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Online courses vs. coding bootcamp: a first-hand experience

What is the best option to accelerate your coding skills? Le Wagon alumni Silvia learned programming through both online courses and Le Wagon coding bootcamp, and shares her tips on choosing a learning method.
Before joining Le Wagon bootcamp, Silvia had been working in finance for five years, closely collaborating with a development team. She was amazed at what could be achieved with just a few lines of code, and it sparked her interest in software development. She eventually decided to take the leap to programming and start building web applications by herself.

We sat down with Silvia to talk about her decision to move from free online courses to a full-time coding bootcamp experience. 

‍ Learning with online platforms

My first glimpse into coding was through a coding platform called Freecodecamp, which provides exercises & challenges to walk you through the first steps as a web developer. At first, I found it fascinating and quickly completed the very first course on building responsive web pages with HTML5 and CSS3.

This online course was great in a sense that it allowed me to study at my own pace. But I also started getting overwhelmed by the amount of content and realized that it’s almost harder to figure out how to learn and where to start than to learn programming itself.

There’s no accountability or community in a self-taught education. There was a forum, but I was afraid to ask questions and didn’t interact much with other peers. Without assignments and community push, it was easy to fall behind on my goals.

I took the Freecodecamp course for three months until I realized I needed to move on to the next level. I was reading stories about people becoming web developers and Le Wagon coding bootcamps popped up a few times. Well, the rest is history!

‍ How was your Le Wagon experience compared to online studying?

It is intense and fast-paced

During the first few weeks of the program I was literally spending days and nights coding, focusing on core notions with flashcards provided by Le Wagon, and building actual mini-projects every day. The program itself is extremely fast-paced — from week 2 we dove straight into Object Oriented Programming, and halfway through the program, we had already built a full-stack Airbnb clone with Rails. 

Without the bootcamp, I would probably still be spending my time trying to learn coding, and would barely be able to build stuff. By the time I graduated, I became a full-stack engineer with a well-polished portfolio to impress hiring companies.  

Structured plan of study

For a coding newbie, it is hard to know what to focus your studies on, and in what sequence. During the bootcamp, I followed a well-structured curriculum in a fast-paced environment, guided by an amazing team of instructors. Every module in the syllabus is optimized to maximize your learning, and strongly focuses on repetition.

Networking & teamwork is essential

Unless you opt for freelancing, most of your career as a developer will be spent working with other people on a team. I was lucky to be part of a cohort of passionate, funny, and motivated batchmates, and building web apps together gave me a general idea of how to share the workload with my team members and collaborate efficiently. Actually, during the interview with my current company, they asked me if I had worked in a team before  - so obviously, a bootcamp experience gets you prepared for your future job.
Silvia and her batchmates at the Impact Hub

Career support during and after the bootcamp

Since a lot of bootcamp students aim for a job change, career guidance is integrated into the bootcamp program. Instructors helped me navigate my job search from applications to offers, all in a matter of weeks. It was a huge help to have people rooting for me, ready to provide personalized advice and connect to the hiring managers. 

Eventually, I secured a developer job at the fast-growing Tokyo startup which has already hired several Le Wagon Tokyo alumni. 

So, my conclusion will be:

Online courses, done entirely at your own pace, provide a solid foundation for beginners and give a first taste of what programming looks like. If you are on a limited budget, have enough time to spare and self-discipline to keep your pace up, it can be a great option to learn programming. 

On the other side, if you are interested in a career change within a short period of time and need someone to keep you motivated, coding bootcamps will prove vital in your overall growth.
Thanks a lot Silvia for your time, and all the best with your new tech career! ❤️

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