Posts about Bootcamp Advice

7 Questions to Ask When Picking a Remote Coding Bootcamp

April 7, 2020

Coding bootcamps have created an accelerated, affordable path for anyone looking to earn a career in tech. While a Computer Science degree requires four years of college, coding bootcamps can teach the technical skills necessary to work in the industry within a few months and at a fraction of the cost. Offering the bootcamp model remotely further increases the accessibility of a career in tech for some students. No longer do students need to take things like commuting, parking or meal prep into consideration. They can log on from the comfort of their home and dedicate themselves to learning to code. This model can also provide lessons in much-needed virtual communication skills, helping students adapt to the changing world and needs of employers. 

All remote coding bootcamps are not created equally, though. Committing to any bootcamp requires research and careful consideration. Here are seven questions to ask when picking an online coding bootcamp.  

7 Questions to Ask When Picking a Remote Coding Bootcamp 

1. What’s Better: Self-Led or Instructor-Led? 

There are quite a few ways to learn how to code online. Online coding tutorials can range from short lessons to full coding bootcamps and can be self-led or instructor-led experiences. 

Self-led lessons on sites like Codeacemy, Udemy and Team Treehouse provide introductory instructions but aren’t typically comprehensive enough to make a career shift into tech. If you’re preparing for a full coding bootcamp, these are a great resource to jumpstart your programming knowledge. 

Remote bootcamps, on the other hand, are extensive programs that offer a robust curriculum. These bootcamps can be done through two main structures: self-led learning using self-paced videos and various Q&A formats vs. live, online instructor-led classrooms. Determining if a self-led or instructor-led learning model is right for you depends on your ultimate goals and learning style. Here is a breakdown of some of their key differences: 

2. Where Do Graduates of This Program Work? 

If earning a career in tech is your ultimate goal, evaluate how well a remote bootcamp can support that. Is the program designed to connect you the tech industry and help guide your understanding of the job market? Is the curriculum crafted to meet the current needs of employers? 

Do some research on the employers hiring in your area. Evaluate what type of company and position you’re looking for. Then, take a look at the bootcamp’s employer network to ensure they can help you find the type of career you’re interested in. 

A remote bootcamp with a strong employer network can increase your connections and help you identify which positions are a right fit for your goals. With alumni working at various businesses, that can increase the bootcamps’ credibility in the market and the company’s relationship to future grads. 

Grand Circus is proud to work with more than 350 companies to hire our graduates. Whether you’re looking for a small startup or prefer a large corporation, our employer network has a wide range of opportunities. These employers value the adaptability and innovation of our students and appreciate the real-world skills that come with remote learning. Each bootcamp, whether remote or in person, includes a student demo day — giving every student the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned, engage with employers, and present their final projects. 

3. Will I Gain Practical Knowledge?

Employers want to see graduates’ programming skills and coding portfolios. Some online bootcamps rely solely on assessments to evaluate student progress. Grand Circus, on the other hand, ensures every student has real-world experience, a full coding portfolio and final project that can help them stand out in the job market. Our curriculum is crafted, evaluated and adjusted based on employer feedback and the current needs of the tech industry. This ensures every student graduates with skills that can be used on day one in their new careers. 

Students also get lessons on collaborating remotely including insights on how to manage timelines virtually, online communication tools, and video conferencing. This knowledge is often immediately useful when starting on a global team or one with flexible work environments. 

4. How Much Teaching Experience Does the Bootcamp Have? 

As the need for tech talent has increased, new coding bootcamps seem to be popping up all the time. In fact, there are 11 times the amount of coding bootcamps now than there were in 2013. When researching a remote coding bootcamp, be sure the company you select has credibility and experience teaching tech. While programming experience is also important, it’s much different to write code than it is to teach code. 

Grand Circus has been an integral part of Michigan’s tech scene since its start in 2013. We were a pioneer in the bootcamp industry: one of the first. We’ve trained 1,600 bootcampers and have adapted our in-person curriculum and support to remote classrooms. The strength of our community and adaptability in teaching techniques continues throughout our online bootcamp. 

5. What is the Time Commitment?

Learning to code is a process. It’s often one that comes with lessons on how to learn. While a coding bootcamp can’t teach you everything you’ll need to know to work in the industry, quality bootcamps will give you insights on resources that you can use to find an answer when you don’t know it.

It’s important to understand if your remote coding bootcamp will provide enough instructional time for you to gain the skills you’re looking for. A bootcamp offering 20 hours of instructional time is unlikely to prepare you for a career shift. It might be a great way for you to get acquainted with a certain programming language, though.  You should look for a program with at least two hundred hours of classroom time to build the foundational skills you’ll need to work in tech.

