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A lookback on their experience as part-time students with Alex and Alexandre

A lookback at their time as Le Wagon part-time students with our alumni Alexandre and Alex, who graduated in February 2021. One used to be a IT recruiter making a career switch, the other was a student and entrepreneur, looking to gain technical skills which are valuable for a career in business and marketing.
Meet Alexandre and Alex (popular names for Le Wagon Brussels students!), two graduates from our part-time web development Bootcamp.
As they graduated a few months ago, it was the perfect time for them to have a look back on their adventure at Le Wagon!

Alexandre, what were you doing before attending Le Wagon?

Before my new coding life, I was an IT recruiter (don’t booh me, they are some good ones!)
After some years, I realized I was not enjoying working anymore. It was Big Thinking Time! I consulted a career coach, discussed with some friends, and regularly put my head between my fists while staring in the void.
It became clearer and clearer that web development would offer me what I needed.
From that point on, I started to look after some trainings. 3 to 5 years programs were not an option as I’m not getting any younger (and I would have missed the practical aspect of the trade).
Another important aspect of my search was the possibility to do it part-time. Money-wise, I needed a day job and I didn’t want to directly throw away everything.
Only a few trainings in Brussels fulfilled those criteria, among them was Le Wagon.

Next step: benchmarking. I asked around, studied the documentation, contacted alumni on LinkedIn for feedback, and asked some questions directly to the organisation.
I finally went with Le Wagon (that would be weird if I didn’t and was writing this text) and don’t regret my choice.

Meet Alex

Growing up I was wholly immersed in the world of football. At the age of 18, I received a scholarship to play ‘soccer’ and study business in the USA at Northern Illinois University (close to Chicago). After a severe knee injury, I returned to Belgium and was lucky to be able to complete my studies at KU Leuven’s Brussels Campus. After obtaining my Bachelor of Business Administration, I started a Master of Business Administration with a specialization track in Strategic Marketing Management. Drawing on my experiences in sport, during my studies, I joined the Start.LAB Incubator in Brussels with my brother Tom, and started my company Kogoza.be, an online platform helping parents to find sports camps for their kids. During this time, I got to know about Le Wagon’s Web Development Bootcamp.

After two years of running my business, we were looking to develop a more sophisticated platform and were recommended two alumni of Le Wagon whom we hired to work with us. As the business developed and I gained more experience, I realized that learning Web Development could help me to better manage technical projects, so I applied to the bootcamp!
Le Wagon’s part-time program was the perfect choice for me to learn coding skills while studying and running my company. 

How is the part-time bootcamp like? 

Coding in the evenings and on Saturdays is challenging. Juggling it with a day job is both physically and emotionally draining.  You also always have the feeling that you could do more, that you are not doing enough. The “code obsession” is real. It’s a good feeling but not really helpful.
One piece of advice I would give is to take it slow. It’s normal if everything is not crystal clear from the start. Learning takes time and you should be indulgent on yourself.
Taking it slow is actually one of the biggest advantages of the part-time training. You have the time to think about what you have learned and to test it in your free time.
Especially for the end project. Taking it slow and enjoying the time you’re having while coding in a team is a real pleasure.

The bootcamp was an excellent and rewarding experience on many levels. The coding exercises were interesting and very useful to me. I also had a very friendly and supportive group of classmates and teachers. I enjoyed it very much!

Learning to code in the evenings and on Saturdays was a perfect match for my work and university schedule. I found that the part-time approach gave me enough flexibility to manage all of my commitments. Because I was so motivated to learn and I was thoroughly enjoying the experience of learning new things at every lesson, I looked forward to going to class in the evenings and on Saturdays, even after long and busy days.
The part-time bootcamp also gave me more time to assimilate and apply the concepts that I learned during demanding periods when I also had to focus on other university or work-related projects during the week.

The most memorable part of the bootcamp for me was the project weeks when our team was building our first rails applications. Seeing the results of my work both on the front-end and back-end of a functioning app was a unique moment. It was a milestone and a great source of motivation. I also have very fond memories of being in class during the weekday evenings, working on the coding exercises together with my buddy of the day.

As you graduated from the bootcamp a few months ago, what have you been doing since then?

I have been lucky as I directly found an internship in a nice start-up, Prospect.io, as a full stack developer. I continue learning about Rails and discovering Ember.js.
But to be honest, finding a job after the traineeship is never an easy task. It demands energy, a bunch of different skills (not necessarily linked to the skills you need for coding) and, let’s face it, that tiny pinch of luck (grab that fairy godmother and shake it on your muesli).
But don't let that stop you from joining the bootcamp! If you want to start a new career in this tech world, you'll make it happen!

The end of the bootcamp coincided with the end of my master’s degree at university. I have continued to practice the coding skills that I learned during the bootcamp, especially by repeating the bootcamp’s exercises on Le Wagon’s platform as well as applying this knowledge in my own personal projects. I am also using the experience that I gained from the bootcamp to continue to develop a career in the digital field, and I am sure that it will lead to interesting opportunities. 
The bootcamp taught me coding skills that I could apply to my own company and other technical skills which are valuable for a career in business and marketing, and which are not taught in the traditional university curriculum of a business degree. This gives me the opportunity to stand out to employers and to be more valuable in the field.


What advice would you give to anyone wondering whether the part-time bootcamp is the right choice? 

If you are curious and you have the desire to learn and improve your digital skills, then definitely consider joining Le Wagon’s bootcamps. You do not need any prior experience in coding to get started, and with hard-work and perseverance, you will be amazed by how much you can achieve. If like me, you have many things going at the same time, the part-time bootcamp is an excellent option. You will manage and you will not regret it!

If you are considering this track, my advice would be: don’t take it lightly. Don’t choose this career for the wrong reasons. It’s gonna be challenging but if you like it, it’s gonna be a blast!
Whatever is in front of you, try to enjoy it. 
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