Posts about Career

How to Earn a Career in Tech

April 25, 2018

The tech industry is growing rapidly. By 2024, careers in computer-programming will increase by 27%. That’s four times more growth than the job market as a whole, according to the U.S. Labor of Bureau Statistics. Careers in software development are also among the highest paying, with local coding bootcamp grads making an average salary of $50,000 in entry-level positions.

This translates to a lot of career opportunities. If you’re looking for a career change, want to get back into the workforce or are just starting your professional journey – the tech industry has a place for you!

There are a few ways to start a career in tech: earn a Computer Science degree, learn programming independently or enroll in a coding bootcamp.

For some, going to college isn’t an option – it’s expensive, it takes years and it can be difficult to get a career after graduation. Being self-taught is great, but can often result in a learning plateau and lacks meaningful networking and coding portfolios. And while a coding bootcamp may seem like a plausible solution, it’s understandable that the decision comes with a lot of questions.

Let’s talk about:

  • the steps you can to take to earn a career in tech
  • how a coding bootcamp can provide the support you need and
  • some of the most frequently asked questions

Steps to Take When Starting a Career in Tech

  1. Determine if programming is right for you

Give coding a try! There are a range of online resources –– both paid and free –– that can help you try coding. Spend some time with programming exercises and determine if it’s something you want to make a career with.

Some of our favorites resources: The Basics for Beginners, Learn Java Online and Beginning C#.

Grand Circus also has in-person resources:

“I took the intro course to break my fear of learning to code. I found that it was vital to convince myself that I could be successful in coding and overcoming something I thought I couldn’t understand.” – Mike Riley, Java Developer at ADMI, GC Grad    

  1. Recognize that you CAN do it.

Once you determine if programming is right for you, the next step is to overcome the feeling that you can’t achieve this career goal. It’s normal to feel a bit of imposter syndrome when starting a new career.

More than 1,000 students have graduated Grand Circus coding bootcamps. This includes hundreds of people who never thought a career in tech was possible. No matter what your background is, how old you are, what your lifestyle is –– it’s possible to earn a career in tech. If you are ready to work hard and you’re excited about the fast-paced industry, a coding bootcamp can support your transition into tech.

[Bonus Read: How to Be Successful in a Coding Bootcamp]

  1. Do your research.

Every local market is different. Evaluate what your opportunities are –– what employers are hiring, how much do they pay, which programming languages are in demand, what challenges you may face, if there’s networking opportunities nearby and who else has made this kind of change.

Spend some time doing Google searches, attending events and talking to your local networks.

  1. Dedicate yourself.  

David W., a GC Grad now working at Accenture

Learning a new skill for a rapidly moving industry requires a lot of hustle, problem solving and dedication. If you enroll in a coding bootcamp, take it seriously and listen to the advice of those around you. Fully engage in the process. Ask questions. Determine goals and work toward them.

[Bonus Read: Is a Coding Bootcamp Right for You? 9 Signs It Is]

Most Commonly Asked Coding Bootcamp Questions

What is a coding bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is an intensive learning experience that teaches the skills necessary to become an entry-level software developer. Not all bootcamps are created equal, and it’s important to research which is right for you.

At Grand Circus, we offer full-time coding bootcamps –– 12 weeks, including two weeks of at-home work before the program begins. These are Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm. We also have an After-Hours option –– a 26-week model, hosted three evenings a week. Both models provide the technical and soft skills you’ll need to earn a career in tech.

“More than teaching me a programming language GC prepared me to be a problem solver. I learned how to break down the problem I am trying solve, how/what to research to create a solution and most importantly how to work with a team to solve that problem,” says Saresa Smith, Developer at  North American Bancard, GC Grad.

Who hires coding bootcamp grads?

Nationally, thousands of companies employ bootcamp grads. Locally, Grand Circus is proud to partner with a 200+-company employer network.

Nationally, 72% of employers reported bootcamp students are “just as prepared” as computer science grads. Because coding bootcamps are nimble enough to change as the market needs, adjustments to curriculum can happen effectively. This better prepares students for the evolving job market, and creates a streamlined hiring process for many employers.

What are the success rates of a coding bootcamp?

Michigan’s tech job market is booming! 86% of Grand Circus grads were employed in a paid technical role with the support of our programs.

[Learn more about this in our Outcomes Report.]

What does the student body look like?

Coding bootcamps are being recognized as a source of diversifying the tech industry. 41.2% of our students are women and 30% are people of color. Students come from a range of backgrounds – from the service industry to teachers and just about everything in between.  Classrooms are filled with different personalities, learning types and backgrounds. That’s part of the fun!

[Bonus read: 7 Traits of a Successful Coding Bootcamp Student]

If you’ve been considering a career in tech, now is the time to start the process. An estimated 1 million computer-programming positions will be unfilled by 2020.

Why Learn Programming?

March 14, 2018
Yasmine Grand Circus

Yasmine, a Junior JavaScript Instructor, shares her insights on why it’s important to learn programming

As a developer, I often get the question: “Why programming?”

During my days as a teacher, I rarely looked at a computer during the day, let alone actually use one to solve my daily problems. I found I was encouraging my students to be creative and make things every day, while not having the skills or ability myself to do the same.

