Posts about Grand Circus
Here at Grand Circus, we’re excited to be starting 2018 by announcing our new coding bootcamp model. Today I’d like to provide more details on this change, why we’ve made this decision and how it will impact our community. We’re super happy with the new additions, but I get that you’re probably wondering why. Grand Circus had full-time bootcamps for nearly three years around a 10-week model with good success! Why change the model?
Well, at Grand Circus we pride ourselves on being committed to student success and being responsive to feedback. As we looked toward celebrating our 5th birthday and our 1,000th bootcamp student, we took time to reflect on how we could better serve our community as we continue to grow. We listened to our partners, surveyed our community and identified a few areas that could lead to even greater student success. Feedback is something we’ve taken very seriously since Grand Circus was founded, and this anniversary was the perfect time to take a deeper dive and implement a few changes.
We heard from alumni —-both those exiting our programs and those who have been working in the field for some time — that more time would give them more practice and confidence, which makes all the difference in those first few junior software developer interviews. We wanted to extend the length of the bootcamp so students could graduate our programs with an increase in confidence that, we hope, translates to a more satisfying career in technology overall.
We regularly connect with employers from across Michigan and heard feedback that a few different concepts could really set our students apart. We sat down with employers who have hired a ton of our grads, and those who haven’t hired any at all, to get a sense of what additional concepts would make graduates more marketable, more job ready and more productive in their first tech roles.
We listened to our staff! Grand Circus is filled to the brim with some of the most talented developers, teachers and career-change-cheerleaders that I could ever hope to know. We used our collective experience from nearly 60 bootcamps and over 900 students to examine ways our program could best serve the community that we love.
When all those factors came together, we knew that adding two weeks to our bootcamps would allow us to deliver an even more targeted, thoughtful and compelling career-changing platform for Michiganders. So, what will we do with those extra two weeks? So glad you asked!
What’s the game plan for the 12-week coding bootcampmodel?
- We’re adding more content! By adding two more weeks of in-person training, we can add technical magic that will help make Grand Circus graduates more competitive on the job market. We’re looking forward to adding coursework around data structures, algorithms, wireframing, SASS, gulp, and/or UX/UI, depending on the program a student takes.
- Making our hard stuff work harder! Even with the new stuff we’re adding, having two more weeks with our students in-person gives us the ability to dive deeper with some of the trickier topics in our bootcamps. Students will leave our 12 week program with an even more thorough understanding of each of their bootcamp’s core frameworks and most difficult concepts.
- We’re laser-focusing on career preparation! We’re taking the time to revamp our soft skills offerings, add new sessions, and tailor each sessions based on feedback from both students and employers. This revamped offering will give students both the theoretical approach and tactical strategies needed to find the perfect company for their budding development careers.
We’re really looking forward to serving our communities with our more robust bootcamps. We know that the 12-week model might make our full-time programs more difficult for some to attend. As such, we’ve extended our part-time bootcamp models as well to a 14-week curriculum that enables students to have even more content, practice, and support than before. In addition, we’ve revamped our shorter-term evening class offering to provide opportunities for alumni and new learners alike to up their tech skills in a less demanding environment.
Our team is proud of the success we’ve had with the 10-week model, and we know this new material will help them become even more impactful. We’re thankful to be on this journey with 1,000 software developers throughout Michigan and beyond, and we’re looking forward to training even more in the coming years.
The beginning of 2018 marks an important milestone for Grand Circus – we’re turning 5!
To mark the occasion I wanted to share some of our proudest moments, and let you know about some exciting changes for the coming year.
When Grand Circus was founded, the simple idea was to teach the masses job skills for the modern digital economy. While we have always been true to that vision, I never imagined the profound impact we would have on people’s lives.
These student stories inspire us every day, and they also serve to reinforce our belief that anyone can learn the skills of a developer.
A few coding student stories –
Or Deeann…She was a stay-at-home mom for more than 10 years who was finding it difficult to break back into the workforce. She took a Java bootcamp and now works at Pillar Technology, a leading software development firm.
