How does life look like in Japan as a freelance web developer? We sat down with Dimitri, recently settled in Tokyo and one of our teacher for the coming batch, to talk about his experience so far.
So how did Dimitri end up in Tokyo? “Well, I am here on working holiday visa” starts Dimitri, a convenient way for freelancers to live here “I did two sessions of Le Wagon in Paris as a teacher assistant in 2016. And after that we decided to move to Tokyo with my girlfriend, just like that… One of the perks of the freelance life”.
That seems like a wise decision, considering the projects he’s been working on until now “I am splitting my time between freelance jobs and personal projects: At the moment I am working remotely on a mobile app project. Also, I just started giving a hand on SafeCast
(Open Source environmental data project launched in Tokyo), and working on a couple of chatbots as pet projects. Moving here, I also got to meet cool entrepreneurs, and that led me to start yet another project related to VR”. That is a lot of projects.
What he enjoys the most as developer? “Initially I wanted to become a developer to free myself from the pressure of having a boss or working with customers, so obviously that’s not happening with freelancing” he laughs. “But I am getting there. I really love teaching and transferring my passion for code. Also, I am not so much of a front-end guy… I really prefer back-end stuffs, how everything is wired, how the logic works”. As for the city itself “It’s really exciting living here, I can see myself staying for at least another year. Plus I am learning Japanese, which helps, and I get to travel around Asia too, I am going to teach at the other Le Wagon’s chapter in Asia, in a couple of weeks”.
Teaching at Le Wagon
Switching to the topic of being a teacher at Le Wagon, Dimitri had interesting stories to share: “I really enjoy sharing key concepts of code, and also letting students discover things by themselves. Also, not having a teacher/student, kind of “paternalistic”, relationship makes it enjoyable to teach”, he continues “I am always surprised by how people take very different approaches to the same problem. That’s a value of the bootcamp spirit too”.
He was also very clear about his teaching philosophy “For me, as a teacher, I don’t want to lecture or give very detailed examples. I don’t like to push people to learn by heart, but rather teach them how to think and conceptualize”. So what amazes you about students at Le Wagon? “Well, some people are total newbies, they would get angry that they can’t make it, get angry at themselves. It takes time for a mind to break” he laughs. “Some students join Le Wagon without really understanding what is code. And then they end up loving it, and becoming passionate web developers. It’s fascinating”.
99.5% of each intake makes it.
So Dimitri, any last word for people still considering Le Wagon? “I would say it is the chance for you to live and work independently. Also, it’s probably the single best decision you can make if you’re seriously considering entrepreneurship and do not have a technical background or… co-founder”. Why in Tokyo then? “I was told there is a lack of technical skills here, people basically prefer to become managers. Learning to code is a chance to stand out. I am not too worried about the bootcamp being run fully in English. Here I met a few people telling me they could not speak English, and then when they start talking, it’s as fluent as it gets. Probably a matter of modesty, or lack of confidence” he continues, laughing. “Still, I am interested to discover cultural differences and a probably a unique approach to learning and teaching”, and concludes with a grin “It’s going to be a great experience”.