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A review of Prime Digital Academy as a tech bootcamp

Hi, I’m Elle! I work as a product designer at Getaround and as an industry mentor here at Pathrise. I help our fellows land great jobs in product design through technical workshops and 1-on-1s. Check out my review of Prime Digital Academy.

What does Prime Digital Academy do?

Prime Digital Academy is a bootcamp that helps people learn the technical skills necessary to land a job as a software engineer or UX designer. They offer full-time courses in Minneapolis and Kansas City. However, due to COVID-19, there is an online option as well.

Pre-work

Before starting a Prime Digital Academy course, students complete 6 weeks of online pre-work. Software engineering students learn to work with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, the command line, and Git. Meanwhile, UX students learn basic visual design principles, usability principles, how to use key design tools, and more. The pre-work curriculum includes recorded lectures, teaching assistants, and live web chats. It requires about 13-20 hours of work per week.

Course details

After the 6 weeks of pre-work, students meet in person Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm. They participate in lectures, job-seeking workshops, pair programming exercises, Agile methodology “standup” meetings, and coding challenges. Then, starting in week 13, students begin working in small teams to solve problems for real clients. Overall, the courses require more than 60 hours of work per week, including weekend homework and team meetings.

The software engineering course teaches students JavaScript, HTML, jQuery, Node.js, React, Redux, Express.js, and SQL. In addition, the course includes a solo project, where students build an app from top to bottom. The final capstone project has students work with a local non-profit or startup to build an app that solves a real-world problem. Students graduate with two polished projects for their portfolios.

The UX course teaches students design thinking, user research, wireframing, prototyping, Agile methodologies, and much more. Starting in week 13, the curriculum shifts focus to hands-on learning. Throughout, students design polished portfolio projects to help them land a job as a UX designer.

Both courses offer career assistance, including interview strategies, resume workshops, and bi-weekly meetings with mentors. Then, the program culminates in “Career Day”, where students have the opportunity to meet and interview with Prime Digital Academy’s employer network. Some companies in this network are 3M, Target, Aquent, When I Work, and more.

Who is Prime Digital Academy for?

People with no experience in software engineering or UX design could benefit from a Prime Digital Academy bootcamp. The program is especially helpful for people who are based in Minneapolis or Kansas City. But, people looking to learn while maintaining a job might not be a good fit. This is because the program requires more than 60 hours a week of work.

What does Prime Digital Academy cost? How much work is involved?

Tuition for either bootcamp program is $16,000. Students can choose to pay upfront for a $500 discount or pay-as-you-go, starting from $356 per month. However, both options require a $1,500 deposit to begin.

Financing is available through Climb Credit and Skills Fund. Rates and repayment plans depend on an applicant’s credit history. A $1500 scholarship is now available to prospective students who lost employment due to COVID-19. In addition, a $500 scholarship is also available to students of color upon acceptance into the program. Low-income Minneapolis and St. Paul residents may also be eligible for a scholarship of up to 100% tuition, with funds available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Before applying to Prime Digital Academy, candidates may want to familiarize themselves with the basics of computer science, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The admission process begins with an online application, including essay questions, logic puzzles, and a technical challenge. Finally, candidates do a campus tour and final behavioral interview. 

Ratings and reviews

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Prime Digital Academy has mostly positive reviews. In fact, they have been listed among CourseReport’s top 48 courses for 3 years. Graduates praise the program for its positive environment and hands-on approach to learning, but some graduates have mixed feelings about the curriculum and job placement.

On CourseReport, students said that they learned valuable technical skills from the courses and had fun doing so, though some students were frustrated by the curriculum, especially the pre-work. One grad was impressed by Prime’s atmosphere and real-world projects, raving “you will practice project work, for real client projects, in a team setting, which is invaluable.” However, he also felt “the program is really rough around the edges in some aspects, specifically curriculum-wise.” 

Another student found his experience “overall positive” but worried “the curriculum is shaky” and that there was a “non existent hiring network–at least while I was there. This is probably something that has to develop over time, but 95% of our “mock” and real interviews were with recruiters or companies that weren’t actually hiring.” The top review is even more critical. Although they praised the program for being “ immersive, so you really get a chance to get your hands dirty”, they felt that job placement was exaggerated and that “there was no consistency in what was taught.”

