My Le Wagon Bootcamp Experience


What I learned (and what I would improve) from my 9-week Bootcamp

My Le Wagon Bootcamp Experience

I’ve wrestled with the idea of coding bootcamp for many years now. As a self-taught programmer, I’ve always been able to produce the bare minimum required to accomplish whatever automation or web task I required. As a result, I did not have the proper skills, background, and know-how to be hirable in the field, let alone see any of my hobby projects to completion.

After motivating myself to a proper diet and fitness routine, the next logical step in my self-transformation was to improve my career. Thus, I took the plunge and made a commitment to myself to complete a web-development bootcamp and fine-tune my skills.

The next step was to find a bootcamp that fit my needs. I wanted an in-person experience, in Barcelona, that was highly rated, selective, and provided career services upon completion. The only bootcamp I found that fit all of these criteria was Le Wagon, so I applied and waited to hear back.
Le Wagon is selective for their part as well, and they asked me to join them on a Zoom call to get to know me, including my personality and experience/expectations.

Coding and friendship.

The interview was easy and straightforward. I knew what I wanted, had a background and experience coding, so it took less than 15 minutes. As I had no additional questions, we wrapped up the call and I was emailed a short assessment. None of this was too difficult, and given the level of some of my classmates, I can assure you that this should not stress anyone. Once accepted, it was a matter of signing a contract (for payment and behavior), as well as a ~40-hour preparation course. This took me a lot less than 40 hours, but I found it enjoyable and valuable, as many of the topics are further expanded on during bootcamp. Unfortunately, Le Wagon did not follow through with enforcing this prep-work’s completion, as it was clear that several of my classmates were overwhelmingly unprepared.

The bootcamp was 9 weeks long, and very well-organized. For me, the first two weeks were easy, but I was prepared for that. I knew that the end of the bootcamp would be challenging for me as I learned to piece everything together, and that was exactly the case. Despite this, I enjoyed helping others during the easy times, and made new friends in the process.

The daily challenges are excellent, and do a great job reinforcing the lectures and challenging students. Each day, the student platform (“Kitt”) assigns each student a partner for the challenges. I found this system worked very well in making friends across cultures, and was also helpful in that the more advanced student learned more by teaching his counterpart with lesser knowledge. Furthermore, the entire “Kitt” framework that Le Wagon built for students and alumni is exceptional.

The Good:

The daily buddy system, as described above, along with daily meditation (optional) during the last 15 minutes of lunch were the highlights of my bootcamp. The meditation allowed me to clear my mind from whatever hurdles I encountered during the daily challenges, as well as clear my head of all my external struggles in my personal life. Bootcamp really consumes your life, and the meditation was really helpful in coping with that fact.

The daily challenges were exactly that: challenges. I chose never to do the optional challenges (as the problem solving involved was manageable but tiresome), and instead chat with and help others, as well as catch up on my personal life during whatever free time (not as often as you’d think) I had. The build-up associated with the challenges is well thought-out and prepares students for all of the small nuances and challenges one might find during building a full-blown Ruby on Rails app.

Until the final weeks of projects, we ended each day with an hour “live-code” session. During this session, a random student would code a challenge from the lectern with the help of the whole class. I found this helpful to see where my classmates were, but also to talk out the challenges as a group and learn more efficient ways of solving the daily challenges. Also, it allowed the teachers to identify who needed additional help.

Demo day!

Needs Improvement:

The time management throughout the bootcamp was severely lacking. For instance, there were several days where the majority of the class finished the day’s challenges, yet we were told leaving would count against our attendance. I find it hard to comprehend how completing the challenges (on campus) could count against attendance, and similarly found this as a shortcoming of the challenges. On pitch night, we started way too late (16:30) and thus didn’t get to leave campus until close to 20:00 (normally class ends at 18:00). Again, we were told that if we left pitch night early, our groups would be auto-assigned to us. Surely after 1000+ batches Le Wagon knows that they need to start pitches much earlier.

We were thrown into our projects on the 7th week of camp. The projects were managed on Github, with three other students, which was very challenging. Throughout the final weeks, there were several lectures that had the gist of “this might be useful for your projects, but probably not.” Given how much trouble myself and my peers had with the Github learning curve, I strongly urge Le Wagon to add a standalone lecture on Github and Github collaboration in their curriculum.

Career Week

The 10th week of bootcamp is optional, and is titled “Career Week.” I found this to be lacking, as most of us had already improved our Github, LinkedIn, and cover letters. Similarly, we all had decided on our career path going forward, so a lot of this was unnecessary. Instead, Le Wagon should dip into their alumni pool and allow us to pick their brains about the job search process, along with conducting mock interviews and more 1-on-1 help. Alumni could be enticed to do a short presentation about their bootcamp experience, the job search, what worked and didn’t, and so on. The alumni network is accessible, however, so long as you put the work in to contact the right person.

There were a few personality issues and conflicts during the group work that Le Wagon ducked by switching groups, which I found okay in the moment. However, upon further reflection, I wish that we would have been asked to work things out with our original group, as that is actual preparation for the real world and our careers. Oh well…

The Money

Le Wagon offers several payment options, including splitting into 3 parts over the course of the bootcamp, and even an option to defer payment until after getting a job in the industry. I did not defer, but this is the “security” and “job guarantee” offered by Le Wagon. They claim that 90% of graduates get a job in the field within 6 months, however, that is subject to the efforts of the graduate. Your mileage will vary. If concerned, defer.

Looking Forward

Now that I am several months removed from graduating, I can reflect fondly on this experience and highly recommend it. My personal plans are to use my new-found skills to finish several hobby projects to completion, as well as develop a start-up focused on the stock market. Will it work out? Who knows, but the worst-case scenario is that I built several full-fledged applications that allow me to shine during the interview process.


Projects | Github | LeWagon | LinkedIn