Now that Lighthouse Labs has been around for a while, many of our alumni have approached their one-year graduation anniversary. We're taking some time to catch up with them and feature the amazing things they've done since coming to Lighthouse Labs!

This time, we caught up with Kevin Sherman. Kevin graduated from our May 2014 Web cohort in Vancouver, and has since moved to Calgary to start working full-time at a rails shop. On top of his full-time gig, he's been immersing himself in the local scene and is mentoring for Lighthouse's part-time Web Fundamentals program that recently launched in Calgary.

What were you doing before Lighthouse Labs?

After graduating with a Commerce Degree in 2010, I worked in a variety of fields and positions, mostly doing project management. Right before heading to Lighthouse Labs, I was managing the payroll for 1500 employees at a mining company, and it was as dreadfully boring as it sounds.

What made you decide to come to Lighthouse Labs?

I was looking for a career change, and after working through a bunch of online resources (code academy, rails for zombies) I was hooked. I was spending most of my free time learning to code, but was getting frustrated with slow pace. I was considering a CS degree at UBC, but I discovered Lighthouse in my research and thought 8 weeks seemed a much more reasonable commitment than 4 years.

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

I’d say the keys to success in learning anything, including development, are passion and perseverance. Without passion for the material on some level, you’re simply not going to be able to muster the effort necessary to push past the initial friction (or to keep the ball rolling for that matter).

And this is where perseverance plays in. Even with passion, you’re going to run up against problems and things that make zero sense initially; however, if you keep pushing and keep banging your head against it, eventually that lightbulb always goes on.

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

After graduation, I moved to Calgary and started full time at a rails shop. I’ve been getting to know the local scene, hitting some Ruby meet-ups, volunteering with start-up Calgary, and mentoring for Lighthouse’s part-time program here.

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

Lighthouse got me familiar enough with the technologies that I could step into the job at BlackSquare and not feel completely lost. I certainly didn’t know everything, but I knew enough to get my foot in the door - and I found out thats when the real learning begins! Lighthouse gave me the confidence that came from knowing that I could learn A LOT in a short amount of time if I applied myself.

Landing in the workforce after the bootcamp was definitely like being thrown in the deep end, but as it turns out theres no better way to learn to swim!

What technologies are you working with?

I’m lucky enough to work on a small team which shares responsibility across our tech stack. This mean lots of ruby/rails/rspec, javascript, sql, and some php when needed. We use AWS for our infrastructure, git and github for version control, Papertrail for logging, Airbrake for alerting, plus neat tools like Sidekiq and Redis, plus lots of third party api’s for things like payments and emailing.

Tell us about the Calgary tech scene!

The Calgary tech scene was a bit of a departure from Vancouver, but still vibrant if you go out and look. Theres a small but passionate Ruby users group, and as the HTML500 showed, there is tons of interest in web development in general. And with Lighthouse starting a full time immersive course this winter, the community continues to grow!

Any side projects?

I’m always working on some project or another, testing new gems and trying new things out. I’m currently doing a bit of freelancing in my spare time, building a portfolio site for one client and migrating an outdated e-commerce store to the Shopify platform for another.

What’s next?

The one thing I love about this industry is that the more you learn, the more doors open to new and exciting things! I’m very interested in machine learning at the moment and am taking a MOOC from Stanford on the topic. Its hard to say where these personal interests might take me, but I’ve found that following your interests wherever they lead is the best recipe for a passionate and fulfilling life.

I’ll finish by saying that my decision to attend Lighthouse has been one of the best moves I’ve made to date. Working as a dev is a constant challenge, with new puzzles to solve every day. I encourage anyone who is inclined to make the leap. The rewards are well worth the effort.

Interested in learning more about Lighthouse Labs' full and part-time Web Development programs in Calgary? Register for our upcoming info session.