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Why Python Bootcamp Beats Traditional Schools: An Interview with Chai Grindean, Eleven Fifty Graduate

Bootcamp students come from diverse walks of life. Some are just finishing high school, others have put decades in at a job and are seeking a total career change. And some, like Chai Grindean, an Eleven Fifty Academy Python track graduate, have turned to bootcamp to complete their skillset where more traditional programs have fallen short.

“There’s a common misconception you go through the degree program and can become a computer programmer,” Chai said of his computer science degree.

Chai, like most high school grads heading straight to college, walked into his freshman year unsure of a major.

“I didn’t know too much about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but I knew I liked computers, I knew I liked tech,” he said.

Without knowing much about the difference between different computer fields and job titles, he landed on computer science, thinking it would encompass all and set him up for many possible paths.

But as he got deeper into the program, he realized there was quite a bit missing. Looking at job and internship descriptions cemented his observation; he found there were holes in his experience as he read through the typical job qualifications lists. Finding an internship was challenging.

Chai eventually landed an intern position at Winthrop Capital Management, an opportunity that led to his first job. But while the company was eager to work with him, they both knew he could still benefit from training.

“Once I got through the internship I quickly realized how much I still had to learn,” he said. Fortunately, his boss was open to him taking time to pursue that training after he finished his degree. Within a few months of graduation, Chai started his Eleven Fifty Academy bootcamp journey, picking the program not only because it was a good location for him but because of its reputation and the name behind it—Scott Jones—Eleven Fifty Academy’s founder and tech entrepreneur.

Chai’s position at a finance firm made Python the natural fit due to its use in data analytics and management. While he had some experience in the language going in, the track was able to more fully immerse him in the code and round out his skillset, an experience he describes with a toolbox analogy.

“Eleven Fifty taught me how to use the tools, how to use the hammer. College taught me how the hammer was made. In the field there’s less need for theory and background, just the use,” he said.

Chai also found himself surrounded by good company in the program. “Many people are interested in having this be their career. You meet a lot more people who are motivated and driven,” he said of his fellow bootcamp members.

Chai notes that his computer science background did help him. “I was able to pick up the material a lot quicker,” he said. But it’s still not impossible to succeed otherwise. “As clichéd as it sounds, you really do get what you put into it.”

His advice? Realize upfront that a bootcamp isn’t going to be a one-way ticket to success. “Some people think after three months you’ll just be handed a job,” he said. “You have to work for it, and he’s quick to point out that the program is more like working a full-time job than attending school. The long days, though, provide ample opportunity to engage with the instructors, which Chai highly recommends.

While Chai does admit that his mindset at the time–alongside some missed opportunities to more intensely utilize his professors–impacted his college outcomes, the bootcamp experience played a big role in helping him with his career.

Today, Chai continues to work for Winthrop Capital Management as a Software Engineer. He recommends the Python track for anyone interested in working with large amounts of data or getting into data analytics.

Sound like you? Learn more about Eleven Fifty’s newly revamped Python Course, kicking off with a new cohort at our new downtown location at the end of September.

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