The Catalyst Program is a full-time, online commitment. Catalyst students learn in a cohort of up to 10 other students. Each cohort has a dedicated instructor who is available for remote troubleshooting through Slack. The instructor will also host a daily webinar check-in.
For students who need less guidance, the Covalence Full Stack Atomic bootcamp is independent and self-guided. Lectures are delivered via recorded video by experienced instructors, and have access to the Covalence Community (a Slack channel), job postings, and a network of alumni, staff, and other peers completing the Covalence curriculum.
Covalence is open to novices. Successful graduates of Covalence are prepared for junior-level software development jobs. Students are provided career resources and learn how to apply and interview for these junior developer roles.
Recent Covalence News
- The Switch to Online Coding Bootcamps at Covalence
- October 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
- August 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
Recent Covalence Reviews: Rating 4.69
Catalyst Program (Full Stack Development Bootcamp)
We designed the Catalyst program to simulate an in-person bootcamp experience without sacrificing all of the advantages that an online program offers. Catalyst is a 9-week fully immersive online bootcamp that entrenches you in a cohort with 10 other students, a dedicated instructor, and a daily schedule to accelerate you to your first job as a developer.
Application Deadline:July 9, 2018
- $249 seat reservation
- As low as $135/mo from Skills Fund.
- Minimum Skill Level
- No experience required.
- Prep Work
- Catalyst Prep pre-work (free course available on our website)
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Covalence was more than a class, it is family. From the cohort to instructors, it was nothing short of awesome.
The struggle is real, but the payout is way beyond worth it. We learned technologies like Bootstrap, NodeJS, MySQL, and even React which was created and developed by Facebook!
The creations we were capable of just after 5 weeks was impressive, but after 10 weeks and learning React-Native (used to create cross-platform apps that run on both Android and iOS!) the possibilities became endless.
You don't just learn a handful of languages and that's it, no, you learn how to learn ANYTHING and put it to use!
With their new online courses available and the FREE webinars they do, the options have become even more AFFORDABLE!!!
I highly recommend this bootcamp to anyone thinking of taking this career path.
This was a career change for me and getting another 4-year bachelor’s degree in computer programming was a ridiculous and expensive pipe dream for me. Like with any career change, I needed something that could prepare me to become a software developer. I came across Covalence thru a Google search via the Course Report website and signed up for the January 2017 Nashville Full Stack Software Bootcamp that lasted 10 weeks. The location of the class was at the Refinery inside Houston Station, which was a nice safe environment with decent parking. Most students in the class were sailing the same unemployed ship as I was, so people were motivated to succeed in the course in order to get a job.
We fortunately had an instructor who was a guru at computer programming and a teaching assistant who graduated from Covalence that was very knowledgeable of the course material. They helped guide us thru the coding challenges that came up every day. They tried their best not to just solve the problems for us but instead guide us in the right direction to get to the solution. For me, I didn’t want to be spoon fed a solution; I wanted to be able to figure out how to write the correct function, for loop, or if-else conditional statement on my own. If my attempt at solving the problem was a train wreck, it was comforting to have the instructor/teaching assistant there to help because I can tell you that Stack Overflow is not the greatest resource for coding problems when you can have a coding guru right next to you showing you what you did wrong. The funny thing is most of the time, it was misspelling a variable or missing a curly bracket or a comma somewhere. One of the best things about the course is when you have those moments where you solve something without needing to ask for help, but when the instructor looks at your solution, they make a comment that it could have been coded with fewer lines of code, which makes your great personal achievement seem like an okay personal achievement, but you silently agree that the instructor’s comment is right, which is the main difference of learning to code on your own versus having a coding expert right next to you.
Covalence has two team members that are dedicated to helping you update your resume towards a coding job and help you prepare for the technical job interview. They scheduled guest lecturers in the local tech industry to share their experiences with us, which helped us get a better idea on what we were getting into. Four things that you will get out of the course that helps toward your job search is a new skill set of computer languages, a Github account filled with your lab projects and final project, a LinkedIn account (if you haven’t made one), and resources to tech meetups that increase your chances to network with job recruiters/hiring managers. In terms of a guarantee of job placement after the course, this was not something I was expecting from a 10-week software bootcamp, but Covalence still tries to help you find jobs regardless.
After 10 weeks, I am able to code a website or mobile app in ReactJS and React Native from Front End, Back End, and Database without help now. This to me is priceless since being lost and unsure on how to code was a huge mountain to climb over. Covalence helped me overcome that mountain, and now, I feel prepared to look for a software developer job on my own. You get to stay connected with a great coding community thru the Covalence Slack channel after the course is over. Lastly, Covalence provided me the foundation and the software tools to be able to learn new programming languages on my own because this is a career/industry that has many languages that handle Front End, Back End, and Database development.
Recommendations for Future Students:
1. If you can, bring a MAC laptop with at least 16 GBs of RAM. Your class experience will be smoother except make sure you have a root password set for you MySQL database when you get to that lesson…
2. If you want a head start, find a tutorial on how to make a website with a code editor (VS Code) with just using an index.html file that displays your web elements and a CSS file that styles your web elements. If you are a savvy coder, try to add Bootstrap to your index.html file.
5. When dealing with Front End requests to Back End responses, know that you are sending some kind of “request” from the Front End to the Back End such as “get all images links from database”, and the Back End will send a “response” back with all the image links to the Front End. Make sure your Front End understands the response from the Back End or else it will just console log an error.
6. There is nothing wrong if you can’t be good at everything. Just be great at what you enjoy. Good Luck!
I recently finished with my time at Covalence and I only wish that it could have lasted longer. I'll just list some thoughts below.
