Alchemy Code Lab
The application process involves a long-form questionnaire detailing the applicant's work, educational background, and coding experience, along with informational and technical interviews. Students must complete 25+ hours of bootcamp prep before class starts.
Alchemy Code Lab seeks to collaborate with the experts and organizations that are powering Portland’s tech community, providing insider access to the industry. Career development support is provided to all students and alumni, both in the classroom and in one-on-one coaching. Students will establish a compelling online brand, network, and resume featuring professional knowledge, experience, and practices gained during the course, and will be able to demonstrate the skills to drive a successful job search.
Alchemy Code Lab (formerly Code Fellows PDX) is powered by Code Fellows.
Recent Alchemy Code Lab Reviews: Rating 4.96
Recent Alchemy Code Lab News
In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week24 Weeks
Start Date March 16, 2020 Cost $20,000 Class size 30 Location PortlandGreat tech careers start with strong trajectories. Alchemy's advanced software engineering training program launches grads toward exponential opportunity and salary growth, whether you've never looked at code or have already completed a bootcamp or online course prior. Graduates emerge as industry-ready software engineers after 6 months of rigorous, in-person training from Senior Development instruction.
Deposit 350 Tuition Plans Each of the three courses in the program are billed separately with tuition due 7 days prior to each starting class. Refund / Guarantee pro-rated per the State of Oregon's recommended refund schedule Scholarship Multiple available! Inquire with admissions
More Start DatesMarch 16, 2020 - Portland Apply by March 1, 2020June 22, 2020 - Portland Apply by June 1, 2020September 14, 2020 - Portland Apply by September 1, 2020
Alchemy Code Lab Reviews
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I joined Alchemy Code Lab with no prior programming experience and no undergraduate. I was sort of the free spirit type who travelled and held various types of jobs. I mention this because it does not matter what your background is - if you commit and dedicate yourself to this program it will provide the knowledge and skillset needed to obtain a fulfilling career in software development in a relatively short period of time. I've done it and have watched several others do the same.
The school provides an excellent learning environment and an amazing community. It's open, bright, filled with plants, offers a variety of sitting arrangements, and located in a cool location. Beyond the facility you'll be surrounded with an amazing team that is passionate, knowledgable, kind, and there to provide the education and resources needed to reach your goal of becoming a software developer. Within the six months you'll go from not knowing how to open your terminal to writing full-fledged full-stack web applications that incorporate frameworks, component architecture, testing, servers, databases, and APIs. I can personally state that you'll leave with the skillset to contribute day one on the job, and have a solid foundation to continually build upon. Not only will you leave with the ability to build web applications, but you'll receive invaluable insight and resources on how to market yourself, network, and interview.
Lastly - I'll mention, for your success, it's important you are in a situation you can fully commit to the time obligations and are mentally in a place where you want to change your life, be challenged, continuously learn, and solve puzzles. The program moves quick and you'll most likely experience highs and lows. That being said - it's DOABLE and well worth the grind. Alchemy Code Lab has helped many lives (mine included) accelerate in obtaining rewarding careers in tech - now it's time they help accelerate yours. Best of luck!
Even with a programming background, I was encouraged to start from the beginning with Alchemy’s curriculum and I’m glad I listened. Within the first week of the program I was already being introduced to test driven development, which was something that hadn’t been touched on in college and ended up being really valuable to use and talk about during interviews. Trying to pick up concepts like that while being introduced to something like Node or React would have been quite a bit more difficult than while we were learning the basics of JS. The instructional staff is really great. Alchemy has some very experienced industry professionals teaching, who are super passionate about the students. One of the most valuable parts about Alchemy Code Lab was the amount of time spent working on projects with your peers. Building projects is one of the best ways I learn things and I was often able to draw on my experiences working with my peers during interviews.
Alchemy also provides a lot of non technical opportunities and education as well. During the Career Track, there is a Career Week where the students learn all about the job hunt from industry professionals who are often graduates of the program. From the beginning students are heavily encouraged to explore the tech meetups in Portland to grow their network. Alchemy does a lot to help with this by hosting tech meetups in their space after class is over. They also host monthly socials for current students, graduates and employers in the area. Talking with other engineers about their experience was really valuable for me and only made the job search and interview process easier. Alchemy was able to do a lot for me during my job hunt from scheduling mock interviews, to introducing me to hiring managers or recent graduates to network with.
I just recently accepted an offer as an Associate Software Engineer a few months after graduating and if I could go back in time, I would still make the same decision to attend Alchemy Code Lab. I learned a lot of really valuable things and made great connections with some wonderful people.
When I transitioned into software development I evaluated several code schools available in Portland, and chose Alchemy. It was definitely the right choice for me, and the best thing I've done for my career satisfaction.
