A review of Co.Lab tech bootcamp

Hi, I’m Sam! I have been a product manager for years. Now I work as an industry mentor for the product, strategy, and operations track at Pathrise. I help people land their dream job through workshops and 1-on-1 mentoring. Check out my review of Co.Lab.

What does Co.Lab do?

Co.Lab is an online bootcamp that helps people launch new careers in product management, UX/UI design, and software development. The program is fully remote. In addition, the technical learning is mostly self-paced. Students do participate in live classes and workshops. But, the bulk of the time is spent on building a MVP (minimal viable product) in groups.

The hands-on learning experience is supposed to mimic the team environment at a company. All students form Agile product teams, consisting of a product manager, a developer, a designer, and two mentors. Students then work in their new teams to develop a product idea and turn it into a MVP. In addition to mastering their specific discipline, students participate in product sprint planning, road mapping, team retrospectives, scope negotiations, and other real-world product responsibilities. The technical curriculum is just videos. However, students should expect 15+ hours of weekly work building the MVP with their team. 

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Product management bootcamp

Students in product management bootcamp learn all the skills they need to become a product manager in 9 weeks. The course begins with 16+ hours of video-based pre-work that covers product management fundamentals. Students then attend live classes that cover key problem space identification, user research, and spec-writing. Design students then work with PM students to come up with flows and user persons. Weeks 4-8 are reserved for teamwork. This is when PM students work through the entire software development lifecycle with their peers and two mentors. The goal here is to build the MVP as a team.

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Software development bootcamp

The software development bootcamp requires students to have some coding experience. Therefore, the course only lasts 6 weeks and does not include pre-work. However, students should still expect 15-20 hours of work per week as they build a software product for their team. First, a team of product students creates a vision for a new software product. It’s up to the software student to turn their team’s design vision into a working software product. Depending on the product design complexity, software students can make tradeoffs and change the product’s scope if necessary. Two software mentors are also available for support. Software students implement mockups, code complete web apps, and run demos to show progress to their team.

Product design course

Students in the 7-week product design course must have some prior UX/UI design experience from another bootcamp, course, or self-learning. Starting week 1, design students work with a product management student on user research as they identify a problem space and a potential product solution. Next, design students create high-fidelity mockups, conduct user tests with real customers to get feedback, iterate the product, and pass on changes to the team’s software student. Design grads leave the program with a polished product they can add to their design portfolios to help them become a UX designer.

In addition to supporting students’ product teams, mentors work 1-on-1 with students in their specific discipline. All students get access to the Co.Lab community, which includes hands-on workshops, talks by instructors from top companies like Apple, networking opportunities, and job search discussion. The course culminates in a demo day where student teams present their finished products to industry experts. Students get feedback from industry leaders, meet with recruiters, and network with hiring managers. Grads also get professional references to help them in their job search.

Who is Co.Lab for?

People with some experience in software development or UX/UI design who want to launch their careers with a full portfolio could be a good fit. The program could also be a good match for students seeking a remote project-based bootcamp. People with no product management experience who want to learn the ropes and get their careers off the ground could also be good candidates for the 9-week product program.

What does Co.Lab cost? How much work is involved?

Tuition for the 9-week product management bootcamp is $2199 upfront or 3 monthly payments of $806. Students in the product design bootcamp pay $899 upfront or 3 monthly payments of $329. The software development bootcamp costs $399.

While the product management bootcamp is designed for total beginners, the software development and product design course require students to have some experience from another bootcamp, course, or self-learning. A completed portfolio project should be enough to prove past experience. The admissions process only consists of a brief online application. No formal exam or interview is required.

Ratings and reviews

Although Co.Lab is a fairly new program, so far they have received mostly positive reviews. The program holds a 4.5/5 star rating on Course Report based on only 5 reviews. One grad was impressed with the collaborative experience, praising the “great support from not just the mentors and my team, but the entire community.” While she “found it to be quite an intense program”, overall she was satisfied that her team managed “to create a functional MVP” in just 5 weeks. 

Another grad loved that the program was inspired by the real corporate environment, confident that the Agile experience meant that he “grew not only as a developer but also as a team player.” He also described the bootcamp as a “fantastic enhancer for portfolio/resume”, with a large network of top tech hiring partners. The program also holds a perfect 5 star rating on Switchup based on just 1 review. This grad was impressed by the “passionate cohort of students and mentors.” He also liked that students “learned by doing” and “ship a product in 5 weeks.” While the program can be intense and offers more of a launchpad than a learning curve, most grads seemed satisfied with the hands-on learning and the supportive environment.