The Instructors: All of the instructors (but especially Paul "The Man" Dobbs) were great. At nearly every hour of the day, you could reach out to one of the instructors on Slack and ask a question and get a satisfying answer fairly quickly. Paul, our in-class instructor, was always ready and willing to help us with a calm and patient demeanor. He even would be available on some weekends to help us in person on our labs and projects.
The Student Success Duo: In my opinion, this is secretly the best product you will gain out of Covalence. Kimberly and Estes are there to provide you with the tools necessary to become a hirable employee. They were always willing to help me with my resume, review my social media appearance, or practice interview skills. Daily, they are posting job listings and contacting companies who need workers. At least once a week, they were getting someone from a reputable company around town to talk to us and give us advice. Even after graduation, I still see job listings being posted from them and I have the ability to communicate with them and get advice. Can't emphasize how nice this is.
The Video Lessons: On a normal day at Covalence, you will spend the first half of the day watching a few video lessons. At first, I was a little peeved that we were being taught from pre-recorded lessons, instead of a normal in person lecture. It wasn't until a few weeks in that I began to see the blessing in disguise that these videos were. Many times later did I find myself re-watching the videos to gain a better understanding of a certain subject. With the videos, you have the ability to pause and take notes or contemplate something that was just said. Plus, our instructor would take the time to pause videos in class at complicated parts and help us understand it. These videos are available even after graduation.
SUGGESTION FOR FUTURE STUDENTS
If you have the ability to take the class and are in a place in life where you need to delve into the world of programming but do not know where to begin, I highly reccomend you give Covalence a shot. I even made a few friends along the way because suffering under the intensity of the work seems to bring people together. A few of us even play D&D together on the weekends.
Give it a shot. You won't regret it.
The Nashville class was held at the Refinery business center, which provided a nice friendly and relaxed, yet professional work environment. Relaxed, yet professional really sums up the vibes of the entire course. The instructors and the students all like to have some fun, make jokes, take a small break to show each other a video, etc., but it never took away from the fact that we were all there primarily because we are enthusiastic about and determined to learn how to code. Also worth noting: Covalence runs a community Slack channel so we could all message each other with problems we ran into (and the occasional meme).
Your average day at Covalence for the first 7 weeks of class involves a video lecture in the morning and a lab assignment in the afternoon, separated by a lunch break. The video lecture normally consists of a PowerPoint laying out the general concepts of what you're about to learn, followed by a coding walkthrough teaching you what you're going to actually need to do. The lab typically provides a list of tasks which require you to apply the skills you learned that morning, and an advanced assignment to take things a step further, if you get through the basics with some extra time. During lab time the instructors do the best they can to move around the room and help everyone with any questions or problems they're having. The instructors are very patient.
For the final 3 weeks of the class the students are split up into groups of 3-4 and assigned a final project. The final project is a full stack application (web or mobile) assigned by the instructors, although they do allow you to suggest your own ideas too. You will probably learn just as much during these last 3 weeks as in the actual instructional period of the class, because this is where you really learn to tackle big problems on your own and become an independent, self-teaching developer. The final projects are presented at graduation to the staff, fellow students and friends and family. These projects are a great first big piece of experience to put on your portfolio.
Two of the instructors, Estes and Kimberly, offer help with resumes, portfolios, cover letters, job applications and much more throughout the course. They will also personally send out your information to companies they have connections with to get your foot in the door. Covalence also had many speakers come talk throughout the course. Some of the people who spoke in our class include hosts of a local developer podcast, former bootcamp students and local tech recruiters. Throughout the course, Estes and Kimberly also send links for entry level developer applications which they think would be a good fit for us through the Slack channel.
If you are determined to learn to code and not afraid to jump right in, Covalence is probably a great fit for you. I really enjoyed my time at Covalence and am optimistic about my coding career thanks to the skills I learned in the class.
P.S. Sorry for grammatical errors. I'm a programmer, not a writer.
Becoming a developer was something I had wanted to do for quite some time, but was unsure of how to get there. Having already gotten a degree in accounting, I didn't feel like going back to college was the right choice for me at this time, both for financial reasons and the time investment required. Luckily, a friend recommended Covalence to me and it sounded like the right option.
I had tinkered around with web design back in high school and also took a few online courses more recently, so I knew I enjoyed learning the subject matter, but I wasn't sure how I would translate this into a career change or even which technologies I should be focusing on. Covalence really helped by giving me a clear path, showing me how everything connected from the back end to the front end, and making me feel confident enough to actually look for developer positions!
The curriculum is challenging and I very much encourage any future students to spend lots of time outside of class doing their own independent studying and practice. This is not something you can just half devote yourself to. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll celebrate small victories, and you'll definitely curse out your computer a few times. The last two weeks were particularly challenging as we had to use all the technologies we learned to come up with a group project that we would demo at graduation. However, I feel like those last two weeks were when I grew the most and I'm very proud of our completed project, a food truck locating web app!
The instructor and TA were top-notch and had the patience of saints, helping us with anything we struggled with. Of course, part of the learning process is the struggle, so often I would just beat my head against the wall until I understood it because I'm stubborn like that, haha. However, they were always there when we needed them.
All that said, what would a review be without a couple of critisms though, right?
One criticism I have of the program was that our class was way too big (around 30 students), but I think that's something they learned their lesson on and will watch out for in future cohorts. Also, the mentor program could be a little more robust with maybe some additional scheduled interactions. We met our mentors very early into the class and didn't really know enough to have a lot of meaningful questions or conversations with them. I think it could even be beneficial to have actual former participants come in to tell their stories and provide some encouragement, especially during the more challenging weeks.
