London-born Edward Blundell had been teaching English in Japan for four years and was longing for a career change. At first, he was teaching on the JET Programme in high school, and in his second stint, worked for a private English conversation school (eikaiwa).
How was teaching English in Japan?
I actually came back to Japan to study Japanese, having finished on the JET Programme two years prior, aiming to pursue further employment in Japan with a Japanese language qualification under my belt. However, after missing out on JLPT N2 (by one point!) I was stuck between studying for another 6 months before taking the test again, or returning to English teaching.
I chose to go back to teaching because it was easy to land a job and the pay was decent. I liked my company and enjoyed working with kids but I knew I would eventually have to break away from teaching. I felt that the eikaiwa system too often prioritizes making money over educational goals.
All this time, I wanted to get back to more technical concepts that I had been studying at university. As a gamer, I see programming as puzzle games with a practical, problem solving function.
A coding bootcamp was a good way to transition into tech.
Why did you choose Le Wagon Tokyo?
Getting a qualification and networking opportunities were two selling points to me.
There are lots of free or cheap options to learn coding but they all ignore all the community aspects of Le Wagon.
For the Demo Day project, we created a live moderated video debate app called Ronpa. The algorithm matches users with an opponent, and a third party who will decide the winner: the side which has the more compelling arguments.
Working on the app was fun but Demo Day was a nerve-racking experience. Unlike typical two-people-on-the-stage-rule, we had all four active at once: one person presenting, one person controlling the computer, and then the moderator and the opponent in a separate room acting out the debate. It was incredibly nice to have pulled it off!
Watch Edwards' team pitching from 17:35!
Watch Edwards' team pitching from 17:35!
How did you land your job?
I got my full-stack developer job directly through a networking event organized by Le Wagon, right after the batch finished.
My Japan-based company SOW Experience offers experience gifts — such as vouchers for vacations or classes. Our developer team is responsible for maintaining and adding new features to the website. The project that we're doing at the moment, a digitized version of a product, is very exciting and challenging.
I'm still comparatively new and I've been doing a mixture of stuff, the majority of which is covered by what I learned at Le Wagon, with various opportunities to branch out into new technologies. It’s very much a full-stack position, so there is plenty of variety. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what people have done and improving the code.
What do you like about your company?
Compared to a lot of Japanese companies, SOW Experience is astonishingly open-minded. In my experience so far, they really consider their employees’ needs and are not averse to trying new ways of doing things.
Taking into account all the various circumstances and COVID-19, I decided to go back to London to be with my family. My company was very understanding of this, and were happy to allow it, in spite of the time difference.
Typically, I interact with my colleagues in the morning, get myself set for the rest of the day and work on my tasks from the afternoon which is actually quite a good balance. I have enough time overlapping with them to sort everything out, and then focus, free of distractions. Of course, I prefer going to the office but remote is working quite well.
Do you think it is possible to dive into tech in Japan with a coding bootcamp?
I'd say it's 100% possible. A CS degree is not essential, especially given that the job market is not that competitive in Japan.
At Le Wagon Tokyo, I learned a lot about working in a team on a project with a deadline. This is essential if you want to secure a developer job.
If I was to give a message to someone considering a coding bootcamp, I’d recommend the experience. Not having a technical background shouldn’t stop you from trying because coding is rewarding, fun and something that anyone can get into.