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Le Wagon Changed My Life

Ever felt as though you’ve hit a wall at work or that you're not doing what you love? For many of us, the thought of changing careers seems like a daunting journey to start. However, with hard work and the right program, George was able to pivot into something that not only challenges him every day but is also fulfilling in more ways than one.

Le Wagon Changed My Life
Featuring graduate George Ballard Software Engineer in Workmate More about George
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Unhappy and looking for a change 

It’s not that he didn’t make enough money, or that his company was horrible to work at. In fact, George worked for a prestigious engineering company as a technology and IT design engineer, where on average, people stayed for over 20 years. The problem was, “it wasn’t very me,” he said. George was a tech engineer who hated his job. At work, he wasn’t learning anything and he felt that it was stagnant. He did, however, have an interest in programming while he was in university and even completed his dissertation in C++. “Programming is one of the most rapidly evolving areas in the world,” he said, “I wanted to join a field where I could never learn everything and a field which would give me the most flexibility; so far it’s done both of those things.” So he decided to go all-in and applied for programming jobs all over London. Unfortunately, he didn’t land a job he wanted. In his spare time, he taught himself Python and Java but he really wanted to be able to do a lot more so he thought a Bootcamp would be a good route. George realized quite quickly when he started the search, Le Wagon was by far the best rated Bootcamp (check these out).

All uphill from here

Le Wagon was “exactly what I hoped for,” George said. Even though he knew a bit of the different components of the program, he felt much more competent at the end. “I came out with so much knowledge because it was intense,” he said. Every part of the program has contributed to his journey and in turn, has led him to where he is now. For example, finishing the program and working for almost a year after as a developer has made him realize that “Ruby is the best starting language,” even though it’s not what he uses now for work (read why we insist on teaching Ruby!). The final project is another great example, it was an important part of his learning process; “it’s there for a reason - it lays the foundation. Without it you won’t have the building blocks”. It’s where you’ll learn the most and “everything will start falling into place,” he said. The feeling of “I don't know how to do this” is something you have to get used to as a developer and the Bootcamp helped with that. What’s great about a Full-Stack course as compared to learning languages individually, is that you get a well-rounded skill set. “I haven’t learned anything that wasn’t useful to me at some point in the future,” he said. 

Something George didn’t expect to lean onto was the community Le Wagon provides. After applying for many jobs and not seeing any success, he got a call from one of the instructors who taught his cohort; Prima turned down a job offer but recommended George as a potential candidate instead. The skillset Le Wagon graduates come out with after the program is so solid that George as well as his batchmate Yejin started the interview process and were both hired. Le Wagon also prepares you for what comes next. With any prospective programming job, you “need to be open to learning,” he said. When the question, “I see you’re learning Rails but we’re using React - can you learn it?” was asked, George’s answer was immediate, “can you give us a week to learn it?” There’s no education out there that will get you ready for every potential job but Le Wagon certainly prepares you to be able to adapt and achieve your goals. It also helps that all Le Wagon graduates get access to a free React course as well. “Neither of us knew React but we just went for it,” he said. 

A dream come true

Commenting on his current job as a Full-Stack Developer in React and Django, “it’s everything I wanted it to be,” George said. Everything that most people hate about working in a corporate environment is now a thing of the past. “I don’t have to deal with office politics, I don’t have meetings for the sake of having meetings,” he said, “the hierarchy is there but it’s also not. The people above me are so capable and I really respect them.” Workmate is a platform that provides blue collar workers and has six people on the tech team, including Yejin and George. “If you screw up,” he said, “there’s no covering it up.” A six man team means that it’s incredibly hectic, “but I’ve learned a huge amount and it continues seamingly at the same rate.” He noted that it usually takes junior full-stack developers at least a year and a half to become engineers at his company. It took George only eight months. This is a mind blowing feat but it’s not without hard work; “it’s doable but you’ve got to work six days a week and be resilient.” The general idea for him is to work here for a few more years but he’s got some ideas for a startup. However, “I’m not planning too far ahead because I have too much to learn in a small time frame,” he said. George is also grateful for the flexibility. He traveled to 12 countries in the last year alone and is now planning to split his time living in Bali and New Zealand. 

Know what you want

“Last year was the most stressful year of my life but at the same time, I’ve never learnt so much,” George said. He even joked about needing a bigger head because my “brain is always full of new stuff.” His advice? “If you don’t like being thrown in the deep end, I recommend that you go the corporate route.” It’s an important point to remember that changing your life and your career is not as hard if you know what you want to achieve. George is definitely working much more than he did before but to him, it’s worth it because he’s always challenging himself. Because of what he’s working on right now, “I knew a lot less about back-end development just two weeks ago.” he said. 






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