It's also worth noting that there's a very good chance you will not immediately have a job upon completion of the course, so I would recommend any prospective students plan accordingly. I know a lot of us were so busy and stressed with final projects that we didn't feel like we had much time or energy to focus on interviewing during the program. However, don't let that discourage you! It will just save you a lot of stress if you're able to plan ahead for that possibility. Once the course is over, just keep learning and applying and make sure to take advantage of the career success tools (and people) that Covalence provides you.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the program to someone who is looking for a way to transition into the software engineering world, especially if they already have a passion for it. I'm not sure I would have ever gotten to this point on my own and for that I am very grateful for Covalence. I'm very excited to be starting a career I actually enjoy!
Covalence taught me the coding fundamentals and advanced tech stack that I use everyday in my work. It helped me to a conquer a mountain of coding information and got me to a point where I can start seeking real, fulfilling employment in web development. Highly recommended.
I spent 4 years automating control systems and working on the front end graphics for HVAC systems but I wanted to step away from HVAC and move more towards Web Development.
When I started looking into Web Development I went to YouTube and some other online resources but it was either too basic, lacked structure, or the content was not up to date. I was ready to throw in the towel and move forward in Buildings but then I discovered that Covalence was moving to Nashville and offered a Full Stack Bootcamp!!
What I learned
Covalence helped me gain confidence in my ability by creating an environment where I learned something new everyday and was held accountable to complete the labs. It was similar to my college experience but without all the extra General Ed classes to focus on. It was challenging and helped me acheive my goal.
I also learned and then helped coach students as an Intructor in the following subjects: HTML/CSS, Angular/React/React Native, Object Oriented Programming, NodeJS, Deployment, SCRUM methodology, Databases, REST API, and Version Control (Github).
Covalence is dedicated to updating their content. So you can be sure that you are learning the latest material needed to be successful. And if you notice anything that should be updated they are receptive to feedback.
The culture at Covalence is very inclusive and community focused. You're encouraged to ask questions but be prepared to work hard too because you will be challenged. The goal is that as you approach your final project you will still have questions but will also become more indepenent because you have gained confidence in your ability and learned how to read through documentation to find answers. Which is something you'll be doing often in a Developer role.
When you start applying you'll want to do a few things to have the best chance to landing an interview.
1. You worked with Covalence to have a clean resume that tells your story and why you are qualified.
2. You created a personal website/portfolio. (Recruiters love these)
3. You reviewed the basics and read the documentation for X. After 10 weeks you may be amazed to see what you can do but there is always more to learn and you might need to review some basics that were covered in week 1.
4. Understand that you will need to be aggresive in your job search. Job searching is never easy and rejection is going to happened. Its a part of the process. But you will find a match!
5. Ask questions and provide feedback as you run into challenges throughout your job search. Covalence is their to help!
This Bootcamp was a great kickstart for me. I had have trouble in the past with college courses and how slow they teach different elements of programming. This Bootcamp challenged me and forced me to stay on track. If you are considering this course, be ready for a full force 10-weeks where you are learning something new every day.
The instructors for this course also make it their personal mission to make sure you learn this stuff and will work with you with any questions you have. There was never a time that I was left waiting for answers. If you have a question after hours or on the weekend, the instuctors are always available through the slack channel, taking time out of their personal days to help.
And that is not all! Even after the course is finished, the team is dedicated to finding you a career in this new field. They work with you during to course to find the best way to structure your resume and linkedin profile to best catch potential employers eyes, and after you complete your training they work as a networking connection for you.
Truly there has never been a better way to learn how to become a full stack developer.
This was the perfect class for all types of learners. We were given access to video lectures instead of a in person lecture from an instructor. So if there was a concept that didn't click with one student and it did with the other, then we would be able to go at our own pace to fully grasp the concepts from lecture. The instructor for our class was still very involved, especially when questions would arise and problems persisted. He was knowledable, understanding, patient and wanted all of us to suceed.
The video lectures were also updated when we gave feedback. They were very responsive to all students and their requests to make the content of lectures, labs, etc. better.
Overall, this program prepared me for a new career and to continually imporve my skills and knowledge in the development world.
The instructors are top-notch - knowledgeable and always (seriously, always) willing to help. I'm very thankful for them.
If you'd like to see an example of my group's final project, head over to www.filmstack.co and take a look!
I thought that this class was effectively set up and that our instructors did a great job of teaching the material. I understand that through the course of our ten weeks that Covalence lost a couple members of the team, but there seemed to be a seamless transition between the old and new team.
If there is anything that I would say to approve on in the future, it would be to make sure that the students are up to date on the speakers coming in. When Daxco came to speak to our class (the day after I applied for a job with them), none of us had any idea that they were coming until the morning of. There were a couple other times when we were given really short notice about speakers.
Beyond that one gripe, I would give the program high marks. Grayson did a great job, Jeff did a great job, and the rest of the team did a great job.
Two things to really consider before applying:
1. If you're a beginner and even if you've done the pre-coursework, think again. After four days of the bootcamp, I soon realized that I wasn't "up to par". I had done the pre-coursework and more, and, as much as I was willing and eager to learn, this coding bootcamp was not for the beginner that I was, and I needed more time to fully digest the material and work on my programming skills. That said, I withdrew after four days by sending an email, and I didn't hear anything back.
2. Think twice about the pro-rated fund. After withdrawing, I began to get worried since I was now jobless and in need of those funds. After calling several times, I finally got the person in charge (after A WEEK had gone by), and she sent me an email back that said the prorated fund was according to Tennessee's standards and not prorated by Covalence themselves. This was not clearly stated in anything that Covalence had sent out previously, and my four days ended up costing $2,000 or more (still undetermined since I still haven't received a refund). Needless to say, I was quite disappointed and frustrated by the lack of communication on their end and up front for who the program was truly geared for and how the pro-rated system worked.
