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AshwinπŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
AshwinπŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

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6 months after graduating Lighthouse Labs, a reflection on full stack developer bootcamp

Why did I want to join?

A little about myself, I came from a non-tech background. I didn't know basic html/css, nor did I know how to operate a terminal. I had experience in the start-up industry and mostly in business development. Like a lot of people, I wanted a career change and the ability to innovate all my cool start-up ideas.

At the time, I was working overseas and came to Toronto specifically to take this course and find myself a relevant job in full-stack web development. I found it to be a challenging 14 week course that tested my ability to learn and implement.

Reality vs Expectation

Before my first lecture, I was expected to have knowledge of github (version control) and basic html/css and Javascript. The bottom line is that you need to be able to teach yourself or you won't be getting much value from a bootcamp.

Many of the things that I learnt over the course of 14 weeks made me feel competent as someone who can code and build a web app. I was introduced to postgres, react and express which quickly became my goto tools for full-stack development.

However as soon I graduated and started job seeking and going through coding challenges, everything changed. It was soul crushing searching for a job where you compete against university certified engineers or developers with years of experience. Every job had vastly different tech stacks and my goto tools started becoming rusty as I had to allocate time in learning the technologies relevant for the job.

The biggest shock to me though was my lack of competency in devops and the need for it at most full-stack jobs. A lot of what I had learned at bootcamp was geared towards building apps for the development environment but I wasn't taught enough to actually be able to deliver and maintain a scalable and production level solution. I had limited exposure to both heroku and aws, which I feel in hindsight are fundamentals.

Getting a job vs reality

I was told that I would be getting a job within 3 months of graduating. Didn't happen that way. Just because you know how things work doesn't make you qualified to do the job. 14 weeks doesn't make you a web developer, it's an unrealistic target for most people.

I was put in touch with multiple employers but most of the time the issues were very similar. The employers had unrealistic expectations from bootcamp grads. I remember I was once sent for an interview with a company that had a "wheel of fortune" type app. The problem was that they weren't even interested in hiring a web developer, they wanted someone for IOS. So there was a mismatch in networking which was super frustrating at times.

Most of the jobs that I applied for outside the bootcamp network, felt like I was punching well above my weight. One such example was when I applied and got interviewed by IBM, hardest coding interview I did, they ended up going for an engineering grad for the full-stack position. I would say of the 19 people who were part of my bootcamp class, 4 dropped out, 3 got jobs right after graduating, the rest had to really struggle to find their feet and not everyone got a job in full-stack development.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely! It cost me time and money ($8K CAD) but I did get enough knowledge and hands on experience to get involved in the industry.

The networking aspect of the bootcamp was excellent despite mismatching me most of the time. I ended up leveraging the network I built at Lighthouse Labs and continue to rely on it today. Through the bootcamps network, I ended up meeting a ton of interesting people and finally got working for ExamPro, in a very cool hybrid role.

Those devops skills that I lacked in bootcamp are precisely what I get to work on and learn daily. 6 months after graduating, I realised most of what you learn will be through work experience and networking. The benefit of a bootcamp is only to help get you a foot in the door.

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