A few weeks back I graduated from Le Wagon Montreal and after demo day I went to Corsica to spend some time with my dad who is unfortunately very sick. Once I got back, it was time to look for a job and reflect on my life over the last 3 months i.e. the bootcamp and changing careers.
First, the why. I was always drawn to coding and for the last 5 years it is something I was toying with. However, why? Why did I decide to go ahead with the idea?
Well after reflecting a bit I realized that after years and years of project managing in many ways (finance, digital agencies etc.) my biggest frustration was that I was not actually ‘doing’ or producing anything. Not that there is anything wrong with that (the world needs good/better managers). And also, not everybody is a manager — that’s another topic but look at all those companies where the only way to grow as an employee once you reach the ‘senior’ level of your position is to become a manager in some way. So it means that good, qualified, elite, senior ‘doers’ is not something feasible? Sorry, I digress — . But wanting to make or do something was always there. My only source of satisfaction in that area was putting out EP’s with my previous bands.
Then, mid-2016, at the age of 34 I started drinking coffee. Told you, late adopter… As soon as I got that addiction, I realized I wanted to make coffee at home. Understand how to grind beans, thin/coarse, which quantity, how long to brew, how to froth the milk etc. How could I have fun and improve what I was making?
Fast forward to late 2018, my good friend P.O. Bonin, a fellow coffee enthusiast and beer-brewer told me that coding is pretty much the same: trial and error. He told me you’ll never master anything so be ready to keep learning. He also conveniently sent me 4 links to Udemy: complete CSS course, ES5, ES6 and React.
That’s when it hit me:
The why is not ‘to become a developer’, it’s to always learn how to improve your craft and have fun doing so. Whatever your craft is.
So that would be my first advice to anybody who wants to start a bootcamp. Find your ‘why’.
During the bootcamp.
Well obviously, this part was the most fun and the hardest. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of pointers:
- It’s a human experience: you will meet people from all over the world, different backgrounds, different outlooks and different hopes/dreams for after the bootcamp
- YOU.WILL.LEARN. Like a lot. And more than you thought you were capable of
- You will have a ton of fun because you are sharing a very intense yet timeboxed moment with a bunch of cool people
- Let’s be honest. Unless you are that one guy there is in every batch in every bootcamp around the world who was literally born to do this, it’s going to be a fucking tough time. You thought it would be easy if you watched the tutorial beforehand. Think again
- Paying attention to the lectures in the morning and being focused during exercises/challenges is not enough. Review the lesson every night and redo the exercises. During weekends try new ones, make sure you can explain the solutions to your mum/wife/husband/dog who is not a coder. And even to your friends who are coders. If you can explain, you’ve understood. Otherwise, back to the drawing board…
- … but it’s also a marathon, not a sprint. Find the sweet spot, the right balance. Don’t burn out. Exercise, but always keep your eyes on the prize: don’t spend a day without coding during those few weeks
Trust the process, trust yourself, focus on the journey more than the outcome and keep at it. Everyday.
Thanks to networking and Le Wagon’s extended connections, I got 4 offers only one week after searching for a job and having interviews. So networking counts. Tech skills count. But soft skills too, especially when you are a junior like me. I am actually not even junior, I am a noob who needs to learn from other people. Hence the soft skills.
Look for a place where you can learn from others, grow as a coder but also as a person. I emphasize that part. Coding is teamwork, even if you are a remote freelancer in the deep Amazonian forest. Eventually, you code for a user, a client, your team, a designer etc. Being a developer is also being a people person in some ways.
Another good point to keep in mind: don’t focus on money. I know nowadays it’s trendy to be a dev, and recruiters are trying hard to reel you in by offering more $$$. But exactly like when you try to debug a feature: if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Get your expectations straight and don’t overthink it: do you like the job and the company? That’s it. Sold.