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Christian Hamelin came to Lighthouse Labs to fuse his science background with the power of programming. Now, he's in Montreal, building startups and revelling in the variety of career options at his disposal since becoming a developer.

To this day, joining Lighthouse Labs remains one of the best career decisions I've ever made; not only because of the opportunities, but because there are tangible results that will reward hard work. The more you learn, the more doors will open for you, and Lighthouse is where it all starts.

What were you doing before Lighthouse Labs?

I was studying towards a BSc in combined Geology and Chemistry, but that wasn't always the case! When I first enrolled in Humanities, but eventually realized I wanted to do something more technical.

What made you decide to come to Lighthouse Labs?

I wanted to complement the skills set I was building as a geologist with some programming: I want to be a geo-hacker. I went and saw a friend of mine, Lighthouse Alumni Will, present his final project at Demo Day. Will was killing it! Here was this guy who, as far as I was concerned, thought JavaScript was an exotic Indonesian coffee bean, and there he was showing off code like he's John Skeet. The pride in someone's eyes when they show you something that have built and that they own, that's what made me come to Lighthouse.

What advice would you give someone who wants to become a developer?

Start today! You're never 'too old' or 'not smart enough' to learn something new. Becoming a developer is a lot like going to a foreign country and learning the language: It will be daunting at first, but practice and perseverance will get you there.

It’s been a year since you graduated Lighthouse Labs, what have you been up to?

I've worked for a variety of startups in the vibrant Montreal tech scene. I did my internship at a Founder Fuel company, sharethebus.com.

After doing some contract work, I started at Otolane Soft, a b2b car auction platform. Otolane is awesome because we use only awesome technologies: Websockets, Loopback, Angular NodeJS, Express, Mocha/Chai. Additionally, although we have a small team, we do SCRUM meetings and really put an emphasis on thoroughly testing any code we push.

How did Lighthouse prepare you for your transition from bootcamp to full-time developer?

I'll refer to my earlier analogy to going to the new country: Lighthouse parachutes you into that country, and makes you stay there for 8 weeks. You're not going to be a guru after that time, but you learn the basic building blocks.

One of the most enduring lessons I learned at Lighthouse is to look for answers on your own. The answer is out there somewhere! Chances are, someone has run into this problem before and it's documented somewhere on the internets. Even when you're stuck and you're going up to a senior dev for a solution, you've done your due diligence and you have at least 2-3 hypothesis about what it might be.

Tell us about the Montreal tech scene!

Montreal has a great tech scene that is characterized by a close knit and super friendly community. From the 5 à 7 (french for drinks after work) at Benelux, where emerging entrepreneurs meet industry giants over a pint of local ale, to Startupfest and PyCon last year, there are endless opportunities to meet the people in the industry. French will be appreciated and an asset but not at all mandatory in tech.

What made you decide to make the move out to Montreal?

I originally hail from Montreal. I've only moved to Vancouver and subsequently learned English in 2007, so it made a lot of sense to go back to my roots.

What's the weirdest part of your job?

This is an essential part of my day to day :

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Any side projects?

Always trying to keep up with the JavaScript frameworks. I am testing out React Native to develop TreeID, my citizen science project that helps individuals to not only identify a certain tree, but also the pathogens it might be susceptible to.

What’s next?

Having just returned from a motorcycle tour of Vietnam to celebrate one of my closest friends' one year of being cancer free, I am back on the job market. The best part about my new career is the diversity in the opportunities. There are some really amazing projects out there and they simply need to be reached out to. I am applying to some huge citizen science projects that have the potential to make a serious impact on the way we gather data.

To this day, joining Lighthouse Labs remains one of the best career decisions I've ever made; not only because of the opportunities, but because there are tangible results that will reward hard work. The more you learn, the more doors will open for you, and Lighthouse is where it all starts.