“Change your life, learn to code”: 5 reasons why it works.

Feedback on a professional reconversion with Le Wagon.

January 2019. My reconversion is launched. After a long introspection to identify what I don’t want to do anymore, what I want to do and why, it’s time for an entrepreneurial project. However, my project has a strong technical component, and I don’t know how to code.

No problem, just learn! An outplacement firm helps me along the way and recommends Le Wagon. A few Google searches and a few phone calls later, I’m convinced I should apply. A few weeks later, following an interview with Seb Saunier, my application is validated. I will learn to code.

Learning begins before integrating the Batch, with an online course on Codecademy. Wow. Indeed, we’re going to code! I confess a little headache on the JS part, but this preparatory course allowed me to start getting into it and increased my motivation.

April 2019. First day with the legendary Batch#250 in Paris! The place is cool, people look cool. It’s off to a good start. We set up a real Dev environment on our laptops, which is not the most exciting part, but it’s essential to be able to start the serious stuff tomorrow.

The first month goes by very quickly: it is intense, but the results are there. After 2 weeks, we have already built 2 small products. After 3 weeks, databases no longer hold any secrets for us. After 4 weeks, we know how to display not-too-ugly web pages and how to make them dynamic with JS.

May 2019. I’m now convinced that when I’m out of Le Wagon, I’ll be armed to start the technical part of my entrepreneurial project by myself. The next few weeks will be decisive to confirm this assertion: we will work in groups to develop real Web Apps, complete, back-end and front-end. Learning how to build a product from A to Z. We form these groups and at this stage I am initiating a real relationship with Victor, who will later become my cofounder.

June 2019. Last straight line. It is now up to us to imagine, in groups, the product that we will build from scratch and pitch at the Demo Day. I decide to join a project that looks really great: Maanaz, proposed by Victor. It will become a major part of my entrepreneurial project. Coding in a group is sometimes difficult, but it’s a primordial learning to continue coding afterwards. And what a pride to be able to end up presenting an operational solution during the Demo Day!

January 2020. I have spent the last 6 months moving forward on my project, thinking with Victor about how this project would integrate Maanaz into it. I also coded a lot! Everything and anything! It was important not to let all the learning from Le Wagon evaporate. And I wanted to go further in mastering Ruby, Rails, JS and Front-end before working on my products.

Today. September 2020. My initial project, c4sense, is alive and kicking. Maanaz has become PADtrack, and Victor and I are working hard on its launch, scheduled for the next few months. For now, we are developing everything ourselves, thanks to Le Wagon.

So, one year later, I can say: “Change your life, learn to code”does work!

Le Wagon works. I see 5 main reasons for this.

Reason #1: code is demystified.

The pedagogy of the Wagon is a model of its kind. The Morning Lectures are always extremely clear and didactic. They allow to serenely tackle the (long!) list of challenges of the day. These challenges all aim at implementing the topics learned during the Lecture and each one allows to code a small deliverable.

Every day, students at Le Wagon build several operational programs. In addition to the daily satisfaction, or even pride, of building something that works, it helps demystify code: from the very first week, we know how to deliver. And yes, everyone at Le Wagon will manage to deliver a AirBNB copycat!

Reason #2: code is used as a tool to build products.

After a few days at Le Wagon, it becomes obvious that code is not an end in itself. It is a tool to build products. The whole training of Le Wagon is based on building programs, small ones at the beginning, then real web apps at the end.

This makes learning much less abstract: the goal is not to produce lines of code, but to produce a working deliverable. It is thanks to this educational choice that Le Wagon is not only a real enabler for entrepreneurs like me, but also allows all its students wishing to retrain as a Developer, Designer or Product Manager to find a job.

Reason #3: pedagogy made to learn how to learn.

The Wagon’s pedagogical team, be it Teachers or Teaching Assistants, does everything possible to ensure that students learn to learn code. Answers never come easy: they are often available somewhere, in the Kitt platform, in Stackoverflow, in forums on the Internet… Before asking a TA, ask Google!

Following a few months of hindsight, I realize this: whether in a product development process or in a continuous learning process, a very significant part of a Developer’s day consists in reading documentation, code and courses to understand why this bloody line 42 bugs or returns non-sense results!

This is what makes you perfectly ready after Le Wagon: you know to learn how to do what you don’t know how to do yet.

Reason #4: it’s intense, but it’s cool.

Giving feedback on Le Wagon by only talking about code and pedagogy is ignoring half of it! Le Wagon, more than a school, is an experience.

Indeed, the 9 weeks are very intense and the working days are sometimes very long. But everything is done so that the experience goes much further than just learning code. The spirit of mutual aid, resilience facing difficulty, good mood, parties, yoga and crossfit classes, talks with entrepreneurs, forums with startups and investors, regular events are all additional stuff that bring a real esprit de corps and make the experience even greater.

For 9 weeks, you’ll have a hard time, but always stay cool!

Reason #5: Beyond code, we join a strong and united community.

The Wagon experience does not stop on Demo Day. The access to the Kitt platform and Slack are for life. Joining Le Wagon also means, for the future, having permanently updated courses, tutorials and practical cases and having access to a community of more than 7,000 people.

The fact that these 7,000 people have had this same immersive experience makes the community extremely lively, united and cohesive. If you can’t find the answer to your problem on Stackoverflow, a Wagon Alumni will give it to you on Slack!

This community is also a breeding ground for encounters, allowing the good atmosphere and human values put forward during the training to last.

So… Thanks to Le Wagon and its team.

What you’ve built, and continue to grow, is just awesome.

And indeed, it helps change one’s life.

With Love & Code,
Arnaud
arnaudrioche.net

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