Alternatives to Co.Lab 

If you decide not to enroll in Co.Lab, there are a number of alternative bootcamps and tech resources that can help you launch a career as a product manager, UX designer, or software developer.

  • People seeking a remote program with lots of support can check out Thinkful. Like Co.Lab, students in their courses build polished projects as they work 1-on-1 with mentors. They offer an income share agreement (ISA) so students can pay with a percentage of their income after they land a tech job.
  • Similarly, BrainStation is a bootcamp that offers courses in coding, UX/UI design, product management, and more. Students build projects, develop their professional skills, and get access to thousands of hiring partners like Google, Facebook, and more.
  • The popular bootcamp General Assembly teaches full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on a variety of topics like product management, software development, and UX design. The program boasts 19,000+ hiring partners, mentoring, and a job placement rate above 91.4%. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • Product School is a bootcamp with online and onsite courses on their campuses across major cities in the US and abroad. Students gain certificates upon completion of the courses.
  • Product managers with 1-3 years of experience can check out Product Faculty. They offer a part-time online bootcamp designed as a career accelerator with an advanced curriculum. Students get access to their Slack community, 1-on-1 career mentorship, and advanced product management (APM)(R) certificates upon graduation.
  • Aspiring product managers can look into the PM community Mind the Product. Their program boasts over 50,000 members who participate in workshops, training, podcasts, Slack channel Q&As, and networking events.
  • Another product management association is Product Gym. They offer training, extensive job support, and networking opportunities for aspiring product managers. Classes are flexible with remote options.
More alternatives
  • The full-time tech bootcamp Kenzie Academy has in-person and online courses in 2 tracks: software engineering & UX design with front-end engineering. Like Co.Lab, Kenzie Academy features a hands-on curriculum, a fast pace, and mentoring. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • Students seeking a remote program with a flexible schedule can also check out CodeX Academy, a self-paced coding bootcamp with mentorship opportunities. Read more about CodeX Academy in our review.
  • The bootcamp Designlab teaches students all the skills needed to launch a career as a UX designer. Find out if Designlab fits your learning goals in our review.
  • Aspiring designers can also check out DesignerUp, an online resource that offers both self-guided and instructor-led product design courses can check out DesignerUp. Learn more about DesignerUp in our review.
  • Similarly, Bloc is a flexible online platform that hosts courses in both UX design and web development. Like Co.Lab, their program features 1-on-1 coaching and projects students can add to their portfolios.
  • Students seeking university courses can check out edX. This online learning platform hosts self-paced courses from top schools like Harvard and MIT, and even big tech companies like Microsoft. Students can choose to learn the fundamentals or dive deeper into specific topics, like advanced product design. Read more about edX in our review.
  • Codecademy is one of the most popular coding programs online. They provide free courses on many different programming languages. Completely optional memberships range from $20 to $40 for more course options and support. Learn more about Codecademy in our review.
  • Similarly, the online resources Udacity and Springboard offer low-cost, self-paced courses in UX design, software engineering, and other tech topics. Find out if Udacity or Springboard is right for your career goals in our reviews.

How does Co.Lab compare to Pathrise?

Co.Lab offers courses to help people start a career as a product manager, UX/UI designer, or web developer. While the product management bootcamp caters to beginners, the software development and product design bootcamps require students to have some past experience. Similarly, Pathrise job-seekers should already have a background in their chosen field to get the most out of the technical curriculum. 

Although Co.Lab runs part-time courses, the MVP building process is still fairly intensive and can require work outside of class. Pathrise is a flexible program with only 2-4 hours of sessions per week and 1-on-1 sessions that can be scheduled as needed. Our curriculum is tailored to the needs of each individual fellow.

While Co.Lab prepares students for the job search and offers networking opportunities for grads, they do not help grads through the job search. Pathrise is a career accelerator that has helped 1,000+ people land their dream job in tech by helping with all phases of the job search. Our mentors work 1-on-1 with fellows on their resumes & portfolios, reverse recruiting and cold emails, behavioral and technical interview preparation, salary negotiation, and more. We offer an income share agreement so fellows in our program pay nothing until they get a great tech job. We never require any upfront payments or deposits.

Pathrise optimizes the job search through 1-on-1 mentorship and technical training. Fellows in our program can see their interview scores double and their application responses triple, landing a job in only 3-5 months on average. If you are interested in working with any of our mentors to land your dream tech job faster, join Pathrise. 

Apply today.

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