Learning how to code: How Mario acquired a new skill set to turn his ideas into reality
Mario is a strategy consultant based in Munich. He has a background in Business Administration and a strong passion for coding. He attended Le Wagon’s full-time web development bootcamp in October 2020 to acquire a new skill set to turn his product ideas into reality.
Hi there! My name is Mario and I am a strategy consultant based in Munich. I joined Le Wagon in October 2020 and completed the full-time web development bootcamp. My educational background is in Business Administration – I completed both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in this field – but I have always been fascinated by coding. I believe this fascination is born from my perception that by learning to code, I equip myself with the toolkit to build products I deeply care about and which can help to improve other people’s lives. In that sense, I feel coding empowers me to turn my ideas into reality independently.
"Before joining Le Wagon, I already had a first encounter with coding by attending an introductory programming class during my Master's studies. The class focused on creating a high-level understanding of computer architecture and programming concepts (e.g., data structures, algorithms, etc.). I thoroughly enjoyed this class – it was one of my favorites throughout my university life."
Sparked by my positive initial experience with coding and my desire to start my own business one day, I decided to take an educational leave from my job as a strategy consultant and enrolled in Le Wagon. I chose Le Wagon over other bootcamps mainly for three reasons:
First, their well-structured curriculum and product-driven philosophy really appealed to me.
Second, Le Wagon had excellent reviews on all major review platforms.
Third, Le Wagon had just opened a campus in Munich, which meant I could do the bootcamp in person and actually meet my fellow students (adhering to COVID guidelines, of course).
During my time at Le Wagon, what stood out to me was the well-thought-out curriculum. It is designed to teach you everything you need to know to create a minimum viable product step by step without overloading you with content. Le Wagon is operating for several years now, and you can see that they try to learn from every student batch to improve the bootcamp and its curriculum (I was in batch #489, by the way). This becomes apparent in their well-structured learning platform KITT, their wealth of great lectures and exercises, and their recently introduced career platform LEARN. Overall, it is remarkable what you can achieve in nine weeks – from opening the Chrome developer console for the first time and finding out that there is a whole world behind each website, to creating a working web application from scratch in a team.
While these nine weeks are certainly challenging – after all, you are learning an entirely new skill set – the whole setup of the bootcamp is designed in such a way to keep you motivated. For example, you can run a set of tests for each exercise that turns green if your solution is correct. This simple but powerful gamification aspect will soon push you to get all your exercises right. In addition, you are also assigned a learning buddy each day with whom you can discuss issues you encounter while solving these exercises. I found the exchange with my fellow students one of the most motivating factors during the bootcamp, as it gives you the feeling you are on that learning journey as a group rather than an individual. On top of this, you also have competent and very helpful teachers and teaching assistants who you can consult anytime to clarify questions and who go the extra mile to explain things to you.
In order to get the most out of your bootcamp experience, I would recommend that you dedicate yourself full-time to it (assuming you attend the full-time batch) and focus on enhancing both your hard and soft skills.
To enhance your hard skills (i.e., acquire and retain the coding knowledge), you can pre-watch the lectures on KITT (there is a pre-recorded version of each lecture) in addition to attending the live lecture each morning. This way, you will have heard the content twice and can ask any open questions you might have during the live lecture. Furthermore, you should try to complete all mandatory challenges each day, including the learning flashcards. This will help you understand the topics you learned and stay on track for the following day. Lastly, I can highly recommend participating in any Le Wagon hackathons or competitions – they are a great additional learning opportunity and give you a sense of how you perform against your peers.
"To enhance your soft skills (i.e., improve the interaction with your fellow developers), you should take the time to learn from and explain things to your learning buddy whenever either of you has a question. This will certainly help you to understand concepts better. In addition, and if you feel comfortable, you should volunteer to present your final group project on Demo Day – for me, this was my personal highlight of the bootcamp."
Looking back on my experience at Le Wagon, I would summarize my key lessons learned as follows: First, there is a whole coding universe out there with lots of amazing technologies you can learn and master – something I was not aware of before Le Wagon. This gave me the feeling that by entering this field, I will always be able to learn something new and continue growing – which is very important to me. Second, the tech community is very supportive, open, and has a can-do attitude. This is apparent in the vast amount of online forums you can find where people support each other or in people’s contributions to open source projects. The Le Wagon slack channels are another great example of this: some Le Wagoners spend an entire day helping someone to fix a bug – what a great community! Third, it is never too late to learn to code. In my cohort at Le Wagon, there were people from all age groups. Fortunately, coding is a field for which there are great online learning resources out there. So even after the bootcamp, you have plenty of (often free) material you can rely on to deepen your knowledge through self-study at your own pace and budget.
After graduating from Le Wagon, I returned to my position as a strategy consultant as my educational leave came to an end. However, since I thoroughly enjoyed coding and creating web applications together with a team, I have decided to take the next step in my web development journey: I have reduced my working hours to be able to deepen my programming knowledge through self-study, thereby complementing my strategy consulting skillset with a professional web development skillset. In addition to this, my employer gave me the chance to support the setup of a corporate tech startup. While my support relates to business development aspects rather than coding, I believe this can be a great opportunity to gain first insights into the professional tech world.
Going forward, I plan to deepen my programming knowledge further and learn additional frameworks and tools to reach a professional level in this field. I am also looking forward to using my skills to build personal projects and – hopefully – my own business one day.
To see Mario's product check out our Demo Day Video