My Experience at Grand Circus Grand Rapids

By Ian TeGrootenhuis on April 03, 2018

My Experience at Grand Circus Grand Rapids
In my journey to continuously learn and grow my technical knowledge, I came to a crossroad. I was looking to further my backend web development skills. With all the paths I could go down I narrowed it down to two options; traditional schooling: go back and earn a Bachelor’s degree, or go to a coding bootcamp. After seeing how fast-paced and up to date the Grand Circus C# .NET Bootcamp was, I felt that it was a better fit than traditional schooling. Universities are typically very expensive, take a lot of time, and can be out-of-date with current industry standards. They also cover a wide range of technologies but may not go into a deep dive on the technologies you are looking to specialize in.

Tech Skills


Grand Circus was a great place to learn and grow as a developer. I went into the bootcamp already having 2 years of web development experience so it started off a little slow, but it gave me time to help and teach some of my other cohorts. Teaching also gave me a better understanding of the material. Some technical skills we learned:
  • Basics of coding (data types, variables, if statements, loops, collections)
  • Objects / Inheritance / Polymorphism 
  • ASP.NET MVC / SQL / Azure
Some of the more valuable tech skills I learned were Objects and MVC. I had a slight understanding of them before the bootcamp, but afterwards I feel a lot better about using them in my day to day work.  

Soft Skills


Grand Circus doesn’t just help you grow your technical skills, they also help you advance your soft skills and provide tips on networking. They encouraged the cohorts to go to a minimum of one tech meetup per week. Some of the soft skills we learned:
  • Resume Building
  • Elevator Pitches 
  • Importance of meetups and networking 
  • Mock Interviews
I found networking to be one of the more beneficial soft skills. After hearing all of the success stories from Grand Circus alumni and other speakers they brought in, I realized how much it helps to get your name out there and make as many meaningful connections as you can. 

Leadership Skills


In addition to learning soft and technical skills, I also gained a lot of experience from taking on a leadership role. Being one of the more experienced devs there I accepted the role of the team lead for the midterm and final projects, and I realized it is not that easy.  

Final Project


Our final project had to use an API, a database, and be hosted on Azure. We were given two weeks to complete our projects. My team was made up of Adam Tasma, Lamar Campbell, Chamus Gilbert, and myself. We developed a movie recommendation application called Whatcha Watchin (act fast because our Azure free trial is about to expire). Rotten Tomatoes aggregates all of its reviews, which can be helpful if your tastes align with the general public. Our app uses a more personalized algorithm to recommend the user a movie. The Whatcha Watchin app takes movies the user has rated highly and finds other users that have also rated that movie similarly to you. It then recommends you a movie that your paired users have rated highly.

final-project-2.png

Not only am I a graduate of the Grand Circus bootcamp, I am also a BizStream Academy graduate. BizStream Academy is an introduction to code bootcamp in West Michigan where students learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Both bootcamps helped kick-start my career in the world of technology. I would highly recommend coding bootcamps to anyone who is looking to get into the tech industry or looking to grow their skill set. They are up-to-date with the current technology, fast-paced, and generally much cheaper than attending a college or university.



Thanks to BizStream for allowing me to take time away from work in order to further my development skills and for picking up a portion of the tuition in part with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult Program through Michigan Works! Agencies!

Looking for more advice on diving into the tech industry? Check out my blog post, My Road to Finding Success


 

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About the author

Ian was raised in Allendale, Michigan and has lived there his whole life. He loves the location; being a few minutes from the Lake Michigan and downtown Grand Rapids in a small town is perfect. From an early age he fell in love with video games and wanted to develop them. In pursuit of following his dream he found Bizstream Academy, and signed up to gain some coding experience. Ian loved the Academy so much his passion changed to web development. In his spare time Ian still plays video games.

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