Covalence provides all the tools necessary for you to effectively reach a new level of expertise as a programmer. It takes a lot of effort from the student in return. There's no secret to replace the hours of hard work. Make sure you're able to fully commit to the time necessary if you're planning on doing any sort of coding bootcamp. The instructors are very, very knowledgeable and approachable to help you get past problems you're stuck on. Part of getting better though is finding the answer yourself too.
If you trust yourself to be disciplined and mildly intelligent, you can do it. Don't be intimidated. Make sure you're building a portfolio of projects on GitHub cause it will help you drastically when interviewing. For those looking to a career change, do it. You'll also enjoy it more the better you get at it, because you'll start to be able to see the progress you're making and the applications you can create.
Though, as with all forms of education, what you get out of the program is directly proportional to the amount of work that you are willing to put into it. What the program offers is a great framework to learn, along with astute instructors that will be able to answer any questions and solve (most) problems that come their way. What the program does not offer is free jobs upon graduation. The impetus is on those within the program to use the available resources to perfect their craft, both within the bounds of the curriculum and on any outside personal projects. Often, the work done outside of class is what will land the job.
Overall, I am a huge fan of what Covalence has to offer. If given the opportunity to go back and decide on taking the course again, I would choose to be a part of it 100% of the time.
I was very fortunate that several local companies were very interested in me as a prospective employee during the time that I was taking the course and I ultimately ended up accepting a position and starting the same week we graduated. I would caution prospective students to not be complacent in any manner with regards to potential employers or jobs. Make sure to update your resume and LinkedIn profile at the start of the course, join networking groups, put yourself out there speaking to recruiters and fellow tech enthusiast; anything to widen your circle of contacts and to grow your support network as you undertake this challenge.
Overall, I am very happy that I chose to invest my time and money in the Full Stack Development course and if I could go back and make the decision again, I would absolutely choose to take the course again. Last year was a year of change for me and the Depot/U Full Stack Development course was a huge facilitator of the career change I chose to make.
I took the Front End After-Hours class this past fall. I had coded previously while I was in college and had a good basic knowledge, but there were definitely holes in my foundation. I knew that I wanted a career change and looked to Depot/U to gain confidence in my abilities and re-strengthen my foundation.
I felt that I was able to relearn the basics during the class. I have noticed they have since shortened this class to a single week and would agree with that change.
My main goal and the main goal of all of the others in my class was to eventually change careers and I did not feel that this class assisted with that. While in the class I applied for jobs, I got an interview for a QA position. I was really excited because the company I was applying for had a clear goal for career development and it was outlined for me from the beginning of my interview process. I also didn't feel that I was ready to begin work as a software developer coming out of the class. Unfortunately, my excitement was diminished when my teacher called QA a "click monkey position." I have since begun work at the company I interviewed with, in the QA position, and every day I have the opportunity to work towards my goal of development. I believe that those going through the class should be encouraged to join the Tech community in the best way that suits them, everybody needs to start somewhere.
After an interview, I identified a clear void of job interview prep and asked the instructors to assist with this. Unfortunately, nothing came of it and we were unable to work it into the time we had.
If Covalence decides to run the After Hours course again, I would really encourage them to find somebody able to just teach that class. By the end of our work days, the students were exhausted and we really needed somebody in front of us that was fresh and ready to go. Our teacher worked a full time job and our TA was taking the all day full stack class. Both of them had been working 8+ hours by the time they even got to us. At times this class felt overlooked and I felt that I missed out on some of the opportunities afforded to others despite paying the same amount.
In the end, I got what I needed to out of the class and was able to translate that into a successful career change. I am very happy with my decision to take the class, but hope they will take this feedback and make positive changes for the future.
Response From: Matt Morgan of Covalence
Thank you so much for the honest and sincere feedback and congratulations on your position as a QA Engineer! QA is a critical piece of the software development lifecycle and I apologize if anyone associated with our program at the time made you feel like that position was anything short of commendable.
The After Hours course was our attempt to give those interested in changing their career an opportunity to do so while also maintaining their current job during normal business hours. While we believe the course still offered the same great opportunities that our full-time courses offer, we too noticed both the burden and disadvantages of having to learn such a mentally intensive curriculum after an already hard day's worth of work. I believe every student in the After Hours course was forced to be mentally tougher and work significantly harder to fully tap into their true potential.
All that being said, we did decide that it was best not to run the After Hours course anymore. We feel that we owe it to our students to understand that the intensity of the course and the stress of another job do not complement each other and that a singular focus is needed if you want to make something as difficult as changing your career as streamlined as possible.
We really appreciate all the feedback and promise to take it into account as we continue to evolve our processes and curricula. We wish you the best of luck in your new career and can't wait to follow up in a couple of months to see how it's been going!
Coming to Depot/U was one of the best decisions I made in Birmingham. It taught me how to use technology to solve problems and allowed me to jumpstart my career in technology. The course was extremely useful in terms of learning a big picture view and then drilling down into specifics - the instructor being very strict with formatting and quality of code has been a great aid in my current job.
Coding/programming was something that was always intriguing to me. In college, I didn't want to attempt learning how to code due to a little bit of intimidation. It just seemed scary and like something I'd never be able to do. After working in an ad agency for almost a year, I quickly discovered what I was doing was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to learn a skill that made me feel more valuable as an employee.
I began to research programming and found that front-end web development was where I belonged. It was the blend of coding and design that really caught my eye. After a couple months of trying to teach myself through online resources, I decided I needed to take an extra step if I really wanted to learn front-end web development quickly and efficiently. That's where the Depot/U comes in.
I saw a post about the Depot/U on LinkedIn and I knew immediately that the course was my most probable chance at a career change. The Depot/U was close (the only code bootcamp in Alabama) and affordable. After nervously completing the pre-work, I was ecstatic to learn I was accepted.
