FAQ about Lighthouse Labs

Since people have been asking me about my bootcamp experience, I decided to put together this post. Hope it’s helpful for people who are considering Lighthouse Labs!

What should I do before bootcamp?
I finished the assigned prep work early so I started going through Zed Shaw’s Learn Ruby the Hard Way (available online). I highly recommend going beyond the prep work. I finished this book before the start of bootcamp and it definitely helped. It is a lot easier to process information that you have at least seen before, even if you don’t completely understand everything in the first go. Some of my classmates went through the prep material several times and found they picked up something new each time. With online materials like Codecademy where there’s a lot of handholding, you can get a false sense of confidence. Try to build something by yourself besides the recipe page that’s assigned!

How intense is the bootcamp experience?
I remember going in for my interview and seeing a lot of people crowded into one room all working intently. It was intimidating, especially for an introvert who needs alone time to recharge! I mentioned this to Rosy, the Vancouver admissions manager, and she explained that you are free to come and go whether it be taking a walk or grabbing food. We’re all adults and no one is trapped there!

In reality, I found I did not need the breaks like I thought I would. Everyone is in the same boat and you’ll find a lot of support if you reach out and make friends with your cohort mates. However, be prepared to put in the hours. Here’s a slightly busier than typical day during bootcamp, but you’ll be putting in around 9-10 hours daily (9am to 7pm was around the hours I would spend at Lighthouse). You’re there to learn, you paid the money, so put in the effort! When you’re tired, just remember that it is only 8 weeks.

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Oh and I would recommend investing in a GOOD pair of headphones. The space is loud and it can be hard to concentrate!

Is it hard/easy to find a job after bootcamp?
This is really hard to comment on because everyone is different. Lighthouse Labs helped set up an Employer Speed Dating event for us in the 7th week of bootcamp and Char, the director of Career Services, works tirelessly to help line up students with suitable opportunities. For my cohort, some people received offers from follow up interviews with employers from speed dating, while others went on interviews later through Lighthouse, and yet others found employment by themselves.

Remember that if you do not go above the specified work assigned during the program, it will be hard to standout. Everyone’s github accounts will look very similar. Networking is also important, you never know who may refer you to an opportunity. Let people know what you are interested in working on!

What was the worst part about bootcamp?
The worst part was also one of the best parts, I spent a lot of time at Lighthouse Labs. This meant that by the time I got home, it would be around 8-9pm. After cooking and eating dinner, I would go back to the day’s assignments. (It’s OK not to completely get through everything every day… that’s what Fridays are for, catch up time!) This did not leave a lot of time for exercise… my eating habits also went downhill. In the first week of bootcamp I brought lunch and tried not to eat out, by the end of bootcamp I was eating T&T takeout and had an unhealthy fondness for the coffee machine.

What was the best part about bootcamp?
The camaraderie between people in the cohorts, the passion of the instructors, and the helpful mentors. You’ll spend A LOT of time with these people! Everyone tries to help one another out, and you may find you understand the material more deeply if you explain it to someone else. Ask for help when you need it, but also when you don’t think you need it! Many times I would ask for help only when I was stuck, but even when your code works, there’s so much more to learn such as best practices and scalability. Your instructors and mentors are gold mines of wisdom, don’t just code away at your laptop by yourself!

Would you recommend bootcamp/was it worth the money?
I personally struggled with the decision for almost half a year before finally joining Lighthouse Labs. I wanted to make sure programming was something I liked so I started with Codecademy and building my own simple websites. I then worked at a startup for a few months doing front end CSS styling/JavaScript interactions but found it wasn’t enough logic for me so I joined Lighthouse to learn about the back end. Since Lighthouse, I have been working as a junior back end developer and I love it!

I have no doubt that Lighthouse was pivotal in helping me get to where I am now. Could I have gained the same knowledge without Lighthouse? Probably. How long would it have taken? Definitely a lot longer. I think Lighthouse Labs is not just a “bootcamp”: if you think of it as just a “class” then yes, you can learn the material elsewhere. I think of it more as an “environment”, one where you’re immersed in the learning and surrounded by supportive mentors and peers. I’m so glad I finally dove in!

Further questions/comments? Feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you!

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