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From Struggling to Find a Job in the UK to Becoming a Junior Developer in Lisbon

Ciaran Edwards may not have come to Lisbon entirely for Le Wagon, but he says it’s "quite lucky" that he did.
Ciaran Edwards may not have come to Lisbon entirely for Le Wagon, but he says it’s "quite lucky" that he did.

Ciaran Edwards may not have come to Lisbon entirely for Le Wagon, but he says it’s “quite lucky” that he did. After returning home from Frankfurt in late 2014, the now 29-year-old struggled to find a job. It took him six months to land just two interviews; eventually, he got a job proofing documents on toilet installation, which he says was “really, really dull”. He turned to web courses to learn new skills, which piqued his interest in doing a coding bootcamp. With a girlfriend from Lisbon, Le Wagon Lisbon was the perfect fit. Here’s how Ciaran went from boring proofreading jobs in the UK to working as a front-end React developer in Lisbon.

Working for Nintendo in Frankfurt, Germany

When I finished university, where I did French and Spanish, it was quite difficult to find jobs in the UK. I saw a job at Nintendo in Frankfurt, and I thought “Well, I’ve learned French and Spanish, so I’ll go there for a year and a half, work at Nintendo, which will be really cool, and learn German. Ended up staying for four years. Did not learn German. Ended up learning Portuguese instead.”

How Ciaran decided to join Le Wagon Lisbon

In late 2014, I moved back to the UK and struggled to find a job. In six months, I had two interviews. I got a job, reading super long documents about how to install toilets in Scotland. Once I was asked to compare two version of a document, which was 300 pages long! It was really, really dull. I decided to do some web courses,got hooked, and wanted to do a coding bootcamp. I have yet to read any more toilet documents! Laughs

Moving to Portugal, starting at Le Wagon Lisbon

At the end of 2015, my girlfriend and I were looking for new jobs and deciding between London and somewhere else. I didn’t care where we went, as long as there was a coding bootcamp, and there was Le Wagon in Lisbon. I’d been to Portugal a few times, and I’d been impressed by the food; we don’t have great food in the UK. I think our national food is some kind of meat and potatoes. Laughs

I didn’t know what the bootcamp would be like, but my mind had been made up. I didn’t want to think about how hard it would be, I just really wanted to do it. If they could teach me all this stuff in nine weeks, that would be incredible.

There were some days when I’d get stuck on something, and instead of asking for help, I would sit there for an hour and a half thinking agh, why can’t I get it? That was one of the things I learned in the bootcamp: you’re not going to get everything yourself. That’s why that kind of environment really helps. Everyone who’s there is going through the same thing.

I really enjoyed the course. It was always challenging, but I didn’t feel too overwhelmed. I spent quite a lot of time before the bootcamp doing online courses to prepare as best I could. I knew the nine weeks would go fast, and I wanted to make sure I could get the most of it.

Having fun in Lisbon with Le Wagon classmates

There’s definitely a good social aspect to the bootcamp. It’s one of the biggest selling points. You could teach yourself all these things, but you wouldn’t have the structure of the bootcamp. And when you got stuck, it would be a lot harder. When you’re working together with someone else, and talking things through, it really helps. And then outside of the bootcamp, there were people to go out with, have fun, blow off steam. Since I was new to the city, it was great being able to meet a huge variety of people with similar interests.

For the final project, I worked with people from Lisbon, and we’ve all stayed in touch. I ended up working with one guy, and helping another with his VR business, and now we’re working on a game. Having those friendships after the bootcamp was valuable for me.

How Ciaran started working as a React developer

I finished bootcamp in March 2016, and then spent time learning React and applying for jobs. In June 2016, Le Wagon Lisbon did a tech speed-dating event, to get employers to meet students , and I got a job through that. Another great reason to do the bootcamp, because they helped me find a job as well as teaching me.

Now I’m a React developer. There’s a huge demand for it at the moment. One of the last lectures we had during the bootcamp was about React, and I thought this is the future. I got some online courses for React and learned that on my own. I’ve built a few mobile apps with it. The last thing I made was a job-finding app. I didn’t release it on the app store, but I used it to find a job.

I’m really happy at the new job. It’s a great team and we’re working on some really interesting projects. Compared to reading documents about toilets, or the really mind-numbing work I did before, it’s really great to be doing this kind of thing.

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