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Arnold Ho
Arnold Ho

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My honest review of the Le Wagon London bootcamp

Hey friends,
The main reason that I have started this blog in the first place was to document my learning journey over my 9-weeks intensive bootcamp at Le Wagon.

Over the course of the bootcamp, things got pretty intense so I really didn't have the time and headspace after coding 9-6 to write more about coding.

But now that the bootcamp has ended last week and I have plenty of time in my hands, what better time than now could I be writing about my experience with Le Wagon when its still fresh in my mind? I will be giving an honest review of what I like and dislike about the bootcamp.

Would I recommend it? Is it worth my money?

Short answer: Yes
Long answer: Yes, but I need more context as to what kind of learner you are. As with most bootcamps, you get out as much as you put in. Things gets pretty intense pretty quickly and there is very little room to take a break. 9 weeks will fly pass quickly and at some point during the bootcamp you will probably experience imposter syndrome (I did massively), but you can always book a 1:1 chat with your teachers and, they are extremely knowledgable and will point you towards the right resources. If you prefer a slower learning journey, you might prefer taking an MOOC or taking a more self directed route such as doing the FrontEnd Mentor Challenges.

Is it worth it if I can find all the resources online?

For me personally, yes it was worth it. Online resources such as The Odin Project or Scrimba are great alternatives to spending upwards of 6000 pounds on a coding bootcamp. It's true that most resources can be found online, but that argument can be extended to a full computer science curriculum as well. There are famous challenges such as the MIT challenge where people self-study the entire MIT computer science curriculum. Is MIT worth it? It depends on your context.

What I find useful is someone curating and designing a curriculum for me which is practical in terms of getting me to a level good enough for me to land a job. I am also able to get experience working as a team of four on the same code base using GitHub which is something I would not get as a solo learner.

Another important resource is the push to code everyday, you've probably heard the phrase multiple times that 'you are the average of the people that you spend most time with'. When you are put in an environment where everyone is aiming for the same thing and struggling in the same way, you are less likely to give up. And when you hit a roadblock it is much better to find a buddy/TA to look at your code and debug together rather than struggling alone in silence.

What about career?

The most important aspect of judging the quality of a bootcamp is probably the quality of jobs that are available to their graduates. I think career is something which you can only get out as much as you put in. For me personally, I have started applying as soon as I can (as soon as I started learning Rails, but before project week).

Le Wagon organises a lot of career talks by their hiring partners. In a way they helped me filter out the companies with a good culture in terms of growth, learning and work life balance. I applied to 4 jobs through Le Wagon's hiring partner events, heard back and proceeded with all of them, got to the final stage with 2 of them and got an offer with the first job that I applied through Le Wagon before the programme ended. I would say my case is quicker than usual but Le Wagon did give me all the support I needed in order to find a job.

I have also had a few meetings with the career support team and they helped me polished my CV, got my GitHub up to date and set up a few profiles on job site to be job hunt ready. All in all I highly rate the career support of Le Wagon.

The best part of Le Wagon

The highlight of Le Wagon is definitely the project weeks. This is when we put together all the knowledge we have learnt from the past 7 weeks into practice and make actual web apps. We learnt to work as a team, raising tickets for issues, having stand ups to discuss what we need to tackle, properly raising PR on GitHub and the whole project management side to developing a web app.

Throughout the whole project, the teaching assistants have been immensely helpful with trouble shooting anything and giving us helpful suggestions to improve our app. When we feel stuck we can always pair programme with our buddies.

In the end we managed to patch together (with a lot of duck tapes) two web apps that are fully functional. One is an AirBnB market place clone and the other one is an all-in-one cooking management app. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and getting to know and work closely with my team mates to produce these web apps.

Criticisms of Le Wagon

I would say the only cons of Le Wagon is the lack of training in the front end. We had around a week and a half's training on HTML, CSS, and vanilla Javascript. So for anyone who is interested in a career in the front end, they might need to continue their training elsewhere to learn a modern front-end framework. However, I do understand the rationale behind placing less emphasis on the front-end as this is a practical limitation. Le Wagon is focused on training us to have enough knowledge to ship a fully functional CRUD based web app in 9-weeks, we can learn enough front-end to be dangerous and learn more fancy frameworks later once we have the knowledge to start shipping web apps end to end.

What are my next steps?

I am starting my full time job in January as a Software Engineer. I would say Le Wagon has prepared me to be able to continue learning as it has taught me the right method to learn (a.k.a how to google the right way).

I am planning on continue learning Computer Science fundamentals so I am currently taking the HarvardX CS50 introduction to computer science course to improve my fundamental understanding. I am 1 week in so far and I am already loving the quality of the course and the energy of the lecturer. More on that next time!

Apart from my full time job, I will also be working as a teaching assistant part time at Le Wagon. Honestly I enjoyed my time there so much and I would love to continue having a connection with the bootcamp. It will also further solidify my knowledge as I start teaching others and I think teaching and public speaking is a skill that I would really want to master myself.

Final thoughts

As you can probably tell by now, I highly rate my whole experience with Le Wagon. I feel like I got my money's worth with the knowledge I gained and a job I am able to line up by the end of the bootcamp.

In no way do I think a 9-weeks bootcamp is enough to replace a 3-4 years formal computer science education, but it is a good options for folks whom university is not a good option for them. It has provided me with the support, buddies and a structure to learn, and guidance to land my first developer job. Not to mention the massive network of alumni who have attended the course.

If you would like to know more about the bootcamp, feel free to leave me a comment or drop me a DM. Merry Xmas and have a happy new year!

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