Written by: Rosy Lee & Kate Ciborowski
At Lighthouse Labs, we are fortunate enough to have students that hail from a wide diversity of cultural and national backgrounds. In the previous 4 months alone, we’ve had students attend bootcamp from across Canada, France, Taiwan, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, the United States, Turkey, the Netherlands, Brazil, Korea, and Australia… not too shabby!
This guide is an ode to those students. Bootcamp is tough enough, and this guide is aimed at making your move, and transition a bit easier.
Aim to arrive a minimum of 4 days in advance. Not only will this give you time to get settled in and find the local grocery store and gym, but it’ll also give you time to get rid of that pesky jet lag. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be mentally prepared for bootcamp; getting enough sleep and knowing the lay of the land are absolutely key in orienting yourself for day one. In the week following Bootcamp, we host a Demo Day celebration where you'll have the chance to present your final projects to the public and your peers. If you're arranging accommodations in the area, we recommend you extend your stay until a week after bootcamp so you can participate and demo what you've accomplished during your time at Lighthouse!
Housing & Accommodation
Lighthouse Labs is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver. This means that the Lab is quite accessible via bus, skytrain, and bike (with bike storage on campus!). We are only a 5-10 minute walk from both Granville and Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain stations: the main train station that connects all the train lines in Vancouver.
For accommodations, we recommend Airbnb. Not only are these generally short-term stays, but it’s also a lot less work compared to renting. There’s no paperwork involved, and the host takes care of everything which is important when you’re knee-deep in bootcamp! Craigslist is also a great resource used by a lot of locals. The housing turnover in Vancouver is quite frequent. This is especially good if you’re on more of a budget, and willing to live in shared accommodation.
Accommodation downtown is predictably more expensive, but if you’re willing and able to pay we do think it’s worth the shorter commute (you’ll be short on hours as it is). The Kitsilano area can also be pricey, but it’s a beautiful neighbourhood with an average bike and bus time of 20 min to downtown. For thriftier options, look at the South Cambie area (close to the Canada Line of the SkyTrain), the Mount Pleasant area, or East Vancouver, which are also bus and bike accessible. For more information on public transportation in Vancouver, visit www.translink.ca.
Accommodation can range from $800 per month (shared accommodation with minimal amenities further from downtown) to $2,400 on the high end.
Lighthouse Labs is located smack dab in downtown Toronto at King and Spadina, bordering the Financial District and the Entertainment District. Toronto is set up like a grid as is our Toronto Transit system. Lighthouse Labs is most easily accessible by streetcar. You can get pretty much anywhere around the city by taking the King St. Streetcar to the Yonge subway line (North/South running) or the Spadina streetcar up to the Bloor subway line (East/West running). You can check out the Transit route map here.
Similar to Vancouver, use Airbnb if you don’t want to worry about furnishing, paperwork, etc. Alternatively, Craigslist, Viewit.ca, Search4Students, or Kijiji, are great resources for searching out other potential shorter term rentals. In terms of location, you likely don’t want to have to travel too far after a long day at bootcamp. If you’d like to keep your commute around or under 30 minutes you might want to consider living south of Bloor St., east of Dufferin St. and West of Yonge St.
When looking at a map of Toronto you would want to stay within those borders. Similar to Vancouver, accommodation can range from $800 per month (shared accommodation with minimal amenities further from downtown) to $2,400 on the high end.
First off, be prepared: Vancouver and Toronto are expensive cities but with dedication, you can definitely be thrifty.
Luckily, you won’t have a lot of time for social activities and touristy trips, so the average international student’s largest expense is food. If you’re on a tight budget, cooking at home or the Labs (we have a kitchen!) is a great way to save money. If you’re diligent, $200-250 per month is doable. However, the reality is that most of our students eat out for pure convenience as most habits tend to go out the window during bootcamp. If that’s the case, you could be easily spending $1,000 per month (and more if you have a specialty coffee addiction).
Visas and Logistics
Lighthouse Labs does not require you to have a particular type of visa in order to attend bootcamp. Because the in-class portion of the course is only 8 weeks, most of our international students come on a visitor’s visa! However, it’s important for you to understand the unique circumstances of your immigration situation as they differ depending on your country of origin. Please check out the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for more details. We are happy to provide you with a Letter of Acceptance once you have successfully completed our admissions process and received official acceptance into our program.
One of the most common questions that we receive from international students is: can Lighthouse Labs help me get a job in Canada?
Your employability in Canada is completely dependent on you being able to independently obtain a work visa, or finding an employer who is willing to sponsor you. Unfortunately, we are legally unable to help you obtain a work visa and in our experience, it can be very challenging for employers to successfully sponsor students right out of bootcamps. Previous degrees and experience may change your situation, and thus we encourage you to become an expert in your own immigration by contacting Canadian Citizenship and Immigration or an immigration lawyer as early as possible.. Obtaining a work visa is completely dependent on your unique situation and circumstances, including your educational or professional background, the type of job you want, as well as the country you are coming from.
Career Services will speak to you about your individual situation and come up with a plan on how we can support you in your job hunt, be in Canada or elsewhere. Unfortunately until a student has authorization to work in Canada we are not able to directly connect you with employers.
We are still happy to support your job hunt through our resume workshops, interviewing coaching, networking tips and other resources. We provide the same level of advice and coaching to all our students while you’re on the job hunt and interviewing in your hometown as well. We are also happy to connect you to any resources, employers, alumni, or industry people we know in your home city and do whatever we can to point you in the right direction. All our students are expected to be active participants in their own job hunt.
Of course at any time if your situation changes and you receive authorization to work in Canada, Career Services will loop you in alongside our local students and alumni.