A student on Quora raved that she “would strongly recommend Prime” and “I got a really good job directly out of the program with one of their hiring partners.” Another reviewer on Quora felt “really happy with my bootcamp experience” and was offered two software engineering jobs only three weeks after graduation.

Alternatives to Prime Digital Academy

If you decide not to enroll in Prime Digital Academy, there are many alternative bootcamps and courses that can help you land a job as a software engineer or UX designer. 

  • The tech bootcamp Kenzie Academy offers in-person and online courses in 2 tracks: software engineering & UX design and front-end engineering. Like Prime Digital Academy, their courses are full-time and focus on hands-on learning. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • Another popular tech bootcamp, General Assembly teaches full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on software engineering, UX design, digital marketing, data science, product management, and more. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • BrainStation, Eleven Fifty Academy, and Flatiron School are similarly popular bootcamps, which offer programs in UX design, data science, marketing, web dev, and product management.
  • Aspiring designers can also consider Bloc, which has courses in UX design as well as web development. 
  • For those looking to land an entry-level software job, Coding Dojo is a bootcamp that teaches software engineering and data science with a focus on fundamental skills students need to land their first tech job.
  • Likewise, Tech Elevator, Epicodus, and Redwood Code Academy are software engineering bootcamps with online and on-campus options.
  • Similarly, Holberton School, Lambda School, and Rithm School are coding bootcamps with ISA options for those looking to defer payments. 
  • The well-known tech bootcamps Thinkful, GW Bootcamps, and Georgia Tech Bootcamp have tracks in UX design, software engineering, and data science. 
More alternatives
  • Aspiring designers can consider Designlab, an online bootcamp that teaches the necessary skills to land a job as a UX designer. Read more about Designlab in our review.
  • Students interested in taking online self-guided or instructor-led product design courses can check out DesignerUp. Learn more about DesignerUp in our review.
  • Udemy offers thousands of video courses on software engineering, UX design, and more. Individual classes only cost around $10 each.
  • Likewise, spiring programmers can look into CodeX Academy, a self-paced coding bootcamp with 1-on-1 mentorship opportunities. Read more about CodeX Academy in our program review.
  • An extremely popular platform, Codecademy hosts free hands-on coding courses. Students can learn web development, dozens of programming languages, and even data science. They offer $20-40 monthly membership options for greater course options and more support. Learn more about Codeacademy in our review.
  • For students interested in online learning on a budget, Learn UX, TreehouseSimplilearn, and Pluralsight offer low-cost software engineering and UX design courses, as well as courses on a variety of tech subjects.
  • Similarly, Udacity and Springboard host online courses on software engineering, design, data science, web dev, analytics, and much more. Read more about Udacity and Springboard in our reviews.
  • Finally, people interested in university courses can check out edX. Their platform hosts thousands of self-paced university courses from top schools like Harvard and MIT, and even top tech companies like Microsoft. Students can choose to focus on fundamentals or take a deep dive into specific topics, like web development or digital marketing with social media. Read more about edX in our review.

How does Prime Digital Academy compare to Pathrise?

Prime Digital Academy offers courses to people interested in learning the skills needed to land a job as a software engineer or UX designer. While an interest in tech is recommended, most students start with no experience. Pathrise job-seekers should already have some background in their chosen field to benefit fully from the technical curriculum. 

Pathrise works with program fellows at each phase of the job search including resume and portfolio optimization, cold emailing and reverse recruiting, technical and behavioral interviewing, and negotiation. Our curriculum is tailored to fit the needs of our fellows, focusing on the specific skills that they struggle with the most.

Our personalized program includes 4 hours of group sessions and 1-on-1 mentoring that can be scheduled as needed. Fellows see a dramatic increase in application responses and interview scores, helping them find a job faster. Most program fellows find a job within 3-5 months of joining the program. The Pathrise income share agreement is only 9% of a fellow’s first year salary. We never require upfront payments.

Pathrise accelerates your career through 1-on-1 mentorship and training. If you are interested in working with one of our mentors to land your dream tech job, join Pathrise.

Apply today.

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