The 10 weeks spent at the Depot/U were demanding, challenging. and sometimes frustrating. But I never thought to myself "this isn't for me". If it was easy, everyone would do it. I had a strong motivation to learn everything I possibly could. Depot/U had the resources and teachers to provide me with all the knowledge I needed to know to become a front-end web developer. It was a fun and trying experience. The labs and projects they assign you are extemely helpful and rewarding. The instructors are excellent. Not only are they knowledgable developers, they are great overall people.
I was able to land two internships out of the class and I'm very grateful for those opportunities. My second internship lead to a full-time position. All because of the Depot/U. I have loved technology since I was very young, and working with it everyday is pretty much a dream come true. All in all, if you are willing to take the risk and WORK HARD at becoming a developer, the Depot/U is the place for you. Enrolling in the Depot/U was one of the best decisions I've made and I'll never forget the opportunity.
Coming into Depot/U I had no coding experience. I didn't even know what a front or a back end was. Getting started was a struggle. I absolutely love technology and computers, so I thought I would pick everything up super quickly. Some days it seemed like I wouldn't ever get the hang of it. The instructor(s) were extremely helpful and helped me realize that it was going to be that way for a while, and to really learn and understand these new things, I needed to struggle and force myself to learn. That's what the course really offers you that the ads/website don't mention. Not only do you learn all these excellent web skills and technologies, but you learn how to LEARN! Fast! Once I felt like I was getting the hang of things, the rest of the course was a blast. I became more comfortable with my skills on the computer as well as a more social student in the class. I began socializing with the people around me who also just so happened to be experiencing that "Ah ha!" moment, where as before I was too shy to talk to anyone! Throughout the course, there will be multiple companies that come in and talk with the students and explain what they look for when hiring new developers. This was super intimidating for me because they were using technological words that most of us had never heard before. But thanks to Depot/U bringing in those companies, I've had 2 PAID internships straight out of the program. I actually just found out today that I am being hired by the company that gave me my most recent internship! So the opportunities are certainly there. Do your best to take advantage of everything the course has to offer. Finally, a random tip I think anyone looking to take the course should know... Don't be afraid to treat the instructors and staff like your friends. They know a TON! And not only are they extremely nice and helpful with the course work, they are great people to just have a normal conversation with.
I credit Depot/U with exposing me to programming concepts that allowed me to become a software engineer. While the course focused heavily on the front end, we were also exposed to back end and general programming concepts that could be applied across a variety of coding languages and platforms.
The coursework is demanding, especially if you're new to coding; I went in with no experience prior to completing the pre-course work, and the first few weeks in particular were very intense. However, those weeks were essential in my early formation as a coder. Without spending that time in a code-heavy environment with professional developers to assist me, I wouldn't have been prepared for the workplace in nearly as short a time.
Also of great benefit to students is exposure to Innovation Depot, Birmingham's startup incubator. Depot/U does a good job of giving students access to several startup CEOs as well as representatives from other companies during the last few weeks of class. These professionals offer different perspectives on life as a developer, and several provide job opportunities.
As with any coding bootcamp, the benefits of Depot/U need to be weighed against the financial cost (reasonable compared to other bootcamps, though you are required to have a Mac), learning style of the potential student, and desire to spend an intensive amount of time immersed in code, both during and after the course. Depot/U teaches the basics of development very well, but the prospective student should also realize that additional time is needed after the course to specialize and master a particular language and platform, though s/he will be well prepared to enter the workplace upon graduation.
My own path through Depot/U was a successful one. This bootcamp gave me the tools to learn a new craft, and helped me discover a career that I love. If you decide to pursue a coding bootcamp, then I would give Depot/U my highest recommendation.
Our latest on Covalence
After running in-person coding bootcamps in Nashville and Birmingham for a few years, Founder Matt Landers wanted to make Covalence more affordable and accessible to students. Enter their new, online-only coding bootcamps, the full-time Catalyst program and the self-paced Atomic program. Matt tells us why it’s important to keep the student:instructor ratio as low as possible, how Covalence classes differ from other online coding bootcamps, and what lessons from in-person teaching he is bringing to the online classroom.
What’s your role as the CEO of Covalence and how you are involved with the new online program?
I’m very hands-on when it comes to the program curricula. I work on the business side, but I'm also a developer – I was at Microsoft for 10 years. So if you take a Covalence course, you'll see me in a lot of the videos. We have a team of about eight at Covalence, and we’re all either developers or working in student success.
Covalence has been teaching immersive in-person classes for a few years in Nashville and Birmingham. Why did you decide to replace those with the Catalyst program?
One reason is that the overhead of an in-person class required us to charge a high price, and we don't want price to be a barrier to learning to code. The other is that we weren't able to focus on iterating the curriculum as much as we wanted to because we were so focused on the operations of the business itself. After expanding to five different cities, we took a step back and decided to just focus on the curriculum, and launch it online.
Because we're switching to an online model, we don't have rent to pay, we don't need to have instructors in every city, and students will get the same bootcamp experience where they will meet with a dedicated instructor live via web conferencing every day.
This model will be more beneficial for us and for students in the long run because we'll be able to impact more people's lives and make learning more affordable for aspiring developers.
What's the difference between the Catalyst program and the Atomic program?
The Catalyst program is designed to mimic an in-person bootcamp. You've got a dedicated instructor, and there's a strict timeline with things that we expect students to do on a daily basis. If you want to learn to code in nine weeks, you need an instructor available to help guide you through the initial learning curve of software development.
The Atomic program is designed for you to study on your own time, at your own pace. If you have a job and you can't dedicate all of your time to coding from 9am to 5pm every day, then the Atomic program will work better for you. It's the exact same content as the Catalyst program, you just don't have a dedicated instructor there to help you move through the content; however, we have a very active and supportive community (including Covalence staff) that will be with you every step of the way while you're progressing through the material.
