Technology is constantly changing. Even the most experienced software developers continue learning to stay updated on the latest programming techniques. At Grand Circus, one of the skills our bootcamps teach students is how to learn. Developers aren’t expected to have all the answers. What they do need to know, though, is how to find those answers. Our curriculum will guide you in finding the resources and tools that can help you problem solve throughout your career in tech — allowing graduates to continuously evolve their skill sets.
For many prospective students, deciding which programming language to learn is often a difficult decision. It’s important to know the difference between the programming tracks we offer in bootcamp, the career possibilities with each and which you enjoy the most. The reality, though, is that once you learn one programming language, it’s easier to learn another. Many of our graduates learn one language and go on to work in another, or they start by learning a language in the bootcamp and continue their education after graduation to become a full-stack developer. That’s exactly what Matthew Rhadigan has done in his career!
From Snowboard Instructor to Full-Stack Software Developer, Meet Matthew Rhadigan
What did you do before the bootcamp, and why did you decide to take the bootcamp?
I had spent a few years working as a snowboard instructor at a resort out west, and I had recently moved back home, was working at a company in downtown Detroit and taking classes at Oakland Community College in technology. One day at lunch I was walking through the Renaissance Center looking at the cars, going out to the river to eat my lunch, and I walked right past a booth that was set up by Grand Circus that said in big letters ‘LEARN TO CODE,’ which stopped me in my tracks. After getting some information from the person at the booth I attended the official Info Session with Ian. Everybody at Grand Circus is extremely friendly and supportive, which made it a very easy decision to want to attend the bootcamp.
How did you prepare for the bootcamp?
At the time of my interview with Grand Circus, I thought I had done enough work ahead of time and was prepared for the bootcamp. I had done a free Codecademy course online for Java, taken a couple of classes in community college, which was primarily HTML, and that was about the extent of my preparation. When I got into class I felt like I could have prepared a little more for the bootcamp ahead of time, and many of my classmates seemed to have more experience than I did from day one.
What was your hardest moment during the bootcamp?
At the end of your bootcamp, you will be placed in a group with other members of your class and will work on a Final Project. In the last couple of days before graduation day, I had a ‘technical assessment’ where I went into a room with an instructor and TA from Grand Circus and answered questions about the final project to make it to graduation. That was the highest level of stress I faced during the bootcamp.
During the bootcamp, what was your support system outside of class?
My family has always been my biggest support system. I have an older brother who worked downtown at the same time I was attending the bootcamp so we had lunch together most days. And whenever I hit those rough days, I could always call my mom and dad and they were incredibly supportive. Going to a bootcamp for 10 weeks, you’re taking a gamble on yourself trying to do something new and amazing. It helps a lot if you have people who understand why you are there and committed to seeing you succeed.
Can you tell us about your final project experience? What did you build and how was it working with a new team?
My final project was a website where you would sign up if you were going to a specific event in your local area as a driver or a passenger. Then other users in the area would sign up as a driver or a passenger and the app would pair rides together based on the location of the passenger and driver, and what event they were going to. Then all the passengers in the car would chip in to the driver for gas and driving. I was fortunate to have team members I could rely on and work well with. So we were able to tackle the project and get it done before graduation.
How do you feel you combatted Imposter Syndrome? Did you have doubts before/during the bootcamp?
Absolutely! Imposter syndrome is very common in this field. You will feel imposter syndrome before, during, and after your bootcamp. Also, you will feel it for at least the first year of your first coding job in technology. I have spoken to many of my friends who all work in different professional fields and imposter syndrome is very common among most fields you enter.
How would you describe your overall experience with Grand Circus?
My overall experience at Grand Circus was very positive and life changing. Grand Circus helped me grow in many ways beyond just teaching me how to code. They have an amazing soft skills training that is nothing like I have ever seen anywhere else. Grand Circus has a large list of companies they have worked with in the past and continue to hire graduates out of the bootcamp. They not only make sure you have the technical skills to work for any company in the field, but they also focus on all the other skills that companies look at to make sure you are going into interviews prepared.
Did you have any misconceptions about the tech industry before joining the bootcamp?
Yes, I had many misconceptions about the tech industry. Before I joined the bootcamp I was very interested in technology and building things from scratch. I thought coding would be something I would enjoy. But to be honest, when I applied to the bootcamp, I didn’t know a single person that worked in software, so I didn’t have any resources to reach out to with questions. The biggest misconception for me was that when I graduated from the bootcamp, I would know everything I would need to know and I would be a master. In reality, it takes years to become that experienced in the field, but that is expected.
What are you working on now?
I am currently a full-stack Software Developer at United Shore Mortgage in Pontiac, MI. I am on the Sales software team so my projects will help upgrade and maintain the software that the Account Executives and Brokers with United Shore will use.
What’s next for your career in tech?
Next for my career in technology is to continue growing to become the best developer I can be. I enjoy the company I am at and want to continue to use the resources they have provided to grow and deliver high-quality technology. So far, since I have started this long journey, I have met some incredibly nice and supportive people. I want to continue to build relationships through technology, and maybe even help young developers learn what Grand Circus and senior developers have helped me learn.
What was your best Detroit discovery (business, lunch spot, hidden gem) during your bootcamp?
The best Detroit discovery I made during my bootcamp is a popular place where my brother and I would have lunch. It a pizza place called Mootz Pizzeria, right off Library St. right next to the library, Citizen Yoga, and NOJO Kicks. They have really good food and you can buy pizza by the slice, which is perfect for lunch at a bootcamp.
What piece of advice would you give to someone about to embark on a bootcamp?
One piece of advice I would give to anybody about to embark on this journey is that your level of technical understanding is not important before you start. You will gain the technical knowledge from Grand Circus and throughout your career. The most important things to keep in mind are:
- to control the things you have control of
- keep a positive attitude because code can be frustrating at times
- make sure you show up every day on time, ready to work hard and learn as much as possible
Software is a very exciting and challenging field to get into, and it can open a lot of doors to anybody who has the drive to learn it.
Great advice, Matthew! We appreciate him taking the time to share his insights.