Be clear on how much time you’ll need to dedicate to being on your computer, what the bootcamp is promising to teach you, and how those skills can be applied to your goals.

A full-time, instructor-led remote bootcamp is typically an all-day commitment for a few months.  If you’re doing a part-time or after-hours bootcamp, this classroom time will be spread out over a longer timeframe. 

Prospective students also need to consider the lifestyle changes that might be necessary to accommodate their dedication to the program. Determine what additional support might be needed for things like child care and food planning. 

6. What Other Support Does the Program Provide? 

Most remote bootcamps focus on technical training and provide support solely through their instructional team. This can slow the process of getting questions answered, doesn’t provide clarity on career opportunities, and lacks focus on the students’ whole well being. 

At Grand Circus, we have a full staff to support every aspect of learning and students’ overall well being. Each classroom has an instructor and TA to guide students’ learning experiences. Additionally, our Career Services team is dedicated to educating students on the career search. They provide insights on resumes, employers, Imposter Syndrome and more.  Students will also get a dedicated Program Manager for the duration of the bootcamp. This Program Manager will talk to students individually about their progress and any challenges they may be facing. They lead feedback sessions and work to create the best possible experience for every student. 

7. What Kind of At-Home Setup Will I Need? 

Daily life in a home can add unexpected challenges to a remote learning experience. Be sure you have a quiet place to work and listen to instructors. Your setup doesn’t have to be extensive, but it’s important to have a comfortable place that you can work without interruption. 

Also, confirm that your technical equipment can support your needs. Fully participating in a virtual classroom requires quality WiFi, a computer microphone and a camera.  A nice-to-have is two screens (or even a tablet) so you can watch videos while actively coding on a different screen. 

There are many ways to learn programming! As with any bootcamp, preparation beforehand and dedication to the program is key to your success. A remote coding bootcamp offers an accessible option for students looking to gain virtual communication skills and reduces the need for some lifestyle changes. 

Alumni Insights: Advice for Students Considering a Coding Bootcamp

February 18, 2020

Let’s be real — joining a coding bootcamp is a big commitment. There’s a lot to think about, plan for and research. It’s a path that has helped more than 1,500 coding bootcampers gain the skills they need to work in the tech industry. Nearly 90% of our grads earn a technical position, and they learned a lot along the way.

How have others been successful in their journey to earn a career in tech?  

We asked alumni for their best advice to help future bootcampers. Here’s what they had to say: 

Preparation is Key 

Before you apply to a coding bootcamp, educate yourself about the tech industry, bootcamp experience and what it takes to learn programming. Students who have done this research are more likely to get accepted into the bootcamp. Some bootcampers don’t get accepted the first time they apply, and that’s okay! We have a ton of great resources to help you get started. What does “good preparation” look like? 

“I would highly recommend going to Intro to Coding workshops before your bootcamp starts. Do research on the language you’ll be learning and jobs you can get with those skills.  Be prepared and get out of your comfort zone early.”

– Lanna Brasure, 2017 C# .NET Grad, Full Stack Software Engineer at Powerley

“To prepare for a coding bootcamp, I would highly recommend using online resources like CodeCademy, FreeCodeCamp, or Udemy. Each of these are beginner-friendly learning materials for people with little to no experience in programming.”

– Chandler Keyes, 2017 Java Grad, Fullstack Software Developer at Interaction Gaming

When you’re accepted in the bootcamp, the preparation continues! Passing Unit 1, at home pre-work, is mandatory to start the coding bootcamp. For some students, the work can be intimidating. Familiarizing yourself with programming early can ease this early tech learning. It’s also important to plan for life’s necessities for the time that you’ll be in the bootcamp — from childcare to transportation, proactively plan for what you’ll need so you can dedicate your time to learning to code. 

“Once accepted, I went over the pre-work multiple times, and got active in the bootcamp Slack channel. The community is here to help, and was an invaluable resource in getting through my pre-work. I also got myself into the bootcamp sleep schedule/routine ahead of time. I was up by 6:30, in bed by 10 for a week prior. During bootcamp, I was downtown typically from about 7:30 to 7:30 (Pro Tip: Avoid rush hour traffic and get your labs done at GC), so being on that sleep routine ahead of time was a big help.”

– Michael Gleeson, 2017 Java Grad, Software Quality Assurance Analyst at Detroit Labs 

“I wish I had been more honest with myself about childcare needs while balancing my workload.  I tried to do everything and started feeling burnt out midway through the bootcamp.  I am lucky enough that I was able to get more childcare so my partner wasn’t totally saddled with the kids every single night.”

