Deciding to enroll in bootcamp can be a difficult decision. It’s a decision that can be truly life-altering, opening up a range of opportunities to you. After you’re trained in digital skills, you’ll be able to benefit from the lucrativeness of the tech industry, or move up in other industries. But it also necessitates a weighty commitment. You’ll want to do your due diligence to understand whether this commitment is right for you. When doing this, you’ll consult blogs and forums, ask acquaintances, and look at course pages.

We want to help you in your journey of understanding whether bootcamp is right for you, so we’re putting you in touch with our outstanding alumni community. These alumni will be here to answer all your burning questions, provide you with helpful advice, and share their bootcamp experiences. You’ll get to hear what it’s like to go through bootcamp from a person who’s already been there.

Today we want to introduce you to one of our alumni community members, Fatima Altaf. People who are interested in learning more about bootcamp can contact Fatima through our alumni ambassador page, and she’ll be able to answer your inquiries and speak to her personal experiences.

Fatima’s journey through her big career change

Fatima’s journey into tech started from a very different place. Just a few years ago in 2017, Fatima started working in the nonprofit sector after completing an undergraduate and master’s degree in political science. She was initially working as a researcher before moving up to become a research coordinator.

Fatima did a lot of work on public policy. In her day to day, she would meet with various stakeholders and community groups to convene on initiatives. One of the large, overarching initiatives she was working on was eliminating child poverty across Ontario, a bold and necessary measure.

Around that time, Fatima discovered the Women Learning to Code initiative through the International Development and Relief Foundation. This program offers young women an opportunity to learn more about web development through no-cost training. In the summer of 2018, Fatima went through them to take Lighthouse Labs’ Intro to Web Development part-time course.

While working through the course curriculum, Fatima had a lot of fun on the HTML and CSS parts, but she confesses that the JavaScript module kind of flew over her head. “I didn’t know whether I could see myself doing this kind of work on a daily basis,” reflects Fatima. Nonetheless, Fatima eventually enrolled in Lighthouse Labs’ Web Development Bootcamp.

Fatima’s own experience with attending bootcamp

Even with confidence equipped, working through bootcamp is never a walk in the park. It requires a lot of hard work and commitment. Fatima recalls how completing the coursework could be really intense at times, especially during the beginning. She says that the first week was the most challenging, and there were times when she doubted herself and her abilities.

Connecting with others was part of what helped her get through these difficult moments and keep aiming for success. She talks about connecting with other women who had already completed the bootcamp. “There was one woman I was messaging on basically a daily basis, and she kept sending me words of encouragement,” says Fatima.

As the weeks went by, Fatima started to fall into a rhythm with her studies. Being able to wrap her mind around JavaScript was the most challenging part for her, but she did succeed at it. And as bootcamp went on, the cohort got to know each other very well and they started to lean on each other. She stayed connected with her cohort after graduation, especially with the other young woman in her cohort who she did her capstone project in collaboration with.

“Looking back, I can see my growth trajectory,” says Fatima. “By the end, when you realize you’ve become a web developer, you see how far you’ve grown. And that’s a really great feeling.”

Fatima knows what it’s like to job-search at a challenging time

Fatima graduated from the web bootcamp in January 2020; right before the COVID pandemic and its lockdowns rocked through Canada and the world. Through the winter, Fatima was applying for jobs and attending employer demo days. But then March hit, and there were a lot of layoffs and hiring freezes. Competition for jobs became really intense.

Despite this competition, Fatima did manage to eventually get hired at a paid internship. A friend of hers who also graduated from bootcamp notified her that her company was hiring, and she started working at LoyaltyOne. She then had her contract extended to April, at which time she’s hoping to transition to a permanent position.

With LoyaltyOne Fatima has been working on web accessibility. She’s been working on making the Air Miles website accessibilities for Canadians to use if they have any disabilities. Her day to day work consists of debugging and refactoring existing code so that it works well with devices like screen readers.

Advice for Those Considering Enrolling in Bootcamp

After successfully passing through Lighthouse Labs’ Web Dev Bootcamp, Fatima has some advice for others who are considering enrolling. She knows that bootcamp can be difficult, especially at first. “If you’re feeling uncomfortable, just sit with those feelings,” advises Fatima. “It’ll be okay, and it definitely gets better. But don’t keep your feelings bottled up inside.”

Fatima says that one of the things that helped her to get through more challenging periods was having someone else to talk to, and to be validated by. For Fatima, one of Lighthouse’s career advisors was really helpful in that regard.

“Having a trusted relationship with a Lighthouse mentor is also really helpful,” continues Fatima. “My mentors gave me a lot of good life advice, and it was nice to have someone to vent to who understood the experience.”

Want to hear more of the great advice and tips Fatima has to offer?