I talked with people at Alchemy (Code Fellows PDX at the time) early on, and had a really good feeling about it. But I wanted to understand what I would get for the somewhat higher cost than other options. I already had a strong technical background and programming experience, but no web development. Self-study was not a problem for me, but the field was so wide open that deciding what to focus on was problematic. Here's why I feel Alchemy stood out above the rest:
First, Alchemy provides instruction (in addition to lab and project work) from industry-experienced developers. While self-study and learning from peers are great things to do, experienced developers have valuable knowledge to share. For example, one thing prospective employers are often concerned about is the ability to write not just code that works, but code that's suitable for production in a large-scale application. It's very beneficial to have coaching from someone who's been on enough projects to impart that knowledge and wisdom.
Third, your time at Alchemy will be split between classroom instruction, lab work, and group projects. The labs and projects are great opportunities to work collaboratively on a codebase, and the skills (technical as well as interpersonal) to do that are critical on real software development teams.
Finally, Alchemy provides guidance and assistance not just with technical education, but also with the whole process of finding opportunities and managing your development career. The decent-sized cohorts provide a great "starter network" of people who are or will be working in the software community in Portland. And Alchemy provides guidance on interview preparation, the tools for the job search, and how to deal with the offers you receive.
While the job search is always a potentially stressful experience, I can attest to Alchemy's placement track record. This is a field with very high demand, and graduates are certainly finding work that pays quite well. I've continued to be involved with Alchemy's students - networking, mock interviewing, mentoring - and they are certainly well-prepared to venture out into the industry and make their valuable contributions.
Alchemy bills itself as the toughest bootcamp in Portland, and it certianly lives up to that expectation. If you are interested in getting a great start in tech and you are willing to work for it, this is your place. Staff are super helpful, community is great, and the curriculum is rigorous. Highly recommend!
I decided to pursue programming as a career because I lacked mental stimulation and the ability to make an impact in my day to day job. I researched all the bootcamps in the Portland area and it took one conversation with Megan, the school director to make my decision. The questions that were asked were so different than other schools and were focused around me and my learning style-- I knew this place was special. Alchemy's commitment to diversity and inclusion in making everyone feel welcomed despite your background was a huge indicator to me that this was the right place for me.
The curriculum was difficult and challenging, but no one's ever built a six pack by sitting on the couch. And this is the secret to Alchemy's success. The program does an excellent job by forcing you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. It's a bootcamp in every facet of the word, constantly pushing you to learn and overcome. You have support available to you at every step of the way-- instructors, TAs, fellow classmates, adorable doggies, school director, and career services.
Oh yeah, career services. Shannon is a magician behind the scenes pulling strings to get you in the door and nail the interview. I've had two jobs post-graduation, and both interviews were secured because of-- you guessed it, Shannon.
If you have the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful family, don't hesitate. It was truly a special experience, one I only wish I could go through again.
Coming from a microbiology background in academia and transitioning to coding, I learned a ton of things at Alchemy that I didn’t learn in a traditional school setting or coding by myself online. For example, I learned how to code using agile practices with a variety of people in creative group projects with deadlines. I learned how to talk about code, not just to do it. I learned about the Portland tech scene and got a much better idea of how I fit into it. I learned to expand my network and push myself out of my comfort zone to make meaningful connections. Finally, I learned a ton about the job application process. Mock interviews and a week of career prep wasn’t easy or fun for me as an introvert, but it really helped prepare me for the job hunt.
Alchemy gave me the knowledge and confidence to get and perform well in job interviews. My Alchemy experience allowed me to have a much better idea of the salary I could ask for. Shannon was such a positive support throughout the process that I always felt someone had my back. Both Megan and Marty also provided invaluable support and advice even after I completed the program.
A huge plus was the Alchemy community. My fellow cohort (19 people total) was such an interesting and wonderful group of people from all different backgrounds and ages. A highlight of my experience was mob programming with them, in groups of 3-5. The TAs were graduates of the program and also provided emotional as well as instructional support.
It is a big money investment and there are times when you feel the collective struggles of the group and individuals. There are times when you may struggle a lot yourself. It’s not easy, and outsiders (like your friends and family) may not understand what you are going through. However, I found it to be a huge personal growth experience that has paid off. I just accepted a job offer (with higher salary than I have ever made before) this past week, and I am so excited to continue to code because I feel like I can actually contribute and excel at it.
This wasn't an easy ride, let me tell you! I had never set foot in a school before and Alchemy kicked my butt! It was really worthwhile, they supported me through my most difficult days and my "I don't understand, aaahhh!!!" moments, always pushing me to be the best I could be while understanding that sometimes I just needed a few words of encouragement to get me through to the other side of competency. I left with a community of peers, mentors, and friends, excellent technical competency, and the confidence to take on any challenges that come my way.
- Injoong Yoon • Software Engineer • Graduate • Campus: Portland • Verified via LinkedIn
The course itself is extremely rigorous and intense - more than fulltime, Monday thru Friday from 9am-6pm, and I often found myself doing additional work or studying after I came home. However, I can't imagine it working as well any other way, since you're learning an enormous amount of specialized and complicated skills in an extremely condensed timeframe. Knowing your own limits and taking care of yourself when you need to are key to succeeding in the program.