– Kristy Currier, 2019 C# .NET After-Hours Grad, Software Developer at Tyler Technologies

Recommended Resources: 

Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions 

Aren’t quite sure where to start? Been accepted but you’re stuck on Unit 1? Or are you having trouble with a lab in the bootcamp? No problem! We provide several resources to help you find an answer. And if your own research doesn’t provide clarity, ask a classmate or GC staff member! Especially in development, it’s okay to not know the answer. Sometimes what’s most important is knowing how to find the answer. This is a key lesson we cover in every bootcamp. 

Work together with your classmates, or stay after to get help with an instructor. It’s always important to get help when you need it. It’s really easy to fall behind so if you’re not understanding something; always ask those around you.” 

Chandler Keyes, 2017 Java Grad, Fullstack Software Developer at Interaction Gaming

Recommended resources:

The Journey is Different for Everyone

Bootcamp graduates come from a range of backgrounds — from baristas to psychology majors and just about everything in between. What’s most important is that students are problem solvers, hard workers who are excited about a career in tech. We can help you with the rest. 

In any classroom, it can be easy to compare yourself to others. Are you learning as fast as others, are your assessment scoring as high as your peers, did your classmate earn a position more quickly, do they have more professional experience? These are some of the questions that you may ponder throughout your bootcamp. Everyone is different, especially in a bootcamp environment where students are coming from all walks of life. 

“Own your story/experience! Every single person in your class will have a different background and bring different strengths/weaknesses to the table.  Maybe you struggle, maybe you’re switching industries entirely, maybe you’re the oldest/youngest in the room, maybe -insert-whatever-here. Some people will have job offers before they finish GC, and that’s awesome.  Others will hustle for a few months post-graduation and that’s awesome too. Continue to be real, to own your own story, and pursue positions that you WANT to be involved with and proper opportunities will present themselves.

And if you’re a perfectionist — don’t be afraid to break stuff!  A good majority of the bootcamp (and arguably development as a whole) is smacking headfirst into failure on a daily basis.  The quicker you accept that as fact, the quicker you can remap your brain to rolling with the failures and keep pushing through to a solution.”

– Kassie Jones, 2018 Java Grad, Software Engineer at Amber Engine 

“I would tell students or recent graduates: don’t compare yourself to others, your story is not the same as someone’s story. It’s okay if you don’t get the job before bootcamp [ends] or two weeks after you graduate or if you don’t get the new topic right off the bat it will eventually click in and in no time it’s going to be a breeze. Be patient and focus on yourself.

– George Almonte, 2019 Front-End After-Hours Grad, Development Support Intern at Oplogic

Grand Circus Provides the Structure & Network to Support Students’ Dreams 

There are many ways to learn programming. For bootcamp students, our classrooms provide a supportive, insightful learning environment led by instructors and teaching assistants and supported by program managers and career services specialists. We’ve built a culture that not only creates a valuable learning experience but also nurtures the emotional well being of every student as they go through this career transition. 

“Everything GC did supported my career in one way or another — from my teacher teaching me the best practices in code and challenging me to do better every day to my career services representative giving me the tips on landing a job, tweaking my resume and connecting me with employers. The resources and connections can help anyone that wants to become a programmer achieve it. GC is a fantastic place to start when looking to earn a career in tech.”

– George Almonte, 2019 Front-End After-Hours Grad, Development Support Intern at Oplogic

“I took a huge chance by quitting my full-time job and taking a bootcamp. It was something I had been working toward on my own for a few years but needed structure and a learning environment to succeed. It was the best decision of my life. I am so happy in my current role and excited about where my new career path will take me. It truly is a good fit for me and I love learning new things every day.

Also, the bootcamp was almost like an adult summer camp, but with hard work and lessons. You’re in this bright, energetic environment where everyone is there for the same reasons and eager to learn. You have so many resources available all the time and someone is always willing to help. Plus you develop a bond with your cohort and also I may be biased because summer in the city is great. If anyone ever has any questions I am more than happy to offer advice and my point of view.”

– Samantha Mazzola, 2018 C# .NET Grad, Software Developer at United Shore

“Networking and personal recommendations were huge for me. Many of my interviews would not have happened without the help of Grand Circus staff. Grand Circus’ name carries weight in Grand Rapids. “

– Andre Otte, 2019 C# .NET Grad, Web Development Intern at BizStream

“Grand Circus is amazingly connected in the community and well rounded for adults to transition industries.  I think a common misconception may be that it will make the transition into a career in development “easy.”  The transition isn’t easy; it takes hard work, dedication, and serious hustle. If you can do those three things, Grand Circus is a great channel to do it through.

– Kassie Jones, 2018 Java Grad, Software Engineer at Amber Engine 

If You Want a Career in Tech, a Bootcamp is Worth the Hard Work 

And it’s just that — hard work. Learning any new skill takes persistence and problem solving. Students put in a ton of effort to achieve their dreams, and we’re here to help every step of the way. Students should take the commitment seriously and be realistic about the expectations of the program. 

