From Teacher to Java Developer, Meet Chelsea Gallagher

Chelsea Gallagher Grand Circus Front-End Alumnus

Update: Chelsea is now a Client Support Manager at Cirrus Group LLC and goes by Chelsea Kulick.  

What’s more stressful than final projects in a coding bootcamp? Final projects while planning a wedding! That’s right, Chelsea Gallagher planned a wedding all while being a student in our June 2016 Java bootcamp! In addition to this, Chelsea took extra initiative to find a tutor so she could brush up on her skills during the weekends. With this type of drive, she was the first student to secure a full-time position in her bootcamp where she now works as a system developer for PCE Systems. Get to know Chelsea’s complete story in our blog!

WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE THE BOOTCAMP, AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TAKE THE BOOTCAMP?

Chelsea Gallagher Grand Circus Front-End Alumnus

Before bootcamp I was a high school math teacher in Detroit. I taught for three years before deciding that teaching was not my calling and I needed to find another career path. I considered going to graduate school but the financial and time commitments were not very appealing to me. My husband suggested I look into Grand Circus bootcamps. He had considered taking a bootcamp a few years ago when we first moved to Detroit. It took me a few months to make the decision but after some research into the career paths available with the skills offered, I decided it was something I was ready to try.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?

I now work as a system developer for PCE Systems in Farmington Hills. I’m writing completely in Java; however, there is still quite a steep learning curve from where we left off at the end of bootcamp. I work on software systems for behavioral health service providers in Michigan.

WHAT ARE YOU CAREER GOALS?

I would like to eventually work in the field of machine learning. I find the topic fascinating and see it as a way to combine my educational experience with my new career in tech. I’m a big data nerd and would love to work on software that helps people (or machines) make decisions based on data.

WHAT WAS YOUR HARDEST MOMENT DURING THE BOOTCAMP?

The hardest moment for me in bootcamp was managing my self-confidence. I was a little intimidated with how quickly everyone else in my class seemed to be catching on to topics I struggled with. It was also really hard for me to admit I was struggling and to seek help. In school, I was a successful independent learner. Learning how to code is a much different learning process that requires patience, teamwork and humility. Once I figured out I could learn more quickly by asking for help, my self-confidence improved.

WHAT WAS YOUR A-HA MOMENT DURING THE BOOTCAMP?

My a-ha moment during bootcamp was probably during the last test we took where I was finally able to use Spring and Hibernate with some proficiency. Nothing feels better than getting your screen to load with no errors and everything works the way you expected! At that moment I realized why this work was so fun and attractive to me.

DURING THE BOOTCAMP, WHAT WAS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM OUTSIDE OF CLASS?

Chelsea Gallagher Grand Circus Front-End Alumnus

My support system outside of class was my cat. He kept me company on the late nights and early mornings trying to complete my labs before the next class. In all seriousness, my family didn’t totally understand what I was doing or why while I was in the bootcamp. I was asked constantly “are you sure this is something you want to do?”, “can you really get a job without a degree?” “have you considered other options in teaching?” Once I did it and got a job, they now understand a little bit more, but my career transition was a very self-driven move.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OVERALL EXPERIENCE WITH GRAND CIRCUS?

My overall experience with Grand Circus was very positive. The staff from our first day of orientation was very upfront with what we could expect during the bootcamp. I went in with a single goal of getting enough experience to land a programming job and that’s what I walked away with.

DESCRIBE YOUR JOB HUNT PROCESS.

After attending a career counseling session during lunch the first week of bootcamp, I was given the advice to start applying for jobs around the four-week mark. I did some research prior to applying to find positions I would qualify for after the bootcamp was over. After my resume and LinkedIn profile were polished, I applied to four different positions. I was also contacted by a few recruiters.

While waiting to hear back from my applications, I received an email from the CEO of the company I currently work for requesting an interview. He said he found my profile from a Grand Circus email he received. One week later (and one day after the mock technical interview at GC), I was being interviewed and the following day they made an offer. It didn’t take me long to make the decision to take the job. I was getting married the weekend after bootcamp, and I didn’t want the added stress of being jobless when I returned from the honeymoon. I felt confident that this company could provide me the experience and training necessary to make the next step in my career later down the road. So far those expectations have proven to be true.

WHAT WAS YOUR BEST DETROIT DISCOVERY DURING YOUR BOOTCAMP?

I’ve lived in Detroit for the past three years so I was somewhat familiar with the downtown area. However, I had never been to the Madison rooftop before. That was definitely the best Detroit discovery during bootcamp.

Chelsea Gallagher Grand Circus Front-End Alumnus

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE ABOUT TO EMBARK ON A BOOTCAMP?

I would advise someone to really think about what their personal goal is for attending the bootcamp. My goal was to gain enough experience to get a job in tech, and that goal helped me view the many challenges of bootcamp as part of my experience. Having an end goal in mind helped guide my focus on what was important and what was not worth worrying about. I recently spoke with my boss who interviewed a few other bootcamp students from my cohort. He said the main reason he did not offer them positions was because he felt they did not really know what they were getting into. What he meant was that they didn’t seem to understand the type of work developers do on a daily basis, or if they did it didn’t seem like something they were really interested in doing for a significant period of time. Do your research about what type of position in tech you think is best for you and choose the bootcamp that you think will provide the best experience for that position. In the end, a bootcamp cannot give you a passion for a career in tech, that’s something you need to bring yourself.

We are so excited that Chelsea found a company she’s passionate about and excited to grow with! It’s so important to us that every student find a career they’ll love — it’s about more than just finding a job. So many of our alumni go on to find fulfilling, meaningful careers that help them grow and thrive in their new skill set, and that’s truly what puts smiles on our faces. We completely agree with Chelsea — do your research and find a company you’re excited about working with. Find a brand that makes you love Monday mornings!

Are you ready for a career change? Our coding bootcamps can help! The 10-week intensive learning experience will provide you with both the technical and soft skills that employers are looking for.

Learn About Our Coding Bootcamps
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Anna Farr

Anna is a Program Manager at Grand Circus.

2 thoughts on “From Teacher to Java Developer, Meet Chelsea Gallagher”

  1. Duke Vukadinovic says:

    It’s always to read such an inspiring success story. Thanks for sharing it guys!

    1. Thanks for the positive sentiment. We’re thrilled to be a part of so many awesome stories; our students really are rockstars and make us feel like proud parents every day!

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