product management, or coding.
I also think I am much closer to finding an answer to my original question:
- I now know that I want to own my time, as it is the most precious asset I have — once my time is up… well, I’m dead, so nothing matters anymore :)
- I want to be able to build products — and actually see and understand what’s happening behind the scenes.
Learning how to code became an obvious decision to make. Beyond satisfying some personal nerdy traits of mine (Excel lover / happy introvert), learning how to code would enable me to:
- Add more value in the companies I work for: in today’s startup world, being technical isn’t useful just for developers. If you’re doing digital marketing, being able to juggle with big quantities of data is a huge plus. A product manager without any technical literacy is also going to struggle.
- Create and build my own ideas. I want to test things quickly and support projects I care about my way.
- Allow me to have flexibility — geography and time-wise. In most of my jobs so far, my success in fulfilling my missions has always required for me to be present in a specific location: to organise events, meet influencers and important stakeholders. As a developer, working remotely becomes way easier as my added value is not necessarily in the face time I’m able to give to my company.
I joined Le Wagon’s team last November. Le Wagon is a coding bootcamp that has been growing at an amazing pace since its creation in 2013. It is now in 19 cities in Europe, Brazil, Canada, Japan and China, and has a powerful community of 1,400+ alumni.
The principle is simple: Le Wagon has designed a program to teach its students how to code within 9 weeks. By the end of it, they are able to develop a full-fledged web product from A to Z, frontend and backend.
I joined Le Wagon team to help them expand in London and also to follow the 9-week program myself as a student. From November 2016 to April 2017, I have applied my growth wizardry to Le Wagon’s awesome product and enjoyed each day helping this incredible team develop their visibility here in London. In April, I dropped my marketing hat and am now a student learning how to code at Le Wagon.
Halfway through the bootcamp
My batch began on April 17th. The night before I felt like I was 13 all over again, waiting for the beginning of a new year at school. Am I going to totally suck at coding? Are the other students going to be nice? Total back to school anxiety.
One month later, the anxiety is gone: I am having a blast. The best is probably to be part of an awesome group of 24 students: it’s always easier to struggle when you’re not on your own! I’m learning a ton from other students, being able to learn at such a fast pace — and stay motivated throughout the (sometimes) grinding process — is also possible thanks to the class.
Learning and applying useful skills is just extremely satisfying
For me, coding is a bit like cooking: before you actually try, you don’t know that you can do it. But once you’ve made a try, you see the immediate result — and can learn from it.
- You try, it doesn’t work: Your cooking is pretty bad // Your code is not working.
- You learn why it didn’t work and iterate until you get the result you were after.
- After some trial and error, you succeed: That’s it! Enjoy your guests’ impressed faces when they eat your awesome dinner // F*ck yeah! Your code does what you want it to do, how freaking cool is that?
Le Wagon’s program is designed in such a way that you feel like you are having tiny victories during the whole day.
Everyday, from 9am until 10.30am, there is a lecture on new programming concepts. The rest of the day is dedicated to solving programming problems. You are actually able to apply what you’ve learnt during the morning right away.
In four weeks, I’ve had more “aha moments” than in a whole year. The moment I finally really understood the yield concept with blocks and methods in Ruby, I felt like my brain was expanding on the spot.
It is probably the most empowering class I’ve ever taken. Being a product of the French elitist education system, I have seven years of higher education to compare it with :)
In four weeks, Le Wagon has given me enough confidence to be comfortable about learning more and start using the following concepts on my own:
- The basics of Ruby programming
- Object Oriented Programming and MVC design pattern to be able to write more complex software
- How to use databases and SQL
- And we’ve now just began learning about front-end. So far we’ve seen the basics: HTML, CSS and Bootstrap.
Next week, we will form teams of three or four people with other students to start working on our final projects.
I think I already said this, but I love my batch
One of the best things about Le Wagon is the people: you get to meet 23 other students with whom you’ll share a pretty intense bootcamp experience.
We all have different backgrounds: in our batch, we have a professional sailor, a travel blogger, a product manager, a few entrepreneurs and bankers, … But more significantly, we are all driven by the same ambition: we’re all seeking this empowerment that knowing how to code provides.
Each day, we are matched with a different “buddy”, with whom we spend the day working on the challenges. If one of us is stuck, we can turn to our buddy to try and ‘crack the code’ together.
The last two weeks of the bootcamp are dedicated to building a full-fledged web product. We all join a team of 3 to 4 students, and work on a project we’ve chosen. Yesterday evening, each student who wanted to do so pitched a product idea to convince other students to join him or her. We are now voting for the three projects we preferred, teams will be formed from there.
The next few weeks are definitely going to be challenging: we’re going to begin working in teams, learning how to divide tasks between team members and make good use of git and Github.
See you around for a follow up post!