“Nothing will be handed to you at bootcamp, the teachers and staff will give you guidance and help but you are 100% responsible for putting in the work you need to be successful at Grand Circus.  Expect to work and be excited for your growth along the way.”

– Kristy Currier, 2019 C# .NET After-Hours Grad, Software Developer at Tyler Technologies

“Be certain that you want this. A coding bootcamp is like going all-in in poker. It’s high risk/high reward. You’ve got to be able to give it your all. If you can get through that final project, trust me, you’re going to be just fine.” 

– Michael Gleeson, 2017 Java Grad, Software Quality Assurance Analyst at Detroit Labs 

“I can’t stress enough that what you get out is what you put in. That’s why it’s important to have an open mind and a sense of humility. This bootcamp is many things, but it is not an automatic guarantee of a job. If you’re going to make this commitment, you need to be willing to put in the work. Not just while in class, but at home. Do extra research. Do the extra exercises. Stay after class and mingle/learn with your fellow students.  Anything and everything you can do to maximize your time and experience will go a long way to helping you find that first new job. Grand Circus puts you on the path, it’s up to you how far you go.

– James J Burger, 2017 Java Graduate, Developer 1 at  Dominos

A big shout out to our alumni for sharing their tips. 

Grand Circus graduates work at more than 350 companies. Explore the job market and figure out what type of tech jobs appeal to you, and we can share insights on what those companies are looking for in new hires. 

Whether you want a fast-track option to earn a new career or need a more extended program to balance life’s responsibilities, we have a schedule option that can work for you. Our full-time bootcamps are Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm; our after-hours bootcamps are Monday, Wednesday & Thursday 6:30pm – 10pm.

Take their word for it: Paying for bootcamp—It can be done

December 9, 2019

Paying for bootcamp—It can be done

This post is the second of our alumni perspective series, “Take Their Word for It” where we ask alumni common questions. 

Joining a coding bootcamp is an investment in your future career. This decision has helped hundreds of graduates achieve a vibrant life with a fulfilling and stable job.

For many incoming students, figuring out the finances can be the biggest hurdle to starting. The biggest question on every incoming student’s mind:

How can I afford a coding bootcamp? 

Every person’s financial situation is different, and it’s important to make this investment in a way that makes sense for you

Even with all of the available resources and options, this is a big commitment financially. We hope that by providing stories of how past students paid for their bootcamp, this may offer you insights into how you can put together the best options for yourself. 

Hey alum, how did you pay for your coding bootcamp? 

Loans and Financing

“I chose to finance the bootcamp through one of the offered avenues via Grand Circus. My main advice is acknowledging that this is an investment in your future, so focusing on eventual return on investment is important.  Never walk away from a financially lucrative opportunity just because of a relatively smaller financial barrier to entry.” 

Kassie Jones
Java Grad, Software Engineer at Amber Engine 

I took a loan from one of the lenders Grand Circus is partnered with. I would recommend to anyone taking a loan to try to take the least amount of money they can. They give you the option to set extra money aside from the tuition but that money comes with more interest. Also, if you have someone you trust and they trust you, like your parents or spouse, cosign with them; that will bring your interest down a lot.”

George Almonte
Front-End After-Hours Grad, Development Support Intern at Oplogic

“I took out a Student Loan offered through Grand Circus, and made sure to have some money saved to cover misc expenses (gas, food, etc). The loan covered my tuition and bills during my bootcamp.”

Michael Gleeson
Java Grad, Software Quality Assurance Analyst at Detroit Labs 

Savings

“I was able to finance it out of personal savings. Plan ahead! the more you can finance out of pocket, the less stress you will have later on when you are looking for a job.”

Andre Otte
C# .NET Grad, Web Development at BizStream

Scholarships and Grants

“I was fortunate enough to receive a DEVELOP(her) scholarship but considered a personal loan or one through a lending partner for Grand Circus. But, I stayed on top of what scholarships were available and when. It took over a year and a half until it all worked out. In the meantime, I was saving to be able to take a bootcamp in the future. It’s an investment for sure, but I know that the return will be quicker and pay itself off in the long run with my new career trajectory.”

Samantha Mazzola
C# .NET Grad, Software Developer at United Shore

Overall, students use a blend of personal savings, loans, and grants or scholarships to pay for bootcamp. Every student’s background is unique and our classes are diverse, so no two financial situations are the same. The point is: Grand Circus will work with you to advise on the best mix of financing for your situation.

Financing your bootcamp shouldn’t hold you back. To finalize a financing, scholarship and loan package that’s doable for you, talk to us! We offer a Diversity Scholarship as well as reasonable and fair financing options that will help you make the investment.