Or Terrell…He’s a current high school senior who learned HTML/CSS in a Grand Circus youth program. Terrell picked a class project which took his mom’s clothing business online and has since started his own web development business!
Over the last five years, we’ve seen hundreds of similar stories and the impact of our training is evident across Michigan:
- 2500+ people introduced to coding in our free seminars
- ~1000 adults trained in our immersive coding bootcamps
- 90% of our paid bootcampers are now working in various tech careers*
- 170+ companies who have hired our graduates to fuel their growth
- 350 high school students trained in basic front-end development and exposed to the opportunity of a tech career
- 3,000 people learning social media marketing over the next 2 years (in a program sponsored by Facebook)
* For more info on our job placement rates, check out our 2016 Outcomes Report
For all of this success, we regularly survey alumni and employers on how to improve our outcomes. This feedback is being implemented in some exciting changes for 2018.
Beginning in April, our regular bootcamp curriculum will run 12 weeks (adding an additional 2 weeks to the program). This updated format will expose our students to a larger set of employer-demanded skills while continuing to make a tech career accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
This is a time to celebrate, and we’re very thankful for everyone who has been a part of our journey. In addition to the thousands of students we’ve trained and launched into exciting tech careers, we are also indebted to the support of countless individuals and organizations across Detroit and Grand Rapids who help us in our quest to make tech accessible to Michganders.
Thank you and have a great 2018!
With just 25% of computer programming jobs held by women, the tech industry has a lot of work to do to create equal opportunities. Grand Circus is committed to changing this narrative. In 2016, we launched our DEVELOP(her) program to equip women with the skills and resources they need to start a career in tech. Coupling our tech training with funding and support from amazing community partners, we’ve launched this initiative in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Flint by providing full scholarships to select women interested taking our coding bootcamps
This fall, our first cohort in Grand Rapids launched, and we’re proud to have graduated eleven amazing women. Here’s a little about their journey:
The Grand Rapids DEVELOP(her) women come from a variety of backgrounds—government, retail, marketing, nonprofits and beyond. This class trained students to be entry-level back-end developers. Before the class, a few had some tech training, most had none. This doesn’t phase Tommy, our amazing instructor. “If anything,” he says, “it makes them more creative coders. I see code come out of some students in this class that’s really unique. I never would have thought to do some of these things. I learn things from them.”
The paths that brought these women to Grand Circus varies. Many of the students harbored an interest in tech, but feelings of not being qualified kept them from making that leap.
“Imposter syndrome is one of the biggest reasons I got out of IT,” says DEVELOP(her) grad Rebecca Allard.
Rebecca has a degree in Information Systems, and worked in IT for several large airlines for years. Despite her skills, she constantly felt like she was faking it. “I thought it wouldn’t be long before my clients found out they knew more than I did! I know a few men have felt like that, but I think [imposter syndrome] can really plague women in IT.” For her, DEVELOP(her) is a refresher and update on her existing skills, and the right fit for preparing to re-start her tech career. “DEVELOP(her) has been a dream come true!”
For other students—especially the women of color of this class, they’ve never seen someone who looks like them in tech, something that’s equal parts intimidating and motivating.
“I have never been in the majority in any of the workplaces I enter. I’m a native Spanish-speaking first generation Mexican-American. I’ve gotten used to being one of the only people of color in the places I work, but I don’t want to get used to it! I want more women, women of color and people from diverse backgrounds in the places I work,” says graduate Karina López. “For me, that means making sure that I’m creating inclusive cultures in my workplace so that people who do come from different backgrounds don’t feel pushed out. It also means I seek out communities outside of work to connect with other people like me that share similar goals.”
Grand Circus believes that tech should be equitable, and that’s exactly why the DEVELOP(her) program is so exciting: it makes space for those who’ve been excluded from tech in the past, in this case women and people of color.
