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How I connected the dots from Strasbourg to Montréal

My name is Guillaume Schwaederlé and it has been almost a month now since I joined the Wagon Montréal team as the Bootcamp Manager. But how did I get here?

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My history written along Le Wagon


My name is Guillaume Schwaederlé and it has been almost a month now since I joined the Wagon Montréal team as the Bootcamp Manager.

But how did I get here? I will briefly tell you about the last year and the few steps that illustrate what Steve Jobs said during his speech at Stanford University. I know it’s cliché but I really like it.
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” — Steve Jobs

Step one: My Growing Interest in Le Wagon


As a young business school graduate, I had been working for two years in the Strasbourg region doing communications and marketing for a large German industrial company.

I felt that my studies had given me a plethora of theoretical knowledge but that I was lacking practical and actionable knowledge.
I was struggling increasingly more with digital issues in my job, and I felt that I sometimes lacked the practical knowledge to better understand those challenges in order to be able to cross the technical barrier. At the same time, my company’s processes were sometimes lengthy and it took a long time for decisions to be made.

Charly Martin
, one of my best friends from business school, had already experienced the Le Wagon adventure in Bordeaux and wouldn’t stop telling me about it and how much it changed his life. It taught him the skills required to create his own web applications. This simple fact enabled him to change paradigm; he was no longer confined to just talking about what he wanted to create, he could actually bring his ideas to life!

The idea of one day taking this training started bouncing around in my head, and more and more I wanted to take part in this incredible adventure.

All that remained was finding the right time. After resigning from my job and then working with a start-up for a few months in a business development capacity, I then decided to jump on the train.

Step two: The Le Wagon Lille Experience


I began my adventure on Monday, October 16, 2017 as part of Batch #108 in Lille. At the time, I didn’t realize the impact this experience would have on my life.

From the get-go I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse backgrounds of the people with whom I shared this experience.
Their profiles were varied: a former dentist, young professionals from business schools, two pharmacists, two real estate students, etc. The will that bound us was even stronger: to learn coding by agreeing to leave our comfort zones for 9 weeks.

The days and weeks were intense: I was at the bootcamp every day from 8:45am to 7:15pm. The daily program consisted of an hour and a half of class in the morning, challenges in pairs the rest of the day, then live coding in the evening.

The weeks went by and my classmates, perfect strangers just a few weeks earlier, had become my friends. I felt a sense of belonging to a big tribe united by our daily challenges and the joy of completing the steps. We surpassed our own limits every day.
The 9 weeks went by very quickly but it felt like living in a “concentrated life” for two years.
“What matters is not the number of years you have in your life but the life you put in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln

December 16, 2017: The end of bootcamp was near and it was (already!) time for DemoDay. I pitched Gladius (www.the-gladius.com), a web application used to create, plan and manage your own fitness training.

Step three: Focussing on Canada: A New Chapter With Le Wagon Montréal


With the bootcamp finished, it was time to make the most of my freshly-acquired new skills to achieve another goal: to move to Montréal. My family has some Canadian heritage but I had never lived in Quebec. I had wanted to do this for years and now was the perfect time!

In January 2018 I contacted Marie-Gabrielle Ayoub and her brother Antoine, the co-founders of Le Wagon Montréal. And to my surprise, the 2 partners told me they were looking for a Bootcamp Manager. Things moved quickly and as a former student of Le Wagon I quickly understood the challenges and expectations of the position. There is a lot of pressure as Marie-Gabrielle and Antoine have done a huge amount of work over the past year and the challenge of contributing to the program’s growth in my ancestors’ country motivates me!

In just one month, my partner and I were ready to leave. We arrived in Montreal on March 2 and I began on March 16 for the Batch #125 DemoDay. This day is probably the most intense one of the 9-week program for the web development students presenting their projects. It’s a mixture of positive emotions, healthy rivalry and pure relief. In fact, more than 100 people, including friends, family, recruiters and members of the Montreal start-up community attended the presentation. It’s a very intense time, surrounded by enthusiastic people! I love these moments!

My article may be nearing completion… but my Canadian experience has only just begun!

I am more than happy to begin this adventure alongside the team, this time as an employee, to give the students the best learning and life experience possible and to help them through this magnificent adventure that will no doubt enable them to change their lives as it has changed mine!

The rest remains to be written.

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