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Alumni Story: from 9-to-5 salaryman to startup developer

Tokyo-born Satoru felt suffocated at his 9-to-5 office job and decided to throw himself out of his comfort zone to pursue programming. He shares the ins and outs – including a recent job update – of turning his interest into a viable career.

Hi, Satoru! What were you doing before joining Le Wagon? 

At first, I was working in Uzbekistan as a consultant for international projects at the Embassy of Japan. After that I joined a Japanese consulting company where my job was basically writing reports and collecting data. As time went on, it became harder to ignore my frustration with fax machines and piles of paperwork that had to be processed manually. I sometimes had to travel more than 100km to get a hand-written form from the customer. 

What eventually triggered my decision was a business trip to Uganda where we were tasked with building a website for the company’s branch. Not a single person from the team had coding experience and the local developer offered to do it for a crazy price. A mission that looked easy in the beginning turned out to be a big failure and finally pushed me to quit my job and start learning how to code. 

How did your programming journey go?

Like most people, I started with online courses. This helped me gain a solid understanding of basic concepts, but I still did not feel fully confident about my skills. At that time, I struggled with asking the right questions and figuring out why my code didn’t work despite following the tutorial. I figured that learning in-person would be a faster option, and enrolled into Le Wagon Tokyo coding bootcamp.
Turning into a developer did not happen overnight - in fact, it's been quite a challenging journey. Back-end was the hardest part for me and I often messed up with pushing to Github. But once I felt confident that this was the next step for me, I fully dedicated myself to it. I’m happy that I could find a learning environment that fits and matches my values with Le Wagon.

For the Demo day, Satoru’s team built a web application called Decoder which scans food products and sends alerts based on your food restrictions (from 38:26) 

What did you do after graduating from the bootcamp? 

After graduation, someone I knew offered me a first freelance gig to collect market data and prepare datasets - Le Wagon course on web scraping proved extremely useful for that.  Two months later, I shifted to a web development role, and just a few days ago, the project officially kicked off, along with my promotion to full-time member.

It was very interesting to see my company GourmetPro starting from scratch and quickly turning into a fast-growing business. In short, GourmetPro is a consulting firm for food and beverage companies supporting market entry - down the road, we aim to become a freelancer platform for market consultants. 

Are you happy about switching from a corporate job to the startup world?

There are pros and cons working for a startup. Small startup teams benefit from flexibility, but I obviously have to wear several hats. As a web developer, I not only work across the entire stack, but am also involved in initiatives outside of the scope, such as business development, and it can sometimes be tough to prioritize what to work on. 

On the other hand, large Japanese companies are more stable and mature to a point where you don’t really need to worry about your company’s future. If this lower-risk situation sounds more appealing to you, then a corporate job is probably a better fit. To be honest, I personally find it suffocating to follow rigid procedures and attend weekly drinking parties. Nothing will make me go back to a corporate job again!

Good luck with your future projects, Satoru! Happy that you could find the workplace aligned with your goals

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