How soon does the investment pay for itself?

How quickly the investment pays for itself really depends on your current income, the terms of your loan package, your other expenses and your income after bootcamp. On average, our graduates earn $52,000 at graduation and $83,000 within four years, a sizable salary increase even after graduation. Some of our alumni have chosen to keep their living expenses limited and paid back their loans within one year. It is possible. 

Learn more:

If you’d like to talk about your unique financing situation, apply so we can learn more about your background: Apply now.

When you do, you’re automatically considered for our Early Application discount (depending on the timing of your application), our Diversity Scholarships, the Auto Industry Scholarship, and a variety of other scholarships like Rising TIDE for residents of Grand Rapids and Develop(HER), a partial scholarship for women.

Learn more about the financial resources available to support your learning journey here. Income share agreements are available if you qualify too.

A big thank you to all of the alumni who candidly shared how they made the investment. If you’re worried about affording a bootcamp, remember—there IS a way. Whether it’s applying for our scholarships, reaching out to a local organization for potential support or taking out a loan, don’t let the cost deter you from investing in your future! 

Take their word for it: Grand Circus coding bootcamps are worth the investment

October 18, 2019

Take their word for it: Grand Circus coding bootcamps are worth the investment

This post is the first of our alumni perspective series, called “Take Their Word for It” where we ask alumni common questions we get from applicants. It’s always better to learn from someone who’s been there, done that, right?

Is a coding bootcamp really worth the investment?

TL;DR version:

  • Your ROI is higher with a Grand Circus coding bootcamp over any other path and higher than most other coding bootcamps (low investment + high salary = happy alumni) 
  • If you’re ready to work hard and learn the skills necessary for your new career, then a bootcamp is right for you.
  • Our alumni back this up; read some of their insights below! 

Available learning paths

If you’re considering making a move to join one of Michigan’s fastest-growing industries, there are a few different paths you can take: enroll in a university or college for your computer science degree, learn on your own, or apply for a coding bootcamp like the full-time and after-hours programs offered at Grand Circus.

The investment of each of these options is vastly different and future programming powerhouses should carefully the benefits of each available options.

Enrolling in a coding bootcamp offers the lightning-fast pace that self-learning offers, but goes beyond the technical instruction by providing career-readiness training and connecting students to employers ready to hire developers. (And isn’t that the point?)

Employers are increasingly relying on bootcamp graduates to grow their teams and it’s possible to go from little-to-no coding experience to a programming powerhouse in as little as a few months. Our graduates earn an average of $52,000 immediately out of bootcamp. What’s even better is we’ve seen firsthand that our graduates are continually growing in their tech careers. After five years, they’re earning over $82,000 on average (check out our job outcomes report for more details).

If you’re ready to work hard and looking for a supportive environment that will quickly teach you the skills necessary to earn a new career, then a coding bootcamp could be right for you. But, don’t take our word for it. 

Let’s hear from a few of our 1,600+ graduates who are currently in really awesome technology jobs across Michigan: 

Hey Grand Circus Graduate, is Grand Circus is Worth the Investment?  

Grand Circus has a wide-reaching network of alumni and an abundantly flowing connection with employers. It is by far the best investment I’ve ever made in myself.


Jeannette Washington
Back-End Java Graduate, 2017
Chief Academic Officer and Author

“[Grand Circus] is one of the best investments when it comes to coding education, it has the teachers, the staff, the resources and connections to help anyone that wants to become a programmer achieve it.”


George Almonte
Front-End After-Hours Graduate
Development Support Intern at Oplogic

“I now have the skills to be picky about my job, I absolutely love what I do and where I am.  This investment pays off, numerous times over.”


Lanna Brasure
C# .NET Graduate
Full Stack Software Engineer at Powerley

150%. It was the best decision I ever made, and completely change my life. I wouldn’t be on the career path I’m on right now had I not done my bootcamp.”


Michael Gleason
Java Graduate
Software Quality Assurance Analyst at Detroit Labs

I will have already earned back the tuition fee and then some by the end of the year, so absolutely. The people I met there have all been great, the experience was truly one of a kind. It will be extremely difficult to duplicate that excitement ever again. Totally miss my class time and classmates.”

Justin Morrow
Front-End Graudate
Associate Analyst at Perficient

“Grand Circus saves a lot of money if you choose to go to a bootcamp instead of getting a 2-4 year degree that could potentially get you a similar tech job.”


Chandler Keyes
Java Graduate
Junior Fullstack Software Developer at Interaction Gaming

Here at Grand Circus, we really believe our alumni stories speak for themselves.

Our students who were once yoga instructors, teachers, retail specialists, professional musicians, now are programming powerhouses solving problems at some of Michigan’s top companies. (Read more stories here.)

