Trevor is a graduate of the Lighthouse Labs Web Development Bootcamp in Victoria and is also a mentor for us. After transitioning from the public sector to tech, Trevor has found success in his new career as a Software Developer. Read on to learn more about his Bootcamp experience and what advice he has for future students.


What were you doing before Lighthouse Labs?

Before making the transition to developer, I worked in various communications and leadership roles with the Government of British Columbia for about seventeen years.

What made you decide to come to Lighthouse Labs?

While my experience with the provincial government was invaluable and largely positive, I knew that I would never be professionally satisfied without more technically demanding work. While I learned some programming in university, it was insufficient to leverage for a career change, and returning to college or university seemed impractical and too challenging to balance with other responsibilities.

I was…let’s call it skeptical when I first heard about bootcamp-style web development courses, but once I better understood the methodology, I was intrigued. After learning that Lighthouse Labs would be offering the Web Development Bootcamp in Victoria, I knew that I had to do it. In fact, I knew immediately that I had to be in the first Victoria-based cohort.

It’s been exactly a year since you graduated Lighthouse Labs, what have you been up to?

Working for a local startup, primarily building and maintaining websites for clients. While most of our projects have been of this nature, we are shifting our focus from client services to product development, which I expect will lead to more interesting and challenging projects over the coming year.

How did Lighthouse prepare you for your transition from bootcamp to full time developer?

While I likely could have learned much of the material independently, undertaking such an endeavor alone would have taken far longer than eight weeks, and considering how many languages, frameworks and tools are available to developers nowadays, I wouldn’t have known where to start. Most importantly, however, LHL helped prepare me for the pragmatic aspects of seeking employment in the tech industry, which are completely different if not antipodal to those of government. They also connected me with local tech leaders and employers, and those connections are invaluable even when they don’t lead to an employment offer.

Tell us about living in Victoria as a Developer!

Having lived here for twenty-five years, I was surprised by the size and maturity of Victoria’s tech industry as well as the vibrancy of the tech community. I think it’s largely invisible to residents who don’t work inside it, but once you know it exists, it seems to be everywhere.

It’s a welcoming community populated by smart, friendly people, and I truly believe that it would be worth relocating here to become a part of it.

What technologies are you working with?

PHP has been my primary server-side language since bootcamp, largely due to its prominence among content management systems such as WordPress. As many of our projects are front-end focused, we also heavily utilize HTML, Sass, and JavaScript. Our latest project is a Ruby on Rails API with a Reactified client-side application built to operate in a dockerized environment on Red Hat Openshift. It’s a little startling to realize that the previous sentence would have been complete gibberish to me only a year ago.

What advice would you give someone who wants to become a developer?

Firstly, I’d recommend that they invest some time in learning programming fundamentals on their own before making any major career decisions. Having a proclivity for coding is helpful but ultimately no more important than interest or passion. Assuming that an antipathy for mathematics will preclude you from learning to code is a fallacy. I’ve met highly skilled programmers with no special knowledge of or interest in pure math.

With respect to retraining for a career in software development, everyone must make their own choice between bootcamp, college, trade school, or university depending on their circumstances and goals. I would probably steer people towards LHL if they already have professional experience, especially if they also already have a degree. For the most part, employers care little about how you acquired a particular skill as long as you have it.

What's the weirdest, or most interesting part of your job?

The strangest part from my perspective is working in an office with only a handful of colleagues given that my last government job was with an agency comprising four thousand employees spread across ten divisions. The most interesting part is and likely will remain the problem solving inherent to programming. In this field, there are always new things to learn, new skills to develop, and opportunities to improve.

Any side projects?

Nothing deployed yet, but in addition to a couple hobby-sized apps, I’m currently developing a dynamic manuscript publisher and local content manager. Although it’s purpose built for ezines, I expect to discover other potential uses for it as it continues to mature.

What’s next?

Who knows? The most rewarding part of this transition was trading a future with few paths for one with many. Wherever I end up working and whatever I end up doing in two, three and five years, I know that I’ll be engaged and driven because I know that I’ll never have to tolerate being bored, complacent, or routine-bound at work again.