We recently published a blog post about The Power of Hybrid and Tech Adjacent Roles and regularly feature Lighthouse Labs graduates who now work in hybrid and tech adjacent roles across Canada. This month we are featuring Lila Karpowicz, who at the time of the interview was a tech support rep at SilkStart, a Victoria startup that sells association management software. (Lila has since moved into a web developer role at VERB Interactive.)
Tell us about your path to Lighthouse Labs. What was your career before applying?
I did a master’s in bioethics and worked for a few years as a medical ethics professional in the public health sector. During that time, I experienced two paper-to-electronic transitions and found the process absolutely fascinating. I eventually decided to give up my job, move across the country, and take a year off trying different things to figure myself out. I ended up picking up coding as a hobby, something I’d promised myself I’d try many years ago and loved it.
“Given my background, a hybrid role was the perfect way for me to get my foot in the tech industry.”
What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse Labs?
Not ready to spend another few years in university, the Lighthouse Labs web development bootcamp seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to gain a practical foundation in web development while speeding up my re-entry into the workforce. I also felt mature enough to continue developing my skills on my own.
Tell us about your career post-bootcamp. Did your background play a role in getting your current job?
I completed the bootcamp in May 2018 and worked as a tech support rep at SilkStart, a local startup that sells an association management software. My background absolutely helped me get this job as, surprisingly, there are a lot of commonalities between my prior professional experiences and the role.
Working in a hybrid role, how much of your day is spent on coding? What other job functions do you work on?
Currently, my main tasks are to provide front-line technical support to our customers, and investigate, document, diagnose, and escalate issues. I’m still getting up to speed with the technical aspects of the job and spend a couple of work hours coding every day, both in preparation for writing automated tests and to help customize some aspects of our clients’ networks from the front end.
How has your background played a part in your working in a hybrid role?
In my prior profession, I developed skills that are transferable to this role. I gained experience dealing with customer-type people and providing them with guidance and advice on complex issues. I also developed strong analytical skills, which are necessary for diagnosing technical issues. Given my background, a hybrid role was the perfect way for me to get my foot in the tech industry.
What technologies do you work with?
Primarily Selenium on Python and jQuery.
“My background absolutely helped me get this job as, surprisingly, there are a lot of commonalities between my prior professional experiences and the role.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a hybrid role?
Go for it and keep an open mind, especially when working at startups. Teams are often small so all employees are expected to pitch in where needed. Take advantage of that to learn as much as you can and make yourself indispensable to the company. I would also recommend being honest from the get-go about your professional goals and being proactive about contributing to the company in ways that align with these goals. Importantly, keep coding and building a portfolio--it’s hard to develop and maintain programming skills when working in a hybrid role, yet these skills are especially transferable and in demand!
Anything else you want to add about Lighthouse Labs, working for your company, the tech scene where you live, or working in a hybrid role?
For me, the Lighthouse Labs Web Development bootcamp was a crazy ride and absolutely worth it. If you are in Victoria and want to become a developer, taking on a hybrid role is probably the most reliable ways to get one’s foot in the tech scene these days. It can be really fun too!
This interview was conducted in 2018.