In life, we have to overcome obstacles in order to grow. Despite the difficult period Kayalin was going through, she did not give up and decided to take matters into her own hands again. She enrolled in our Antwerp web development training, and whether this was a good decision. As the end of the training is approaching, she is more than ready for her next adventure: the internship. 

What did your life look like before joining the BeCode training?
“Before starting my training at BeCode, I enrolled in two other training courses. A first in digital arts entertainment in Kortrijk. This course focused on video game design and I also learned how to program in C++. But as I really didn’t like this training, I had to quit after two years. After that, I enrolled to be a teacher in English and Plastic Education (PO). I went for it one hundred percent, but the internship didn’t go well. I was heading for a burn-out and decided to desert. The year after, I took some time for myself to get my mental and physical health back on track. I’ve come a long way since then. I lost a lot of weight and have acquired new skills. For example, me and my father learned how to weld.”

How did you come to know BeCode? 
“That’s actually a very funny story. My sister saw one of BeCode’s motivation workshops pass by and thought it would be fun to follow it together. But what she overlooked was that you have to be a registered candidate in order to follow this workshop. I soon discovered that the workshop actually prepares you for a seven-month training program, but she encouraged me to take part anyway: “If you don’t get selected, you don’t get selected, but you should at least try.” I went for it 100%, even if it meant finishing all the SoloLearn paths in just one week, which is pretty challenging. I focused on SoloLearn for three days and repeated the exercises the remaining days to be fully prepared for the selections.”

What convinced you to start your training at BeCode?
“The past year I’ve worked very hard to get back on track and I finally felt good enough to enroll in a new adventure. So I decided to go looking for a job, but the job search didn’t go well as I often didn’t have the skills that were asked for in the vacancies. I decided to look for an IBO, but when I bumped into BeCode, this also seemed a very interesting path to take. I decided to register but always kept in mind that if I wouldn’t get through the selections, I would continue looking for IBOs. I was aware that if I could start a training at BeCode, it would open a lot of doors for me.”

What aspect of our training was appealing most to you? 
“That you work independently on the assignments, yet are under the close supervision of your coach. If you have a question, you can always ask him for help, but the assignments have a concrete starting and ending point and you choose how you want to approach them.” 

How far along are you in the training?
“The summer pastures. Here you have to look for an internship and you are challenged, through a few projects, to further sharpen your knowledge of a particular programming language.”

What projects are you currently working on?
“I, for example, created a quiz and a to-do list in React.” 

What programming languages or technologies have you learned besides React?
“HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript. I’ve, for example, combined these technologies to create a Pokédex. I absolutely loved this project as I am a very big fan of Pokémon. We’ve also focused on frameworks such as Bootstrap, Angular, Symphony, and Composer. I wasn’t a big fan of Composer because PHP doesn’t really suit me, but it was definitely an interesting challenge.”

What programming languages do you like most? 
“HTML, CSS and JavaScript.”

You just mentioned that you’ve worked on several projects during this training. What has been your favorite project so far?
“That’s a really hard question. Subject-wise, I preferred the Pokémon project. I created a minimalist Pokédex in terms of design, but I really enjoyed working on it. In addition, we’ve worked on a project that consisted of several small exercises to learn the basics of JavaScript. I really enjoyed working on these exercises because they challenged me on different levels.” 

Was your Pokédex an exact replica of the one from the Pokémon games? 
“I created a Pokédex using an API, which is supposed to bridge the gap between the database and what you see on your website. In my Pokédex, you were shown the sprite (cartoon), the previous evolutions, and the first four attacks of that specific Pokémon. Some have gone a little further and have, for example, integrated the full evolution line in their Pokédex.”

The end of training is approaching and the time has come to start looking for an internship. What kind of internship are you looking for exactly?
“I’m looking for a front-end development or design internship. In my spare time, I’m drawing a lot and I also work regularly in art programs. Therefore, I have always been very passionate about creating websites.”

You mentioned that you are currently working on projects in React. Are there any programming languages or frameworks you would like to/will be focusing on during the last two months of training? 
‘I have integrated Tailwind, a framework of CSS, into a couple of projects so that I can add this framework to my portfolio. Since we’ve been focusing heavily on PHP the past few weeks, I’ve been brushing up on JavaScript, HTML and CSS. We’ve also integrated Angular and React in several projects, but, for me, these frameworks are a bit harder to use. I hope to learn a lot of other languages and frameworks during the final months of the training, but at the moment I mainly want to focus on React.’ 

