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From Digital Marketer and food blogger to Full-Stack JavaScript Developer in 3 months

Meet Davy de Groote - our recent graduate who landed his first tech job as a Full-Stack JavaScript Developer at Punfyre - a company that makes innovative products for a healthcare industry. Discover his experience at Le Wagon and advice for those seeking a career change in tech.
alumni portrait, Davy

Hi Davy, can you please introduce yourself?

I am Davy, almost 29 years old who has been working in marketing for almost 5 years and was self-employed for 1,5 years as a food blogger. Currently living in Deinze, near Ghent and starting to work as a software developer at Punfyre.

Since you used to work in marketing, do photography and maintain a food blog before, what made you decide to drastically change careers?

When I was young I just “rolled into marketing”. I studied SME-management (small & medium enterprises management), which was a very general bachelor study. I had been on the verge of actually studying applied computer sciences but didn’t do it in the end because someone I knew studied that and told me that “he has to learn and study new things almost every day”. Something that I wasn’t very fond of at that time. At 18 years old you don’t want to be told that after your studies you just have to keep studying, right?

So eventually I had no clue and just went for something quite general as SME-management. When finished with those studies, I applied for a marketing function (because even than I had no clue what I could actually work as with that kind of a degree…) and a start-up gave me the chance to set my first steps into marketing. However after some years, I felt more and more that marketing wasn’t the thing that I could or want to be doing all my life. Meanwhile on the side I started an Italian foodblog together with my wife (instagram.com/opmijntalloor, go follow us!) where I could put in all the creative freedom I wanted. I was fully self-employed together with my wife for 1 year. We organised cooking classes & photographed for restaurants. However, most of the cooking classes took place in the evening or in the weekends. Something we didn’t really like because all your free time is when your friends are working and vice versa, so eventually we decided to scale the blog down and only keep posting recipes on Instagram. We both decided to go back to working for an employer but I had one condition: I didn’t want to go back to marketing (because of the earlier mentioned reasons).

Why did you choose to join Le Wagon? Have you already had any experience of coding before?

I choose Le Wagon because many years ago I knew someone who also did Le Wagon and has landed a coding job just one week after. I consulted him and also kept track of Le Wagon thinking that at one point I might actually join a batch.

I had some coding experience before:

  • In my job as a marketeer I sometimes had to change small pieces of html or CSS or use a script tag to make some advertisement tracking work but nothing more.
  • In the past I followed some general courses such as FreeCodeCamp or something on Udemy but never managed to finish it.
  • When we decided we would stop with our foodblog, I decided that I wanted to code for one day a week to see if it’s REALLY something for me and I’m just not romanticising it. I followed some more elaborate courses and built some very small personal projects.

However coding experience isn’t needed to start Le Wagon, sometimes I felt that I had an easier time to grasp some of the fundamental concepts that I has been introduced to before.

How was your experience at Le Wagon?

I really enjoyed my time at Le Wagon. Although the days are long, especially with the commute I had to make (7h30 leaving the house, 19h30 back home), they didn’t feel long. The pacing is extremely fast but the teachers make sure you understand what you are doing. Also I really enjoyed the daily schedule – after 2 hours of lectures, we dove into the concepts we learned with challenges, exercises and projects. On top of that it’s really encouraging to work with a group that is also interested in the topic and wants to help each other to succeed.

What was the defining moment during your training?

For me it was being introduced to Rails (a framework for the coding language Ruby that we were taught during the bootcamp) and seeing how all the things learned separately now eventually came together. The good thing is that Le Wagon also taught us how to do things the hard way first and afterwards introduced us to easier, simpler ways. This taught me to understand what happens under the hood (and also make the debugging process a lot easier!)

We like to say that there’s life “before” and life “after” Le Wagon, do you agree? Describe yours before and after.

Well, the contrast of before and after can’t be greater. I’m starting a whole new chapter in my life in a field that is completely new to me, but I can do it with confidence thanks to Le Wagon. I think I wouldn’t be able to succeed as a “self taught developer” without the Le Wagon bootcamp.

You’ve just landed a job as a full-stack developer just a few weeks after completing a bootcamp. Could you tell us about your new role and how you managed to find a job in such a short a short amount of time?

I will start to work as a Fullstack JavaScript developer in a company that creates software for the healthcare sector. I will be working in Nest.JS and Vue.js. Both are the frameworks that I have never used before. As per finding a job, there’s some advice I can give:

  • Just do it, apply for everything and see what comes out. I applied for junior functions as well as for functions with 1-3 years of experience. You always have a no but you can only get a yes if you ask it.
  • Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs in languages or frameworks you don’t know. I applied for PHP/Laravel jobs, .NET jobs, Fullstack JavaScript jobs, etc. The principles are the same, it’s just the syntax that is different.
  • Technical interviews are okay! (or at least the ones I had)
  • Don’t see a job interview as an unovercomeable challenge, go to the interviews and see it as a learning process. If in the end the interview doesn’t go well, then at least you learned something.
  • Keep track of your applications, send reminders if they don’t answer you within a week.
  • Use a cover letter that talks about that however you don’t know their stack (yet!), you do have a solid knowledge of the fundamental coding principles (MVC pattern, relational databases, object oriented programming, …)
  • If you can, get yourself a mentor to ask some questions, even in the application process. I myself had some calls with George and that really helped me gaining confidence in applying.
  • Start applying already before you finish Le Wagon, I had the interview with my current employer one week before finishing the bootcamp. It shows you’re engaged, know what you want and are willing to go forward with this.

For the data crunchers reading this:

  • I was rejected 7 times
  • 4 job applications for which I was too late as the function was already filled in
  • I rejected 1 company myself
  • 4 companies never e-mailed me back, even after a reminder (send your reminders through their contact form, that way you’re sure that if your first e-mail ended up in spam, the contact form submission they get didn’t)
  • I only applied for 1 job that was in Ruby on Rails (because it isn’t very common in my region but that shouldn’t hold you back!)
  • I had an invitation for 4 technical interviews in total
  • All in all, I sent out 19 job applications

What advice would you give to our potential and current graduates?

  • Focus on Le Wagon & Le Wagon only. There really isn’t a lot of time to do other things (especially with a longer commute)
  • Don’t be discouraged in the first weeks if you don’t understand everything at once. The pieces will fall together eventually.
  • If you have the time, it really helped that I followed “Harvard’s CS50: Introduction to computer science”. This course has 10 lectures (+ challenges) on understanding the basics of computer science, is completely free and has one of the best teachers I’ve ever had (after the Le Wagon teachers of course)
  • Don’t be afraid of other languages, it’s not because you do a Ruby on Rails bootcamp that you will become a Ruby on Rails developer
  • Just apply, even if you only check 2 out of the 10 requirements on their list, the more you apply for jobs, the better you also become at interviews (I need a few to get back up to speed again)
  • Take your time in the evening to get your head off coding, do something fun, relax and recharge your batteries for the next day!
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