Posts about Grand Circus

7 Traits of a Successful Coding Bootcamp Student

October 18, 2017

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

  1. 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.

If you want to try coding on your own, you can attend one of our free Intro to Coding Workshops and check out free online resources like Codecademy, Team Tree House, Free Code Camp and Hour of Code.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


Meet Colton, a Java Coding Bootcamp Graduate

October 5, 2017

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?Coding Bootcamp Student Presenting

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? is my email. I’m always up to answer questions about coding/interviewing or anything else Grand Circus related. Cheers!

Meet Melanie, Java Coding Bootcamp Graduate

August 14, 2017

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


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…)

From Property Manager to Developer, Meet Shug

June 21, 2017

Meet Front-End alum, Shug!Students in each coding bootcamp come from an array of backgrounds, professions and life experience. This classroom composition creates a supportive environment for all of our students, and allows the uniqueness of each student really shine. I’m excited to be doing this blog feature on Shugmi Shumunov, a graduate of our Front-End cohort of August 2016. Shug’s outgoing personality and infectious smile shined as he worked through coding exercises, labs and projects. No matter how challenging the coding bootcamp became, Shug always worked hard and had a positive attitude. He was always willing to help, volunteered much of his time to support others, and did it all with passion and excitement. I had the delight of working with him at Detroit Startup Week, and have enjoyed watching his career grow and flourish.  (more…)

Meet the 2017 DEVELOP(her) Scholarship Recipients!

June 1, 2017

DEVELOP(her) scholarship recipientsThe tech industry should reflect the the diversity of our community. It’s a core value that Grand Circus stands behind in everything we do. With just 26% of computing jobs being filled by women, we’re always looking for creative solutions to the problem.

Last year, we were proud to launch our inaugural DEVELOP(her) coding bootcamp. It gave 19 women an opportunity at free tech training and assisted them in finding a career after graduation. This year, we were proud to award our first round of DEVELOP(her) scholarships, which provides full-tuition funding to a select number of ladies and can be used toward our full-time coding bootcamps.


Find The Right Bootcamp For You

May 16, 2017

With more than 10,700 jobs added in the last year, Michigan’s tech industry is booming. If you’ve ever dreamed about taking a coding bootcamp and pursuing a career as a web developer, then now is the perfect time to take the first step. But how do you get started?

Having trained more than 650 developers, our staff has a lot of experience when it comes to helping people find the right program to fit their personal experience and professional goals. Just like programming languages, no two bootcamps are the same. It is important that you choose a program that is going to give you the best return on your investment. So if you’re looking to start a new career in tech this year, we have a few pointers from our staff. (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.


From Recruiter to Back-End Developer, Meet Milliza

March 23, 2017

Meet Milliza!Milliza joined the Grand Circus family as a Java coding bootcamp student in October 2016. While still in
bootcamp, Milliza was offered a position at
United Shore as part of their Developer-X program, where she is currently undergoing training in .NET alongside 18 fellow Grand Circus alums, including five of her classmates and graduates from previous Java, DEVELOP(her) and .NET (C#) cohorts. While we miss having Milliza in the space, it’s great to know that she’s surrounded by so many familiar faces!

Read on to learn more about Milliza’s journey from a tech talent recruiter, to a developer herself. (more…)

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…)