Q + A with WeThinkCode_ Alumnus Miriam LamarreBy: The SwitchUp Team
After working at the airport and studying web development part-time, Miriam decided to attend WeThinkCode_. Now she spends her days working as a Junior Front-End Developer at Platform45. Passionate about their peer-to-peer mentor model, Miriam felt she was not only able to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in Software but made some really special friends along the way. She feels she "wouldn't have a professional career if it wasn't for WeThinkCode_" and all she learned there. Find out more about how WeThinkCode_ changed her professional life in this interview.
You currently work as a Junior Front-End Developer at Platform45. What does this title mean and what does an average day look like for you?
I am indeed a Junior Front-end Developer at a software development company called Platform45. At WeThinkCode_ you study for 2 years and in those two years, you have to complete 2 x 4-month internships at one of their corporate sponsors. Mine was Platform45. I love it there. I love the people that work at the company, I love the environment, I love the fact that it's a small company (less than 50 employees) so it has become like a family. After my second 4 month internship, they offered me a full-time position so now I am a Junior Developer. We learned what it's like to be part of an Agile team, performing daily stand-ups with what we worked on the day before, what we plan on completing today and if we ran into any issues. We learned Ruby and Ruby on Rails and because I am more front-end focused, I learned Foundation 6 which is a front-end framework. We've also learned version control and what it's like to work together on projects from anywhere. The project my team and I are currently working on is updating an existing education website and creating a brand new one based on the current one's model.
How did you decide to transition into the tech space? Is it always what you wanted to do?
No, it wasn't actually. Before I was at WeThinkCode_, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I had previously worked at the airport, then starting studying web development part-time when WeThinkCode_ first opened.
How did you decide to attend WeThinkCode as opposed to other boot camp programs?
Back in 2015, when I decided to take my life in a different direction, WeThinkCode_ popped up at the perfect time. I didn't choose any other coding boot camps because WeThinkCode_ was presented to me and I jumped on the opportunity.
Did you attend WeThinkCode to attempt to change your career path, or improve the path you were already on?
Both. I wanted to keep going with the current development path that I was on and move into it permanently.
What was the application and admission process like?
It was an interesting process. There were 2 tests when I applied that contain no instructions or rules, no way to know what to do at all, which is the point. They're looking for problem-solvers. People who can take impossible situations and work through them.
Were there any scholarships or financial assistance offered prior to beginning the program?
They do offer a stipend to students who need it. If you apply and give a valid reason for applying, WeThinkCode_ will help you out.
What did you study at WeThinkCode? What are the courses like at WeThinkCode?
We start off with the C Programming Language which teaches us all about the syntax of programming languages and how to write and call functions. It's a great place to start, especially if you've never coded before. Then after a couple of months, we build programs with web languages such as PHP, HTML, and CSS. After your first internship, you come back to a C++ boot camp, after which we finished off our second year with a building an app or piece of software aimed at solving one of South Africa most pressing social and/or environmental issues.
Did you have mentors at WeThinkCode?
We were all each others mentors. It's a peer-to-peer learning environment, so if you need help, if you need support, you can ask almost anyone. Otherwise, the staff who worked there at the time, Geff, Max, Mufaro, Camille, Arlene, Bulelwa and Jackie were all super helpful and supportive. I am where I am now because of their belief in me and how hard I worked to get here.
How about career services? What were those like?
If you mean "How did WeThinkCode_ prepare you for the real world of a working professional?", then there were a couple of days when we had workshops on Agile, how to act in the workplace environment, how to dress and not dress, setting up our LinkedIn profiles and how to create a CV. They also organized a Corporate Sponsor day where all the sponsors of WeThinkCode_ set up booths where we could ask them questions about their workplace, the languages they code in and the technologies they use.
How do you feel this course of study has helped your professional career?
I wouldn't have a professional career if it wasn't for WeThinkCode_ and all I learned there. From coding to the soft skills they taught us, it was all to get us where we are today.
Would you recommend this program to other students? Why or why not?
Oh for sure! If you have any interest at all in the tech space, I don't know why you haven't already applied to WeThinkCode_!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks again for letting me share my experience with you and your audience. It really was an incredible journey and I'd do it all again if I could!
Would you like to learn more about WeThinkCode_? Read what alumni have said on SwitchUp.