At Lighthouse Labs, mentors are the backbone of our education.

With approximately 50 mentors in Vancouver, 40 in Toronto, 10 in Victoria, 7 in Calgary, 5 in Montreal, 5 in Halifax -- not to mention the 10 or so mentors that have participated in our special Whitehorse, Okanagan, Ottawa, London, and Saskatoon programs -- you can understand how this expansive network of developers is absolutely key in how we deliver our unique brand of education. Just ask any of our alumni and nine times out of ten, they’ll say that “the mentors” were the most valuable part of their education experience.

As the Education Manager in our Vancouver branch, I have the pleasure of working with these passionate and caring individuals every single day. The community at Lighthouse is pretty special, and I believe that our mentors are what makes it so. Here are a few reasons why:

Developers Developing Developers

You’ll find a variety of mentors at Lighthouse Labs. Some are senior developers who have been shipping products for decades. Others are freelancers and contractors, industry-experienced alumni, or business-savvy entrepreneurs. The common thread? Every single one of them has fought and won battles on the journey to becoming a dev. Mistakes have been made: tables dropped; branches pushed to master; production code broken… guaranteed, this lot has done it all.

And this is the beauty of mentorship. After all, mentors are there to help you bypass the mistakes they made -- to help you shortcut those learning pains. In a 12-week bootcamp, acceleration is everything and our mentors are able to help you advance very quickly with their wisdom and experience. When we look at the tech space, this experience becomes all the more valuable when navigating its ever-changing landscape. Mentorship helps to avoid wasting time with bad habits that affect your ability to deliver product.

Diversity is Key to Learning

We have a saying at Lighthouse Labs that captures my next point quite neatly: “software development is opinionated.”

Indeed it is... and so are our mentors.

We warn our students about this on day one of bootcamp, because it is essential to understand that people have different coding styles and that there is always a different way to come at a problem. And while this may sound frustrating to someone who wants to be told the best way, it is actually one of the key ingredients in our secret sauce.

Think about it: if there is more than one way to skin a cat, why not learn all the methods and then choose the one you like best?

Being surrounded by opinionated developers is important to the learning process because diversity of thought is absolutely essential. Not only does varying perspectives and differing points of view contribute to more well-rounded developers, but it makes for a more inclusive and thoughtful community as a whole.

Community-Driven Education

Do you know the saying: “it takes a village to raise a child?” Well it takes a community of mentors to train a bootcamp student.

Not only are our mentors teaching coding best practices, but in a community of industry-hardened devs, it’s also the career and life lessons. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in a startup? A design studio? A large software company? What kind of dev roles can one expect to find after graduation? How does one make themselves stand out to employers? What kind of side projects should one work on? These types of questions haunt new coders, and the diversity and variety of mentor experiences are the spices that flavour these budding developers.

At the end of the day, our mentors are our greatest asset and we are so fortunate to have such an amazing team at Lighthouse Labs.

Thanks for listening ✌🏽

There’s a bonus!

Last April, we partnered with Women Who Code to host an interactive workshop on mentorship. For the reasons mentioned above, we wanted to start the conversation around mentorship and its benefits in order to help foster Vancouver’s growing generation of dev talent.

Here are six questions from one of the activities we did. If you’re curious to reflect on your own experiences with mentorship, grab a pen and a piece of paper; this will take around 15 minutes!

1) Mentorship comes in many different forms. List some individuals who have impacted your professional growth. Tip: consider coworkers, peers, teachers, family, and individuals outside of your work.

2) Reflect on one of the individuals you listed above. How did this person help you get a jump on your career?

3) What does a good mentor do? What are some tangible benefits of having a mentor?

4) What areas do you think you need mentorship in?

5) What’s valuable about being a mentor? What makes it worthwhile?

6) What are the benefits of mentorship in a company? Why is mentorship important for the developer community?

This article was originally published in 2017.