With a goal to train the developers, entrepreneurs and product managers of tomorrow, we don't only teach coding skills at Le Wagon.
We also focus on all the soft skills our graduates will need when it comes to finding a job or launching their startup: teamwork & collaboration, UX/UI design, pitching or product-driven development.
At Le Wagon, our students spend a lot of time coding, over 400 hours to be exact. Our whole curriculum revolves around a “learn by doing” approach, and we keep theoretical knowledge to a minimum. From lectures, to daily challenges and live code sessions, Sublime Text (or any text editor you prefer) is the main window open on their computer all day long.
Our whole curriculum revolves around a “learn by doing” approach, and we keep theoretical knowledge to a minimum
But with a goal to train the developers, entrepreneurs and product managers of tomorrow, we also focus on all the soft skills our graduates will need when it comes to finding a job or launch their startup: teamwork & collaboration, UX/UI design, pitching or product-driven development to name a few. How do we do that? You guessed it, by actually doing it.
And while we may not always name the concepts (e.g. Scrum) behind this practical approach, we do follow the newest industry standards, and our students bring these skills into their daily jobs. Let’s take a tour of how Le Wagon teaches more than coding!
Teamwork & Collaboration
The very first thing we tell our students when we enter project phase is that a team of great developers doesn’t necessarily translate into a great product. In fact, in a professional environment developers spend less than half their day coding. What do they do the rest of their time? Collaborate!
GitHub is probably the most famous of them, and learning to deal with merge conflicts or branching is part of our daily routine during project weeks. But starting from day 1, we also insist on the most underrated GitHub skill: writing meaningful commit messages (In short, “Finally got that feature to work” is a big no-no).
When it comes to project management, we believe that you don’t need much more than list and cards. Trello is the perfect application for that, and it helps us insist on a few notions: writing user stories, developing with features in mind, and breaking down tasks to manageable elements.
Lastly, Slack has become one of the preferred communication tool for startups and large companies alike, and all of our day-to-day messages go through it. It is also what lets our graduates reach out to other alumni around the world.
Though it has a lot to do with coding, there are a few developers’ best practices that cannot be taught through a formal lecture. SRP, variable naming, TDD or writing clean code are at the top of the most-looked-for-skills by some tech leads, and the only way to learn them is to practice them.
Our team of teachers became experts at spotting “code smells”, and will always make sure that best coding practices are applied
How do we enforce them? First, by making them the only “acceptable” way to write code. Second, our team of teachers became experts at spotting code smells, and will always make sure that these principles are applied (“you probably want to name that variable something else”). Last but not least, our best friend (or for some, enemy…) Rubocop is here to make sure that everything is indented properly.
These best practices fall in the teamwork category, and applying them will turn “I just spent 2 hours understanding what that code does” into “I picked it up where you left off and made it work in 20 minutes”.
What better way to start the day than being clear about every team member’s tasks? This is a core principle of Scrum, and the most important “team management” methodology we apply at Le Wagon.
During project weeks, our teaching team will act as scrum masters and make sure to clear any blocking points, or prioritize tasks so that project teams can have the most productive day.
Learning how to code is a powerful skill, because it enables you to do one thing: build awesome products. As a very product-oriented bootcamp, we identified the key aspects of product-driven development and integrated them in our coding challenges and daily routine.
Working with iterations
The products that our students pitch during Demo Day evolve a lot throughout the final two weeks. By iterating and building production-ready web apps at every step, we are able to quickly identify bugs, minor design tweaks, and improvements on the overall usability.
Our students have to go through three intermediate pitch sessions during the final two weeks, and with these constant deadlines and pitch sessions, we ensure that each team always has a product ready to ship. This Build Pitch Learn loop follows the number 1 principle of Agile software development: early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Keeping the User Story in mind
In the vein of our “code is here to build products” principle, we also believe that product features should only be developed to serve a user story. Even though this may sound obvious, some developers or entrepreneurs still put technical features at the center of their product development, forgetting about their final users in the process.
Interestingly, some of the most impressive technical features showed during Demo Day are discovered very late in the development process. And they always come in to do one thing: ensure a smooth User Journey. As such, web apps developed at Le Wagon never include a feature because it’s “cool” or a “technical challenge”.
Having a vision for your final product
How to build the most impressive web application? Easy, bring together a team of superstar developers, close the door and wait for 2 weeks. Well… It almost never works that way.
After 3 years running our bootcamp in Tokyo and more than 45 products built, we noticed that team spirit and product vision are by far the two most important factors to deliver great products.
Thanks to those soft skills, our students are fully equipped to take on more user-centric roles like Product Manager
Lack a product vision, and you will fail to deliver a coherent visual identity and user journey. This usually happens with what we call “nice-to-have” products, or when the initial idea focuses on a specific feature rather than addressing a real world problem. A clear product vision will help you build a logical user journey, taking your users from problem to solution in seamless steps.
Thanks to those soft skills, our students are fully equipped not only to become better engineers, but also to take on more user-centric roles like Product Management.
UX / UI Design & Pitching
Have you ever wondered why most apps you use on a daily basis look nice and feel smooth to use? Why startup founders all seem to know how to perfectly pitch their companies? The most likely reason is “natural selection”: apps that are a nightmare to use are discarded, and founders who don’t know how to pitch can’t secure their first round of founding.
How to get better a these? Practice.
During the course of our bootcamp, our students will have to take part in at least 8 pitch sessions.
We’re honestly quite proud about our pitch practice, and how even the most shy students end up being comfortable on stage and have fun in the process. Contrary to coding, where the result is a binary “it works / it doesn’t work”, pitching is a matter of fine tuning, picking the right words and tone to convey your ideas.
We’ve also noticed that a great pitch can make a product shine: being able to engage your audience, make them feel the pain you’re trying to address, show the simplicity of your solution.
UX / UI Design
Around mid-way through the program, we spend a full day off-campus for a deep dive into the life of a designer. From 9am to 6pm, project teams will learn how to write a product pitch, identify user personas, draw a user journey and design a functional prototype.
One day may seem short for these concepts, but it matches our objective: while in some companies this process can take a month or two, we want to show that you don’t need more than a day to prototype a product.
With the product sprint, we want to show that you don’t need more than a day to design and build a prototype
UI and design are also an important focus during our Build Pitch Learn cycle, and project teams get valuable feedbacks on how to tweak their application, from the color palette to details such as border radius or shadow.
By showing that you don’t need to be a designer to build nice-looking applications, we’re removing the mental barriers that most people set to themselves. If you’re looking to launch your startup, no more excuses such as “I am not a designer”.
A comprehensive skillset for full-stack engineers, product managers and entrepreneurs
Before joining the bootcamp, the main expectation of our students is to learn the technical skills they need to achieve their goal.
By the end of the program, a lot of them realize that whether you want to become an engineer, entrepreneur or product manager, coding skills are only one part of the equation. They also learned how to collaborate, build a product from scratch or prototype in only one day.
But more than what they learn, how they acquire these skills is what makes Le Wagon unique: they do not have to sit through 2-hour lectures about Cross-Cultural Communication or Efficient Teamwork with Github. They experience and practice these skills day after day, without even noticing how this daily practice transforms them until these skills become second nature.