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Transition to Tech Sean2

The structural change to the oil and gas industry and the transition to a digital economy is having a huge impact on people’s livelihoods and their lives. Career paths have been turned upside down and people must learn new skills to find jobs. Sean MacDonald is one of those people. In this series of posts during the 12-week course, Sean chronicles the experience of a mid-career professional balancing family obligations and an intense tech training course offered though OCIF recipient Lighthouse Labs.

To call this entry week one of my transition to a career in tech is misleading. Let's instead call it my initiation into the world of tech education, which was a multi-week process, and with good reason!

As outlined in my last post, out of the two full-time bootcamp options, I sent in an application to Lighthouse Labs for the Data Science program. The tuition can be found on their website, and is comparable to other institutional rates that host similar instruction hours, project work and available mentors. 

My financial situation now is one where my family must make judicious decisions to ensure we budget thoughtfully. Complicating matters (not matters of the heart, mind you, just the numbers stuff) is that my pregnant wife, who is still working full time, will be going on a parental leave once our baby is born this fall, leading to additional strains on our finances.

Being impacted so intensely by COVID-19 and the economy, it was a welcome turn of events to find out that Lighthouse Labs was offering scholarships of varying amounts to select applicants. I submitted my essay and was so thankful to be a recipient. It would have been difficult to pursue additional education without some financial assistance. 

Before that however, I was surprised at the number of steps that are included in the full registration process for Lighthouse Labs. I applied on May 25 and that day I was prompted to sign up for a group interview that took place three days later. We answered a series of questions about math aptitude and enjoyment, and our employment and educational backgrounds. After a timed quiz, the first round was complete.

Two days later, I was informed I had moved to the next round of the admissions process. The interview was two weeks later and during that time I was tasked with completing an online Introduction to Python course that would be used as the basis for a technical assessment following the interview.  The course was a helpful gauge in determining if this was something I would enjoy doing. 

The one-on-one interview used personality and behaviour-based questions, with a focus on managing intensive schedules. With a young family, I had to be honest; keeping our children engaged and active was likely going to be a factor in my day, as it was when I was working from home.

Lighthouse Labs was really receptive and understanding to this concern which was a relief. The technical assessment went well, but I would not have been able to complete it had I not put in the work, something I think will become a common theme throughout these next 12 weeks.

Following the interview, I was offered a spot in the bootcamp. I happily accepted and was then tasked with completing a 70-hour module in preparation for the bootcamp which was starting a month later.

Part of this included applying the concepts I had learned into more complex problems and really pushed me to understand what it was I was trying to do and what I was telling the computer to do.   Most of my career was solving problems in one way or another, now I was just using a new language to do that.

During this entire admission and prep time, I had also continued my search for a job. I made it through to the final round of interviews with a tech company for a role as an implementation project manager.  Although I didn’t land the role, I learned a lot about working in the tech industry, what the culture is like and what the companies are like.  This further reinforced that I was on the right path with my upskilling pursuit.

The prep course left me wanting to learn more - and luckily, the bootcamp was just about to start.

Follow Sean on his 12- week journey from being laid off to diversifying his skill set for the technology sector. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.  

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