Posts about Bootcamp Advice

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.

There are Many Paths into Tech. Which 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: earning a computer science degree, self-taught or joining a coding bootcamp. Which is right for you is dependent on your preference, budget, desired timeline and the path’s efficiency. Let’s take a look at the options, advantages and disadvantages:

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. 

Additionally, earning a CS degree requires several general education credits that aren’t directly applicable to the work you’ll do after graduation and rarely cover topics like soft skills or networking with employers. In fact, some CS graduates go on to gain these technical and soft skills through other mediums, such as a coding bootcamp. 

Big companies, such as Google, have increasingly recognized that this 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 

This is a path of self-led study using a variety of free and paid resources such as Udemy. This variety gives you some flexibility in finding which is right for your preferred structure. It also allows you to learn and explore your interests at your own pace.

While there are some advantages to being a self-taught developer, this route can be a challenging way to earn a career in tech for two key reasons: 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

Within the last ten years, numerous coding bootcamps have been established throughout the nation to create an efficient, effective path into tech. This path is for individuals looking for a meaningful education that will properly support their hard work and dedication to the career. 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 incredibly dedicated to getting there quickly. Bootcamps create a concentrated, fast-past learning environment, packed with information and valuable insights. Many bootcamps include both the soft and technical skills necessary and offer a variety of scheduling options (such as our Full Time and After Hours programs). 

Keep in mind, not all coding bootcamps are created equal and ample research to establish one’s credibility and outcomes is important. Because the demand for tech talent is high and there’s currently no regulation on the coding bootcamp industry, new programs arise frequently. Students should review Outcomes Reports, talk to alumni and understand the bootcamp’s Employer Network

Why is a coding bootcamp might be the best option for you! 

Coding bootcamps create a unique learning experience that often 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 program with less than a four-year degree. No matter where students are before the bootcamp, everyone gets a fair opportunity to needed to earn their dream tech job. The hard work and hustle throughout the program and after graduation matter far more than prior degrees or professions. 

A few Grand Circus 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 for a Coding Bootcamp 

We understand that not everyone comes from a background with technical knowledge. In fact, only one in four high schools has computer-programming curriculum. For some, it’s intimidating to start learning a new skill and might be confusing to navigate the path. We want to ensure everyone has accessibility to the opportunities throughout tech; that’s why we’ve created workshops to help individuals prepare for coding bootcamp and get a better understanding of what coding is all about.   

If you’re just getting started, these are a great way to explore if coding is right for you –– check out our guide: Step by Step: Becoming A Coding Bootcamp Student. No matter where you’re starting from, this path can help you prepare for a coding bootcamp and expose you to the opportunities throughout the tech industry.

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…)

Alumni Wisdom Series: Our Favorite Coding Resources

September 4, 2018

Whether you’re new to programming or already working in tech, coding resources to continue your growth are vital. A coding bootcamp is a great learning experience, but your growth as a programmer should always continue. Learning new skills after graduation is essential, both on the job and independently. There are a world of free and affordable resources available to developers just like you. Here are a few alumni favorites!

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Alumni Wisdom Series: Feeling Like a Fraud? Tips to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

July 20, 2018

It’s easy to feel intimidated, even when you’ve demonstrated success. A feeling of “I don’t belong” or “I’m not good enough to be here.” This feeling has a name—imposter syndrome, and it makes it hard for people to really own their successes. Imposter syndrome is common among even the most successful people, including Grand Circus alumni. Even wildly successful celebrities, like Tom Hanks and Tina Fey, have expressed feeling of self-doubt. 

Throughout coding bootcamps, we talk a lot about imposter syndrome, having a growth mindset and the importance of understanding that you do belong here, you are good enough and you can do it.

Here’s their best advice for combating imposter syndrome and embracing the skills and abilities you have.

(more…)