Le Wagon Week 6: Epiphany in Coding

This past week was both extremely frustrating, yet exhilaratingly rewarding. I took a temporary break out of the coding camp bubble, and made incredible stride. For the first time, all the puzzle pieces emerged and I built a very simple, but fully functioning web app. This is the beginning of the rest of my life as a coder.

The schedule at Le Wagon goes like this for the first 6 weeks: Lectures in the morning for around 2 hours, then working on challenges with your buddy of the day, randomly chosen by a computer. For the last 90 minutes of each day, live code takes place – this is where one person is up at the podium solving a problem, and everyone else is supposed to contribute to the solution.

All of this means constant interaction with at least one other human being for 10 hours a day. Even as an extrovert, I am beyond exhausted at the end of each day, completed drained by the lack of alone time.

By week 6, I felt trapped by the routine, and despite my intention each day to really pay attention during lecture & live codes, I somehow keep finding myself browsing the New York Times or checking my email. That accumulates to nearly 4 hours per day of non-productive time. It’s like being back in college all over again. The difference is, I also don’t get time to zone out at a café or the library to teach myself, because I need to work with my buddy.

The frustration hit a peak on Thursday of last week, I was so behind that I decided it’s time to take myself out of the routine, and get some stuff done. I hunkered down at my favourite café, AirPods in, 100% focused for 8 hours straight, with only a short break for lunch. By not going to camp, I gave up the privilege to get help. I only had Google. Yet, not having the comfort blanket pushed me to learn more in that single day than all of prior week combined.

All the concepts clicked as I debug my codes, googled for answers, and had one epiphany after another on understanding how a web app is built. The rewarding feeling I was seeking last week was found in the adrenaline of knowing I can do this on my own, even after the camp.

The experience confirmed that there is not an one-size-fits-all solution. Not in our education system, workplace productivity, nor life. Figure out what works for you, and get after it. If that means going against the norm – then so be it. I felt a bit uneasy to just take a day off, and felt the need to explain myself. I could’ve said that I was sick, but honestly, I am 31, and I refuse to tell a lie in order to do something that works for me.

Learning to code with Le Wagon has been so much more than coding skill. I am constantly reflecting on myself and the program, and pushing the status quo (providing lots of fearless feedback along the way). Sure, I could’ve taught myself to code, but this accelerated moments of epiphany has made it worthwhile.

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