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How to turn a literary critic into a programmer? Le Wagon knows.

2 years after I’ve embarked on the adventure.

Featuring graduate Joanna Gaudyn Full-stack Developer in Rubynor AS More about Joanna
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Autumn of 2016 was tough. I got diagnosed with a tumour and learnt that my facial nerve is likely to be permanently damaged during the surgery. At that time I was working as a store manager, with over a thousand people passing through my store every day (a job that I didn’t particularly enjoy at that time anymore).

As cliché as it might sound, it was time for reflexion and questioning status quo. I knew it was time for changes.

Fast-forward a couple of months, after a successful surgery, I was sitting at home on a long sick leave and, once the nausea was gone, working through the prep-work for Le Wagon, a coding bootcamp I chose after hours of online research and ploughing through reviews (if you are not sure what a coding bootcamp is, this article might help you understand).

Why a coding bootcamp?

I first encountered HTML in the deep 90s. My big brother introduced me to words like tags and syntax. I kept a regular, paper (sic!) notebook to take notes and I build a couple of really ugly websites that I never published (phew!). As a teenager I would be able to tweak my blog templates and I’d take some online coding courses just for fun, but when it came to choosing a degree, I decided to do 2 bachelors: in publishing and in journalism. After which I continued with a master in literary criticism.

The idea of properly learning how to code has been in the back of my head for a really long time. By ‘properly’ I mean the opposite of what I’d been doing before — online courses, knowing a bit about a lot and never getting to the point of being able to build something. After having moved abroad, my background (heavily language-related) didn’t exactly make it easier to land a decent job. I knew that science could open a lot of doors. But I didn’t feel like going back to the uni.

When I’ve first heard the term ‘coding bootcamp’ I had mixed feelings. It was around 5 years ago when I read about a school that was supposed to turn you into a junior developer in 2 months. It wasn’t cheap, but other than that it sounded too good to be true (and you know what they say: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is). So I quickly forgot about it.

But 4 years after graduation and 4 jobs later I decided to come back to the subject. This time around I had enough savings and more than enough motivation to go for a career change. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Why Le Wagon?

Le Wagon has been ranked as the best coding bootcamp in the world for 3 years in a row now. I went through alumni reviews on Switchup and Coursereport, and read an article on Techcrunch. These were all so extremely good that I started to wonder if it’s just marketing. But I didn’t know any bootcamp graduate at that point so I decided to take a chance and trust the Internet.

So, in the beginning of April 2017 I packed my backpack and flew from Oslo to Lisbon.



Ice breaker of #batch71. Source: Le Wagon Lisbon

How was the bootcamp?

Exciting, intensive, empowering.

However, like for many other people from my batch, it’s been a couple of years since I last had to sit through a lecture. The biggest challenge of week 1 for me was staying awake during the morning class. Not because it was boring or I already knew everything that was being covered, but because my attention span was so limited. Luckily, our brains tend to adjust faster than we expect.

During the first weeks I also had to overcome the fear of an empty screen with a blinking cursor. It almost felt like when I was writing my thesis. Learning to code is learning to think in a different way: taking problems apart, analysing them step-by-step, often working backwards: first knowing the desired outcome, then figuring out how to get there.

I found it intimidating, I wasn’t sure if I was learning fast enough, I was questioning the choice I made.

But it all fell into place. For the first time in a long time I was enjoying what I was doing so much that I would forget to eat (and those who know me know that this doesn’t happen often). I had FUN with coding. I loved the engineering part and the fact that the answer was either right or wrong, not based on personal opinions.



Demo Day of #batch71. Source: Le Wagon Lisbon

What I also valued a lot was the community aspect of Le Wagon, the importance of teamwork and focus on building functioning products. It was a perfect combo for me and before the bootcamp was over I started considering bringing Le Wagon back to Oslo.

Back to Oslo

When I came back home, I soon landed a job as a developer, where I’ve continued learning while working alongside people with lots of experience. I found a place where I could grow my skills and work with clients on projects that truly matter to them.

On the side, I was teaching at different locations of Le Wagon around the world. One of the biggest values of Le Wagon is its community: diverse, likeminded, open. Ready to answer your coding-related issues, help looking for a new job opportunity or talk about surfing.



This year the stars aligned and what’s been a side gig for a while now is becoming a new full-time challenge: the first batch of Le Wagon Oslo students will start on June 3rd and applications are open. These are exciting times! We’re the first coding bootcamp to open in Norway, and the timing couldn’t be better. The tech scene is growing at an unprecedented speed, the entrepreneurship culture is spreading and the market holds several thousands unfilled positions in tech.

Norway has recently appointed their first Minister of Digitalisation. And the report about the future competence needs, which was published last year by the government, emphasises that the job market needs are evolving and will continue to do so due to demographic changes, digitalisation and innovation:
The education must be designed so that the candidates’ competence become suitable for the present and future competence needs in the job market. At the same time, the companies must ensure the development and renewal of competences of their current employees, in line with technology development, innovation and new ways of working.

In times of constant change and conversion, it is crucial that businesses facilitate further development of their employees’ expertise, and that individuals further grow their skillset. Not all of these needs can be addressed through traditional education and we are hoping to help bridge the gap between supply and demand.

Change your life. Learn to code.

The two hashtags Le Wagon uses in social media: #learntocode and #changeyourlife might sound trivial, but combined they get a whole new meaning. Completing the bootcamp does not only provide you with the technical skills you might be lacking to turn your ideas into products. It also teaches you a programmer’s mindset: problem solving, solution engineering, teamwork. For me it was an incredibly empowering experience which allowed me to understand how much I can learn in a short time if only I put my heart to it. And I’m hoping to bring this empowerment to all of our future alumni in Oslo.
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