October 28 is Lighthouse Labs' five-year birthday! To honour this exciting milestone, we're taking a look back at some of the past events and goals we've achieved, our favourite initiatives we've been a part of along the way, and what kind of impact they had after the fact.

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Back in December, 2015 Lighthouse Labs received a call from Kate Armstrong of Emily Carr who, as a result of seeing the press around the Syrian Refugee Crisis, decided to start a program called Startland where she would help refugees coming to BC get the opportunities they needed to restart here as quickly as possible. In working with ISSofBC (Immigrant Services Society of BC), Startland turned into the TechStart and TechWomen programs; where schools like Lighthouse Labs offered scholarships in conjunction with funding and career support from ISSofBC. Those programs have been running for two years now and we're excited to catch up with one of our graduates: Prachi Singh. Prachi, originally from India, already had an Electronics and Communication Engineering degree when she moved to Canada in 2016. After moving to Vancouver, she started looking for jobs in IT but soon realized that she would need some additional education to go forward with her career in Canada. Prachi joined the Lighthouse Labs Web Development Bootcamp in April 2017.

How did you originally hear about ISSofBC?

When I arrived in Canada, I got some useful resources for immigrants at the airport during my immigration process. While I was going through these resources, I started to browse through the websites of all these societies and agencies which help immigrants settle and find a job in Canada and ISSofBC was one of them. I went to their website and learned about a program called Techstart which helps people start their career in tech. After looking into the program, I soon realized that this was exactly what I needed.

What inspired you to pursue a career in tech?

After immigrating to Canada, I took this opportunity to start fresh. During my undergrad I had taken some computer science courses which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have always loved coding and problem solving, so this was something I could see myself building my career in. I knew that the tech industry was booming which meant it would be easier to find a find a job in it. So for all these reasons, it felt right to pursue my career in tech.

Can you tell us about your experience as a student at Lighthouse Labs?

Lighthouse Labs was a great experience for me, which offered a collaborative classroom experience where I learned a lot about Web Development. I really liked their study material and curriculum which I found to be well-organized. Their online tool, Compass, provides the best resources on any topic assembled together for students to access from anywhere. The projects were well-designed so that it became easy to learn any technology in a very short time.

Above all, the highlight of Lighthouse Labs is their instructors and mentors, who are industry veterans with deep knowledge and passion to share their experiences with the students.

Let’s talk about your first year as a developer. When did you find a job and where have you worked?

It’s been more than a year as a developer working in the industry. I started out as an intern at Hack Capital within a week of graduating from Lighthouse. The first year was a continued education for me, only this time it wasn’t in a classroom! In my first year at Hack Capital, I was able to leverage my knowledge from Lighthouse and gained exposure to many different technologies. During my Lighthouse Labs days, I knew that I wanted to be a full-stack developer, and I was glad to have found that role. Being part of the Hack Capital team has been pivotal to my career, and has given me good opportunities to explore diverse technologies.

What do you do now? What technologies are you currently working with?

I am working as a Full-Stack Software Engineer at Hack Capital. Currently, I am working full stack on React Redux, NodeJS and Elastic Search. While working on one of our projects, I became familiar with Docker and AWS.

How has Lighthouse Labs bootcamp prepared you for your current position?

I am currently working on React which is part of the curriculum at Lighthouse Labs. I also made my final project using React and Redux, which really helps me with my current work project. Sometimes, I still go back to my final project code when I have to implement something which is similar to what I did at Lighthouse.

The cumulative software development best practices and mantras I learned from the mentors are part of my daily development. I still go back to Lighthouse in my “alumni hours” to seek help from a mentor on learning a challenging technology or asking questions. Other than that, the experience of building an application in a team environment definitely helped me become a better team player at work.

What would you say to someone who wants to start a career as a developer with Lighthouse Labs?

If you really love coding, problem solving, and want to get started with software development, this is one of the best decision you will make to kick start your career. The tips that I would give would be to be a sponge and absorb as much as you can during your time in bootcamp. Talk to the mentors and ask them questions, because that’s the best way to learn.

What do you love about being a developer and the tech industry where you live?

I love problem solving, learning constantly, and working in a team. Being able to utilize these skills is what I love the most being a developer.

The Vancouver tech scene is big; there are so many startups coming up and good ideas being worked on. There is no lack of opportunities if you have the right skills.

Are you working on any side projects?

Yes, I am working on a Machine Learning project and a React w/ Firebase web app on the side. I am also learning Golang on the side.

Anything else you want to add about Lighthouse Labs, working with ISSofBC, or working as a developer?

ISSofBC has been a very supportive organization. Before starting the bootcamp, I also went through a month long job readiness coaching program at ISSofBC where they help immigrants with job search skills, resume writing, and interviewing skills. They also support the members in looking for job opportunities after the completion of the whole program.

Lighthouse Labs Career Services was a great help. They help the students meet a potential employer and this definitely accelerated the process of my job search.