IT Bootcamps: Expedite your career in Canada

Published August 3, 2021.

In Canada, there are plenty of options to expedite your career growth. The type of program you choose will depend on your educational goals, available resources and the industry in which you want to work.

For those looking to learn new skills quickly, bootcamps are a viable alternative to college or university and are a valuable way to advance your career. These programs are intense and industry-specific; offering an opportunity to gain in-demand skills, the confidence to succeed and the industry connections to advance quickly up the ranks. But they come with challenges.

To help you succeed and secure the job you want, we’ve put together tips on how to best approach coding bootcamps from three of the country’s finest tech education institutions.

4 ways to do your best at bootcamp

“While it’s true the idea of returning to school can be intimidating, it can also be very exciting!” says Marie-Gabrielle Ayoub, Co-founder at Le Wagon Montréal, who believes short, intensive programs can be a great way to get ahead. “Our programs are a perfect springboard to start or advance your career in a new city.”

Le Wagon offers 9- or 24-week bootcamps in web development and data science that equip students with the practical skills they need to be market-ready in the growing tech industry. The condensed nature of these programs means preparation is key.

1. Do some work ahead of time

Some courses have prerequisite reading and exercises that must be completed prior to starting. Students at Le Wagon can expect about 60-80 hours of prep-work that covers topics like how the web works, basic commands and coding foundations. “The more students are prepared, the more comfortable they will be to kick start their learning journey,” adds Marie-Gabrielle.

For Josh Borts, Chief Product Officer at Lighthouse Labs, pre-work starts well before registering for a program. “It is essential that students educate themselves on their future career before the program starts,” says Josh. “Whether that is by talking to alumni or friends who are in technology, or by doing some of the free learn-to-code programs that Lighthouse offers.”

Like Le Wagon, Lighthouse Labs offers crash courses in web development and data science. Their programs are remote to help students prepare for the work-from-home culture that is growing in demand. That means having space to study and work is essential.

2. Set up an effective study space at home 

For some, this means making a quiet space at home to study and carving out time from friends and family to focus. “Let people around you know that you’ll be busy,” suggests Natasha Sirois, Director of Career Services at Concordia Bootcamps. “For the duration of the program, your life will be studying and coding. So it’s important to go into it with a bootcamp mindset, knowing you will have to work hard for a definite amount of time.”

Concordia offers full- and part-time programs in web development and data science. The programs are intense, and offer real-world experience in one of the fastest growing industries in Canada.

Josh suggests taking this real-world experience seriously. “While in a bootcamp, such as those offered by Lighthouse Labs, pretend you are going to work: go through your normal routine, and have a study or work space set up in a way that matches your preferred learning mode so you can immerse yourself in all the content you are learning.”

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3. Take time to rest and recharge

Bootcamps are, by definition, fast and intense. “The best way to cope with the intensity and all those new concepts is to make sure you take care of yourself,” says Josh. He offers a few examples: “take frequent short breaks for mindfulness, do a quick workout (and/or a long one), and, of course, make sure you feed your body with your favorite foods that bring you the most energy.”

Remember, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” adds Marie-Gabrielle. “So rest in the evenings and sleep well.” This can be particularly challenging if you’re balancing bootcamp with a full-time job or family obligations. So pace yourself to keep your energy up throughout the program. Le Wagon offers more tips for finding balance.

4. Stay the course

Above all else, be persistent. “The most important quality is a willingness and motivation to succeed,” says Natasha. Most students who successfully complete a program at Concordia and actively look for work find employment within 6 months. It’s up to you where you want to go, she adds. “Once you get into the tech industry, you can advance very quickly. The opportunities are endless!”

Josh agrees, saying, “Lighthouse Labs’s most successful students aren’t necessarily those with previous experience in the tech industry, but those who are able to continually learn new skills.” Rather than compare yourself to others in the program, “compare yourself to who you were yesterday or last week, and see how much you have progressed in such a short amount of time. You will be amazed at what you can learn in a week!”

Kick-start your career in Canada

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a continuing education program, but financial resources doesn’t have to be one of them. At Windmill Microlending, we know the cost of upskilling or reskilling can be insurmountable. And we’re here to help.

As Canada’s largest and most successful microlending program for skilled immigrants and refugees, we offer the financial support you need to continue your career or kick-start a new one in Canada. Our microloans cover the cost of tuition, textbooks and study materials, living allowance, relocation and other expenses related to going back to school.

Find out how we can support your educational goals.

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