Lighthouse Labs Spotlight Graduate: Galina Pokrashinski

By: The SwitchUp Team
Last Updated: May 18, 2015

Hey, Galina! Tell us a little bit about what you do in your current job.

I am currently a junior web developer at Latergramme, a start-up based in Vancouver, BC. So far I've done mostly back-end development, although now and then some front-end stuff gets thrown in the mix. The stack I work on includes Ruby on Rails, BackboneJS, and EmberJS.

Why did you decide to attend your program?

I graduated university with an honours business degree last year, but wasn't having much success finding a good job. Prior to attending university, I had dabbled in web design and coding, and I had really enjoyed it. I heard about Lighthouse Labs and thought the whole "become a developer in 8 weeks" was an interesting concept, and in December decided to take the plunge and apply to take the program starting in January.

What challenges did you overcome to get to where you are?

A coding bootcamp is almost like a test on how much information you can absorb every day, for weeks straight. Sometimes an assignment would be extremely frustrating, and there would be the temptation to quit working on it, or leave it for later, but at the same time you can't really do that, because the pace of a bootcamp program doesn't allow much time for catch-up.

What plans/dreams do you have for the next 5 years?

I want to continue being a web developer, improve my skills in the technologies I work with, and definitely learn more languages and technologies. I feel like an inherent part of being a developer is that you must always be learning and challenging yourself.

Any advice for students looking to join a learning program like a bootcamp?

A bootcamp-style learning program is not easy; it is long hours and so much information being thrown at you that at times it gets overwhelming. That being said, it's also very fun, and it definitely helps a great deal if the bootcamp has a lot of support in place for the students, such as there being a lot of great, knowledgeable TAs. On a more individual level, it also helps to be a fairly fast, self-motivated learner. Additionally, you must be prepared to pretty much not have a life outside of the bootcamp for the duration of the program.

What motivates you in your career?

I enjoy learning new things and picking up new skills, so the continuous-learning nature of being a developer is in itself a motivator for me.

Do you see bootcamps replacing college for parts of the population?

For some types of people, I think that yeah, bootcamps can replace college. I think it goes back to that self-motivation thing, because technically speaking, a bootcamp provides enough knowledge and experience to start a job as a developer, but it's up to you to go from there. There were moments during this program where I feel I personally benefitted from having a degree as well, but those moments were less about the coding and more about project planning and execution.

What were the people and culture like at your program?

The people and culture at Lighthouse Labs are great. The instructors and TAs are amazing, knowledgeable, and quite diverse in their opinions. The other people who were in the program with me came from many different backgrounds and made it a very fun experience. It was a very collaborative and friendly environment, and everyone helped each other out. It was cool to learn to code along with so many smart, awesome people.

Any advice for recent graduates looking for a job?

I think the key there is to keep challenging yourself. Work on some personal projects, even if the only reason behind doing so is to learn that framework you've been interested in. Also, I cannot say enough about how much of a role networking can play. Thankfully, in the tech industry networking events and meetups tend to be quite casual, and thereby easier to participate in.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

On the first day of the program, the message was, "Get comfortable with being uncomfortable." It's definitely something that stuck with me throughout the program. There were daily coding frustrations, some of which would leave you bewildered and thinking that maybe you shouldn't even be there. If taking a coding bootcamp, you definitely need to be able to put aside your ego, because it is an intense experience that sometimes drives you crazy, but in my opinion, it's worth it.

Out of 5 stars - how many stars would you rate Lighthouse Labs?

I'd rate Lighthouse Labs 5 out of 5.

In high school, Galina Pokrashinski spent her free time designing and building websites, and learning to code. Not considering it a serious enough activity at the time, she took a different path in university and graduated with a business degree. She went back to her earlier interests this year, when she took the web development course at Lighthouse Labs. After finishing the 8-week bootcamp program, she started working as a junior web developer at Latergramme, a start-up based in Vancouver, BC. Connect with her on Twitter and Github! Read reviews and learn more about Lighthouse Labs here on switchup.

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