What technologies are you teaching in the Catalyst program – the same curriculum that you were teaching in the in-person bootcamp?
We teach React, NodeJS, MySQL – everything from the back end to the front end. There's no way we can predict which technologies every single job is going to need, so we’re focused on teaching you how to pick up technologies on your own. A lot of our graduates work with languages we don’t teach, like C#/.NET and Java, so we give students the skill set to allow them to pick up those tools, frameworks, and languages really quickly.
Since we moved Covalence online, we have recorded our curriculum in video lessons. We're also starting to supplement that with additional content. For instance, I'm working on a C# and .NET course, which is what I used at Microsoft. Then we're going to add content for other languages and technologies like Python, machine learning, and AI.
Our content is always going to be new and fresh depending on what technologies are hot, and what feedback we get about what's working and what's not. In fact, we just redid the first week of Catalyst based on feedback from students.
Has your admissions process changed now that your courses are all online?
One of the most important things we look for in applicants is curiosity about technology and coding. Making money is not enough of a motivator to learn to code, because coding is hard. If you're going to learn it in nine weeks, and do it professionally as a job, you need to be highly motivated, curious and really love it.
We don't have any requirements for the Atomic program because you can just start and stop at will because it’s a subscription.
What is the time commitment and schedule for the Catalyst program?
It's a full-time, nine-week program running from 9am to 5pm CST. Our in-person coding bootcamp was 10 weeks, but that first week has become our pre-work, which you go through before the course. For the first six weeks, the instructor works with the 10 students in your cohort directly. There’s a daily schedule that students must follow, and each day the instructor will be available to help the students through voice chat and live streaming in our community. Students progress through the labs and exercises together and, if needed, can have coding walkthroughs from the instructor – just like we would have done in person. We have a 10:1 student to instructor ratio because when you’re studying online it’s very important to have somebody dedicated to you in an environment where they are not being stretched too thin. For the final three weeks of the course, students work in teams to build final projects using all of the things they’ve learned.
How often will students interact with other students?
They interact on a daily basis. Even the students in our Atomic program interact with other students. Our Covalence Community is in our Discord server, which is an instant chat service where people can get together, share their screens, ask questions in the general channel, or talk to somebody one-on-one. Everybody is constantly communicating with other students or alumni. We try to foster a community of developers who want to share with each other and help each other out. And that's truly what it’s like to be a real developer – being part of a community and enjoying seeing other people learn things.
How do students learn the curriculum? Are there videos or do instructors teach live?
Students go through the online content together with the instructor. For our last in-person cohort, we switched to our online content as well because we had multiple locations where we were delivering this content, but we couldn't control the quality of the instructor at each location. By recording it, and having our best instructors teach the content, we ensure that the quality of the instruction is always consistent.
Students watch the content individually, then come together as a cohort with the instructor via a video call on Discord to ask questions and bring the concepts together. That instructor can get you over any hurdles that you would have otherwise had to look up and figure out on your own.
What is the learning platform like?
Our learning platform is called Gravity (continuing the science theme).
Students can watch videos in the portal, and see the layout of the curriculum. As students go through the online platform, they are checking things in GitHub, speaking with instructors, and receiving feedback on their code. Every module has assignments, from drills, right up to a full-scale project. Students submit all their labs and exercises through GitHub and give the instructors access to that so that we can check it. That also helps students build a portfolio on GitHub so people can see their code and what they’ve been building, which is really important when you start to look for your first job.
Instructors also use the platform to make sure everybody's on the same page. We can take notes, see where each student is at, which videos they have watched, and make sure that we're giving each student all the support they need during their journey. If you’re struggling with something and we see you haven't watched the video, then we'll follow-up to say, "Hey, you missed this video which might help you get through it." If you're in Atomic, we have the option for you to buy one-hour mentoring sessions where we connect with you and help you through whatever hurdles you might be having.
How is this learning platform different from a free, self-guided resource like Codecademy?
A lot of the online training you get out there is very guided and hands-on. The way that we designed our curriculum is to get students to actually write code. But it’s not in a little editor with hints on the screen – at Covalence, students have to constantly understand what they are learning. We've designed the curriculum to give students a thorough understanding so they can become professional developers.
But you absolutely can go and learn for free on the internet. I taught myself using a book! But I didn't do it in nine weeks. Without a team to support you, connect with, and ask questions, it's going to take you a lot longer.
Plus, there's more to becoming a developer than just learning to code. We cover a lot of problem solving in our labs, and ask you to do things that you never learned. As a developer, it is so critical to learn how to be resourceful and effectively search on Google or Stack Overflow to solve problems. When you get out there in the real world and land that first job, there is nobody there to say, "Hey, here's all the answers.” That is what will make you a self-sufficient developer who has the skills to succeed.
How will career services work for Catalyst? How will your team help students find jobs in many different cities?
Our student success team is there to help you build your technical resume, find jobs and prepare you for what to expect after you graduate. We're also working on adding a feature to our portal to allow employers to engage with students. Employers will be able to create accounts and post jobs that only students who have gone through our curriculum will be able to see. A big problem for employers now is that when they post a job on the internet they get inundated with tons of unqualified resumes that they have to sort through, so it can be hard to find a good developer. Our platform will give employers more confidence that they’ll get more qualified applicants.
Right now, we put the power in the hands of the person going through the course and give them all the tools they need to get a job. We can't have a job waiting for each student; that’s not how it works. Even the schools that guarantee a job have a list of criteria that you must follow in order to get that guarantee at the end. We tell students that they need to be actively engaged in the application process (writing code, building projects, checking in to GitHub, writing a blog, reaching out to employers, and applying to jobs). At the end of the day, getting a job depends on the person who’s going out to get the job. I don't want anyone to be under any assumption that we're going to find you a job.
