A review of Alchemy Code Lab as a software engineering bootcamp

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now industry mentor at Pathrise. I have worked with hundreds of web developers and software engineers to help them land their dream jobs in tech. Check out my review of Alchemy Code Lab.

What does Alchemy Code Lab do?

Alchemy Code Lab is a bootcamp for people looking to learn the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer. They offer a full-time, 21-week full-stack JavaScript course. Alchemy Code Lab has a campus in Portland for onsite classes. Due to Covid-19, their flagship course is now available remotely, allowing students to attend live classes with 1-on-1 support from anywhere.

Before starting the full-time software engineering bootcamp, students must complete between 23 and 78 hours of self-paced, online pre-work. Pre-work includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript fundamentals, as well as loops, object oriented programming (OOP), GIT, and other critical software engineering fundamentals. 

The 21-week program meets from 9:00am to 6:00pm, Monday-Friday. Homework like readings and extra project work are required outside of class. All students participate in lectures, discussions, lab coding projects, and other hands-on activities. Students submit daily work for graded feedback every day of class.

The curriculum teaches students the skills needed to land a mid-level software engineering job. Students learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, and SQL. The program also covers ExpressJS, NodeJS, Authentication, Mongoose and MongoDB, React, Redux, React Hooks, and more. Students finish the course with a Github profile full of polished projects and portfolio pieces. 

Career services are included in the program. Students participate in mock interviews, showcase their portfolio projects at a demo day, work with career coaches, and receive job search assistance after graduation. Select graduates are hired as software developers in Alchemy Code Lab’s tech consultancy, AppLab, where grads build apps for Portland startups and entrepreneurs.

A free, 1-week bootcamp is also available for students to get a taste of the flagship course. The course includes over 30 hours of instruction and requires students to complete minimal pre-work before attending. This free course can serve as extra pre-work for the full course, preparing students who may not have any background in coding and want to feel more confident.

Who is Alchemy Code Lab for?

People with little to no coding experience who want to to develop the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer could benefit from the bootcamp. The program is especially helpful for people who are based in Portland and those who are willing to commit more than 6 months and 40 hours a week to a rigorous bootcamp.

What does Alchemy Code Lab cost? How much work is involved?

Tuition is $24,000 for the flagship software development course. The 1-week, developer 101 introductory course is offered for free.

Students can finance their tuition through Skills Fund. Interest rates and loan terms depend on an applicant’s previous credit history. A $2,500 scholarship is awarded to two select women in the program. A $5,000 per quarter scholarship is also awarded to one woman identifying student from the Black and/or Indigenous community. The G.I Bill is accepted as well.

The program offers an income share agreement (ISA) to students who earned less than 75%

of median income in Oregon. The current ISA allows students to pay tuition with a 10.5% of their income after they land a tech job paying over 50k. Alchemy Code Lab is in the process of partnering with Social Finance ISA to lower the ISA percentage to 9.5% of graduate income.

Before applying, candidates should familiarize themselves with the basics of coding, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript fundamentals. The admission process begins with an online application, asking candidates about their background and motivations. Select applicants are invited to a final behavioral interview and a technical coding challenge.

Ratings and reviews

Reviews for Alchemy Code Lab are generally positive. Alchemy Code Lab holds a 4.9/5 star rating on Career Karma and is rated 4.98/5 stars on Course Report. Graduates praised the program for its intense curriculum and in-depth instruction, but had mixed feelings about the pacing and job placement. 

The top review on CourseReport praises the course’s dedicated instructors and welcoming environment, describing it as “life-changing.” However, the reviewer was alarmed by the fast pacing, warning “There was definitely stress. Don’t go into a program like this thinking that it will be a cakewalk.” The student also remarked that “Even coming in with some prior knowledge of HTML, CSS, and C#, there were times I was struggling” and that “everyone in my cohort struggled at different times throughout the courses.” The student also thought job placement could improve, remarking “I didn’t find a job right off the bat” and only rating the career services 4/5 stars. Another reviewer praised the dedicated instructors and curriculum, but felt the course load was extremely intense, warning “Alchemy bills itself as the toughest bootcamp in Portland, and it certainly lives up to that expectation.”

