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June 1, 2020 - 6 minutes

From PhD to Web Developer with Ironhack Madrid

From PhD to Web Developer with Ironhack Madrid

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education

Rafael Coomonte is an impressive guy. He’s a Doctor in Philosophy and he’s got a PhD in telecom engineering, but decided to turn his professional career completely around. For us, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have him as a student and we’re honored that he gave us a few spare minutes from his very busy schedule to answer a few questions about his Ironhack experience.

When and why did you decide to join Ironhack?

I’ve had several boring and discouraging moments in my evolution as a developer. I tried learning to code on my own and concluded that it was impossible, but I knew it was something I wanted to do. When it comes to dealing with a project, one thing is knowing what you want to do and the other is actually implementing it. I was missing the former. I first heard of Ironhack when it was only getting started, and I went to its very first Hackshow. I knew from that moment that this was the option I’d been looking for to complete my education.

Last year, I realized it was the right time. I was professionally stagnant and was looking for options that only made me look for more attractive alternatives. With my second child on the way, it seemed impossible to wait another minute for the next opportunity. I had to make a lot of changes, because it wasn't compatible with my job at the time, but I’m confident today that all of it happened for the better.

With regard to the bootcamp, could you tell us a little bit about:

A problem you had and were able to resolve

My poor old laptop was giving me issues during the pre-work and I was afraid I would lose it in the middle of the course. The weekend before the course began, I had to format and clean it out the best I could and luckily it was able to handle all the work it had to do. In the field of programming, your work tool is fundamental and it must be very well taken care of.

I later had a number of personal problems that caused me to miss a couple of classes, but with the help of the Teaching Assistants and my classmates, I was able to catch up on all the coursework as soon as I was back.

A personal achievement

Breaking that wall that was impeding me from reaching full coding competency, which was my main objective when joining Ironhack. After that, my final project was a true test of my progress and I was extremely proud of it. But above all, knowing that I could actually develop projects from scratch, all while understanding what I’m doing, how I need to do it, and what tools I need to use to work more efficiently.

A fun anecdote

After the first six weeks of learning in class, it was time to fully commit to the final project, and those remaining two weeks were a huge experience in and of themselves. There were lots of times when my classmates and I discussed our project ideas for hours. There was even a Sunday when we all came in to work at the Think offices. Imagine Madrid in August on a Sunday: all of us were scattered around campus. There were even people who came in to work on the Sunday before the Hackshow just to be fully ready. All the hard work was worth it in the end, especially because it paved the way for meeting people with the same concerns and different points of view that helped you grow and learn.

Your biggest lesson

For me, the biggest step was learning the technical terminology and knowing how to use them such as Ruby, Ruby on Rails, names of different databases, frameworks, and libraries, but I didn’t quite know how to use them or how to connect all the dots. This is what I needed in order to have a solid foundation from which to grow, and it’s exactly what I found.

Practicing the languages throughout the course helped me improve my own foundation and better understand how to use all the terminology.

Now that you’ve graduated from Ironhack, would you recommend it to anyone?

In my opinion, the problem that Ironhack tackles in the educational field is something that other bootcamps have tried to solve as well. Technology careers place a heavy emphasis on management and have left little room for the area that is really important today: the technical side. In my case, it was the area that I needed to improve upon most.

The reassurance of always having help when you need it combined with the simple tools used to improve communication was reflective of the Ironhack staff’s desire to continue growing and create an unparalleled experience for all its students. As students, we adopt these lessons and it adds immense value to our entire learning experience in the bootcamp.

I take with me the people I met and the global experience of two very intense months. Once you reach your goal, so many things have happened since the that the beginning seems much further away.

What kind of professional opportunities did you have after graduating from Ironhack?

During our Hiring Week (the last week of the bootcamp), I was hoping to land something within a startup and luckily I found Diego Soro’s project, Fundera.

He gave me the opportunity to be a part of it and even though I’m not coding every day, I’m still deeply involved in the platform’s expansion. I’m learning a lot from the technical team about new languages and tools, and what the reality of a web application is like once designed and launched.

I’ve been working on my own projects on the side, which has helped me continue growing and learning.

Any advice for the new generation of Ironhackers?

Take full advantage of the opportunities that the bootcamp gives you access the tech community. Meet people and go to all the events, meetups, and conferences for developers they tell you about. The community is very engaging, not only in terms of employment (there are plenty of opportunities every day), but also in spreading awareness attracting people to learn more about the tech world.

Learning is ever evolving, and you won’t become a coding jedi in two months, but the combination of the Ironhack experience and the quality of the resources available today is more than enough to get you there.

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