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

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 in both Grand Rapids and Detroit 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!

Amanda Metes