James Matsuba is a very familar face around Lighthouse Labs Vancouver. A graduate of our May 2015 cohort, James was our loyal intern for 6 whole months, bringing huge injection of energy and positivty to the team! He's since moved on to bigger projects, working with Guestfolio during the week, and exploring the amazing outdoor life found in beautiful Whistler, BC. We caught up with James to learn what he's been getting up to since he graduated last year.


What were you doing before Lighthouse Labs?

I had a varied career before Lighthouse. I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta back in 2008. I had roughly 7 years of experience in various roles and industries such as working in sales for Kraft Foods, managing a third party sales team for Rogers Wireless, a business analyst for a Microsoft development shop, a consultant for a Post Media project, and even spent some time in supply chain roles in Oil and Gas.

What made you decide to come to Bootcamp?

Lighthouse Labs fit into a bigger plan I made for myself. A plan that took into account long-term goals both personally and professionally. Part of this plan involved becoming a competent web application developer. I was attending a computer science program at UBC but after a couple semesters decided a Lighthouse was a more direct and better fit for what I wanted.

Tell us about your bootcamp experience!

I honestly loved attending Lighthouse Labs. Being immersed in a great environment which challenged me every day of the program, is exactly what I wanted and needed. At Lighthouse you are surrounded by smart, passionate people everyday who are eager to help you learn. It's hard not to be motivated. The days were long, but I was learning things I always wanted to learn, so the long hours didn't really phase me. I think a key to having a good experience is preparation. I had done my research on the program beforehand so I was prepared for the workload and came in with realistic goals which made my experience pretty awesome.

Another great take away from the bootcamp is the network I got out of it. When you spend 60 hours a week with people you get to know them pretty well. Lighthouse really helped me build both a professional network as well as some lasting friendships.

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

I’ve been building my technical experience, working as a Jr. Developer. For the first 6 months I was lucky to be the internal developer for Lighthouse Labs, where I worked on numerous internal projects including the CRM and website. Then for the past 6 months I've been working as a developer for Guestfolio, a hotel communication and marketing platform.


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

At Lighthouse Labs I learnt how to work as part of a development team. Some of the most important skills were how to effectively use git, the importance of writing clean understandable code, and how to effectively ask for help when stuck on a problem. I was also given exposure to Ruby on Rails which is the framework we use heavily at Guestfolio.

Tell us about living in Whistler as a Developer!

It’s great to be in Whistler. People from around the world travel here for the world-class skiing, snowboarding, biking, and hiking. Guestfolio is more established company and understands the importance of work life balance, so it is pretty common for the office to be pretty empty at 5:30 pm as everyone is off biking, hiking and doing all of the things that make Whistler famous.

** Lighthouse students don't have to live in Whistler to enjoy the mountain! Members of our fall & winter chorts are eligible for the student rates for a seasons pass to Whistler Blackcomb 😎.

What technologies are you working with?

Ruby on Rails, Javascript, HTML/CSS. Multiple libraries, frameworks and open source projects, such as jQuery, Reactjs, foundation, sidekiq, devise, datagrid, rspec.

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

Do your research, know what your end goals are and then work back to figure out how to achieve them. Some goals will be better suited to bootcamps like Lighthouse, some will be better suited for a computer science or engineering route. There is a wide range of careers and paths to get there!

Any side projects?

I have multiple side projects. I run a web scraping project that grabs all of the snow reports for ski resorts in Western Canada, then aggregates the data for different types of analysis.

I also run web application known as Hotnight that checks the Whistler Hostel for changes in availability so you can get notified if a room becomes available on a night you were trying to book!

Anything else you want to add about LHL, working with Guestfolio, the Whistler tech scene or working as a dev?

One of the best things about LHL is the community. Whenever I have a questions or need support I know I have access to the 1300+ members of alumni, mentors, and teachers who monitor the slack community. It’s comforting to know others are in the same situation I’m in.

Curious about what you could accomplish in just 8 weeks? Come check out our next Demo Day, where our latest grads will be showing off their final projects.