When I became a programmer, I was finally able to gain the skills to be able to create things that tangibly solve problems people run into on a daily basis. Being able to create something from nothing is why I became a programmer, but there are many more reasons why someone should consider the career. Here are my top three reasons why you should!

  1. Relevancy

If you want to be relevant in today’s industry, or the very least, know what you’re talking about, 

Why learn to code?

learning to code is a really important gateway to understand how today’s society works.

Without a baseline knowledge of how the technology you interact with works, you run the risk of missing out on emerging careers, regardless of whether you use a programming language or not. Being able to talk to others about how things are built is an invaluable skill that will set you apart.

  1. Solve real problems!

While having a basic understanding of programming is necessary to communicate with others in programming related industries, a deeper understanding of code can help you solve problems in your daily life.

For example, when I first started to program, I would practice by creating things I knew would make me more efficient. I realized that I could write a program that would create a new daily workout routine for me based on my previous workouts. Writing the code to solve this problem took me about an hour on a weekend afternoon, and it’s saved me a lot of time searching for or thinking about workout routines every time I plan on going to the gym.

  1. Help real people find real solutions

Yasmine helping students at GC codetretreatAt its core, programming is really just taking problems or inefficiencies and using code to solve them, or make them significantly simpler.

During my first job as a programmer, we worked with a mental health organization that was trying to reach hundreds of people. Their main issue was the site was being able to receive donations, since they are a nonprofit, most of their business depends on them.

Thanks to our programming and problem-solving skills, my team and I were able to create a much more streamlined process for the organization that was user friendly and efficient. Watching the new site develop, hearing their needs and solving a real-world issue they had allowed me to see how good programming can make a big difference to others.

Ultimately, programming is really about a mindset. It’s about being able to take big or small problems and break them down into manageable solutions. The way we develop today has allowed so many people to be able to make everyday tasks, like communication or travel, so much easier.

All of this is possible because people chose to learn to program and utilized their skills to develop these processes. There are SO many reasons to learn programming; these are just a few that were important in my transition from teacher to programmer. If you have questions about starting your journey, don’t hesitate to reach out

For Women in Tech, Mentors Make All the Difference

March 6, 2018

For those not historically included in the tech industry – specifically, women and people of color – mentors that look like them are important factors for individual success. Seeing people who look like you have successful careers in your field can be remarkable and inspiring – it’s proof that success in the tech industry is possible for all women.

Diane Taylor of Michigan Council of Women In Technology

Diane Taylor

A mentorship allows women to truly understand their passion and how technology can have an impact,”says Diane Taylor, of the Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT).  “There are so many different areas of technology that many people may not think about like application development, total user experience, communication, project management, and more. By having someone in the field of technology mentor a woman interested in this field, it can open doors to different things that many have not considered.”

MCWT’s vision is simple and bold: to make Michigan the leading state for women in technology. Grand Circus partnered with the MCWT, connecting two cohorts of women students from the DEVELOP(her) bootcamps with mentors through the MCWT’s Ignite! Mentorship program. Ignite! is a mentoring program designed for women in the early stages of their tech careers, or in a mid-career transition into the technology field.

John Rumery, the Grand Circus Grand Rapids Campus Director, has worked closely with MCWT’s team and GC students to build these relationships and empower our grads as they enter new careers. 

“Nothing really compares to Ignite!,” says Rumery. “What really makes it special is that it connects successful, senior-level women in tech with junior-level developers on a one-on-one basis. The other thing that makes it special is that it’s an extended program. Nothing else really comes close to what Ignite! offers.”

For the DEVELOP(her) students, the mentors are a insights and connections into a new career field. This transition into a junior developer role can be intimidating; having someone who’s walked that path before and is invested in their success can make all the difference.

DEVELOP(her) alumni

Karina Lopez, DEVELOP(her) graduate

“There are very intelligent women that work in Michigan that want more women in tech. Having my mentor be so excited and helpful made my transition into an IT career feel so much more welcoming,” says DEVELOP(her) program graduate Karina López.  “Having a mentor also helped me see what opportunities and career paths available, and that there’s not just one path in IT. There are different opportunities to explore, so to do what excites you!”

Julie Klausing, a member of the MCWT and mentor to a DEVELOP(her) student believes that because technology careers have traditionally been male dominated, it’s even more important for women in the field to have a female mentor.

Julie Klausing, Member of MCWT and DEVELOP(her) program mentor

Julie Klausing

“When mentoring someone, it’s important to meet them ‘where they are.’” says Klausing. “Perhaps there’s something burning they need to run by you, or there’s something they need your advice on. [Meeting them where they’re at] allows the mentoring to be more meaningful to the mentee.”

This is the key to a successful, meaningful mentorship: honesty, vulnerability and a shared desire to learn and grow. Taking time out of one’s schedule to focus on development can be challenging, so focused time in this area is a “game changer.”  

“A mentorship can positively impact the career development trajectory because it allows for the needed time to plan out a career which is something many people don’t take enough time planning,” says Taylor.