The people are wonderful. I was lucky enough to be in an amazing cohort and my peers were all extremely supportive of each other. Marty and Ryan were both great instructors, patient and helpful and able to explain the more difficult concepts well. Shannon, the career services director at the school, was vital in helping us stay connected to the larger tech community in town and make the connections necessary to get our foot in the door for job interviews. I was able to land a job at a software development firm roughly three months after I'd finished Alchemy, and I apply what I've learned from the program on a daily basis. I genuinely don't believe that I'd be where I am today without having attended Alchemy. The price is high (in terms of money, time, and work required) but I found it to be absolutely worth it.
This school has been amazing. The instructors know what they are doing, and they really put in 100% for each student. The school space is cozy and welcoming, the location is right in downtown, close to transportation and there are so many tech companies just within blocks of the school. The education you receive is indispensable and how fast they teach almost seems impossible, but it isn't! You learn the MERN stack as well as much more! When I talk with recruiters and hiring managers, they are so shocked at how much I have learned and know from a boot camp! They really care about the welfare of each student, and they want you to succeed. They have an amazing support system even after you graduate from the program. Megan and Shannon (school director and career services) are truly fantastic! Shannon is really connected in the area and is such a great coach/champion for you! Schedule a tour or go into their weekly open house and you will see for yourself how fantastic this program is! Marty and Ryan (CEO and lead instructors) are so talented and more than equipped to teach you what you need and more. Both of them have worked in the industry for decades so you know you are in good hands. If you are considering a school in the PDX area, you need to come here. I was able to get a job within 4 weeks of graduating and I cannot be happier with the outcome!
The curriculum is created and updated to reflect the demands of the job market. The instructional staff is carefully selected by Marty, the CEO, who himself is a seasoned developer and an exceptional teacher. The facilities are world class, with plenty of monitors, bottomless coffee, tea, quality snacks and comfy couches. Megan (my favorite person there) does a wonderful job of making the place a pleasant work environment and supports your development throughout your whole time there. You also get all the support you need to land your first job from career services with Shannon who is truly dedicated to your success.
I enrolled in ACL straight from Puerto Rico without visiting the place first, which I now know was a really risky thing to do, but I feel extremely lucky to have chosen them. Having worked as a TA on another boot camp after graduating, visiting other boot camps and meeting graduates from various coding schools, I've learned that not all schools are created equal and I can confidently say that ACL is simply the best choice
(TL;DR at bottom)
Backstory: I have a degree in business, approximately a decade of work experience in an unrelated industry, and I made a personal choice to switch to something I've always been very interested in: software development.
Prior development experience: None, really. A lifetime ago I dabbled in HTML, Adobe's creative suite, Flash, and Dreamweaver (while it was still under Macromedia, if you're old enough to remember that). I maintained a few basic web sites but it was hobby stuff at best. I should note this was long before Wordpress, CMS, YouTube, the abundance of online tutorials, etc. and while the passion was real, this prior experience didn't impact my success in the program.
How I found it: Like you, I ended up here (e.g. CourseReport, SwitchUp) among other sites reviewing different bootcamp programs. I came across Code Fellows in the Seattle market while I was actually searching for online bootcamps. That led me to Alchemy as they were once affiliated with Code Fellows (ACL is fully separate now and running it's own thing here in PDX).
The reviews were encouraging and I quickly realized that for my preferred learning style and desired timeframe, I would need to commit full-time to an in-person program. I did not tour any of the other code schools in Portland (I only reviewed their online materials and/or reviews) but I've heard plenty of great things and met awesome people that attended other schools. In the end though, Alchemy was clearly the choice for me once I was introduced to the owners and the space.
The experience: Marty and Megan (ACL owners) put their heart and soul in to this school. The right attitudes, levels of support needed, staffing, and relevance of the material is constantly evaluated when making changes to the school or curriculum. On the career and networking side of things, Shannon has been an amazing addition to ACL--she started when my cohort began last year--and she has also been instrumental in the success of grads getting hired at awesome companies around PDX, time and time again.
Like the industry in general, the program is not necessarily meant for everyone. Marty and Megan do their best in advance to ask the right questions of interested candidates and ensure the rigorous nature of 'bootcamp-style learning' is clear to all prospects. They are fair-minded in all that they do and as someone who has spent almost a year with them, I can say they value people, diversity, and student outcomes above all else; if you think about it, their success quite literally depends on your success.
The other side of things: Programming is hard. Technology moves fast. Bootcamps are not a slower-paced program like University. While candidates with 'non-traditional backgrounds' will at times struggle with the material, it is incredibly rewarding watching your ideas and code come to life. Even after the program, what you learn today will likely be going 'out of style' or become obselete tomorrow (or a few months, a few years, whatever) and you will likely need to continue learning while managing a career, a personal life, and all the other things that require your attention. That's true of most developers, regardless of how they got their start.
In terms of what you learn, how you learn it, etc. I'll just encourage you to set up a call or visit to the school. The material and methods of delivery are constantly evolving (in a positive way!) so your cohort will learn differently than mine did. Marty is an incredibly talented developer with years of experience as a software architect so he's always aiming to improve the program. Ryan, Lead Instructor has been amazing to work with and he's an amazing developer as well so you're in good hands.
