I could just be myself at bootcamp

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

When Lonneke Vuur started attending Le Wagon’s intensive 12-week coding bootcamp in Amsterdam, she was breastfeeding her 6-month-old son. Today she’s a full-stack engineer at Zilverline, and thankful for the leap she took in 2016. She spoke to us about the bootcamp.

What did you do prior to the Le Wagon bootcamp? 

“I got pregnant during university and took a bit of a gap. After having my son, I wasn’t sure that going back to university was worth leaving him for. I was at a crossroads and had to decide: Am I going back to university or am I going to do something that I really like?

“I’ve always been interested in programming. I studied econometrics before and did two programming courses at university, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is fun’! I saw an ad for Le Wagon’s bootcamp and decided it’s now or never. I visited for a day to see what it’s like and I loved the vibe and the sense of community. What stood out for me was the number of women I saw—it’s 50/50.”

How did you experience the bootcamp?

“It was tough. It’s like you’re drowning the whole time, but the teachers give you enough of a bump anytime you think you will go head under. You feel constant discomfort, only because you’re learning so much!”

How were your classmates?

“Everybody comes from such different backgrounds. It was eye-opening for me to realise that you can’t always fix something yourself—you have to work together. And with the number of women in the bootcamp, you don’t get that testosterone thing, which is not necessarily a male thing, but definitely an IT thing. When you bring enough women to the room, it all changes and there is more emphasis on communication. We were just a bunch of people helping each other out. You get assigned a ‘buddy’ and it’s someone new every day.”

Do you feel that Le Wagon gave you the tools you needed to do what you do now?

“Quite a bit! We use the same framework where I work now. What I love about the bootcamp is that it teaches you how to push a product to production. That’s the step where everything comes together, and I think people underestimate how valuable that part of the bootcamp is. 

“Right now I work in a team of four and two of us are women. We develop human-centric software and really put the customer first in everything we do. At the end of the day, all I really want is to create software that people can use.”

Are you still keeping touch with other Le Wagon alumni?

“We have a small women network in Amsterdam and we meet up every once in a while to have a laugh. We also recommend each other for positions. I got my job at Zilverline thanks to another alumnus who also works there. Women should look out for women more.”

Would you recommend Le Wagon’s coding bootcamp to others?

“It’s really great, because of the number of women—even female teachers to look up to. The bootcamp is product-centric and it’s a very inclusive place. I got so much support from them, especially since I was still breastfeeding my son at the time. I had to go back and forth between daycare and bootcamp, and it was no problem. Le Wagon showed me that you can just be you, and be awesome!”

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do the bootcamp?

“When you’ve prepared well, you’ll feel more at ease. It’s more important to sleep than to practice something one more time. The best thing you can do, especially when you feel stuck, is to sleep on it. Do some sport or something! When you’re working with your mind, don’t forget about the rest of your body.

“Never be afraid to ask questions. Don’t feel dumb; it’s just tough! If you feel insecure about something, tell someone. Le Wagon is just the beginning: you’re never going to stop learning.”

Feeling inspired? Together with our partner Le Wagon, we aim to teach you the essentials of programming in an action-packed 9 weeks — even if you’re a beginner! Read more about the coding bootcamp here.