The perks of local peer groups when changing your career

an outline of Berlin with a map pin
all of this takes place in Berlin

Last week, I managed to take my husband to a workshop with me (for the first time). It was Web Scraping with Python from Le Wagon where we used the Beautiful Soup library to obtain information from a website. Apart from being fun, it made me think about the role of the local tech education companies and initiatives in my learning adventure.

Confusion of a noob

If you are like me, you get really confused at the beginning. You have a good understanding of what you need to learn but no idea of where to start.

In the beginning, I was collecting information: Udemy and Skillshare, freeCodeCamp and Khan Academy, a couple of YouTube channels… As a result, I only postponed my learning. I needed a good push — preferably from the outside.

The push came from Le Wagon and their full-day coding workshop for women. That’s where I first got to know the basics of HTML and CSS (and a bit of Bootstrap). I finally could make my first more or less interactive guide for Caissa where I worked at the time.

a code icon with keywords around it: coding schools, hiring companies, non-profits, meetups, bootcamps
look out for these keywords

Bootcamps and coding schools

I’m lucky to live in Berlin, a city whose tech scene is expanding (like our universe). Developers are in high demand here, and so is non-classical tech education. It would’ve been stupid of me not to check out local bootcamps and coding schools:

First of all, they must have free events and workshops. Secondly, I might get a scholarship and become a student at one of them.

The second workshop I attended was Le Wagon’s crash course in JavaScript. I couldn’t really follow the pace (it was JavaScript basics in 1.5 hours, from variables through loops, arrays, and functions to DOM and event listeners!) and ended up demotivated.

I didn’t give up completely and signed for a free email crash course from CareerFoundry. It was quite an intensive week with more HTML, CSS and Bootstrap. (I even tried to apply for a marketing job with them; didn’t succeed).

As for JS, I didn’t touch it for another two months, until I saw an opportunity from IronHack. They partnered with EA and offered up to 100% scholarship to study at their bootcamp. To pass the technical test, I needed to take Introduction to JavaScript with Codecademy. I studied my eyes off before Christmas, completed half of the course, and successfully passed the test.

In the end, I got the 25% scholarship, which I had to reject because I couldn’t cover the remaining costs. And yet this experience got me into JavaScript and boosted my learning process. It’s much easier to keep going once you’ve already made your first steps.

illustration of 3 silhouettes with desktop computers exchanging knowledge
a schematic illustration of a peer group

FrauenLoop (a group of peers)

Finally, I applied for the Intro Web course at FrauenLoop and got accepted into the first cohort of the decade! So far, I’ve had 5 lessons with them (classes are held weekly) and I’m really happy about it.

Although my group is currently making the first steps in markup and styles, there is always plenty of new information to learn that I would’ve missed otherwise. For example, Git and the command line… Or Bootstrap. As we played around with it, I realized how much I underestimated the library before, so I spent the entire week watching Bootstrap courses.

And while I’m learning on my own most of the time, it’s amazing to have a team of co-learners and mentors who can answer your questions or just inspire you with their own example.

Summing it all up in a few words, one should never underestimate the resources available locally. Joining dedicated communities and groups often helps us make the first step and keep going.

And if you are in Berlin, here are some links:




I got my first smartphone to make gameplay videos and bought my second one with bitcoins. *This one-liner describes me just as well as any other.*

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Olha Halat

Olha Halat

I got my first smartphone to make gameplay videos and bought my second one with bitcoins. *This one-liner describes me just as well as any other.*

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