“Being a black woman in any industry is a challenge,” says Jonaca Hudson, a graphic designer who wanted to expand her portfolio and transition to being a full-stack developer-slash-designer. “While we don’t want to believe discrimination happens, it is very real. In a male-dominated career path, finding your way can feel nearly impossible. Determination and persistence is where I place my mind instead of focusing on the negatives. And the fact that I am surrounded by a support system of powerful, intelligent women in this class is amazing.”
This spirit of determination and camaraderie is perhaps what most defines this DEVELOP(her) cohort. The world might see them as unlikely programmers, but their collaboration and dedicated to support each other and their communities illustrates their drive for success. Their motivations always point back to the question of “how can I use my skills to help my community?” From working together on homework to dreaming of ways to building apps for underserved populations, this group of ladies strives to improve the world around us.
“I have consistently found myself limited in what I can do with my GIS work, and I know it stems from not having a foundation with programming,” says Anel Guel. “And as a working professional, I appreciate that the bootcamp is only 10 weeks. I’ve often thought about pursuing a degree in Computer Science – but another four year degree is just not feasible for me.”
“In my programming classes at community college, I was often the only woman in the room. My ideas were often discounted if I was not insistent, andI had to advocate for myself in a way that I would not have had to do in a less male-dominated room. At Grand Circus, I found being in an all-female cohort refreshing. The diversity of backgrounds makes for diversity of ideas, which leads to better solutions.”
The DEVELOP(her) women prove time and time again that women have a place in tech. That women belong in tech, no matter what their background or education. Not only is there is space for them at the table, but it’s a table that’s being redefined, one DEVELOP(her) at a time.
A huge thank you to Women’s Resource Center, Michigan Council of Women in Technology, Start Garden, TekSystems and The Source for your support in making this program happen. We couldn’t have done it without you!
It’s no secret that Michigan’s tech industry is not just growing, it’s thriving! From Detroit to Grand Rapids and everywhere in between, the state is attracting attention from startups and major companies alike. And with major developments on the horizon, the need for quality talent and ideas in the industry is at an all time high. But the opportunities don’t just stop at the Ohio border. By 2020, there will be an estimated 1 million unfilled computer-programming positions throughout the United States.
But how can you get in on the action? At first, finding a way into the tech industry can seem a little tricky. After doing some research, you may be left asking: Where do I start? What if I don’t have a technical degree? How long will it take?
These are all valid questions and ones we often get here at Grand Circus. We’re celebrating five years of training folks for careers as developers, and we believe our bootcamps are a great way to launch a new career in the tech. Our intensive program gives students the skills they need to not only land a job in the industry, but also start making an impact on day one.
But what makes a Grand Circus bootcamp different from other technical training? Unlike do-it-yourself online courses, Grand Circus students are part of a community that works with them to help achieve their professional goals. That’s why we don’t just teach our students to code, we partner with them to build valuable skills and a career path toward their dream job in tech.
Who better to explain the Grand Circus difference better than our talented staff? We caught up with members of our team to why they think Grand Circus is a great first step toward a career in tech.
“Grand Circus offers people a truly hands-on approach to learning how to code. The community around students is authentic and super supportive. Plus, I like to think we have a lot of fun while doing it.” – Kim, Director of Learning
“Grand Circus is a very supportive environment. We walk with students through the technical and non-technical aspects of seeking a career in tech. And we coach them through the daunting process of landing a job.” – David, Instructor
“Grand Circus supports students on an individual basis. This is important because our students come from various fields of study and backgrounds. Recognizing each student’s needs is something Grand Circus is very adept at addressing.” – Ian, Recruitment and Selections Manager
“Grand Circus is student first, they’re very supportive and invested in students, while still simulating the real world well and preparing them for the real world.” – Tommy, Instructor
“Our bootcamps provide both the technical and soft skills training students need to be successful in their new tech careers. No matter what background students come from, if they’re willing to work hard and are excited about learning to code… our program can support their career transition.” – Jennifer, Senior Marketing Manager
“Grand Circus teaches more than the fundamentals of coding languages. They instill the confidence in each and every student drastically change the course of their lives. By providing in demand tech training, Grand Circus opens the door of opportunity to the bootcampers that enter their space.” – Stephanie, Community Manager
Regardless of whether you’re looking to upgrade your programming skills, desiring for a career change or searching for a way to break into the tech scene (or all three!), enrolling in a Grand Circus Bootcamp is a great way to get started.