TL;DR: Alchemy was exactly the program I was looking for. I went through the program and five months later had two offers, one of which was my top choice for entering the market here in PDX (title of Software Engineer).
Full disclosure: As I write this I am currently a TA at Alchemy Code Lab for the remainder of the week. I completed the program around October 2018 and spent the following months TAing the next cohort to help reinforce concepts, mentor, and keep 'close to the code' during the slow holiday season while applying for jobs. I have no doubt that you could be employed in less than 5 months with the right dedication to the job application process (Shannon can share other student success stories with you so feel free to ask her!).
If you're ready for a change and willing to give it all that you have, make the call. Good luck!
Alchemy's main assets are its co-founders, Marty and Megan, who remain incredibly dedicated to the school's mission and advancement. Marty is constantly improving the curriculum to remain cutting edge in tech's fast-paced environment, and either personally teaches each course or has carefully vetted the instructor. Megan helms the school's culture, constantly steering towards more inclusion, diversity, and productive professionalism, and personally helped me find extra funding to pay my tuition. The result is a really cozy and productive environment, where you are constantly being pushed further as a developer, but equally surrounded by resources to support and encourage you.
I had the great fortune to work with Shannon, the career counselor, who works overtime spreading Alchemy's reputation and making networking connections for each student, personally. She helped me get multiple contracting positions after graduation, and eventually my full-time position.
But really, the reason to go to choose Alchemy Code Lab is its curriculum. You will not find a more intensive or competitive code school in Portland. I have been told many times since graduating how impressive my skills are, and how myself and other Alchemy grads are consistently exceptional. I am a huge advocate for the school and my classmates, who are impressive, diverse and growing into a wonderful community in the Portland area. I highly recommend the program to anyone invested in changing Tech culture, and who is willing to work hard.
- Web Developer- 3/31/2018Jennifer A Elton • Graduate • Course: Career Track: Designer UX Engineer • Campus: Portland • Verified via LinkedIn
When I started, I knew nothing about coding, I came from a non-tech industry. This program, from fundamentals to career tract was what I needed to get a solid understanding of web development. This is a rigorous coarse that requires a dedication to learning.
All of the Instructors at Alchemy Code Labs have years of web development experience and it shows in their passion for code and teaching. The TA's have a deep understanding of the coarse work and are dedicated to helping students. The career service staff helped me with a resume, LinkdIn account and a game plan on my job search.
The number one priority of Alchemy staff, from school director to TA's, is your success. With that said, be prepaired to work very hard. Everything you need to become a highly developed web designer is available to you, but you have to do the work.
- Toughest, most advanced code school in Portland- 1/17/2018Maryus Martsyalis • Graduate • Campus: Portland • Verified via LinkedIn
If you want to get a job and willing to work for it, you will love this place.
They really push you. There was close supervision during entire program. we had 2 TAs and an experienced instructor for 11 students at the final 2 months of the program. TAs and instructors change from course to course. I had 2 instructors: Marty Nelson and Sera Joy and they were phenomenal. I would strongly recommend checking out the instructors at any school before applying there. Some of the TA's where amazing, but even if they aren't brilliant they will still be helpful and work through problems and documentation with you.
Since Graduating i met a lot of graduates from other code schools like Epicodus and The Tech Academy. Both are shorter in duration and they have much looser and less intense schedule. They also cover a lot of different Techs and languages. You'll do a a little of everything there. In contrast ACL is more specialized and indepth. Cant speak for Python course but JS track was very advanced compared to others. You will learn a lot of cutting edge tech in modern web: React, Redux, MongoDB, end to end testing and so on. You will be expected to be proficient at latest version of JS (ES6) and things like async-await. The result is that you will know these JS and especially React well enough to contribute to companies right after graduation which I think is the main point of trade schools.
Most importantly their job search support is awesome! they have two full time employees to help you search for work and introduce you to potential employers. Its also a nice community, Im still in touch from fellow students and staff from Alchemy code, and come in to the office to work with fellow graduates weekly.
On a side note I would really recomend doing your reaserch on job placement and starting salleries before aplying to code school. Statistics can be tricky and what each code school considers employment is different. so dont be afraid to ask concrete questions. like "how much do they earn, how quickly did they find a job, do you caunt short term contracts or minimally paid internships as a "job". My reaserch lead me to ACL but do your own, you are programmer now independent reaserch is part of the job!
P.S they have cavalier King Charles as a code school pet!!!!
TL/DR; I had no experience in code, came in, and after six months of hard work, four months of job searching, I have more than doubled the salary I had at my last job. The community, connections, and support you get at Alchemy are unparalleled. If you can, GO HERE!
Before Alchemy, I worked in the nonprofit world as a community engagement coordinator doing everything from volunteer management, event planning, and social media management. I took one class in college doing basic HTML/CSS - so no experience jumping in.