Want to transform your career, too?

If you think a bootcamp may be the right investment for you, here are three things you can do today to put yourself on the path to a brand new career: →

Thanks for reading.

We can’t wait to meet you.

Which Path to Tech is Right for You?

August 20, 2019

Careers in tech are among the fastest-growing in the nation. All industries are the tech industry  –– from health care to banking, virtually all companies need tech talent. This results in a ton of career opportunities in a wide range of fields, and software development skills continue to be one of the nations’ most in-demand talents. 

Let’s look at the industry by the numbers: 

  • Career opportunities for Software Developers will grow 24% by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • 4 of LinkedIn’s ‘Top 10 Most Promising Jobs’ require software development skills 
  • Software Developer is the #1 “Best Job,’ according to U.S. News 
  • Application Software Developers are among the highest paying positions in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 

It’s not difficult to see why so many people  have made the transition to a career in tech. Companies have an increased need for these skills, career options are plentiful, salaries consistently grow and there are many options for how you establish your career. 

What are the different paths to earning a career in tech? 

There are three paths to a tech career: a computer science degree, self-taught or joining a coding bootcamp. Which is right for you is dependent on your preference, budget, desired timeline. Let’s take a look at the options.

Infographic: Computer Science Degree vs. Coding Bootcamp

Computer Science Degree

Traditionally, software developers earned a Bachelor’s in Computer Science to jumpstart their tech career. While there are many great CS degree programs, most lack the practical lessons graduates need to solidify a career –– such as a coding portfolio. Colleges move slowly with long approval processes for new curriculum, and technology moves fast; this creates outdated lessons and a disjointed experience from what graduates will experience in the real world. With fast-moving technology, the job market also transitions quickly –– requiring guidance and clarity around opportunities.

Many university career advisors are managing career goals of hundreds of students, and often lack meaningful real-world industry insights.  According to one study, college advisors might support as many as 1,200 students, with the national average at a 375-to-one ratio. 

Coding bootcamps popped up in response to these issues.

Big companies, such as Google, have increasingly recognized that the traditional university path is no longer necessary to earn a position. There’s a new understanding that an individual’s skills and ability to contribute to the company’s objectives are more important than a grade point average. For companies that do require a degree, many simply don’t care if it’s in CS or something else entirely.

Self-Taught Coding Skills 

This is a path of self-led study using a variety of free and paid resources such as Udemy. People who are self-taught learn and explore your interests at their own pace.

While there are some advantages to being a self-taught developer, there are two thinsg this route misses out:

1. Soft skills are just as important in the job hunt as technical abilities and
2. Your career search is only as strong as your network. Making meaningful connections with companies and understanding exactly what they’re looking for is vital to helping ensure they eventually hire you.

Unfortunately, the self-taught path does not provide a built-in network of hiring companies and does not provide you the needed career coaching to landing your first programming job. 

Coding Bootcamp Education

Within the last ten years, coding bootcamps have become an established path into tech. Our bootcamp is provides a meaningful education that properly supports the hard work and dedication of all students. Everything learned is directly applicable to the career search and the technical abilities the job will require. This is a great option for students passionate about the industry who are also dedicated to getting there quickly. Bootcamps create a concentrated, fast-past learning environment, packed with information and valuable insights. Grand Circus bootcamps teaches both the soft and technical skills necessary to land a job. We also offer schedule options with Full Time and Par Time bootcamps.

Keep in mind, not all coding bootcamps are created equal. There’s currently no regulation on the coding bootcamp industry, which makes it easier for new programs popup. Make sure to review Outcomes Reports, talk to alumni and understand the bootcamp’s Employer Network

Our Coding Bootcamps Provide Skills, Opportunity, and Family.

Coding bootcamps are a unique learning experience that invites students from a wide range of backgrounds to learn collaboratively. A single classroom might include individuals who previously worked as baristas, bankers, teachers, psychologists and beyond –– some with college degrees, many without. In fact, nearly 47% of Grand Circus graduates join the program without a four-year degree. No matter where students are before the bootcamp, everyone gets a fair opportunity to achieve their dream tech job. Putting in the time and work throughout the program and after graduation matter far more than prior degrees or professions. 

Frequently requested stats: 

  • Graduates make a median salary of $52,000 in their first entry-level tech career 
  • 89.1% of full-time bootcampers earn careers in tech 
  • Every year, the salaries of alumni increases, with 2015 graduates making an average of $83,514
  • More than 300 employers hire Grand Circus grads 

[Read more in our Outcomes Report

How to Prepare: Workshops

We understand that not everyone comes from a background with technical knowledge. In fact, only one in four high schools has a computer-programming curriculum. It can be intimidating to learn a new skill and career path.