When you're networking with employers, is there an emphasis on remote jobs, since these students are learning remotely?
These days, even working as an in-person developer, you're going to work with remote developers – it's inevitable. There are too many positions that need to be filled. As you go through the Catalyst program, build your project using Agile methodologies and sprint planning, and work alongside other virtual developers, you are really getting set up for success in a remote environment. I’ve talked to employers who say they really need people who can work in virtual environments.
What are the biggest lessons your team learned while operating the in-person class and how you're bringing those to Catalyst?
There are a couple of different lessons. One of them is finding the right person for this type of fast-paced learning environment. It's not for everyone. If you think you've had a hard class in college, you have never done anything like this. It is intense. It's all day, every day. People come to us crying like, "I don't think I can do it." Being a coding bootcamp instructor is, at times, almost like being a psychiatrist because students are panicking – they've spent all this money, they’ve quit their job. So we learned to set the expectations upfront of how hard it's going to be, but how worth it will be in the end, and how much you will learn.
The other thing is making sure we allow students the freedom to figure some things out on their own. As an instructor, it's tempting to just answer all their questions right away. But you're really doing students a disservice because although they are finding the answer to a question, they're not truly learning the material, and don't know why it works. When they go out and research on their own, they learn so many ancillary things by researching that answer.
I'm excited to take everything we’ve learned and apply it to our online platform in order to have a bigger impact on the developer community. There’s a huge need for development skills, and a lot of people can change their lives and benefit from learning these skills. If we can make this work in this remote environment, we're going to be able to impact so many more people. We're really excited to get in there and change lives.
What’s your advice for students who are embarking on an online coding bootcamp?
The main thing we see is that you can't take big breaks. You're learning so much, so fast that if you take a break, you won't allow the content to accumulate on itself and get that deeper understanding. Even if you're just doing an hour a day, that's better than doing 10 hours each weekend. Keeping it fresh, thinking about it all the time is really important, especially in an online scenario.
As soon as you get to a point where you've learned enough to actually build something of significance, start to work on a project you care about on the side while you're still learning. You’ll always spend more time and more effort building something that you want to build, and little projects like that really solidify the concepts and ideas in your mind. It also means that when you graduate, you're really ready for a developer role and you've done a project or two that you care about.
October 2017 was a busy month for the coding bootcamp industry with news about growing pains in bootcamp outcomes, mergers, acquisitions, investments, a trend towards bootcamp B2B training, and diversity initiatives. To help you out, we’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. Plus, we added 12 new schools from around the world to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Why do journalists and industry leaders think that two coding bootcamps are closing? And despite these “shutdowns,” why do companies like IBM still want to hire coding bootcamp graduates? We’re covering all of the industry news from August. Plus, a $3 billion GI Bill that covers coding bootcamps for veterans, why Google and Amazon are partnering with bootcamps, and diversity initiatives. Listen to our podcast or read the full August 2017 News Roundup below.Continue Reading →
When Hillary Whitworth heard that a coding bootcamp, Covalence, was opening in her city of Birmingham, Alabama, she took a semester off from college and took the plunge. Now, two years after graduating from Covalence, Hillary hasn’t regretted her choice! We asked Hillary about her career building websites and mobile apps for local Birmingham businesses, how she continues to keep learning on the job, and why finding her dream job after coding bootcamp meant she didn’t need to get a traditional college degree.
What were you up to pre-Covalence?
I've always been good with technology but I didn't really know how to carve a career path out of that. I started taking Computer Information Systems courses in college and stumbled across an Introduction to Programming course. I did really well and noticed that I didn't have to force myself to work on it; I just liked it. So I decided to dive into web development and started teaching myself HTML and CSS in my spare time. But I was still waiting tables and bartending through college.
When I heard that Covalence was opening in my city, Birmingham, I decided to quit my job and take the plunge. I took a semester off of school, went to Covalence, and got hired as an intern at a bank, BBVA Compass. Because I found the career that I wanted after Covalence, I actually didn’t go back to college! I don't want to tell people not to finish school, but I ended up getting my dream job straight out of the bootcamp, and I saved a lot of money too.
Were you in the first cohort of students at Covalence?
Yes, I was, which was a scary thing, because I didn't have past students to talk to or get advice or reviews from. It was risky to take a chance on this company that I hadn't heard of and didn’t have a reputation yet. I almost waited until the second class, but I am so thrilled that I didn't wait. I had a fantastic group of people whom I was able to learn and grow with.
Matt was my instructor and the quickness of plunging into exactly what I wanted was just amazing. 10 weeks in there and you're hired.
What was the application and admissions process like at Covalence?
First, I submitted a general application. They want to understand if you’re a fit, and make sure that you’re actually passionate about tech and web development. If you're not passionate, then you don't need to waste your time. After that, I did an in-person interview.
Before I was admitted, I completed several hours of pre-work, which I think is a good way to make sure that coding is something you really like before you take a risk and quit your job. We also had to take an assessment where they provide you with a simple design for a one-page website and you have to build it out and submit it. Once you pass those challenges, then you do a final interview.
Since you started learning to code a few years ago, what’s been your biggest challenge or roadblock?
I’m not sure if this is the answer you're looking for, but my biggest challenge was just taking the initiative to start. I didn't know which technologies to focus on. That's something tricky about trying to get into programming, web development, or app development – there are so many different ways to do it, and I didn’t know which route to take. There was all this information and I wasn’t sure what I needed to know to be successful. There is so much information out there and it can be intimidating and daunting and overwhelming.
So just taking the chance and pushing through that noise was the hardest part for me. Once you get started, it all falls into place. Things can seem difficult, but you will figure it out.
What was the actual learning experience like at Covalence?