Alchemy Code Lab is unlike any other community I have been apart of. And that's what it is - a community. The support, authenticity, and comraderie of the students, instructors, and TAs alike is unique and incredible.
When I first came into the program (as a huge introvert) everyone was welcoming and kind. Folx from the cohort above me took the time to mentor and chat with the new bootcampers and offer advice. When someone gets a job, everyone celebrates, even if there were people competing for the same position.
It's hard to put into words, but the genuine support of everyone is overwhelming.
Coming from a background not in tech and only with basic HTML/CSS skills, I was still able to succeed. The prep work that they provide for you is essential for your success. Do. The. Prep. Work. Bootcamp is a whirlwind and the pace is fast - it's a bootcamp. BUT you have amazing resources to keep you going.
Bootcamp I and II are all JS fundamentals and a taste of Firebase. Career Track is Express, Node, MongoDB, React/Redux. It definitely ramps up once you start career track, but again - it's a bootcamp. Still, all of the staff are a great resource for you in case you are struggling and might need a little extra help. Still, if you keep with it and love to code, you will be successful!
Willingness to collaborate is essential to your success. At the end of Bootcamp I and II and twice in Career Track, you have about a week and a small group to code an app of your choosing. I highly recommend stopping by to a final project presentation to see what you could do by the end of the program - it is truly impressive.
The instructors and TAs are amazing. There is a willingness to adapt, to see what works and what doesn't, to hear feedback and respond. Marty and Ryan have real world experience that can give you insight into the why behind the code. You can tell they are passionate about code and about teaching. They really put the time in to make sure everyone can be successful at Alchemy. STILL they are approachable! From Ryan and Marty's dad jokes to quirky puns and overall humor, it is not all serious. We do have fun, too!
TAs are the best! Normally they are recent grads with a lot of passion for code and positivity to help you get through those rough days. They always take the time to provide feedback on your code and tips on how to keep getting better.
SHANNON! Shannon (the career services director) is incredible and goes out of her way to make connections happen! During Career Track there is a week long career focused program that Shannon sets up, bringing in speakers to give tips on interviewing, salary negotiations, onboarding, body language, elevator pitches, and more. You have the opportunity to do mock interviews with some senior devs and engineers in Portland and gain a ton of great feedback.
Whiteboarding was always something that I dreaded as a srtudent, but throughout Career Track you get hands on practice going up to the whiteboard and practicing in groups and solo.
TA or App Lab - There are employment opportunities for grads once you graduate - come back as a Teaching Assistant for the program or join App Lab and get hands on experience coding for an actual business.
Connections - The connections you get from the ALCHEMY community are unparalleled. I got a few interviews and eventually my job from my connections with Alchemy alums.
Alchemy Code Lab hosts some meetups at their location (PDX Node, DonutJS, Women Who Code, Kotlin, Python, etc.) so there is ample opportunity to meet folx from the tech community and make connections. I recommend coming on the last Friday of the month for a social hour where former grads, current students, staff, and other connections come to mingle.
But the money...
I know, but hear me out. Coming from a nonprofit salary, I hear you. I received scholarships both through Alchemy and Women Who Code. Others in my cohort used loans and scholarships to afford it. It is possible! Reach out and see what your options are before you say no.
For a $20k investment, I more than doubled the salary I was making at my last job AND I built confidence and a community for life.
I attended Alchemy from September 2016 to January 2017. It was a very different school than it is today and I'm very impressed by the changes they've made.
I'll start with the things they did well. My cohort was fantastic! The people I met in that class are still friends of mine and they really helped me get through the course. I think this is due to the culture of pair programming and collaboration that Alchemy teaches. And it's very applicable to real world software development as well. The instructors were top notch and taught me the foundational skills I use every day on the job.
When I attended the curriculum was a bit dated. We learned jQuery and Angular 1.x. I'm very happy to learn that they've replaced both frameworks with more modern vue and react. This is an important change as the industry moves towards these more popular frameworks. I also didn't have a lot of assistance in the job search, but that's also something that has vastly improved since my time at Alchemy. This is super important because Alchemy is very in touch with what skills are currently desired and they're willing to change their curriculum to support their students.
Overall it was a fantasic experience and it started me on a career that I love. I enjoy going to work every day which is not something I've experienced before.
I became a developer because I didn’t want to teach anymore. I chose Alchemy because it seemed like an incredibly comprehensive program when compared to the other options in PDX. I was sold when I went to visit it in person. left that in-person visit under the impression that this program and those who ran it actually cared about their students and their well-being far beyond just the dollar signs I’m sure other places would’ve see on our heads. They’re also the sister company of Code Fellows up in Seattle, so I figured their great reputation had to have some merit to it hah.
The school definitely prepared me to enter a job as a software engineer. The topics covered in the short 6 months turned out to be quite spot on in terms of what would be useful or relevant once joining the workforce. Also, the instructors are incredible. Ryan, who teaches the 3 month Career Track portion, is a GENIUS, but also happens to be the best teacher I’ve ever had in life, in any context. He has this incredible ability to explain any programming topic, no matter how complex or difficult it is, in a manageable way that actually leads you to a solid understanding. Of course you can’t learn everything in that short amount of time, but Alchemy gave me a SOLID foundation that I’ve been able to build off of as I continue to learn in my job.
