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Alejandro’s Career Change: From Professional Musician to Web Developer

Alejandro is proof that motivation and self-discipline are essential to undertake a successful career change. As a professional musician looking for a new direction, he chose Le Wagon to take his first steps into coding. Four months later, he’s working as a Software Developer for a Quebec-based health tech company. Read his story.

Why did you decide to change careers and learn web development? 

I was a professional musician, cellist, working freelance and playing with orchestras in Quebec. Before the health crisis started, I needed a change of scenery and wanted to try something new. I had always been curious about the tech world, so I decided it was time to change fields. 

I have a friend who made the career switch from cellist to web developer, and I asked him to show me what he does. I found that coding was really cool and I should give it a try! He did Le Wagon in Amsterdam, and he recommended the program.

I knew there’s a campus in Montreal and, since the pandemic started, the bootcamp is hybrid - with the possibility to come on campus or follow the classes remotely. I live in Quebec city so it was perfect for me! I joined the program in October 2020. 

How was the transition from music to coding? 

It was difficult! When I started the bootcamp, I was struggling a lot. Even though I did the prep work, everything was so new to me. But it worked well in the end! 

I discovered that programming is extremely satisfying. I feel good when I code. Of course, sometimes it can be frustrating, especially when things are not working as you wish.

At Le Wagon, the staff and teachers were so encouraging. When I was just starting, they used to tell me, “Trust the process! You might struggle now, but you’ll make it.” and I couldn’t believe it. But at the end of the program, I felt, “that’s it, they were right!” 

How did your job search go after the bootcamp?

It was an interesting experience! I was completely out of my comfort zone, looking for a job outside of music with entirely different rules. I started looking at job postings and felt that I didn’t know enough to do the work.

So my strategy was to keep learning. I saw that many companies asked for JavaScript and React skills, so I started focusing on that while working on personal projects. 

I also did an internship at Collab Machine where I worked on Ruby projects.

A couple of months later, a recruiter from Zilia reached out to me on Linkedin. As part of the recruitment process, they gave me two weeks to build an application with the backend in Python and the frontend in Angular. 

I hadn’t touched this programming language and framework before, so I made a schedule to learn them and looked at many online resources. I also reached out to my teammate from Le Wagon for some help. It worked well as they hired me as a Software Developer! They even told me that I went beyond what they were expecting.

What is your role at Zilia and how was the onboarding process?

I work as a Software Developer, mainly focused on the frontend. 

The onboarding was fully remote. I had three weeks when I was only studying Python and Angular, getting familiar with the code, and understanding how the machine works. It’s a very complex project, and I had to learn a lot of new things. 

I also took a SCRUM training - something that I was introduced to at Le Wagon - because we have SCRUM meetings every day. 

Then, I started coding automated tests to understand the code better. 

About my day-to-day, I have a Scrum meeting in the morning, and then I code features depending on the assignments I have. We do a lot of pair programming because we love it! 

I work mostly remotely, but sometimes I go to the office to test my code. We work with complex technologies to detect biomarkers in the eye, so I have to push my branch into the machine and see if it works. Sometimes we also test the devices ourselves, it’s really fun! 

I love my job, and I’m lucky to be part of a great team. 

Do you find that what you learned at Le Wagon helps you today?

Le Wagon helped a ton! 

I don’t code in Ruby at my job but the transfer was very smooth because the way the concepts of programming were explained to me was super solid. 

Le Wagon teaches a way of working, understanding problems, and solving things. The logic I learned during the program helped me understand things quite quickly.  

Do you have any standout memories from the bootcamp?

I really enjoyed the happy hours on Fridays. It felt great to connect with my batch mates after a week fighting against code challenges. We had a lot of fun! 

Also, the project weeks were extremely fun. It was amazing to build a concept from scratch and then make it real - especially since I was doing this for the first time. It also helped a lot in building solid skills which transferred well to my new job. 

Any advice for those who want to learn to code? 

Keep pushing, keep studying! Difficult times always come back but the more your practice, the better you can deal with them. And when something works, you’ll feel super good about it :)

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