How would you describe web development to someone who doesn’t know it
‘Web development includes front-end and back-end development and is, in short, the creation of websites. In front-end development you design the website, back-end development focuses on the functionality of your website. Creating a website is a challenge, but a super cool one!’

What challenges have you faced so far during the training? 
‘Many (laughs). I really wondered how I would ever be able to master certain parts of the curriculum. For example, it wasn’t easy to set up a weather API, but in the end, we collectively found a solution to the problem. These kinds of puzzles do pop up, mainly because you have to figure out on your own how to approach certain challenges. Your coach is happy to give you a nudge when a problem shows up, but you’ll have to figure out by yourself how to apply this to the project that you’re working on. I love this approach as you learn a lot through it.’

How do you deal with these challenges?
‘Mainly by Googling my problem. On Stackoverflow or Google you often bump into posts written by people who have had a similar problem. These posts are often accompanied by a solution. Design-wise you can also find a lot of useful, inspiring examples online that you can dissect.’

You’ve acquired a lot of technical skills during this training, but are there also any soft skills that you’ve acquired or sharpened?
‘During the teacher’s training, I learned how to work in groups. A good team spirit is even more important in web development. But communication is also key, for example when you are working with several people on the same GitHub. If you were to upload a file at the same time, a merge conflict might occur. Resolving such a conflict is particularly sassy, but by communicating well with each other, you can simply avoid this kind of conflict. Both skills also enable you to exchange ideas with your teammates and thus achieve a better end result.’

‘Through the daily watches, I was also able to hone my presentation skills. Every afternoon, one of the students gives a tech talk. Through these tech talks, you learn to communicate your vision in a fun and interesting way, which in turn will help you to present a project to a customer.’

What topics have you given tech talks about? 
‘I have given tech talks about design, including one about the art program Krita. I’ve also talked about naming conventions in JavaScript, planning, and time management, and I’ve organized a live coding session in Ruby. I always tried to find a good balance between tech and soft skills.’

How did you evolve during this training?
‘At the start of this training course, I couldn’t program. Figuring out how programming languages work effectively was a challenge. It’s amazing to see how we only had small building blocks at the start and how we are now able to create websites with several pages.’

How have you evolved as a person?
‘At the start, I was very nervous because I’m not the most sociable person, but I did my best and I’m very happy that I got to know the group better. Everyone is super friendly and no one is afraid to help each other, which in turn contributes to the group cohesion.’

What are your plans for the future?
‘First of all, finding an internship, where I can hopefully start working afterward. Depending on the internship I’ll manage to secure, I would like to work as a front-end developer or designer, but the corona crisis does complicate the search for an internship.’

Has the corona crisis also had an impact on the training itself?
‘At the start, I was afraid of how the corona crisis would affect the training, but once we effectively started, these fears quickly faded away. We would be present on campus twice a week and would follow remotely the other three days. Even though the coach is always available online, a real-life touchpoint is an added value. I am very glad that we were able to spend a few days a week on campus because that way you could get to know your fellow students a little better. As you switch to a remote model, maintaining these interactions becomes a little more difficult. But even online, you can still turn to them for questions and/or help.’

‘There were times when I did feel alone, but I could always turn to the coach or one of my classmates for a chat. When there is a great group cohesion, there is really nothing to worry about.’

If you had to describe BeCode in one word, what word would you choose and why? 
‘World-changing. The BeCode training is changing the world of the students who enroll. The vast majority of the participants are looking for a new job, sometimes even a first job, and BeCode helps you take the first step. You’ll learn a lot during the training, which adequately supports you in making the big turnaround.’

Anything you’d like to add? 
‘If you are hesitating to register, just take the plunge. You’ll learn a lot during the training and you can go in many directions afterward. Although following an online course can be a challenge and it can therefore take a while before you’ll find your feet, the time you’ll spend here will be more than usefully spent.’

Are you interested in following our web development training?

That’s possible! – Register before the 12th of February for our new class in Antwerp!