So what are you waiting for? There is no time like the present. Enroll in a bootcamp today and discover your reason #WhyGrandCircus is a great first chapter in your future tech career.
We’re excited to share with you our 2016 Outcomes Report. A lot has changed since our last report was written, and we’re thrilled to share the updates with you! We’ve doubled the size of our team, opened a second location, made substantial investments in our curriculum and employer network, and continue to take serious steps to include alumni feedback in everything we do.
We graduated 93.8% of the 163 students that were enrolled in our tuition-based programs. 86% of those graduates were employed in paid, technical positions ranging from full-time developer, to internships, contract and freelance opportunities and some even being hired by Grand Circus directly (we love having alumni on the team!).
We also recognize the importance that not everyone wants to go into a full-time developer role. There are so many job opportunities within tech: project and product managers, quality assurance testers, business analysts and more; these are all success stories to us and we love to hear student stories after they leave us.
One of our core values is and continues to be a main focus of the business: the tech industry should reflect the diversity of our community. Last year Grand Circus trained 41.2% of women in our tuition-based programs and 30% people of color.
While we are proud of this, and they are much higher than the tech industry’s numbers, we know we can continue to do better. Some of our efforts include more Free Intro to Coding Workshops and diversity scholarships for anyone who identifies as a woman, minorities in tech, veterans and LGBTQ. These opportunities help ensure tech education is more accessible. We also continue to work with the city of Detroit and the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation to offer funded programs and scholarships to Detroit residents. These partnerships to continue to grow, and we’re excited for future opportunities throughout the state.
We hope you continue to follow Grand Circus’ journey as we celebrate our five-year anniversary next year. We are so excited to continue offering technical training to Michigan residents and beyond. If you are interested in learning more or just stopping by to say hi join us for our next info session.
The Grand Circus Team
Hola, tech familia! In this blog, we’re featuring local Latinx working in tech and design.
I personally know Cris as an active member in her community in her freetime, and as someone who takes on leadership roles in order to provide for others. Most recently, she’s volunteering for Garlin Gilchrist who’s running for Detroit City Clerk and who promises to update our systems in order to make the city more tech savvy and efficient! Personally, I’m super grateful to both! (more…)
We are always super excited to meet people who are ready for a career in tech. Our coding bootcamps prepare people like you to work as an entry-level web developer. Our application process ensures students are ready for success in our fast-paced, multi-week training. So, what do we look for? A hearty mix of passion, resourcefulness and preparation.
7 Traits of a Successful Coding Bootcamp Student
Self-led learners with a passion for coding
A passion for working in the growing tech industry draws students to our intensive bootcamps, and should include getting started on your own. Someone who has either dabbled or obsessed in free online coding tutorials is a prime candidate in our eyes. Learning on your own shows that you’re self-driven, resourceful and have what’s called a growth mindset – you believe that you can learn something new, even if you struggle along the way. As a new developer, these traits are key to professional success and what we look for in potential students.
Highly adaptable and able to thrive in an intense environment
As we prepare students for entry-level developer positions, we teach key technical and soft skills in a short amount of time. This model has been very effective; we’ve trained more than 750 developers and more than 140 companies from across the state hire our grads.
Still, this model is a bit demanding – mentally (think: fire hydrant of information), emotionally (you wonder if you can really do this. Hint: you can) and sometimes physically (don’t worry too much, our mid-bootcamp break helps you refresh).