On Career Karma, reviewers were impressed by the passionate instructors, TAs, and bootcamp community. However, they had difficulty with the time commitment, describing it as “intense, even for folks who have strong self-taught backgrounds or experience. The days are long, and the curriculum is demanding. You should absolutely be able to devote yourself entirely to the program in order to succeed.” Another reviewer warns the course “is incredibly fast-paced” and “requires a lot of self-discipline.” 

The course holds a 4.98/5 star rating on SwitchUp, where graduates rave about the welcoming environment and the intense, in-depth curriculum. One reviewer praises the course’s 1-on-1 support, passionate instructors, receptiveness to feedback. However, the grad warns that the course is “intense and does not allow room for much else.” The grad only rated the job support 2/5 stars. He remarked that career support “could be improved upon. The school does not have internship relationships with businesses.” Overall, however, graduates were very satisfied by the intense, fast-paced curriculum and the tech skills they took away from the software development program.

Alternatives to Alchemy Code Lab

If you decide not to enroll in Alchemy Code Lab, there are a number of alternative bootcamps and online resources that can help aspiring software engineers.

  • The popular Fullstack Academy bootcamp offers part-time and full-time software programs for aspiring software engineers. Like Alchemy Code Lab, Fullstack Academy is known for its fast pace and intense curriculum.
  • Turing and Lambda School are also software engineering bootcamps renowned for their intensive, full-time program. Like Alchemy Code Lab, they offer an income share agreement (ISA) for students.
  • Similarly, Thinkful, Byte Academy, and Holberton School also provide ISA financing options. They have tracks in software engineering, web dev, UX/UI design and more.
  • Another well-known bootcamps, General Assembly, offers full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on software engineering, data science, UX design, digital marketing, product management, and more. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • Actualize and Pluralsight are both intensive, full-time bootcamps like Alchemy Code Lab, with courses in software engineering and other topics.
  • Another full-time tech bootcamp, Kenzie Academy offers in-person and online courses in software engineering & UX design and front-end engineering. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • Covalence also has full-time and part-time courses for aspiring software engineers.
  • Those interested in learning software engineering online can check out Springboard, an online learning platform that offers thousands of courses on many tech subjects. Learn more about Springboard in our review.
  • Students on a budget can check out Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, and W3Schools. These free online learning tools offer courses on web development, software engineering, and even data science.
  • The online learning platforms Udemy and Coursera host thousands of online videos in a wide range of tech subjects.
  • Similarly, Udacity is another online learning resource with courses in software development, design, and data science, as well as other topics like product management. Learn more about Udacity in our review..

How does Alchemy Code Lab compare to Pathrise?

Alchemy Code Lab is a bootcamp for aspiring software engineers. While some students have coding experience prior to the bootcamp, most students start with little or no background in software. 

At Pathrise, job-seekers should already have a background in their chosen field of interest so that they can get the most out of the technical interview practice and pair programming sessions. Fellows in our program work with mentors at every phase of the job search, including resume and LinkedIn optimization, portfolio building, interview preperation, salary negotiation, and much more.

Alchemy Code Lab requires more than 40 hours a week, with extra homework and readings after class. Pathrise is a flexible program, with only 4 hours of group sessions per week and 1-on-1s scheduled as needed. All of our sessions are live, as well as recorded, so fellows can review previous material at their own pace. Pathrise’s income share agreement (ISA) is 9% of the first year’s salary. We never require upfront payments or deposits.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that helps people land their dream job in tech through 1-on-1 mentoring. If you would like to work with any of our mentors to optimize your job search, join Pathrise.

Apply today.

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