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From Fashion Marketing to Software Engineering

Picture this: A set of experienced teachers lathers you in knowledge for 6 weeks before unleashing you onto your own projects, the most challenging part of the bootcamp. Suddenly you are building entire products in a group. It took you ages to build an admin panel and your users can reset their passwords, but no one at Demo Day wants to see that.

 From Fashion Marketing to Software Engineering
Featuring graduate Assunta Walderdorff Software Engineer in code&co. More about Assunta
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I grew up in Frankfurt (Germany) as someone with an irrational fear of machines and a stubborn disinterest in anything computer-related that wasn’t MSN or The Sims, reinforced not least by teachers who assured me that I didn’t need to know about IT because that was ‘for boys’. 

I studied Law, Economics and Environmental Studies in the UK, but had always seen myself working in the fashion industry rather than ending in banking or consulting. I moved back to Frankfurt and worked in fashion marketing for two years, learned a lot of invaluable lessons, and soon decided it wasn’t the dream. Among other reasons, I had been spending more time building up (and wearing down) my stress resistance than learning new things.

My friends soon found it difficult to peel me away from my laptop and I decided, mainly to avoid turning them into enemies (“All she talks about is code”), to channel that energy into a bootcamp.

I also really wanted to live in Berlin. Fast-forward a couple of months, I quit my job, moved to Berlin and did a couple of online programming courses in an effort to figure out whether that was something that I would enjoy. My friends soon found it difficult to peel me away from my laptop and I decided, mainly to avoid turning them into enemies (“All she talks about is code”), to channel that energy into a bootcamp. Le Wagon had been recommended to me by a trusted friend, so the choice was fairly easy. 

By that point, I hadn’t really developed a plan with regards to how I would put my coding skills to use. I just really enjoyed it and decided to go with the flow. I didn’t know whether I wanted to make a career of coding, or whether it would turn into an abandoned, dust-collecting hobby like the guitar I had bought when I was 15. This meant that while I started the bootcamp prepared to dedicate all of my time to it, I had no expectations of what I would get in return.
Assunta presenting her team's project on batch's #244 Demo Day
I’ll never forget my first day at Le Wagon. It felt like home right away, and not just because if its fifth floor walk-up location (don’t worry, there’s an elevator now). I was greeted by Rich, the driver, who had remembered my name – this doesn’t happen to me very often, so I hold this memory dear. Everybody was incredibly welcoming and inclusive, and the teachers showed nothing but patience and diligence while dealing with my old laptop that hadn’t seen a software update since university started.  

That first day’s atmosphere turned into a theme that characterised my experience throughout the entirety of the bootcamp. The general vibe that Le Wagon cultivates more than offsets the stress and frustration that come with learning how to build apps 9 hours a day for 9 weeks. 

Picture this: A set of experienced, talented teachers lathers you in knowledge for 6 weeks before unleashing you onto your own projects, unequivocally the most challenging part of the bootcamp. 

Picture this: A set of experienced, talented teachers lathers you in knowledge for 6 weeks before unleashing you onto your own projects, unequivocally the most challenging part of the bootcamp. Suddenly you are building entire products in a group, and you need to learn how to prioritise features. It took you ages to build an admin panel and your users can reset their passwords, but no one at Demo Day wants to see that. 

After solidifying the essentials of a web app, we learned to bring added value to it. And then we built something that Demo Day guests did want to see (an app that stored your friends’ movie and show recommendations), which was an exhilarating feeling. A skyrocketing learning curve.
Batch #244 on stage during Demo Day
The bootcamp ended with a career week, during the course of which we were given advice on how to optimise our CVs, send out job applications and handle technical interviews. This latter part was especially helpful for me, having never had to showcase a tangible skill in an interview before.  

That week’s work culminated in a hiring day, where we met with some of Le Wagon’s hiring partners in a casual, relaxed setting. I applied to some of the companies I had spoken with there, but also a whole lot more. Needless to say, the job market for developers is generous in Berlin. 


Many companies don’t even expect their junior hires to have worked with the language that they use. It’s much more important that you know how to code at all, and that’s not something you need to worry about after this bootcamp.


I tried to enjoy the technical interviews rather than fear them, kind of like a crossword puzzle that you’re doing for the fun of it, not for the all-inclusive cruise that you have a chance of winning if you complete the whole thing. This is definitely an approach I’d recommend to anyone with any level of interview-induced stage fright.

I also recommend asking questions, and googling. If you think about it, it’s pretty cool that you get to google things during an interview. Documentation is to coding what cheat sheets are to crossword puzzles, except that you are encouraged (and expected) to use it. Take advantage of that, even if it’s just to defy your past examiners and their “you can’t google your way through life” sermons.

I ended up getting hired by code&co., one of Le Wagon’s hiring partners, soon after the bootcamp had ended. The interview process had been fun, friendly and welcoming, and I had been given the chance to meet the entire team before making a decision.

While job hunt experiences are inherently subjective, there’s one thing that’s for sure: it is difficult, if not entirely impossible, to fake coding skills on a resume, because the company will inevitably find out if you’ve been exaggerating. The good news is that it’s also not necessary. Many companies don’t even expect their junior hires to have worked with the language that they use. It’s much more important that you know how to code at all, and that’s not something you need to worry about after this bootcamp.

I ended up getting hired by code&co., one of Le Wagon’s hiring partners, soon after the bootcamp had ended. The interview process had been fun, friendly and welcoming, and I had been given the chance to meet the entire team before making a decision. I’ve now been working there as a fullstack developer for about 8 months, and loving it. There’s something very reassuring about enjoying what you do for a living.
Assunta on a Panel Discussion at Betahaus


Assunta's take on the topic of Women in Tech:


Women are still shockingly underrepresented in tech, as is the case for most sciences. While statistics vary, I don’t think I’ve seen one above 15% representation in Germany. Not to mention the pay gap. 

It is often underestimated how detrimental the lack of diversity in technology is to society as a whole. We all use technology all of the time. And those of us who build technology build our biases into every line of code that we write — it’s that simple. If technology isn’t built by diversity, it becomes impossible for it to be socially inclusive. 

We as women might still be underrepresented in this industry, but we get to challenge the status quo in software, which is exciting and gratifying in equal measures, and the biggest perk to one of the best decisions I’ve made so far.

This reality has been ignored for a long time, and I strongly believe that there are deep-rooted problems (socio-political and academic) that fuel it, but attempts to address it are surfacing in Berlin’s tech scene. Le Wagon hosts regular Women’s Coding Days that are free of charge and award participants a partial scholarship to the bootcamp. Companies are placing more importance on hiring women, and diversity hiring more generally. 

It almost feels like the advent of a new era of women in tech, even those who were previously hesitant to join the field. It should go without saying that if you’re good at something and you enjoy doing it, you should pursue it. We as women might still be underrepresented in this industry, but we get to challenge the status quo in software, which is exciting and gratifying in equal measures, and the biggest perk to one of the best decisions I’ve made so far.


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