Interview: Musician and actor Nina Winkler harnesses her talents to become a web developer

Jul 22 2016, 9:13 pm

It’s amazing to see what you can achieve in a challenging program based on your real world experience.

That was the case with musician and actor Nina Winkler, now a Lighthouse Labs web development bootcamp graduate. She entered the program as a talented musician and actor in the pursuit to find a job that would give her the creative freedom she was craving. 

Before graduation Winkler landed a job with a co-op that turned into a job, despite the fact that she hadn’t finished the program quite yet. It was the first company she’d interviewed with but as she continued her journey she decided she wanted to work outside of a traditional nine to five job. Now she’s a web development freelancer and enjoys not being tied down to a lifestyle that she didn’t sign up for.

Here Winkler tells us about her experience with Lighthouse Labs and how her previous experience inspired her to pursue an unconventional post graduation route.

Why did you decide to register for Lighthouse?

I met a Lighthouse grad who raved about the program and recommended I look into the school. I have a very creative background which isn’t always predictable in terms of work or income so a flexible, second career path seemed perfect for me. I started doing online tutorials for coding and found it to come quite naturally so I jumped right into the bootcamp with no idea of what I was getting in to. It was definitely a gut feeling decision. 

What was your skill set like at the beginning?

Lighthouse Labs class

Class/Lighthouse Labs

I had done an intense two months of online tutorials, learning everything I could. Before that, I didn’t have any idea what an HTML page was.

What kind of challenges were you dealing with before the program? 

I found it difficult to have an open schedule that allowed me to take on creative work yet being guaranteed an income. I was bouncing around from job to job while saving money so I could travel in between gigs. My lifestyle has always been wherever the wind takes me but I knew I had to have a more solid foundation for a long lasting career.

What skills did you learn in the program?

An unbelievably solid foundation for coding. We learned HTML, CSS, Javascript/JQuery, Ruby, Ajax, and much more. While those are the technical skills we acquired, what I took away most from the program was a no problem can’t be solved mentality. We learned how to learn quickly and productively, how to unblock our ingrained mindsets of how we think things are and open ourselves up to possibilities.

Within that mindset we were then taught how to find the most efficient, logical solution. There are tons of ways to solve a problem but we were encouraged to find the one that will produce the least side effects and be the most straightforward. The tech industry is always changing and we were taught the skills that will allow us to keep up.

How would you describe the bootcamp you took to a friend?

Heaven and hell on earth. Mainly heaven though. Honestly, it was such a fun ride but it took so much determination, self-encouragement and constant reassessment. The second I would feel myself thinking “I got this”, a bug would pop up or an exercise would be assigned that I had no concept of navigating. Every day felt like a week of knowledge and every week changed my life. It was really spectacular. 

Do you currently have a job? Was it difficult to find one after graduating?

I was very lucky and managed to receive an offer for a co-op which would turn into a full time position before I graduated bootcamp. It was the first company I interviewed with and I got a really good vibe from them so I took it. A month into the co-op I realized that the work wasn’t for me. It was very backend heavy and my creative bones felt stagnant. I humbly quit the position and decided to venture forth as a freelancer, which was my original plan when I went into bootcamp. I think Lighthouse equips students extremely well to find jobs after graduation but having a full-time, nine to five job in an office wasn’t for me. It’s very cool to work in an industry where it is possible to find the type of career you want rather than being tied down to a particular lifestyle.

How has the program changed you?


Classtime/Lighthouse Labs

The program taught me that skills aren’t as daunting as they seem and that jumping right in to the deep end is the only way to grow. When I interviewed for the program, I got a chance to chat with Don, the head instructor. I asked him whether I should go right into the February cohort or wait six weeks to further my skill set. He said that I should dive in and the more time I give myself, the more time I have to get nervous. That really stuck out to me. The program is so fast-paced that you don’t have time to psyche yourself out and all you can do is absorb. At the end of the day, I think that’s the most valuable way to live life. 

Many Lighthouse Labs students are already working as developers or are in the job seeking process – in this case they can talk to the career services department. The web development bootcamp and iOS development bootcamp last for a duration of eight weeks in person, are full-time immersive, include a four week remote prep course, with a 7:1 student to teacher ratio. Each are designed to launch you into your first Junior Developer role.

To celebrate the launch of its new Full-Stack Web Bootcamp curriculum, Lighthouse Labs has released its Early Bird Challenge. Activate the puzzle, solve the clues and you could score $500 off their Web or iOS Bootcamp. Click here for details.

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