Max Rosenthal was in the midst of bootcamp when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada.
Still, he landed a job at Certn, a Victoria-based company specializing in performing comprehensive background checks and ongoing risk monitoring for companies, shortly after graduating from the web development program. Max was part of the Jan. 6, 2020 cohort that graduated at the end of March.
"He just passed the six-week mark," one of Max's Certn colleague says, "and he is already tackling larger projects spanning multiple codebases, and I trust him to do so with minimal assistance/hand-holding."
We asked him about his bootcamp experience, background, what he’s working on these days, and tips for aspiring developers.
Tell me about yourself, and your first few months as a developer.
I’ve only been seriously coding since January, 2020. When I was laid off from my previous job I found I had time to pursue Lighthouse Labs’ bootcamp. It was three months of intense work followed by a month and a half of job-searching.
Then I was hired as a junior full-stack developer at Certn. They are a local start-up company in Victoria developing background check software. It has been a challenging but rewarding job so far. Getting my first ticket merged was a pretty cool feeling.
What’s your educational and work background leading up to your time at Lighthouse?
In 2017, I graduated from UVic with a Bachelor's degree in geophysics. I spent the next two years working as a data analyst processing data from upward looking SONAR instruments to produce time series profiles of ice thickness in the Arctic Circle. I decided that wasn’t creative or engaging enough for me so I started looking for other opportunities.
I saw Lighthouse Labs as a great way to segway into a career in web development.
What made you choose Lighthouse Labs for bootcamp?
When I was at UVic I always felt like coding wasn’t as important of a subject as math or physics so I resisted learning it. After working in a technical position for a while I realized how impactful someone can be if they know how to code. I knew that if I wanted to get ahead that I would need to push myself and learn how to code. Lighthouse Labs’ bootcamp offered a full-time, focused curriculum which would give me the perfect environment to learn how to code without any distractions. I wanted the fully immersive experience where I would learn by doing with the help of experienced mentors.
Tell me about your experience learning at Lighthouse.
Lighthouse Labs far exceeded my expectations. The lesson plans did a great job of teaching the fundamentals and building more advanced skills afterward. The class size was small which gave each student more time to get one-on-one help with the mentors. The office space was as luxurious as it gets in Victoria. The KWENCH building provided a relaxed, professional work environment complete with unlimited coffee and tea as well as social events and even yoga and exercise classes.
Their career services really made me feel comfortable knowing that I had a team of people whose main goal was to get me hired.
I found most of the lectures to be engaging and directly relevant to the course work for the day. I averaged between 10-12 hours at the office each day and even had some 16-hour days. Luckily Fridays and Saturdays typically had much lighter work loads. I struggled at times and got frustrated but I definitely had the support I needed to work through challenges and feel successful.
Finally, their career services really made me feel comfortable knowing that I had a team of people whose main goal was to get me hired.
Tell me about your experience as a bootcamp-trained individual in the industry.
The habits I learned from Lighthouse Labs have been very helpful in my job. Although the code base is dramatically more complicated I feel like I am able to comfortably navigate projects and locate where bugs are happening. It’s nice to work only eight hours per day rather than 12. Lighthouse Labs definitely gave me the stamina to dig through code for full work day. I’ve been told that I’m doing well so far and that I haven’t needed much hand-holding. I was surprised because I’ve been asking tons of questions but that’s the nature of the job. I’ve been getting mostly little tickets which constantly force me to learn new sections of the project.
After working in a technical position for a while I realized how impactful someone can be if they know how to code.
Even though I learned so much during Lighthouse Labs’ bootcamp I am finding that there is way more that I don’t know. I’ve been enjoying being challenged daily and working with skilled developers who have a lot to teach me.
What has the company culture been like at your current and past jobs?
Certn has an amazing culture. I feel really lucky to get to be a part of it. In the past I’ve worked for companies that were much older where there wasn’t much social activity. I feel like I’m already good friends with a bunch of my coworkers and we’ve only ever met online. I was the first developer to be onboarded fully remotely at Certn and I’m looking forward to hanging out at the office with everyone once it’s safe to do so. I still need to invest in a nerf gun since there will be some office battles happening eventually.
I wanted the fully immersive experience where I would learn by doing with the help of experienced mentors.
What technologies are you currently working with?
What, if any, advice would you give to aspiring or professional developers?
You can do it.
For most of life I definitely did not consider coding professionally as a possibility. I dabbled in online classes but the jump into being employed seemed quite far away. Lighthouse Labs certainly fast-tracked the whole process for me. Having a good portfolio of projects is important but at the end of the day it usually comes down to who you know. The best thing you can do is get involved and meet people. Online hackathons are great ways to get exposed to new people and technologies. Try to maintain a growth mindset and don’t beat yourself up for not understanding everything.
Testimonial from Certn
Max breezed through his onboarding process and started picking up real tickets in a matter of days. His understanding of high-level concepts, combined with his persistence in the face of challenging problems, has made him a valuable, productive member of our team almost immediately. He just passed the six-week mark, and he is already tackling larger projects spanning multiple codebases, and I trust him to do so with minimal assistance/hand-holding. In terms of Junior dev hires, we couldn't be happier with bringing Max onboard. For real, Max is * fire emoji * we've been super happy with both our LHL grads (Graeme too)!