Side note, I got a legit job as a fullstack JS dev in an awesome Portland company within two weeks of graduating. Cheers ya’ll. I definitely would recommend Alchemy Code Lab above all the other Portland options.
I worked as a software developer for many years in an old, proprietary IBM system. My job allowed me to work from home, and my kids were a primary focus during those years, so I was content to stay with the job even though my tech skills were growing stale. Eventually, my family reached the point where I felt I could focus more on my career, and I began to look for ways to make a change.
I researched several programs to update my skills, including on-line code schools, PSU's New Beginnings program, and in-person schools. Eventually, I decided I wanted an in-person, all-day program (to help me brush up on those interpersonal skills that might have gotten a little rusty after all those years working from home) with a fast-paced, in-depth, rigorous curriculum (I wasn't a beginner) that would give me immediately marketable and current skills. Alchemy seemed to meet all those criteria, and had (bonus!) a friendly, inclusive, and welcoming atmosphere. Alchemy lived up to my expectations in all areas. Despite my background in software, I was never bored or under-challenged. The frequent paired and group projects were an excellent way to re-learn how to code with other people, and I found my skills to be reasonably in demand once I graduated. After about two months of job hunting, I got two offers, both for jobs I was excited to take at a salary higher than I had anticipated.
Alchemy instructors are experienced software developers, not recent code-school grads. My instructors were Marty (a co-owner) and Ryan (lead instructor), and both of them are extremely smart and knowledgeable developers. I never got the feeling that they were teaching out of their depth. Their fluency with and mastery of what they were teaching was always apparent.
The TAs (recent grads) are an excellent addition to the program. They provide lots of help, feedback, and encouragement. And being a TA can be a very rewarding experience. It's a great way to build your competence and confidence with the material as you look for a job.
Alchemy is a pleasant place to spend a lot of time. It's clean, bright, organized, has lots of plants and even a couple of resident dogs. Megan (co-owner) works hard to make sure the physical space supports and accommodates all the action that takes place there.
Alchemy solicits student feedback every week (and sometimes every day!), and they take suggestions and criticism very seriously. They are very flexible and never afraid to experiment with new ways of doing things.
Shannon, the career counselor, is the perfect person for the role. She works hard to connect with Portland employers and be an evangelist for what Alchemy grads can provide. She brings in knowledgeable speakers to share their expertise about the job-hunting and on-boarding processes. And she provides great support to individual students before and after they graduate, not only helping with writing resumes and cover letters, but also encouraging the under-confident, prodding the procrastinator, and soothing the anxious.
It's a lot of work. Don't come here until you have the freedom to devote yourself entirely to learning. Especially toward the end, there were weekends where I had extra time only to get a little exercise and have meals with my family. All other time was devoted to software projects!
The open-source software world moves fast, and to keep up, the curriculum at Alchemy is constantly being updated and modified. Every cohort will feel that they are guinea pigs in at least one area. The alternative would be a canned, stagnant curriculum -- easier, yes, but less valuable.
Alchemy is the full package. I have no doubt I made the right choice.
The program is full time and intense, it seems to go at breakneck speed and asks a lot of the students. It is hard work to keep up, but the result is amazing! I find myself able to talk conceptually about code and implementation options with senior developers at work on a surprisingly complex level. Based on comments and feedback from peers and superiors, I can only attribute this to the rigorous program at Alchemy Code Lab.
Other than resume help, networking suggestions, introductions to members of the local development community, and continuing education resources, there wasn't much in the way of Job Assistance when I graduated. I have kept in touch with the folks at the school, though, and they have a wonderful drive to continually improve on what they already offer. That being said, they have been making inroads at many local tech companies and host a large number of community events at their space.
I can't stress enough how glad I am that I chose to go with Alchemy Code Lab. There are graduates of other bootcamps who found that they were un-prepared to head into the job market, and they are coming here afterwards to get better equipped and understand the concepts on a more fundamental level. The instructors are incredibly knowledgeable, and every month or so we would be thrown into a Project Week which would result in a Full Stack App of our own creation that would be useable after the program in our personal portfolios and resumes.
They have a great Career Services department that truly helps you in securing that job after graduation as well as opportunities to TA or work in their App Lab making real-world production Apps for clients who come to Alchemy to bring their ideas to market. I really do feel like this is the most advanced and competent bootcamp you will find in Portland, let alone anywhere.
- Intense Immersive Experience- 3/30/2018Grace • Graduate • Course: Career Track: Designer UX Engineer • Campus: Portland
Myself: I came from an entirely different background from tech and did the 301 and 401 tracks. I had some knowledge from self study for a few months prior to starting, which was why I jumped in at 301.
The school is fast paced but receptive to feedback from weekly surveys. Many times adjustments to the curriculum were made due to feedback.
