Posts about Coding Languages

How to get started with C# .NET: An interview with Tommy, lead instructor at Grand Circus Grand Rapids campus

February 24, 2020

How to get started with C# .NET: An interview with Tommy, lead instructor at Grand Circus Grand Rapids campus

We recently sat down with Tommy Waalkes, lead instructor in Grand Rapids for our C# .NET bootcamp to learn all the magical things C# .NET can do. Turns out, there are some pretty awesome analogies that could help you better understand what C# .NET does if you’re brand new to coding or new to back-end.

Tommy Grand Rapids Grand Circus instructor

What’s C# .NET?

.NET Core is a programming framework used in enterprise development around the world that’s heavily integrated with the C# language. This programming language is highly in demand throughout Michigan and beyond.

You can learn more about our C# .NET bootcamps here.

Listen the audio interview.

Interview with Tommy Waalkes, C# .NET instructor at the Grand Circus Grand Rapids campus

The transcript below is timestamped to help you find the most relevant parts for you.

Amanda M (00:00):

Hey everyone. I’m Amanda. I’m the director of marketing at Grand Circus. Today, we’re talking to Tommy Waalkes. Tommy is Grand Circus’ C# .NET lead instructor at our Grand Rapids campus. And we’re talking about all things C# .NET. Hey Tommy, how are you doing?

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you like to do outside of the classroom?

Tommy W (00:23):

I’ve been with Grand Circus since 2017. I was hired on for the full-time instructor for the C# .NET bootcamp in Grand Rapids. In my life before Grand Circus, I worked as a freelance web developer. What attracted me to coding is that there’s always a unique or different challenge. Every project’s a little bit different. Every project you’re going to learn something new and that’s, that’s what excites me.

Can you tell me a little bit about C # .NET and explain how someone would be able to use that in web applications?

Tommy W (01:06):

Okay, sure. So C# .NET, the way it’s used is what’s called a back-end language and a back-end language that’s going to deal with processing your data but also deal a lot more with like logic and functionality. And what that means is that it’s essentially the brains of the operation. It does your logic, it does your data crunching, and it deals with pulling data in from different sources and what those skills it kind of builds up is going to be your problem solving, critical thinking. And that’s, that’s part of why I like C# so much. Its really powerful.

What’s your advice for someone who’s considering taking a C# .NET bootcamp?

Tommy W (01:53):

So my advice for somebody who’s interested in C# .NET is to think about your problem-solving skills and spend a lot of time doing very logical and detail-oriented work. The other point of advice I would have is if you’re unsure, I would try and get a taste for both front-end and back-end and see which one feels right.

Amanda M (02:21):

Okay, great. And just a plug for everybody watching this. You can do that through our workshops, right, Tommy?

Tommy W (02:27):

Yes. The intro to coding workshops. I teach them sometimes and we have teams both in Grand Rapids and Detroit of wonderful intelligent, smart, charismatic people to guide you through your first taste of coding.

What’s your advice for someone who is deciding between a front-end or back-end bootcamp?

Amanda M (02:41):

What is your advice for someone if they’re looking at Grand Circus between the front-end courses and then also the back-end classes. And in grand Rapids we offer C# . NET and then we also offer Java and C# .NET at our Detroit campus. So how does someone make the distinction of which pathway to take?

Tommy W (03:01):

That’s a fair question. That’s a pretty big question. I would say if you’re very visually oriented and you want to have something concrete that you can show off and you’re also very somewhat creative and artistically minded, I think you would have an easier time with front-end. I was very visual, so front-end was a really natural fit earlier on in my career. But if you’re very detailed-oriented, very excited about coming up with the best possible engine or solving this really cool out-there problem or just dealing with and examining, taking a critical eye towards data, back-end C# or Java would probably be a better fit for you. But at the end of the day, we [Grand Circus] will still give you exposure to both and that way you can make that decision for yourself.

What skills do you think would translate for someone who maybe doesn’t have a technical background or a business background? What skills do you think would translate well for someone considering a backend language like C# .NET?

Tommy W (04:13):

Yeah, so first and foremost, I believe that anybody can be a developer. So you don’t necessarily have to be perfect at any of this. However, signs that you would make a good C# developer is somebody who is enthusiastic about solving big problems and understanding and tinkering with big systems. The more you learn code, the bigger and broader the systems you can make. Think of it like this. We’re learning how the car is put together in what all the different pieces of the car do. I would say those really critical thinking skills are one. Two is being able to be flexible and be able to research. Because pretty much every single project I have done has had some sort of unique challenge to it that no other product that no other project I’ve touched has had. Then I think the last part is somebody who is constantly curious and constantly eager to learn more. Every single time I teach a class, I learn something new. Right? And there’s this learning should never stop. This curiosity should ever go away.

If someone is starting out for the very first time and has never seen a line of code, where should they get started?

I would recommend they come to one of our intro to coding workshops if they haven’t been already. And also I would definitely search Google for good C# tutorial websites. Two that I recommend would be Udemy, which is a paid in C# tutorials point, which will be a free tutorial on the basic essentials of C#. And fortunately, once you get the basics down for C#, they actually translate to different languages, which is really handy. One thing I would recommend for people who are just learning how to code is it’s 100% okay to have to go and ask for help. Ask a friend, ask a coworker, whoever. The idea being is that people usually want to be very supportive of you when you’re learning how to code. And most people, and this was my experience when I first learned, is I found that by learning how to ask others for help, I could get up and running that much quicker and people were a lot more welcoming than I thought they would be initially.

What if someone doesn’t know anyone else that knows how to code, where do they start?

