Before the bootcamp
Before hopping on board, two main reasons pushed me to learn how to code. Firstly, I was interested in the development and management of digital products, so understanding how code worked seemed inevitable to me. I had just freshly obtained a BSc in Governance, Economics and Development and had developed a keen interest for tech through different projects. However, I felt limited in my understanding of it because I felt that I could only grasp a superficial layer of information without ever reaching its essence. How did it actually work behind the scenes?
Secondly, my interest in emerging technologies introduced me to the topic of digital transformation. In an increasingly digitized society, acquiring more technical skills seemed only a matter of time. As organizational structures and their cultures are changing, so are the functions and skills of their employees. Working on tech-related projects is no longer limited necessarily to individuals working in the IT department. The digital transformation of organisations is calling for people to develop interdisciplinary competences as we are breaking functional silos.
Learning how to code was an opportunity for me to understand the development of digital products from A to Z, allowing me to understand the jargon used by technical teams, being able to evaluate myself certain implications and being able to genuinely understand the work of technical teams. In my opinion, a liberal arts approach to education is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s world.
Do not get me wrong, although we should have “specialists”, it is no less important for people to be “generalists” in order to foster collaboration by developing empathy, especially in an environment as connected as today.
However, I had no prior experience in coding, no predispositions, no friends to introduce me to it so I started researching on what my options were. The internet is full of resources which can help the most motivated ones can teach themselves, however, knowing myself, I was looking for a more practical approach.
Le Wagon: “Change your brain, learn how to code”
The learning approach
Learning at Le Wagon is always practice-oriented, from building clones of Airbnb to turning your idea into an actual product in the last two weeks of the bootcamp and pitching it. Overall, what appealed to me was the holistic curriculum combined with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Once convinced that Le Wagon was the best learning approach for me, I realized I could attend the boot camp in 39 cities all around the world, which brought me to my next question: which one should I choose?
By attending these talks, I had the opportunity to discover the talented individuals of Montreal’s digital ecosystem, namely and amongst others, Dr.Soodeh Farokh, Founder & CTO of C2RO, a company specialized in google analytics of physical spaces. I later had the chance to interview Marina Pavlovic Rivas, co-founder & CEO of Eli, a company enabling women to take control of their health across their lives, by providing them with powerful information on their daily hormone profile. In conclusion, by choosing Le Wagon Montreal, I had the chance to discover Montreal’s digital ecosystem and understand how I could be part of it.
If you are interested in following a bootcamp at Le Wagon bootcamp, looking at technicalities is essential but researching on the city’s digital ecosystem contributes greatly to the kind of experience you are choosing.
Firstly, students are surrounded by teachers who not only go beyond the transmission of knowledge but who also know exactly what you are going through. Indeed, most teachers have attended Le Wagon themselves which is really reassuring because it reminds you that there is hope. There is hope that no matter your random background, if you are motivated and willing to put in the work, you will eventually progress. Teachers with equally as random background as students, have shown me that they have successfully managed to rewire their brain.
They have managed to digest information and transmit it to you in the most accessible way. They also acknowledge that sometimes it may seem like it makes no sense but that you should be patient, trust the process and at some point, it will make more sense. They understand you might want to understand everything to make sense of certain things but also remind you that you have to prioritize.
None of them will tell you that it is easy, most of them will tell you that they have struggled but most importantly, all of them will tell you that this is only the beginning and that you should never stop learning.
Indeed, le Wagon gives you the foundations to dive into the world of programming but the most is yet to come.
After the bootcamp
While some started the bootcamp with a certain vision, it is important to acknowledge that projection can be a real obstacle for the future. Throughout the coding bootcamp, you are continuously learning new things that you will need time to digest and dig further into, once you will have time for it. I remember one day being puzzled by the uncertainty in my life during the bootcamp. I felt uprooted, wanting to know exactly what the next step in my life would be once I would have finished my bootcamp.
I talked about it with one of the staff members who told me that no one really knew where exactly they would end up, that I would see and that I should appreciate my uncertainty instead of being paralyzed by it. I slowly started getting comfortable in uncomfortable settings. My pre-bootcamp to post-bootcamp vision changed various times and slowly I could pinpoint what truly spoke to me. Throughout all this process, the most important was undeniably developing the capacity to pivot, to acknowledge what I liked and what I did not, in order to stay coherent with myself.
A never-ending rollercoaster
Learning in a fast-paced society, where instantaneity reigns and where slow processes are becoming increasingly frustrating, is hard. In addition, the evaluation of one's learning process is more challenging than ever in a society of media-induced voyeurism and perpetual comparison.
Today, as I have engaged in this personal and professional re-orientation for almost a year, I have accepted that there will be days harder than others, that converting my ambitious thoughts into actual products will not happen overnight but rather one step at a time and that learning will remain an ongoing process. Most importantly, I also remind myself that finding yourself is not a race and that we all have a different definition of success.
Le Wagon: a benevolent community
As I started thinking differently about my environment, I naturally started focusing on different topics and decided to dedicate myself to information technology. Indeed, I have just started my MSc. in Management of Digital Transformation at HEC Montreal and I am looking forward to helping organisations engage in digital transformation.
I envision education, encompassing university and bootcamps, as a place that trains you to learn how to think about your environment rather than as an organisation that makes you become something. It is also a place where you learn how to surround yourself and cultivate your interests. After that, it is up to you to make your own path, combining your interests and knowledge. One thing is sure, if you have gone through Le Wagon, you are well-equipped to go onto your next adventure!
I would like to once again thank Le Wagon Canada and more specifically its Montreal staff, the boss ladies: MG, Aline and Laure for their unconditional support, the teachers for their patience and inspiration, and my classmates, for making this experience unforgettable. I am proud being part of this great community and I am looking forward to giving back!