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Gaining the confidence to learn by doing

Richard is a Politics & Economics grad from the UK, where he spent 2 years working at a startup in the north of London in mostly marketing & sales roles. He enrolled in Le Wagon Montréal’s Fullstack program in early 2019.

Featuring graduate Richard Jarram Full-stack Developer in YAP More about Richard
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We met to talk about his career since he graduated. Three weeks after the bootcamp, he had already scored his first client as a freelance developer. He is now working as a FullStack developer at YAP, a Montreal-based startup in the crypto-sphere. He is also part of the Montréal teaching team.
 

How does a Politics grad end up being a developer?

I always had an interest in programming. But as many other students in the UK, I had to make hard choices about which career path to take when only 16 years-old. I chose a liberal-education, and that was that.

Fast-forward to 2017. During my first job, I worked closely with the product team. Seeing how professional developers worked reignited my passion for programming and I started self-studying using online courses so I could join their code reviews. When a friend told me about a bootcamp she had taken I immediately began researching different schools to join. A year later I quit my job and joined Le Wagon Montreal, batch #210.

At Le Wagon, I was impressed by how people from all walks of life could learn the fundamentals of web development with no prior experience of coding. The secret formula? For the student: patience, a logical mind, a passion for code, and coffee! For the curriculum: a human-centered approach to computer-science education. At Le Wagon, we did not sit alone for hours with our heads hovering over textbooks. We learned by doing, by working with buddies and teams, and by building software with the intention of being used by real people.

Our society depicts programming as an esoteric art mastered by a select few born with the inherent ability to conjure magic on the computer screen. I think bootcamps like Le Wagon are disrupting that myth. 

Coding is a craft that anyone can pick up, as long as teachers can show students that coding is fun, playful and expressive. 

I believe in this vision, and that’s why I’m teaching at Le Wagon. I hope my passion for programming ignites the same flame in others too.

What is so special about Le Wagon curriculum ? 


For me, Le Wagon stood out because they have excellent teachers, a brilliant teaching platform, and an active global alumni network. But they also stood out because of their unique syllabus: it’s product-oriented, and students learn Ruby on Rails.

At Le Wagon I didn’t just learn how to code, I learned how to build a product. During project week we generated user stories, implemented Kanban workflows and organised sprints to ensure that the vision of our product evolved iteratively over the development lifecycle.

In the fast-paced tech industry you must continually be learning or be at risk of being left behind. Consequently, learning a specific language is less important than learning how to learn. Ruby on Rails is a great framework because it is elegant, simple and powerful. As an absolute beginner, I could learn to program without getting bogged down in language-specific syntactic difficulties. Struggling less with code meant I could develop other key skills, such as reading technical documentation, developing a personal programming style, and mastering abstract design patterns such as MVC. Because of this, I developed an attitude of learning by doing which has given me confidence in my coding ability.

By the time I won my first commercial project I decided to build it in Vue JS; I did not feel disadvantaged by taking a course based on Ruby / Ruby on Rails.

Is learning Ruby on Rails still relevant? 

For me, yes. Our tech stack includes Ruby on Rails. As does Shopify’s, and Netflix’s, and Transferwise’s, and AirBnB’s, and Github’s…. The list goes on. But even if you use a different tech stack in your first job, Ruby is still relevant.

Firstly, it’s very useful to have fluency in multiple programming languages. Since most common programming patterns (such as MVC) are language agnostic, it doesn’t really matter too much which one you learn, as long as you learn it well. And Ruby is easy to learn. Once you have learned one language well, you implement the same design principles in other languages easily.
Richard and his classmates from Batch 210 - Le Wagon Montreal

Secondly, as I just mentioned, Ruby is probably the best programming language for beginners to learn because it’s a human-friendly language. This is because (unlike Javascript) it's built from the ground-up with a sophisticated design philosophy that emphasizes coherence and readability. As a case in point, some of the syntactic improvements in Javascript ES6 (implicit return, template literals, classes) had already existed in Ruby for years!

So overall: Ruby on Rails has an active community, its used by major players in the tech industry, is fun to program in, and is a great language for beginners to master basic programming patterns which are language agnostic (such as MVC). 

What was the question again? … Oh yeah, is Ruby on Rails still relevant? Yes! It’s still relevant. 

Read more about Why we decided to teach Ruby on Rails at Le Wagon.
 

A word about Le Wagon community ? 


Amazing! It’s a great community to be a part of. At Le Wagon you're not just given the opportunity to learn how to code, you're also participating in a global community of entrepreneurs, designers and educators.

The students who are accepted onto the batch are very high caliber: they’re quick-witted, creative, original in their thinking, and entrepreneurial. Their alumni are very active in many different sectors in countries all around the world. I’ve forged deep bonds with the students I’ve met on successive batches in Montreal, and it’s great seeing people achieve personal success after graduation.
Le Wagon Demo Day - Bach 210
Alumni (myself included) want to give back to the community. There is an active slack channel for job postings and freelance opportunities. And many TAs and Teachers graduated from the course themselves. Because of this, you’re guaranteed to be taught by active professionals with a fresh knowledge of the syllabus.

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