Katie Peterson is a graduate of both our part-time Intro to Web Development course and our full-time iOS Development Bootcamp in Vancouver! She's taken the time to write about her experience with Lighthouse Labs taking her from Engineer to a new career as an iOS Developer in Calgary.
In April of 2014, my husband and I moved to Calgary. Before that, we lived in Boise, Idaho, where I was working as a Process Control Engineer at a semiconductor manufacturing company called Micron Technology. My original plan when we moved was to find a job as an Engineer. However, my skill set was rather specific to the industry I had worked in. A number of recruiters told me that they couldn’t understand my resume. I had worked as an Engineer for seven years, but my experience didn’t translate to the economy in Calgary. I needed to start my career over.
At the same time, I was trying to make new friends. My favourite resource for meeting fun, interesting women to be friends with was (is!) The Chic Geek, a Meetup group for techie women. Right away, I was drawn to the collaborative vibe I got from Chic Geek developers. They gave free seminars divulging the secrets of how they learned to build beautiful websites! They put their life’s work on the internet for anyone to copy, modify and enjoy! Compared to the engineering culture of Calgary, which is challenging for a newcomer to infiltrate, coding threw its arms wide open to me and I was hooked.
The part-time course cleared up any doubts I had – it was fun, engaging and challenging without being too challenging. Plus, I built relationships with great professional developers.
Through The Chic Geek, I participated in a sci-fi book club, Ladies Learning Code workshops and (drum roll please) The HTML 500. There I met Jeremy Shaki, who did his Chief Talking Officer thing. He suggested to me that Engineers do very well in Lighthouse bootcamps and planted an idea in my head that rolled around for months. Up to that point, I had thought of coding as something fun to learn while I hustled to find myself a job. I had not considered that coding could be the job. But, once I started to consider it, I couldn’t stop.
In April of this year, a full year after I moved to Canada and a year-and-a-half after I left my last job with no plans of how to get another one, Lighthouse Labs did their first part-time Intro to Web Development course in Calgary. By that point, I was leaning towards iOS, but I took the part-time course as a low-risk opportunity to make sure I liked coding and liked the Lighthouse teaching model. The part-time course cleared up any doubts I had – it was fun, engaging and challenging without being too challenging. Plus, I built relationships with great professional developers. Shortly after completing the part-time course, I applied for the August iOS Bootcamp.
Nothing could have prepared me for the size and complexity of the code base I inherited, but the bootcamp taught me not to be afraid of the challenge.
The iOS Bootcamp! I love and miss that merry little band of misfit geniuses! The bootcamp lived up to it’s name, to it’s reputation of relentless intensity. I went into it expecting that my systematic engineering approach to problem solving would be directly applicable – I was correct. However, there are aspects of coding that surprised me. For example, learning Objective-C was like learning a foreign language. I dreamed feverishly in while loops, delegate patterns and hot-gluing UIButtons to my iPhone screen every night.
I also found that at its most zen, it feels a lot like creative writing – I would start with a high level idea of what I wanted to accomplish and later pull myself out of coding trance to find that five hours had passed. That’s not to say that I’m particularly gifted – my code is as sophomoric as my writing. However, it taps into artistic parts of my brain in a way that is creatively quite satisfying.
And now, my career. I work at a InVistaWare: a small, but growing dev shop in Calgary with an iOS team of four developers plus in-house web and back end. Nothing could have prepared me for the size and complexity of the code base I inherited, but the bootcamp taught me not to be afraid of the challenge.
I understand that part of my process is to spend entire days on Stack Overflow or in Ray Wenderlich tutorials to learn how to approach a problem. I regularly consult the great developers around me, another thing I picked up in the bootcamp. I feel like this is what it would have been like if my family had moved to Mexico after my first year of high school Spanish. I’m getting by! People understand what I’m trying to say! Every day I pick up something new and feel more confident. Now I see my inability to land an engineering job as a lucky turn of events that pushed me in a better direction.