Though it can be a stressful time, and impostor syndrome can be a constant battle, the best students find strategies for success. They figure out what studying methods work best for them. They plan out their day to make time for studying and family and friends. They embrace the challenge and excitement of changing careers, and do all they can to master the material. The most successful students lean on Grand Circus staff, resources and classmates for support. In a nutshell, Grand Circus students must be able to adapt to the fast pace of a bootcamp and thrive in an intense environment.
A strong determination to succeed
It’s ultimately up to a person’s personal study habits, focus and overall determination that’s going to make them successful in a bootcamp environment. A strong determination to succeed pushes students through challenging subjects and points of low energy and to content mastery. Along the way, our staff are 100% your teachers, cheerleaders and accountability partners.
For example, are you revisiting topics you’re still fuzzy on? Are you reworking labs to solidify concepts? If you have a question, do you take initiative and use multiple resources to find an answer? If you are job seeking, are you tackling classwork as well as networking and job applications every week? These are all things we expect from students, and it takes a strong sense of determination to ace them all.
Good communication skills
In a bootcamp, you will be asking lots of questions, working in groups and networking with strangers in an unfamiliar industry. We look for candidates who can communicate professionally with others, aren’t afraid to ask for help, will work a room even when it’s uncomfortable, embrace feedback and find ways to communicate effectively within a team.
Even more, good communication skills will help you ace the job interview and then perform in your new tech career. Software developers need to talk through their challenges and how they approach problems; they regularly collaborate within teams and communicate directly with clients. Having solid communication skills will help you both as a student and in your long-term professional development and is an important trait we look for in candidates.
Self-driven and resourceful
The foundation of coding is solving challenges and problems. If you ask what makes a successful developer, you’ll hear skills like “problem solver” and “resourcefulness.” When you face a new challenge (which will happen a lot), a great developer knows how to begin looking for the answer. Strong bootcamp candidates have a knack for finding information or taking a unique approach to problem solving.
As a new developer, our coding bootcamps will help prepare you with the knowledge necessary to work through technical problems, give you an understanding of which online resources are best and how to leverage connections with those already working in the industry. Students should use this knowledge and employ it throughout the entirety program, job hunt and eventually on the job.
In need of practical skills and an exciting new role
If you’re in need of practical skills, our bootcamps produce well-rounded candidates who are ready to work. Even students who have computer science degrees need a functional application and code portfolio to show employers that they have the experience to be efficient on the job. We help with that! All bootcamps end with final projects, where small student groups work together to build a functional web application.
Our team also helps you gain practical soft skills needed to land an exciting new role. Soft skill sessions are designed to support the job hunt process and help graduates be effective in their new roles from day one on the job. We hold visits with local employers, multiple mock interviews, show students how to better network, connect current students with alumni, share best practices for looking for a job in the tech industry, and more all in an effort to support student success.
Has done their research
You want to work in the tech industry. Great! First, how do you know a career as a developer is right for you – and can you effectively communicate this? Second, there are a lot of coding bootcamps throughout the nation, and there are a lot of reasons people join. It’s important that you’re making this commitment for the right reasons, understand which coding bootcamp is right for you and are familiar with what Grand Circus is all about.
Perusing our site and blog gives you a great understanding of our students, teachers and training model. You’ll have realistic expectations of what you need to put into a bootcamp and what we provide. If you’re still exploring development as a career option, take time to begin networking within the tech Meetup community. You’ll meet people working in a range of positions and companies that can give you insider information and help guide you in the right direction. And, attend an Info Session. These monthly events give you the opportunity to meet Grand Circus staff, learn more about our programs, explore our space and ask any questions you might have.
Our students have always come from a diverse set of backgrounds, but this was a first! Colton was a student in our October 2016 Java Bootcamp cohort who changed his career from deckhand in Charlevoix to developer.
Even though Colton graduated back in December 2016, he continues to stay involved with the Grand Circus community and is a great resource for current students or those thinking about joining a coding bootcamp. Continue reading for insights on his bootcamp experience, how Grand Circus can help you make a career change too, and why Colton landed a job before graduation!
