Having worked mostly in minimum wage thrift shop jobs in the past Quinn decided it was time to do a career change that gives meaningful challenges to overcome.
Quinn graduated in mid-August as part of the May 2020 Web Development Bootcamp cohort. We sat-down (virtually, of course) to discuss the bootcamp experience, the COVID-19 Scholarship Fund. Plus, Quinn tells us their tips for aspiring developers.
Tell me about yourself. What’s your background and where did you work pre-Bootcamp?
I graduated from college in 2012 with a BFA in visual arts, specializing in painting and graphic design. I've lived in small towns all my life, and post-graduation I had no luck in finding suitable employment for my education. I ended up just taking whatever job paid the bills, while I focused my creative energies on my hobbies. By 2017, I started to feel like I was stagnating. My jobs provided no meaningful challenges to overcome, and making art for myself didn't provide much satisfaction either. At that point, I decided to pick up a new hobby and try to fulfill a childhood dream of making my own video games.
My jobs provided no meaningful challenges to overcome, and making art for myself didn't provide much satisfaction either. At that point, I decided to pick up a new hobby and try to fulfill a childhood dream of making my own video games.
I learnt a little about Java programming in college as part of a minor in Computer Science, but up until that point I had never actually used that knowledge for any personal projects. I dove into learning C# and Unity for game development, and had a lot of fun! Once I felt fairly comfortable with the process, I branched out, trying new frameworks and technologies to build prototypes. While I never actually completed any noteworthy games, I found that in the process I was always finding myself making cool new tools to simplify or expand the possibilities of the design process. It was so much fun, and I was always learning new things!
The appearance of COVID-19 is what accelerated this interest in programming into a desire for a career change. I was temporarily laid off of my thrift store job in March and found myself at home with a lot of free time.
I decided to devote my time to a larger project, a custom engine module for Godot, the game engine I was using most at the time. It was a huge undertaking, but with the time at home afforded by my layoff, I tackled it head-on and ended up completing it in early May. It was so satisfying to see a large project go from start to finish! At that point, my old work was starting to reopen, and I was called back into work. I went from two months of happily programming at home to working full days again, now with many coworkers and customers who didn't understand the importance of social distancing. It was bleak and exhausting, and a week in, I knew I had to make a change.
I wanted to take my passion for programming and turn it into a career.
What made you choose Lighthouse Labs Bootcamp?
The biggest obstacle was my location. I was still in a small town with no local tech opportunities, so my only option was remote work. I thought about trying to get my start as a freelancer, but realized that my past experiences didn't lend themselves well towards a marketable skill set. Most freelancer profiles I saw included stack proficiencies that I simply couldn't compete with, and they were able to estimate project completion times, something I didn't have enough experience to feel comfortable doing.
I read that bootcamps were an effective way to gather the skills and experience necessary to get a freelance job in a short amount of time, and that sounded perfect for my situation.
I looked into Canadian tech bootcamps, and Lighthouse Labs stood out to me, providing training in tech I was interested in using and a friendly atmosphere. I applied right away.
What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?
Having worked mostly minimum wage jobs in the past, I didn't have much money saved up that I could put towards my education. I applied for and received a government student loan to help, but being able to afford the course was still in question even after that. While trying to figure out what I could do to make it work, I got an email from LHL notifying me that I had received their COVID-19 Scholarship for $3,000, and it honestly changed everything! All of a sudden I was able to afford my cost of living while learning, and without that question on my mind I was able to put my best foot forward and focus on learning as much as I could as fast as I could! It worked out well, and I had a lot of fun learning with LHL.
What advice would you give to aspiring developers?
To any aspiring devs, if you have an interest in learning to code, give it a shot whenever you have some free time! There are many resources online you can use to begin learning on your own, using whatever technologies you are interested in, and self-teaching is very rewarding. Once you've gotten your bearings, or if self-teaching doesn't work for you, I'd highly recommend the bootcamp experience. The workload can be intense, but you'll cover so much so quickly, and gain the incredibly valuable experiences of working with your peers and asking senior devs and mentors for advice.
You can accomplish unbelievable things with the right toolset, guidance, and enough determination!
What are your career goals now that you graduated?
Now that I've graduated, my main goal is to continue to learn as much as I can! During my time in bootcamp, I discovered an interest in front-end tech and frameworks, and I'd like to explore that while I look for my next job opportunity. I can't wait to see what I'll continue to learn in this field, both in the workplace and in my own projects!