Tommy W (07:01):

That’s fair. I think there are several really supportive and freely available MeetUps in Grand Rapids as well as Detroit. Where people will be really happy to talk shop with you and teach you some of the basics of how to code.

Amanda M (07:18):

Great. And one thing I’ll add too is that at any point, come to one of our Intro to Coding events, or any of our workshops and we can definitely help you out. We have a great team of instructors.

Tommy W (07:29):

Oh yeah, definitely. I recommend all of our instructors or those intro to codes. They are phenomenal.

Amanda M (07:40):

Great. I think that’s all the time that we have for today, but I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with me and talk a little bit more about C# .NET and the upcoming bootcamps.

Tommy W (07:49):

Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Amanda M (07:51):

Thanks. Bye. Take care!

10 Things to Know About the .NET Framework

July 22, 2019

If you are considering becoming a .NET developer through our .NET (C#) Development Bootcamp, here are 10 things to know about the language you should know before you embark on our bootcamp:

1. I heard that .NET was only for Windows or PC users. Is that true?

Not anymore! Thanks to .NET Core, a set of tools consisting of the runtime, library and compiler components, you can create apps that run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. .NET Core runtime, libraries, and compiler are all open source on GitHub and are taking contributions. (more…)

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.

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.


Introduction to GitHub (Video Series)

July 31, 2018

If you’re excited to be a programmer, you’ll need to know how to use version control.

Don’t know what version control is? Check out this blog post to learn more.

You’ll also want to learn the latest and greatest tools available to make you a more effective developer. Git and GitHub have transformed web-development workflow and made it a lot easier to collaborate. (more…)

What’s Up with Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality

September 7, 2017

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) don’t exist independently of each other.  Rather, both are points (or ranges) along a continuum. Augmented Reality is at one end (with low immersion, or high inclusion of physical reality) and Virtual Reality at the other end (with high immersion, or complete exclusion of physical reality).

Enhanced Reality

We may see the terms “Augmented” and “Virtual” Reality go away as more people gain experience with these technologies, and witness the overlap and connections between the two; we may see a term such as Enhanced Reality come into being as the entire spectrum with specific technologies clustering at different points along the spectrum.  Already some devices offer support for both, including the Michigan-based Immy Inc. whose headset includes an LCD panel to block vision for VR, or goes clear for Mixed Reality. (more…)

Detroit Codes Harder

July 21, 2017

Since the beginning of 2016, we’ve exposed over 1,800 individuals to coding through our free Intro to Coding Workshops. The Intro to Coding Workshops are part of a much longer history and much deeper effort. While many of us are doing our best, the tech industry remains no stranger to recurring patterns of discrimination and inequitable practices. We’ve known for a long time that if you’re going to be in tech, “you have to want to” (thanks for the empowering words Michelle Obama!) break those narratives. Inspired by our beloved Detroiters, we began the hustle.  (more…)

5 Reasons You Should Learn C#

February 27, 2017

Our lead instructor, Kamel Rushaidat, Ph.D., shares insights on why he loves C# and why others should learn the programing language. If you are looking for an explanation of what C# is, hop over to our blog 10 Things to Know About the .NET Programming Language.

One question that comes mind when people are trying to learn programming for the first time is “What language should I start learning first?” There are a lot of options out there, and we teach a few tracks in our coding bootcamps, but I think that C# would have been my very first choice if it has been around when I started to learn coding. (more…)

Resolving Git Conflicts from the Command Line

September 8, 2016

One of the most challenging yet common activities development teams run into with Git is resolving merge conflicts. This happens when multiple developers are making changes in a repository at the same time.

This post provides a walkthrough of how to get through two typical Git conflict scenarios. To set the scene, Grant and I are two developers working on a simple web page. We’re starting out with two files, index.html and styles.css. Our repository is hosted at GitHub, and in this case we are both working directly on the master branch.


5 Michigan Companies that use .NET

August 4, 2016


At Grand Circus, we know that people want to know where they’ll be able to use their skills once the bootcamp is over. One of the awesome things about learning .NET at Grand Circus is that there are lots of local companies that use this framework every day right in our own neighborhood. Here’s a brief sample of a few companies that use .NET where bootcamp graduates could possibly work.

Quicken Loans

Located just down the road from Grand Circus, Quicken Loans is an online mortgage lender that employs hundreds of developers. Quicken Loans was recently listed as one of the top 5 places to work in America by Forbes. The company has a large development team, so there are tons of seasoned developers to learn from as bootcamp graduates grow in their careers. Dozens of Grand Circus alumni currently work for Quicken Loans in a variety of positions—everything from interns to software developers!


10 Things You Can Build with JavaScript

April 22, 2016

According to a recent survey conducted by Stack Overflow, JavaScript is the most popular language on earth. What is interesting about these survey results, is that even for developers whose primary responsibility is the back-end (server-side code) they are still more likely to research questions about JavaScript than any other language. That’s largely because JavaScript is inescapable. Ask any of our Java or .NET bootcampers and they will tell you that for their final projects they had to get to a basic level of proficiency with JavaScript. This is also true in the working world. Any teams that do not have dedicated front-end developers, have to do it themselves.

build this with javascript

Atwood’s Law states that: “Any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript.”

Jeff Atwood was making a joke at JavaScript’s expense, but it has turned out to be more true than not. With advances in browser technology and JavaScript having moved into the server with NodeJS, JavaScript is capable of so much more than it was just a few years ago. Here’s a quick run-down of what you can do with JavaScript. Some of it is pretty obvious, other things less so.

10 Things You Can Build with JavaScript