When Rachel Gould wanted to expand her skills, she turned to code.
A Waterloo graduate with an honours degree in Rhetoric & Professional Writing, Economics, and Digital Media, most of Rachel’s work experience was based in the digital marketing space. She worked for a variety of different industries, completing freelance contracts in website strategy, marketing automation, marketing campaign planning, and digital advertising. As she grew in experience, Rachel decided to add software development to her skill set so she could bolster her marketing experience with dev expertise, especially in the growing data and business analytics space.
She started with the part-time Front End Fundamentals program last year. "After googling for different coding classes in Vancouver, I found the part-time course fascinating, and I loved the project-based learning style. Once I got a glimpse of the awesome community of teachers, staff, and alumni at Lighthouse, it was a no-brainer to go there.”
Following her part-time experience, Rachel set her sights on the Bootcamp. “I've always been a self-starter, and I love a challenge, so the rigorousness of the Bootcamp attracted me right away.” It reminded her of a co-operative work program she joined in university, which allowed her to gain more than a year's worth of paid work experience before graduation. “I found that experience invaluable, and it totally goes along with Lighthouse's philosophy that a lot of your learning should be self-driven on the job. I already knew that's what works for me before coming to Lighthouse.”
“I found the experience at Lighthouse Labs to be challenging, rewarding, and ultimately a lot of fun. The bootcamp was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it gave me such a solid foundation in being a web developer.”
Rachel said the value of the core philosophies built into the program - learning how to do things the hard way so that you can then appreciate the easy way - was easy to overlook at the time. “But since graduating, there have been so many times when I'm learning something new and it's much easier because I was exposed to a related topic in the Bootcamp, even if it was just for one assignment. I'm so grateful that I have that solid foundation to build on.”
“For me, that solid foundation is key. I'm still learning and figuring out what aspect of development appeals to me the most, and how to tie together coding with my previous business experience. But ultimately I know that Lighthouse will always be there to support me on that journey however they can, and that was the best thing that I got out of the program.”
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Rachel found a supportive environment at Lighthouse Labs. “Most of my bigger challenges from working in the tech space have come from being a woman, because most people don't even realize that I'm a member of the queer community. That's a blessing and a curse, because I can choose whether or not I feel comfortable coming out at work.”
“I think the biggest piece of advice I could give is to be confident being yourself. If you have confidence, other people will see that you're deeply rooted in your identity and they will respect that.
“You also don't owe anyone an explanation of your identity. You should only come out when you feel it's safe to do so, and pick workplaces that make you feel safe. When it comes to prejudice at work, I think that feeling safe is always more important than building your resume. If you're talented, jobs will always be there. Don't sacrifice any part of yourself, or feel like you need to fit in. Find a workplace that values who you are!”