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Web Development Bootcamp: Expectation vs. Realities

During her three years as a business analyst at a bank, she often found herself circling back to the fond memory of building a web application for her final year project back in university. Could she take it further? She made the decision to enrol in Le Wagon’s Web Development course to find out.

Having spent the second half of her formal education studying banking and finance, it was only natural that 26-year-old Jaelyn Sng went on to apply her skills in the corporate world. During her three years as a business analyst at a bank, she often found herself circling back to the fond memory of building a web application for her final year project back in university. Could she take it further? She made the decision to enrol in Le Wagon’s Web Development course to find out. Opting for the part-time course, which spreads the lessons over six months instead of the usual nine weeks, made it easier for her to keep her day job. But this choice did little to allay her doubts and concerns about committing to the course, many of which we find are common among career-switching hopefuls like her.

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Jaelyn shares with us the five expectations she had coming into the course and how they compared with her actual experiences over the 6-month period:
Expectation #1: Lessons will be conducted in a university lecture style.
Reality: Even though Le Wagon advertises as having a hands-on learning structure, I assumed it will involve the lecturer teaching the concept by going through presentation slides and assigning practice questions for us to attempt after class. However, I was really delighted to find out that we are required to go through the content before lessons, and our teacher will allocate the first hour of class to revise the concepts. The rest of the lesson is then allocated for students to work on different practical questions. This structure emphasises heavily on practical sessions, and this really helped to build up my confidence in coding. Especially so as I was a part-time student and did not have much time outside of work or class to revise the content. The lesson structure helped me greatly as I could focus on practising the programming concepts during lesson time.
Expectation #2: Learning materials will be limited to slides, slides, and more slides.

Reality: I didn’t expect Le Wagon to have an in-house learning portal for students. This portal is very robust – it has everything from lecture videos and summaries, flashcards, tons of practices questions and a slew of videos that teach topics not necessarily part of the curriculum, but which we may want to implement in our applications. I enjoyed using the portal, and to date, I am still using it even though I have graduated from the bootcamp. Students have lifetime access to the portal and I think it is really a great learning tool that helps to create a more efficient learning experience.

Expectation #3: The teachers at Le Wagon will just, well, teach.
Reality: Le Wagon teachers are very knowledgeable and surprisingly approachable too. They are so willing to help students in any way they can – even outside of lessons. I can book a time with the teacher for consultation on a project that is not related to Le Wagon, for career advice, or for help on technical challenges in upcoming job interviews. In my journey transiting to a career in technology, I never thought a bootcamp teacher can become someone I can look to for help and mentorship.
Expectation #4: It will be difficult to get a web development-related job after the bootcamp.
Reality: I was worried and fearful of not being able to secure a job after the bootcamp. As I have a business degree, I expected it to be very challenging as I would be competing with graduates from the relevant fields of study in IT. However, the project that I completed from the bootcamp earned me interviews and because I learned how to build an application from the front end to the back end, it helped with the technical challenges in my interview. Also, I realise whenever I mentioned that I attended a 6-month part-time bootcamp, recruiters are more willing to bring me to the next stage of the application. Initially, I thought that Le Wagon’s career support program would just involve forwarding us available job roles from various companies. However, Le Wagon has a career week where they organise workshops based on student needs. The workshop was very useful in exposing us to topics we needed to know, such as what to do after the bootcamp and how to prepare for technical interviews, and provided us with the chance to network with different recruiters from NodeFlair and Wantedly.
Expectation #5: Going to Le Wagon would be just like going to a regular school.

Reality: The Le Wagon community is my most valuable gain. I thought a bootcamp would just be like any other school, where everyone comes together to study and work on projects. And upon graduation, we would be on our own to strive and survive. I am extremely grateful to know that I can continue to utilise Le Wagon’s resources and that I can also continue to reach out to my teachers for help when needed. Also, they have great student perks that give us free lifetime access to some of the most popular development tools, which I am thankful for.
What started out as a budding interest in coding three years ago has now blossomed into a full-time job for Jaelyn: she begins her web development career this September as a junior Full Stack Developer with PwC. Kudos to you, Jaelyn! We could not be more excited about your journey ahead. Now, who’s next?
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