301: Lecture was around 3 hours long, and lab time was variable depending on how long it takes you to finish it. You are given the time after lecture into the evening to finish it. You also have readings every night and codewars assignments every week or so. There are TAs available during lab time until 6pm, who are very approachable and willing to help. The instructor often stuck around in the evenings to help with questions as well. Overall difficult but not insane. Readings may take 10-20 minutes every night. Labs 2-4 hours. The instructor (Sara Joy) was fantastic. She would stop for questions during her lecture, and provide answers in different formats for better understanding. She was always positive and upbeat, never showed frustration with students. The final week of the class was spent on a team project meant to show a culmination of our understanding. All labs were pair programming.
401 (Devsign): Lecture was around 3-4 hours long. Every Friday was spent whiteboarding with data structures and algorithms. This class had two parts. The first 5 weeks were with Anwar Montasir and we went over design concepts / css / vanilla JS / design tech. I was part of the first devsign course at ACL. Since we were guinea pigs, there was lots of room for improvement and feedback, but the instructor was extremely receptive to feedback and addressed it every week with changes. I have no doubt the second time Devsign is put on that there will be significant improvements and I highly recommend it. Anwar is a strong resource of knowledge and attention to detail when it comes to design and accessibility on the web. He also had a strong understanding of the pace of bootcamps as he went through the full-stack program at ACL himself prior to becoming an instructor. The readings would take around an hour every evening, and the labs took 2-4 hours during the week, and 10-15 hours over the weekend. The pace was very intense and allowed little room for other kinds of activities. There was little pair programming labs except for the midterm project.
The second 5 weeks were with Marty (the business owner) and went over react / redux. Marty is a fast-paced instructor full of knowledge. If you have questions you need to ask them because he will not stop in lecture to check in on the audience. Marty was also extremely responsive to feedback. This section of the career track was the most intense and difficult. Readings are a minimum of 1 hour every evening, and labs take 3-5 hours during the week, and 12-15 hours on the weekend. Sometimes people were paired together to do week-long labs that built on each prior day. The final project was done in a group with 5 days to prepare and then present in front of representatives from companies.
There was one week in between the two halves of Devsign for career services which included resume / linkedIn / github workshops. This part of the course could be improved upon. The school does not have internship relationships with businesses, but does have an in-house internship program called App Lab that takes top career track graduates and has them work with real-world clients with app ideas.
I highly recommend this school if you take the program seriously. It is intense and does not allow room for much else at the same time.
The things I appreciated most:
- receptive to feedback
- willing to work with and help students improve who are struggling
- availability to answer questions, even over the weekend
- TAs that are always willing to help
- relevant new technologies (react / redux / firebase)
- beautiful space and friendly / studious environment
- in-house scholarships for diversity
- career track that is a step beyond what any other bootcamp offers at this time in Portland
- you can use the space all days / all times
In 2017 I decided that I wanted a complete career change and I was looking to the tech field for that. I had a biotech background but no real web tech knowledge. I needed to go back to school and I wanted to take the short but intense route. I began looking into different bootcamps in/near Portland. I knew that I wasn't going to do well with a school that just offered online teachings. I'm a hands-on learner and I wanted personal interaction. This, alone, narrowed the candidates for me. Then I needed to consider the curriculum. Well, I wanted to learn a language and learn it well, as opposed to learning a little bit about several languages. From everything that I'd heard about coding, it mattered more to "master" a language than to simply "familiarize" oneself with many languages. This is because the basic bones of most languages are similar and the knowledge is highly transferrable. This made a lot of sense and, again, narrowed my options. When I looked into Alchemy Code Lab, it was associated with a tried-and-true code academy from Seattle. One with great reviews. Alchemy Code Lab seemed to pump out very successful graduates who often entered their first job at a level higher than a junior dev. How was this possible? Come to find out, their curriculum offers more depth and material than other bootcamps and the material is also always current or ahead of the trends. Lastly, the actual physical environment of the academy is quite inviting - friendly people, natural light, modern, spacious, and a plethora of drinks and snacks rewarding all the deep thought that happens there. It also impressed me that so many alum liked to revisit their old 'digs'. I immediately enrolled in the program (literally). I quickly became part of a family of like AND different minded people. I was fortunate to have 2 amazing teachers throughout my studies. Both are not only extremely knowledgable about the tech world/scene, constantly keeping abreast of the topics themselves, but they are also both quite accessible to help guide, teach, and answer questions outside of lectures. This was what I needed. I won't lie, this bootcamp is not for the weak or lazy. It's tough, grueling even. But the proof is in the pudding and what you come out knowing will blow your mind. If that wasn't enough, the school also takes seriously their commitment to helping you find a job. They have an in-house career-services sector. They also bring in outside coaches to offer guidance on salary negotiation, resume writing, job searches, etc. And recently, they introduced a mentor-program for their graduates. This program allows graduates to work on real client apps and get paid while doing it. I'm incredibly impressed and grateful to have found ACL.
