In recent years, Halifax has been a hidden gem among Canada’s tech community. It recently became the country’s fifth biggest tech hub with organizations like Digital Nova Scotia, Volta Labs and Ladies Learning Code leading the way. Located at Volta Labs, we have been running our Web Development Bootcamp and Intro to Web Development course out of Halifax for almost a year and have hosted events in the community such as the popular Coders and Creators event. We have also had alumni graduate from our campuses across the country and move to Halifax to be a part of the tech scene. We recently spoke with Margaret MacAfee of Manifold, an exciting startup located in Halifax who has recently hired one of our graduates, and Dylan Mccrindle, a graduate of our iOS Development Bootcamp working in Halifax, to discuss the local tech scene.

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Margaret MacAfee - Manifold

Tell Us About Manifold

Manifold is a platform that allows developers to easily manage essential services for applications without having to worry about things like billing, identity and credential distribution. The company itself has been around over a year and it has also built Torus, a secure, shared workspace for secrets.

What is your role with Manifold?

I am a Marketing Associate with Manifold. Prior to Manifold, I worked at Volta Labs, where I initially learned about Lighthouse Labs.

A Lighthouse Labs Web Development Bootcamp Grad, Karen Casey-Gover, has been working at Manifold for the last six months, what has working with her been like?

I actually met Karen when she was going through the program at Volta Labs. She’s a rockstar! As Manifold is a platform for developers, I chat with her often to test our marketing materials and she always offers great insight. Over the last six months I have seen her confidence in the workplace grow a lot and she is becoming a very important part of our team. She is also very resilient and eager to learn. For example, she comes from a non-technical background, broke her foot right before starting Bootcamp, and still completed everything at a high level. Our interview process is also a bit longer and she impressed us thoroughly throughout, as she met every member of our team. With how much success she has had, we will be looking for more opportunity to hire from Lighthouse Labs again.

What would you look for in a Bootcamp grad?

The biggest things are willingness to learn and to be open to mentorship. We’ve seen both of those things with Karen and it has made a huge difference.

Tell us a bit more about being in the Halifax Tech Community?

The Halifax tech community is a lot bigger than most people on the outside think it is. In general, I will say that everyone is very supportive and it’s still growing. Volta Labs is a big part of the community and they offer a lot of opportunities for people to connect through events like Lunch and Learns. I know that Lighthouse Labs and Volta Labs put on Coders and Creators events, which are definitely brewing more connection and collaboration within the community. Events like that are always packed.

Dylan Mccrindle - Mindsea

What was your motivation to come to Lighthouse Labs and what you were doing beforehand?

I started my technical education with Dalhousie University in a Computer Science Degree but after three years decided to switch to a more hardware based program. I transitioned to Nova Scotia Community College where I recieved my Computer Electronics Technician Diploma. Upon graduation, I took some time off to figure out what my passion really was and reflect on my previous teachings. I realized that I had been coding for the past seven years. Helping my classmates and teaching youth camps where coding was the main focus really helped solidify how much I loved programming. Even though I loved coding, I remember going to a Summer Hackathon at Volta Labs and realizing that there was a lot that I didn’t know about it. Lighthouse Labs flyers were hanging around everywhere at Volta though and I just thought to myself: “Having something I build in the App Store would be pretty amazing”. And after a bunch of research, I eventually enrolled myself in the iOS Development Bootcamp in Toronto.

What was your Lighthouse Labs experience like and how did it help you transition into iOS Development?

I met some amazing people at Lighthouse Labs. It was an unforgettable experience and I still talk to many of my classmates every week on Slack. We are actually making plans to go to Japan in the coming years.

For my career, it really just got the gears spinning for me. The Bootcamp was really intense and I was coding for at least six days a week during those two months. It was really good learning the basics because there is so much more thats built on it. And learning a fairly new programming language, Swift, was incredibly helpful since its the main language that I code in now in my current role. The Bootcamp was great for helping me build a foundation for iOS development and gave me a brief but broad overview of how the apple ecosystem thrives. Now I am doing more deep dives into specific functions. We were told throughout the Bootcamp that it is only the first step of our coding journey and I definitely see that now, having worked in the field for a bit.

What have you been up to since you finished Bootcamp?

Right now I am working at a mobile development company called Mindsea right in the heart of downtown. It’s pretty awesome. They build and maintain a lot of different iOS and Android apps. Currently, I’m working on a project building the flagship app for a well known national media company. Prior to Mindsea, I was working for a company called B-Line, which is the company I got connected to through Lighthouse Labs. It’s actually a pretty funny story of how I got there. The founder of B-Line initially wanted to attend the iOS Development Bootcamp himself because he couldn’t find any iOS developers in Halifax. After he got in touch with the Lighthouse Labs staff, we were matched up and it worked out perfectly since I was just graduating and looking to move back to Halifax. At B-Line I got to work on their app also called B-Line. It was an app meant to tracks different modes of transportation.

In my spare time, I am working with several different technologies outside of Swift. I’ve been practicing my Objective-C and most recently I’ve been working a bit basic web technologies like Javascript, HTML and CSS. One thing I’m excited about working with is iOS11, SiriKit and ARKit that Apple announced at their WWDC conference. Im really starting to get into home automation and using that kind of tech to control everything in a house would be just magnificient.

Tell us a bit more about being in the Halifax Tech Community?

I’ve watched it grow a lot and it’s still growing. Volta Labs holds tons of events for the community and there’s always something going on from Digital Nova Scotia or a group that meets every third Wednesday at a bar to meet up and dicuss new things in tech. When I was looking for a job after Bootcamp I realized there are way more tech companies and startups than I thought. I’ve been living in Halifax for about the last 10 years and I just love the city. Plus having an amazing view of the harbour just a few minutes walk away from work is always a pretty good reminder of how beautiful it really is.

Living in Halifax and interested in learning or improving your code? Our next Coders and Creators event is on August 31st and our Coffee && Code meetup is coming up on September 6th! Also our next Part-Time Intro to Web Development starts in Halifax on September 6th as well!