Kate DiLorenzo, MCWT Mentor

Kate DiLorenzo

“Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable when you’re developing your goals and hold yourself accountable,” advises Kate DiLorenzo, a MCWT mentor.

DiLorenzo, who has also benefited from being mentored, knows that building a meaningful relationship with a woman of a different background made for mutual development, and was a rewarding experience for both parties.

“Even though the focus was on developing skills, we both grew, expanded our knowledge and had fun getting to know one another! Identifying where we each want to grow our knowledge has become the foundation of my future mentoring relationships,” says DiLorenzo

There is one thing that I tell so many people in their career, which is to utilize the networking and training opportunities available,” says Taylor.  “Both MCWT and Grand Circus are fabulous organizations that put training and networking to the forefront. These companies understand the need for skilled IT employees and how important it is to stay current with the ever-changing field of technology.”

Employer Highlight: Pillar

February 14, 2018

Pillar’s Ann Arbor office has played an important role in the growth of Michigan’s tech industry.

Building a talented and diverse tech workforce  is one of our biggest goals at Grand Circus and something that influences all aspects of our company, especially our hiring partners. That’s why we love our friends over at Pillar!

A national leader in technology consulting, Pillar has been developing innovative solutions and helping create a more diversified tech industry for over 20 years. Better yet, they’re always looking for talented developers to join their team! They’ve been a strong supporter of our students, often making time to visit the classroom, hosting events in our space and hiring many of our graduates. 

We recently caught up with two Pillar team members, Joe Schoch and Colleen Geyer, to talk about their company and what advice they would give to someone thinking about starting a career in tech. (more…)

Employer Highlight: Accenture

January 29, 2018

Accenture now employs 5 coding bootcamp grads: Matt, Kevin, Stephanie and Carlos. Since this blog was written, Accenture has hired TechHire Java Bootcamp Grad, David V.

Student success is our success. We’re proud to partner with more than 170 employer partners that hire our graduates.

As our students begin the job search, we always recommend they research individual companies and establish what kind of business they’d like to work with.

In this blog, we’ll take you behind the scenes at Accenture. Their team shares insights on what it takes to be successful as a software developer, skills they look for when recruiting and more.

Our partnership with Accenture began in 2017, and the company now employs five fantastic coding bootcamp grads. We’re excited to see this partnership strengthen, and hope these insights will help future bootcampers prepare for the job hunt. (more…)

Women in Tech: DEVELOP(her) Scholarship and Bootcamp Field Notes

August 23, 2017

While there were dozens of men who invented, improved and created the first computers, women were an essential and fundamental part of the development of modern programming. Today women are a presence the tech industry sorely lacks and sorely needs.

Each of us is fighting a whirlwind of career and job challenges that are often hard to wrap our strengths around. Such challenges are particularly fundamental to the experiences of women in the workplace. Those challenges are further magnified by the minority gap in tech. The DEVELOP(her) scholarship is our way of being responsible stewards of the coding knowledge we have at Grand Circus. It’s a scholarship and bootcamp combo that are awarded to women who want to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors (Grace Hopper, anyone?).

The DEVELOP(her) recipients train in the coding skills necessary to launch careers in tech, and participate in the tech industry’s growth. (more…)

Don’t Sweat The Stress: How To Thrive In The Workplace

May 4, 2017

Work can be stressful. Use these tips to help keep things under control.From meetings to deadlines and projects that pop up out of the blue, life in the workplace can sometimes get a little stressful. Even if you’re working your dream job, there can be times when the evil anxiety monster sneaks up and makes your day to day a little more difficult. But if you feel like your job can be stressful from time to time, you’re not alone. In a survey by, 40% of workers say their jobs are at least moderately stressful with 25% reporting their career to be the most stressful aspect of their life. While our jobs can be a source of satisfaction and accomplishment, they can also seem a tad overwhelming if not managed correctly.

To help you manage those stress levels, we’ve surveyed our team to figure out what they recommend to stay level headed.


7 Steps for Career Fair Success

March 29, 2017

While on the hunt for a new position, attending a career fair can be an incredibly valuable use of your time. However, as with any aspects of searching for a job, preparation is the key!

Career fairs can be busy – and sometimes overwhelming – events. There are often dozens of companies vying for your attention and numerous other candidates interested in positions just as you are. It’s important to make the most of your time there and use the opportunity to effectively engage with the companies you’d like to work with. Having been a part of many career fairs, we’ve compiled a list of what helps candidates stand.

7 Steps for Career Fair Success


5 Ways to Maximize Your Career Fair Booth

March 17, 2017

As the local tech industry experiences the sixth largest imbalance between the supply and demand for skilled workers, finding the right candidate can be a daunting task! There are a number of approaches to take, but one of the most tried and true is participation in a career fair. We have compiled a few tips to ensure your own success the next time you are tasked with manning the table for a few hours. (more…)

How to (Not) Land A Job: Our Top Interview No-Nos

March 14, 2017

Congratulations! Your resume and initial screening have impressed the company recruiters and you’re one step closer to that dream job you’ve had your eye on for the last few months. Now all that stands between you and the position is the all-important, but sometimes intimidating, in-person interview. (more…)