Meet Colton, a Former Deckhand Turned Java Developer
What did you do before the Java bootcamp? Why did you decide to enroll in a Grand Circus coding bootcamp?
Before the bootcamp I was working at various manual labor or customer service jobs. Most recently I was working on a tugboat as a deckhand on the Great Lakes. I had always wanted to solve problems and help people, but I didn’t think it was possible for a single person to have a large amount of impact. I wound up living in Silicon Valley for six months and realized that I met people every day who created lots of impact, because they had the tools to do so. That tool was coding, and I knew after that I had to get involved in the industry. After saving up some money, I looked up and applied to several bootcamps, and the rest is history.
Where are you working now? What was the application and interview process like?
Since the bootcamp I’ve been working as a Java developer for Moosejaw. It’s a Michigan-based outdoor retailer with headquarters in Madison Heights. I was introduced to the company when they came to speak at Grand Circus and applied that day. There was an initial phone screening, and then a day where I did a high-level interview with the CTO and then a technical interview with the developers. After I received an offer, there was about a week of straightening out details and negotiating before I signed on.
What are your career goals?
My immediate goals are to move up to a more senior developer position, or if the right opportunities arise, into a technical project management position. I’m constantly working on my skills outside of my job in areas where I am weak so I can progress faster. As far as long-term goals, the sky’s the limit.
What was the most challenging aspect of bootcamp?
I think the final project was the hardest part of bootcamp for me. Not only do you have to zone in on your coding and actually build a working system from the ground up, but there’s also all of the design and creativity that goes into the final project. And on top of that, the group has to devise its own system of project management/organization. It’s a lot on your plate all at once, but you come out the other end a stronger developer.
What was your a-ha moment during the bootcamp?
I think the closest thing to an “a-ha” moment I had was just realizing that coding is all about accepting that you don’t know how to do something, and being comfortable with that. Every day, every new task, there will be parts of coding where you will have absolutely no idea how to proceed. This can cause panic until you internalize it’s all part of the gig. Coding at its base is problem solving. You do what you can. You research, you ask questions to people who might know more than you, and eventually you figure it out, and you start clueless again on something else. It’s a daunting process of learning and self-discovery, but I find it incredibly rewarding.
During the bootcamp, what was your support system?
Mostly I relied on colleagues and the community at Grand Circus to get me through. I recognized early on that I’m trying to accomplish a huge life and career change in 10 weeks, so I had to take it very seriously. All I did was code during that time, and if all you’re doing is coding, Grand Circus is a great place to do it.
How would you describe your overall experience at Grand Circus? What’s a highlight for you?
Overall I have to sing praises for Grand Circus as it worked out for me. I met good people and instructors, I learned a great deal in a short amount of time, and the highlight, of course, was getting that first job offer.
What was your best Detroit discovery during bootcamp?
A friend from GC invited me to a place called Motor City Wine in Corktown, where they have jazz and wine. We ended up turning Thursday nights there into a tradition. It’s a great place to relax and unwind after you’ve been coding all week.
What piece of advice would you give to someone about to embark on the bootcamp journey?
Work really hard! You have 10 weeks to change your life around completely. It’s not like college where you get an A in the class and everything is all good. Go learn as much as you possibly can in the short time you have! Attend every GC workshop or local meet up you have time for. You paid for this resource, it’s great, now get the most out of it!
Anything else you’d like to share?
ColtLeese@gmail.com is my email. I’m always up to answer questions about coding/interviewing or anything else Grand Circus related. Cheers!
When Melanie Myers decided to switch careers she made sure that everything added up before taking the plunge. That’s because she was an accountant!
Her attention to detail throughout the Java bootcamp labs made it clear that she has a knack for attention to detail. She always worked hard to figure things out on her own first, but also had the courage to ask for help when necessary. As with any intensive learning environment, Melanie also had a few setbacks along the way but she persevered and now has a fulfilling career as a developer.
Meet Melanie, Accountant Turned Java Developer
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…)