There are many reasons why someone might want to attend an eight-week Lighthouse Labs Web Development Bootcamp in downtown Vancouver.
Altogether, there are more than 550 hours of instruction and coursework at its Gastown location. And they're compressed into a time frame that works for people who want to become job-ready in a hurry in the rapidly evolving world of web development.
But perhaps most importantly, Lighthouse Labs offers pathways to employment.
Jeffrey Ling is the chief technology officer of thisopenspace, a Canadian startup employing 20 people. It offers short-term rental space for pop-up shops, events, photo shoots, and other events.
He’s also one of many mentors at Lighthouse Labs, offering guidance in the evenings to bootcamp students.
“I like that a real community has formed,” Ling said. “They get a lot of contact with people actually in the industry through mentorship. I find that more valuable than anything else.”
Ling revealed that thisopenspace has already hired one student from Lighthouse. He said that when he worked at Bench, a rapidly growing Vancouver-based accounting-solutions company, several other Lighthouse Labs grads were hired.
“Almost all of them turned out great,” Ling said. “One is even the team lead now at Bench.”
Lighthouse Labs graduates often start their careers as junior web developers.
Although Ling said that it’s conceivable that someone could learn the technical skills online, it really helps having peers to push students forward.
Moreover, industry professionals can explain what a junior web-development job actually entails.
“People come out with more practical experience,” Ling said. “And often they continue learning afterward because they really buy into this development culture.”
There’s one other benefit that comes from the industry mentors at Lighthouse Labs. Ling and other industry veterans can offer students advice on salary negotiations and on the legitimacy of prospective employers.
“That’s the sort of community you wouldn’t be able to get if you were just going on forums and asking online,” Ling said.
Below, you can read a transcript of our interview with Jeffrey Ling:
Georgia Straight: How did you come in contact with Lighthouse Labs?
Jeffrey Ling: Actually, I was working for Bench at the time. And Lighthouse approached Bench back after their first cohort and they asked us if we were willing to be a hiring partner. So how hiring worked back then was companies would commit to hire someone from the cohort. After that, they contacted me personally and asked me about going in to mentor for their second cohort. I’ve been doing that since then for three years.
Georgia Straight: What do you do at Lighthouse Labs as a mentor?
Jeffrey Ling: I don’t do any lectures. Basically they have their assignments. Essentially it’s homework that they do at the labs. When they run into issues—when Google fails them, when their notes fail them, when their peers fail them—they can request assistance. I’ll go there and help walk through the problem with them, making sure not to give them any answers. I just like keeping them on the right track. Often, I just tell them what to Google. And then I stay with them to make sure they’re finding the right things. I help them to through the process that the real developer would do.
Georgia Straight: Does thisopenspace hire people from Lighthouse Labs?
Jeffrey Ling: Yes, we actually have one student from Lighthouse. Over the years at Bench, we’ve hired a bunch of Lighthouse graduates. I think a total of six. Almost all of them worked out great. One is even the team lead at Bench now.
Georgia Straight: What do you like about the approach at Lighthouse Labs?
Jeffrey Ling: I like that a real community has formed. They get a lot of contact with people actually in the industry through mentors. I find that more valuable than anything else. You could technically learn all the content online, maybe even for free. But having people around you—peers to push you and compare yourself with, having professionals around you all the time and teaching you the proper lingo and what the job actually entails—people come out with more practical experience. And often, they continue learning afterward because they really buy into this development culture. We even have these computer science courses. It’s not an official thing. One of the mentors, Jeremy Holman, is really into the academics of computer science. He teaches courses on the side for free, I think. The attendance is quite high. It’s a really community of self-learners.
Georgia Straight: What type of person is apt to succeed at Lighthouse Labs?
Jeffrey Ling: I don’t think there is a set background but in terms of aptitude, I would say you would have to be really comfortable just drowning in information all the time. As a developer for the first two years—even after you graduate and you’re working—you’re constantly facing things you don’t know. And it can be very demoralizing. I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “imposter syndrome”. Everyone talks about that when you first start out. It’s true. You really feel like you don’t deserve your job or that you’re just faking it. And in a way you are, but you’re supposed to be faking it as a junior. So it’s okay.
Georgia Straight: So that’s how you learn?
Jeffrey Ling: Yeah.
Georgia Straight: Are you involved with the HTML 500, which is put on by Lighthouse Labs?
Jeffrey Ling: I mentored there twice over the years.
Georgia Straight: What’s the curriculum focused on?
Georgia Straight: How important is Lighthouse is for launching careers for junior developers?
Jeffrey Ling: The course itself is great. But having that network, having career services help you, meeting all the mentors—that really enables people to start their careers in the proper way. Even when it comes to salary negotiations, some students would be asking mentors “Hey, how much should I ask for? Is this person legit to work for? Is this company good to work for?” That’s the sort of community that you wouldn’t be able to get if you were just going on forums and asking online.
Georgia Straight: Thanks for sharing your insights.More