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Gonzalo’s story : learning to code to reinvent yourself

Gonzalo was already no stranger to changing careers when he joined Le Wagon. But he took advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to go from owning a language school to becoming a students mentor in Madrid. Learn more about his story!

From bartender in London to teacher in Madrid

From the age of 18, I started working as your average bartender in one of the biggest pubs in London. A year later, I started studying mixology and became a fully-fledged cocktail bartender by the time I moved back to Spain and started working for the Hard Rock Cafe in Madrid. Following a pretty bad economic crisis in Spain getting jobs as a cocktail bartender, even as a regular bartender, had become nearly impossible, even with 3 years of previous experience and different projects. Not knowing where to turn, I turned to the one thing we ex-pats love to do, teach. I never expected to become an English teacher, I was even reluctant as I had seen many others go down that same road.

A month passed, and I found a sort of agency that provided private tuition to its clients. I worked for that agency for about 2 years until I branched out on my own, creating my own business called Ronnie’s Language School after the passing of my grandfather, who also taught English for a couple of decades in the later stages of his life. In all honesty, in those two years, I found something in teaching and languages I never expected to find. I was driven and content in working “normal” hours and finding myself doing something I truly enjoyed. It was the first time I had a tangible responsibility for the direct growth and evolution of my students and seeing them reach their goals.

Reinventing himself to survive the pandemic

6 years later, as we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic began, ensuing in widespread chaos. The first lockdown began on the 8th of March and by the 10th of the same month, my client percentage dropped a whopping 85%. During the following weeks, schools started to close down, and I lost all of my non-adult students. These last few adult students were the last to go as soon as people started getting laid off from work. In a month I saw all my hard work for the last 8 years come crashing down around me and was forced to eventually close. I survived through the pandemic by reinventing myself in an online manner and offering a digital version of my product, however with a baby on the way it was a very unstable job which led me to start looking at other options.

Having had to move my product online, I had come across for the first time basic HTML and CSS and even came to enjoy them. I looked at some courses, but they were all two to four years, which was simply time that I did not have. Through a random conversation with a friend, I learned about the Bootcamp concept and heard a friend of a friend's success story from it. I didn’t really believe at first the whole 3 months of intensive learning and coming out ready to apply for tech jobs, which paid way above most entry-level jobs. I did however end up looking around and finding a bit more info on them. As an English native speaker, the idea of doing a Bootcamp in Spanish was not really appealing. Although my mother tongue is Spanish, my student years had been in English and I had also come to the realization that I truly missed more international and diverse encounters. When I then searched for a Bootcamp in Madrid, the only one that came up was Le Wagon. After checking reviews and what it is they did, I went ahead and scheduled a call in order to get a bit more information.

First steps with Le Wagon

From the first call, I was assigned to Fanny Rojon, at the time city director, and the interaction was to the point and informative. I was well aware from other bootcamps that reached out that there was a selling point to all of them, so I took the information with a grain of salt. The undeniable thing that stood out however was the international community from day 1 to even after the batch, where you were able to be a part of the Le Wagon alumni community across all their other cities in which other batches were held. Having this in mind and the interactions with Fanny, I made my mind up to go ahead and book my spot on the upcoming batch. Another important reason that help me decide where to go was the fact that Le Wagon offered a student finance loan option in order to pay for the course. For a person who had just closed his company and a soon-to-be father, it was a game-changer when it came to deciding where to go.

From day 1 Le Wagon Bootcamp was a rollercoaster of emotions. Your brain and body need to adapt to the new routine and the everyday bombardment of information that the Bootcamp throws at you. There are ups and there are downs, there is doubt and there is trial and a lot of error, however, there is also progress, knowledge, and a deep sense of accomplishment when you see your code working, or coming to life. I was lucky enough that the people in my batch were all helpful and intelligent. They came from various countries, backgrounds, and ages and that quickly became a wonderful environment that made you look forward to coming to the Bootcamp every day.

A life-changing experience

When you first come across one of Le Wagon's slogan, which is “Learn to Code, Change your Life” I am sure, that like me, you might cringe a little and think how overdramatic their selling point may be. However, I have been part of Le Wagon as a student and then working here for 7 months now, and I have seen more than 60 people in my time come through here and come out completely changed. This change isn’t only personal, it is also professionally speaking. My own life changed in just 3 months, not even a small change, but a very dramatic and tangible change. My only regret is not having done this earlier. I couldn’t be prouder of myself for having taken action and doing the Bootcamp and since then for having involved myself with the company. Le Wagon is not a magic potion, It's still hard work both emotionally and mentally. I would describe it better as a stepping stone. It is a stepping stone that if taken for what it is, connects you with other people, other mindsets, cultures, and habits that through the course of 9 weeks get enriched by the learning experience. Le Wagon is more than just what is taught, it is a reflection of the teachers, the ta’s, and the staff's professionalism.  After the 9 weeks and without having realized how you come out ready to take on the professional tech world, and that in itself is life-changing.

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