How learning to code changed my life: my bootcamp story

How learning to code changed my life: my bootcamp story

Last summer, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone; I enrolled in batch #281 of Le Wagon Montreal’s web development program. Here are a few reasons why this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

My life before le Wagon

I’ve always been very curious and interested in about a thousand different subjects. If I were to learn and do all the things I have in mind, I’d probably need more than one lifetime.

After high school, I settled on studying science. It was a great learning experience, but after a few internships, I quickly realised that it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t happy and I felt stuck; I needed more room to create and invent.

Learning to code was something that was always at the back of my mind, even though I had taken some coding classes in school and hated it! A few months after my horrible science internships though, I found myself drawn to reading articles about coding. Having this skill could open up a lot of opportunities, and so I considered giving it another shot.

Day after day, I learned more and more. In my free time, I reviewed programming basics on online platforms like freeCodeCamp and YouTube.

A new way of thinking

One day last winter, I stumbled upon an article about coding bootcamps and Le Wagon in particular. I did some research and, just two days later, applied for the next batch in Montreal, Canada. Being from France, relocating for the bootcamp was a fun little extra challenge, just because.

Ultimately, I knew it was time for me to take this learning-to-code thing seriously and to dive in for real — and what a big dive it was!

I’m not sure I can describe my experience at Le Wagon in just a few words. It was much more than just a coding course. It goes without saying that I learned about a million things that I couldn’t even fathom a few months ago, but I also discovered a new way of thinking, a powerful community, and a lot of new people I can now call friends.

The learning process is quite different from what I was used to. No doubt it’s difficult, fast-paced, and there’s hardly a moment to rest, but the good thing is that you’re not in it alone. Your only responsibility is to try your best with the challenges, and you can always ask the teacher assistants for help if you get stuck (and you will get stuck — a lot). Bottom line: trust the process.

The last few weeks of the program are project oriented, which means things move even faster! This is the time to apply the concepts you’ve learned and create something real: a web application completely from scratch. You’ll be surprised by what you’re capable of creating in just a few weeks. In my case, my team and I built a whole web app for musicians called BandWizard.

Trials and tribulations

Coding will be tough and pretty frustrating at first. It gets easier with time, but the frustration never quite goes away — but hey, that’s life. It feels like you’re climbing Mount Everest in the beginning, but somehow everybody makes it to the top at the end, one baby step at a time. (If you’re reading this and actually want to climb Everest, shoot me a message — I’m your guy).

You’ll probably go home sometimes with the sinking feeling that you’re wasting your time and that you’ll never be able to understand everything. You’ll probably wake up some days with the strange feeling of being an impostor. (Spoiler alert: there are about 20 other impostors with you along for the ride.)

Again, the only advice I can give you is to just trust the process, and more importantly, to trust yourself. Things will fall into place, and once you get started on your coding journey, you won’t be able to stop.

Sure, you might not become the best dev the world has seen after bootcamp, but don’t worry because, if we’re honest, that was probably never going to happen anyway. Coding isn’t about being the best! It’s about trying new things, making mistakes, trying again, and constantly improving — again, a lot like everything else in life, right?

Now that the 9-week program is behind me and a few months have passed, I can safely say that I feel like a kid playing with LEGO everyday — I’ve just replaced bricks with lines of code. Coding is the perfect balance between an intellectual activity and a hands-on one. You’re building digital products instead of physical ones.

I would never have thought that one of my greatest human experiences would happen while learning to play with machines. Today, I feel more confident than ever. My bootcamp experience taught me a lot about coding, but also about myself: I now know I have the ability to learn anything, and to learn it fast.

My parting advice is more general rather than coding-specific:

  • Don’t be afraid to try and fail. Life is about experiences, and the most valuable people are those who move forward.
  • Always keep learning. The world is changing, knowledge evolves, and there are more things to discover out there than you can imagine.
  • Be enthusiastic. Some days will be harder than others, but your secret weapon is staying motivated.
  • Now I know that everybody can climb Everest. It’s just about taking small steps.

    I wish I could thank all the amazing people I met during this adventure one by one, but the list would be really long. So, I’m going to just say thank you batch #281, thank you to the team at Le Wagon Montreal, and thank you Laure for taking the time to reread and edit my article.

    © 2023 Luc Mosser.