After a career in the horeca sector, Nicolas wanted to pursue a career in the digital world and work as a web developer. After an intensive training at BeCode and a successful hackathon, Nicolas shared with us his story and his experience as junior web developer.
What did you do before joining BeCode?
Before BeCode, I worked in the Horeca sector for 16 years. I worked my way up the ladder and became a manager. Afterwards, I became a freelancer. After two years, I decided to stop this activity and to look for another career path. It took me 9 months during which several Brussels-based institutions helped me, including one ‘Mission Locale’.
Which institutions helped you on the way?
The ‘Mission Locale d’Ixelles’. They helped my way towards a new project in 2019. For six months, I trained myself online with coding exercises on Open Classrooms, to see if I liked it. And I did, so I started looking for a coding school that would be recognized and that would help me get an internship. I visited several places (BeCode, MolenGeek, EPFC and others) to compare their offering.
What made you choose BeCode?
The possibility to go on an internship and the selection criteria. This kind of training is usually only open to people up to the age of 28-30. I was already 34, so BeCode was one of the training centers who were opening their doors to me. I also liked the fact that it’s a rather short training.
After choosing BeCode, how did you prepare for the training?
First of all, I followed some courses on SuperProf to prepare for the selections. I also took part in some workshops organized by BeCode to help candidates prepare. Around 30 people were selected to join the training. Meanwhile, the Covid crisis has stopped everything, but I was lucky as I didn’t have to wait too long : I took the tests in August and the training started in September.
Do you remember how the selections went?
It was really nice! There was a part where we were separated between small groups. We had to work together on a project. We also had to take 3 individual interviews. As far as the group project was concerned, it was fun because we could see what role we naturally take in a team, and because the project was linked to IT.
Can you tell us a bit about the start of the training? How was the group atmosphere during the first few months?
It was a bit different for me : I had already been there a week before the start of the training to really get ready. We had a week in-between where we could train ourselves with some exercises. It was really nice because we were in small groups. We started getting to know each other, we saw the campus, etc. Unfortunately, there has been a Covid case in my group. That means we had to start the training remotely for 14 days. It was a bit tough for me at the beginning and then, when I got to be back on campus, it got better with the group dynamics. Our class was full of people from all horizons, all age groups, all backgrounds. Thats really cool because it brings a group cohesion between people who have the same objective : learning. Thats really motivating.
What was the biggest challenge for you in this training?
The Covid crisis. It was something none of us was prepared for. Working from home is something new and, at first, it was difficult. Personally, I got used to it and it has even become a strength because we know that jobs are going to evolve more and more in a remote environment. That taught us to find solutions by ourselves, but also to work as a team and to use the right tools.
Let’s talk about the end of the training. During the last two months of the program, there’s a specialization. How did it go for you?
It was difficult, because over the time, groups get apart and there is not enough follow-up on that. We thought we’d have the same level in the last 2 months, but we don’t and that can create doubts. Some learn much faster than others. Then, we had to make a choice between Node and PHP. We were few in my class to choose PHP. It was a bit harder for us because there were fewer people to ask for help.
Do you have tips for someone who’s approaching the end of their training at BeCode?
Stay motivated and patient because after BeCode, you’ll need to keep learning and not necessarily expect a job to come directly. It might be good to plan 2-3 extra months in your mind to deepen your knowledge of some technologies, depending on what’s expected of you on the labour market. It’s also important to grab any opportunity that comes to you.
You participated in a hackathon. Can you tell us about that?
One hackathon was planned but it was canceled due to the health measures that were taken. It wasn’t possible to stay close to one another for 48 hours.
But there was another hackathon organized by Futurocité and SmartCity in Namur. It was based on Open Data (the city made some data accessible for us to create services). Our mission was to create an app for students living in the city of Fernelmont. I took part in this hackathon with 3 other BeCoders : Yassine, Bryan and Sylvain.
How would you describe this experience?
It was a great experience because it was my first foray into the world of working as a developer. We had to build an application from scratch in 48 hours (February 2 and 3, 2021 ed.). We just had an idea, and we had to develop it into a concept, a design and, finally, an app. All in 48 hours. We managed to have the third prize. This led to a contract with the municipality of Fernelmont, and to a website that is now online (http://www.fernelmove.be/login). It gave us the will to continue the project but not only for other municipalities in Belgium. If you are interested, do not hesitate to contact us!
How did it go with the training? Did you have the time to combine this project and your training?
We asked our coach (Diogo) if we could participate and he said yes, because it’s a valuable experience. We missed two training days but it was worth it!
Were you used to working with these 3 learners at BeCode?
It was the first time we were working together. We had to adapt very quickly to one another.
Did you get some positive feedback after the hackathon?
I got some, yes. At that time, I posted a lot on social networks to share our experience and it worked. A company spotted me and really liked my profile. They offered me an internship. Unfortunately the adventure did not continue after the internship. Since then, I keep training myself and I am on the lookout for job opportunities.
One last question : Are you still in touch with your training colleagues?
I’m still in touch with the learners I took part in the hackathon with. We talk regularly, we even planned some city trips together. We went to Chimay lately for an escape game. I’m still in touch with others, but we mostly chat on Discord or WhatsApp.
Thanks a lot for sharing your memories with us! We wish you the best of luck and we’re here for you if needed!