- Best Bootcamp in PDX- 12/22/2017Claire Follett • Web Developer • Graduate • Campus: Portland
I graduated from Alchemy Code Lab in March of 2017. I can say with great confidence that going through the program at Alchemy was one of the best life decisions I have ever made. Marty and Megan strive every day to make it the top bootcamp in Portland with continuous encouragement and support. They always stay on top of the trending frameworks/texhnologies and it is seen through out the whole entire curriculum. If you are considering a code school in the Portland Metro-Area and are on the fence about which one to choose, I highly suggest you check out Alchemy Code Lab.
I graduated when I was only 20 years old with no experience in the software industry and I am now a web developer full time at an awesome company. And I would not be here without Alchemy.
That said, a coding bootcamp is an all-consuming experience. I met with several students, TAs, and alumni before I chose this program, and everyone told me that I would be working from 9am through 6pm every weekday, then doing more homework each night, and also working one or two days of most weekends. Somehow I still didn’t really believe them, but they were right. You will get out of this program whatever you put in. It is not cheap, even with scholarships, but it is worth that money if you go in committed to putting forth the effort.Other thoughts:
- There was a higher ratio of women and other minority groups in tech representation. It meant a lot to me to be learning in a more diverse environment. I believe this is due to the diversity scholarship program and other initiatives they pursue toward bringing in those less represented in tech.
- I was looking for a full-time, intense experience that I could complete in 5-6 months.
- The environment was welcoming and professional. In class and during labs, I felt that my background, interests, and contributions were respected and appreciated. The owners of the school work hard to create an environment that works for the students as they go through the bootcamp process.
- Students complete four large group projects if they do the whole program. This was important to me since I had spoken with several industry professionals who told me that when they consider less experienced hires they pay attention to evidence that they can work well in teams. This program let me have ample experience coding individually, pair programming, and working in teams of 3-4 to build working apps from start to finish.
- Size of the classes. My cohort generally had 12 students (it varied somewhat between the courses), and it didn’t take long for us to become very close. In addition to the instructor, we had a TA that had been through the program.
There was definitely stress. Don’t go into a program like this thinking that it will be a cakewalk, because you are setting yourself up for disaster. Even coming in with some prior knowledge of HTML, CSS, and C#, there were times I was struggling to get through and topics that were harder for me to understand. It seemed that everyone in my cohort struggled at different times throughout the courses, so it was really important that we could rely on each other for help in understanding.So where am I after all of this? I didn’t find a job right off the bat, but I was lucky not to have the financial pressure that would require me to get one immediately. Still, it has been less than three months since I finished, and I have one offer on the table and other jobs for which I am in various stages of the application pipeline. It is a different kind of stress, but a good position to be in. They are all regular, full-time positions with the title Software Developer or Software Engineer.
- I took the full-time version of the bootcamps, but I know plenty of students who took the night classes and loved having that option. They are also quite grueling, since the course length doubles and you give up one full weekend day for class/study for the length of those courses. It is an important option for those who can’t afford to quit their day job right away and dive into a career change. The advanced career track is always full-time, as far as I know.
- The instructors collect feedback from students every week, with an anonymous section of the survey for comments you don’t want associated with you. Most of the time I didn’t have too much to say, but the couple of times I did, it was addressed right away. They are quite responsive to the feedback they get—the direction of the week can change on a dime (within reason) to include a general course interest or address a lack based on those comments.
- They have a floating advisor/experienced pair-programmer who is there at certain times to help you on labs and projects. This was immeasurably useful, not just for the advice from a senior engineer, but also so that I could learn different ways of doing things from what the instructor might show.
- The career services involved set times to work on resumes and cover letters, have presentations from industry leaders and recruiters on breaking into the Portland Tech job market, networking, and all things job hunt-related. There is no internship associated with this program, but on the other hand, most of the graduates I spoke with (who went all the way through the advanced career track) landed a job that was above internship or junior-developer level. Interviewing, white boarding, and algorithms practice is also part of the advanced career track curriculum, which I felt was pretty important practice. There is also a new consultancy practice that they are starting with some of the alumni, which is kind of like an in-house internship on lower price tag projects, as far as I know.
- Since I had some experience with HTML and CSS (and C#, but I didn’t think that would apply) beforehand, I considered skipping the first bootcamp level and testing into the second bootcamp. I didn’t end up doing that and instead took the full set of courses from start to finish. There were a couple students in my cohort who did that at either the second bootcamp or the career track level. Though there were some things we had learned by then that those students weren’t really familiar with, they caught on fairly quickly. In any case, I was glad I had gone through the whole program.
- The school is really involved in the Portland tech scene—they host regular events like DonutJS and the Women Who Code Algorithms study night, and then other sporadic events. It makes it easy to stay a little later at the school and then attend an event and practice networking.
My experience with alchemy code lab was nothing short of awesome. Their curriculum is intense and if your a new comer to coding definitely learn some basics before going because they do move fast. The instructors are very experienced and know any question you can throw at them. I got a job shortly after graduating and have nothing but thanks to them for preparing me to succeed. —Chris