Develop your coding skills at one of our workshops in Detroit or Grand Rapids. The free Intro to Code workshop is perfect to get you started, while Intro to Front-End and Intro to Java help you decide which coding language you love best!

Check out our guide for clarity on application, success rates, and more.

No matter where you’re starting, a career in tech is possible. All you have to do is begin.

A Day in the Life of a Coding Bootcamp Student

May 21, 2019

The idea of getting back in a classroom setting can be daunting, but the Grand Circus learning team works hard to make sure the classroom can be a successful and positive environment for each bootcamp student.  Many of our students are changing their careers and will need time to adjust being back in the classroom.

The days are broken up into multiple sections in order to keep the material interesting and allow students to have a hands-on experience.

Elements of the Classroom

The classroom learning is broken up into different sections, Learn New Things, Labs and Demos.

Learn New Things

  • Here, the instructor teaches the concepts and demonstrates code examples for the class.
  • The class is then given exercises that reflect the material and give them practice either pair-programming or white-boarding with a partner.

Labs

  • Labs are assigned daily to give the students real-life, applicable practice to master the concepts.
  • The instructor or TA grade labs each week and to give the students feedback on their progress and to help them further improve their skills as developers.

Demos

  • Students demo their labs and other projects in front of their classmates often. This gives the students the practice talking about their code and their development process so that when it comes time to explain their code to employers or teammates, it’s a smooth and seamless transition.
  • The culmination of this demo practice at bootcamp is Demo Day, when students have the opportunity to present their projects to employers! These final projects are worked on in groups over the last few weeks of bootcamp and give students a final piece of work to add to their portfolios.

Career Services

Grand Circus takes a holistic approach to career services to support both job seekers and career changers.  These services are not generally what you would learn in school, and include the ability to sell yourself, act with confidence and grow your individualized network.  Services throughout bootcamp include Weekly Soft Skill Sessions, Career One-on-Ones, Tech Wednesday & Coffee with Cody, Resume & LinkedIn Edits, Mock Interviews, Company Info Sessions, and Demo Day.  

Soft Skills

Weekly Soft Skill sessions help students excel in non-technical aspects of the job search process.  Soft skills differentiate candidates in the interview process and in the workforce. These sessions include lessons and discussions on Imposter Syndrome, Career Exploration, Job Search Strategy, Resumes and LinkedIn, Interview Prep, and Professionalism.  

To explore more on our Career Services, check it out here.  

Culture

Culture is a huge part of the Grand Circus experience, it’s what separates our community from the rest.  A quick glimpse of this is evident in the fact that during the bootcamps, our staff works hard to check in with students and their well-being and progress.  Program Managers regularly meet one-on-one with students to check-in and make sure they are on track, but also to receive any emotional or motivational support they may need as well.  Instructors and Teaching Assistants also have regular one-on-ones with their students. Beyond the classroom, our staff works to create a fun, inclusive, learning environment that fosters community.  Affinity groups as well as community building activities and icebreakers are common practices at Grand Circus. Our culture positively impacts our students on a daily basis, we invite you to dive deeper into our culture in our When You’re Here, You’re Family: The Culture of Grand Circus blog.

Alumni Wisdom

We asked some of our alumni what their bootcamp experience was like and how they felt on a day-to-day basis, here are some of their responses.


My day-to-day bootcamp experience consisted of a lot of coding and learning. Each day we’d complete coding exercises and learn new programming concepts through lectures. After we were taught something new, we were given the chance to code on our own and work with our classmates to solve a problem/exercise. At the end of the day, we were given the chance to ask any questions to our instructor or get after-school help. Working as hard as we did each day allowed us to build our soft-skills and become great programmers!

-Chandler Keyes, Junior Fullstack Software Developer | Interaction Gaming


Our typical day-to-day started with a demo based on your homework from the night before, so you can see how someone else solved the same problem as you. Followed by a lesson/lecture in the morning most of the time not coding (at least in the beginning) I loved that Dr. K did this so that we could really focus on the key concepts. In the afternoon we had an exercise/lab based off of what you had learned that day. I loved that because it helped reinforce what you learned and then applied it as code. We had time to work with our instructor, TA and peers and normally we had homework due the next morning.

-Sam Mazzola, Software Developer | United Shore

Tips for Filling out a Coding Bootcamp Application

March 7, 2019

Are you wondering how to make your application stand out?  Curious what our Admissions team looks for? Our hope is this blog can send you in the right direction in creating the best application possible!  

Our coding bootcamps prepare students for a complete career change into tech.  Many of our students start in entry-level Software Developer roles after graduation.  Our bootcamps cover lessons in both technical skills as well as career search prep, through our career services team. We’ll explore three different ways to ensure you’re leaving the best impression in your application process: Preparation, Logistics and Things to Consider.

