Product Managers work very closely with developers every day. After all, Product Managers are the glue holding product development together. But it’s not uncommon for PMs to see developers making software come to life with their bare hands, and to feel a sense of jealousy. “I want to be a builder too!” some of them think.
Jeroen van Bart, former Product Manager turned Junior Developer and Ironhack alum, took the leap and joined our Web Development bootcamp. He kindly sat down to chat with us about his experience, as well as sharing some advice for how others can make the same journey.
Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Jeroen van Bart. I live in Amsterdam with my wife and dog and next to coding I love to paint. To display my paintings I often played with the idea of creating my own website, but never found the time to dive into the world of coding. Then the world was struck by Covid and that gave me the opportunity to rearrange my life. A few of my friends and Ironhack alumni pitched me the Ironhack bootcamp and this is where my coding journey started.
What was your experience at Ironhack like?
Ironhack was a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs and a pace that at times didn’t seem manageable. But after the ride almost everything made sense. The amount of information you have to deal with in 9 weeks is insane and at times I felt I was not going to make it, but after the first few weeks the puzzle pieces fell in place and I started to make sense of everything. So my experience was intense, at times stressful but I learned so much that looking back, Ironhack was definitely worth the challenge!
What did you do before joining the bootcamp?
For the last nine years I have been working for a company in the IT branch on a commercial level. But the technical side of things always had my interest. So with the whole Covid situation I had time to think about how I wanted to rearrange my life. Since I knew a few people who went through the Ironhack bootcamp already and the positive stories they told, I decided to start my Ironhack journey too.
Why did you decide to make a career change?
In life you spend most of your time working and sleeping, so you best make sure you have a good bed and a job you love. It is important to know what gives you energy and where you get most of your satisfaction from. For me that happens when I am able to create. For any creative process however, there is a need to have an understanding of the world and the present reality. Therefore, for me to gain a better understanding of the world nowadays it was inevitable to come across coding, since most of what we do, see and feel happens in the context of technology. I wanted to dive deeper in the world of this technology so my career change actually comes from the fact that I want to spend my time creating something useful while doing what makes me tick.
Do you think having been a Product Manager has helped you in the world of programming? How?
No I do not think being a Product Manager helped me in any way to be a good programmer, the closest my work came to learning to program was using formulas in Excel. But I do have a good understanding about products, services and markets. So in the long term I think my previous experiences will help me in my career.
After graduating, you found a job. What would you highlight from your current company and position?
First of all, I am super grateful to the people of YPA for their guidance and for offering me an opportunity to learn on the job. I actually have an Ironhack alumni as my mentor and she recognizes many of the struggles I am going through. She has been a tremendous guide during my onboarding and I would love to pay it forward one day and become a mentor to another Ironhacker myself.
Working at YPA, which is an agency, I get to work on different cool projects for a variety of clients. The diversity of work and the mix of signatures in projects are such a “deep dive” into learning how to code. During Ironhack I was not really aware of the complexity in understanding code made by others. So far, understanding code has taken up to 60% of my time on the job and while it’s a big challenge it is also thrilling to solve a puzzle.
Looking back on my time at YPA as Junior Front-end Web Developer, I cannot believe how much I learned in such a short time. I can honestly say that I truly love my job.
What advice would you give to those people who want to get started in the tech sector and are afraid of change?
Just do it! If you start a journey like Ironhack you have to find peace with the fact that you will spend your first weeks mostly confused and wondering why you chose this. Don’t give up, push through and enjoy the rollercoaster ride until the end! And who knows, maybe it will be as life-changing for you as it’s been for me.