Grand Circus’ Tips to Complete an Awesome Coding Bootcamp Application

Preparing to Apply

From the beginning to the end of your journey, taking bootcamp seriously is imperative.  This journey starts before you even apply! In applications, we look for students that have taken the time to put themselves on the right path to be a successful bootcamp student. When preparing to fill out your application responses, think about these questions and how you can incorporate the answers into your application:

  • Why is Grand Circus a good fit for you?
  • What characteristics and traits make you a good fit for a coding bootcamp?
  • What inspires you to have a career in tech?
  • Are you passionate about learning to code?  What is your reasoning for wanting to attend a bootcamp?  If coding is not something you believe you’re truly passionate about, you must consider if you will be happy in a career in technology.  
  • Have you had any coding experience (of any kind!)? If not, you might want to consider taking one of our free classes or a workshop with us. Although they aren’t required to apply, it’s a great step in preparing!

Other ways to prepare include doing your research on Grand Circus and Coding Bootcamps, our blog is a great place to start!  

Taking a free class or workshop first to get a feel for our classroom.  Taking a class with us can help you to understand the Grand Circus learning environment and if coding is right for you.  Getting a feel for our classroom can also help you determine if a Full Time Bootcamp or After Hours Bootcamp is best for you.  Full Time Bootcamps run are 12 weeks long, Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm, After Hours Bootcamps run for 26 weeks, Monday, Wednesday & Thursday, 6:30pm – 10pm.  Both bootcamps cover the same amount of content, After Hours tends to be a better option for those who hope to keep their current full-time positions while attending a bootcamp.

Logistics of the Coding Bootcamp Application

The details matter!  Although it might not seem like it, small things like spelling, grammar and using complete sentences can impact your application.  Small details will help the first impression our application team has of you. A few small tips that will make a huge difference:

  • Take your time, don’t rush through the process and think about your answers carefully.
  • Fill out the application on a desktop or laptop, rather than a mobile device.
  • Have someone review it and read it over, it’s always helpful to have an extra set of eyes before you press submit!

Things to Consider before a Coding Bootcamp

Becoming a bootcamp student can be a big adjustment and major time commitment, thinking through these questions can help determine if you’re ready to apply.  Bootcamps take a lot of work beyond the walls of the classroom, so there are logistics to consider to make this possible.

  • What will you do if your application is accepted?  At this time, you should start to think about life planning, financing, career options and beyond.  Think about how your life is going to change while attending a bootcamp with us, what obstacles might you have to overcome?  
  • This is our very first impression of you as a student.  Often times short answers with little to no details cannot provide us enough information to begin to get to know you.  Think about how you can portray who you are in the application, what is going to make you a good student at Grand Circus?
  • Have you had coding experience?  If so, make sure that’s portrayed in the application.

We’re looking forward to reading your awesome applications!  If you have any questions, reach out to us at Info@GrandCircus.co

Programming Languages: Which Should I Learn?

December 5, 2018

Interested in learning code? Determining which language to learn can be challenging. We’re here to help!

We encourage making a list of companies you ideally would like to work for and research what language they hire for.  It’s one way of helping you understand the tech landscape. It’s important to know that once you learn a language, it’s easier to learn others. This opens many career opportunities. 

Below is a description of the languages taught at Grand Circus bootcamps, from an experiential perspective.

Front-End and Back-End

Below, two experienced Grand Circus instructors and staff share their experiences as developers. You’ll gain a better sense of what type of projects are involved with both front-end and back-end. (more…)

Mastering the Coding Bootcamp Interview

November 20, 2018

You’ve done it. After weeks of careful research and planning you’ve finally completed your application to a coding bootcamp and taken the next step on your journey to a career in tech. But as you finally build up the courage to hit submit, you can’t help but think: “what’s next?”

While the application is an important part of gaining admission into a coding bootcamp, it is just one step in a larger process that allows tech training companies like Grand Circus to get to know you as a person, a professional and a student. With the application complete, it’s time for you to start thinking about thinking about the next important step: the interview. (more…)

Alumni Wisdom Series: What to do After a Coding Bootcamp

September 19, 2018

Coding bootcamps are designed to train you in the skills necessary to become a software developer. But, what happens after the program is over, graduation is done and you’re on the search for your new career?

Bootcamp: it’s a marathon, it’s a long-haul flight, it’s an intellectual feat. And once you’re done, it’s easy to become dizzy with the amount of free time and flexibility your schedule now has. While rest is certainly well-needed, it’s important not to let your new skills slide. This is, after all, the beginning of your journey.

We sought advice from alumni on how to best use your time post-bootcamp time: How to keep learning and keep growing as developer.

(more…)