Class started at 9am and we had a lecture until around noon. After lunch we would work on a lab. We were assigned one lab each day, or if they were a little more difficult we would have two days to complete them.
During the lab, I worked with my fellow students, but we also had the instructor and a TA available when we had questions. They provided instruction to us, showed us how to get started with the material, and we could use them as a resource as we needed them. I thought that was great because it's very much like coding in a job. You're not going to have someone sitting next to you the whole time telling you exactly what to do. You’re more likely to be given a problem that you've never seen before and have to figure it out. Covalence teaches you how to teach yourself, and to think like a programmer.
Which programming languages did you learn at Covalence?
How many people were in your cohort and what kind of diversity and backgrounds were there?
There were about 15 people in my cohort. The career backgrounds were all over the place. Some people had been to college, started a career, then realized they weren't happy and wanted to change careers. One student had a Master's in finance and was a financial advisor, another had a physics degree, someone had a philosophy degree and taught math, and another person worked at a comic book store. Other people, like me, hadn't started a career at all – I was still in college and waiting tables. It was a wide range.
We were all different ages. Most people were in their mid-20s, with a couple of students probably in their late 40s. There were three other women in my class – it was mostly guys. We had a few people from outside Birmingham – one guy had come down from Philadelphia to take the course and another guy was from Atlanta.
What brought us together was that we were all interested in technology, and we knew that there was a demand and a future for tech.
What was your favorite project that you worked on at Covalence?
For the final project, we worked as a group and decided what to build. My group of three built a cross-platform budgeting app. That was my favorite because we actually got to put all of our knowledge together and work together as a team to create something, start to finish. Users could log in, input their monthly income, how much they wanted to save, and their expenses, and the app would show users how much to spend each day, week, or month.
It was really cool seeing it all come together, getting to work with my teammates, and helping each other. As you go through the course, you find out what you're good at, and everyone is good at different skills, so you learn a lot from each other. I was better at the UI/UX side of things, whereas one of my teammates was better at the technical back-end.
How did Covalence prepare you for job hunting?
The networking and exposure from the classes alone is amazing. The Covalence team helped us with resumes and mock interviews, and they are very connected with employers in the Birmingham community. Guest speakers came to the classroom all the time and would say, "We have an internship or position coming up and we're looking at you, because the Covalence curriculum is teaching exactly what we need."
Now, Covalence is not specifically going out and placing you in these jobs, but they do help push you in the right direction. Several of us at least had an internship before we even completed the course.
What was your internship and how soon did you start after Covalence?
My internship was with BBVA Compass. They selected us for the internship before we finished the class, and we started work on the Monday after graduation. During the internship, we were free to come up with an app or idea to disrupt banking using an API.
It was a four-week internship and I worked on two different teams. It was a great learning experience. But during that internship, I decided that I wasn’t happiest in a corporate environment – I wanted to be more creative. After the internship I was hired by Platypi, a creative agency.
Some of my classmates in the internship are still working at BBVA, and they’re using Java – a technology that they didn't learn at Covalence. Once you learn how to think like a programmer, you can pick up anything. You don't have to learn a specific language.
How did you get hired by Platypi and Covalence?
There was talk that Platypi was expanding and wanted to hire a developer from my cohort. I expressed interest, went through an interview with one of the owners, then further interviews with two developers. Since they are the founders of Covalence, they already knew what my skills were, they knew the curriculum, and they knew the kind of work I had already completed, including my final project app. They ended up hiring three different people from the first cohort at Covalence
Can you tell me about your role there and what you do?
I work for Platypi doing client services, building websites and the mobile apps, but Covalence also uses me as their in-house developer. I think they're going to redesign their website soon, so I’ll be a part of that project.
Mostly, I work for Platypi in Client Services. Platypi offers digital services to businesses around Birmingham. I build responsive websites and small mobile apps for those businesses. There are three developers who do most of the development work. The websites are small enough that I usually do entire projects by myself, but we have also had larger projects which required all hands on deck.
Within the first three months of working at Platypi, I had already built about six small-scale websites. For example, I've built websites for an environmental company in Birmingham, a lawn care services company, and our local radio station. The next project I have coming up is a mobile app for a medical center in Birmingham, where doctors can login and contact other doctors.
It sounds like you get to make a difference in the Birmingham community!
Oh, yeah. Most of our clients come to us because they need a lot of design help. I don't do design, but I get to implement the designs and make sure that the client is getting a beautiful site that looks good on all devices, all browsers, all screen sizes, and that their information is being displayed properly. It's really cool to help them figure out who their target audience is, where they're getting the most traffic from, etc.
Are you using the same technologies that you learned at Covalence?
My skill set has grown tremendously since the bootcamp – I’ve grown from building standard brochure type websites for small businesses to learning how to incorporate third party services to create e-commerce websites. I’ve worked with Wordpress and I can create fully customized Shopify themes using their templating language. My day to day work still relies heavily on the skills I took away from the bootcamp, but my knowledge of these subjects have grown tremendously since graduation. Covalence provides you with a solid foundation to get started as a developer, whether you want to grow the skills you learn there, or branch off and take on something entirely new.
Over your last two years working at Platypi, how has your team facilitated that learning?
My team regularly throws problems at me that they know I'm not familiar with. I'm literally learning something new every week. That’s just what it’s like to work for a creative agency. When clients need something new, my boss will say, "We've never done this before, but Hillary, why don't you dive in and see if you can figure it out." If I'm struggling, there's always a mentor or someone who can help me develop a further understanding. So my learning comes naturally with new projects, new clients, and their needs.
I know you still work with Covalence, but do you keep in touch with the other alumni from your cohort?
I developed really strong friendships with people from my cohort and have become very close friends with two of my cohort-mates. We've grown together as developers. Once you go through something as difficult as a career change and the struggle of defeating a bootcamp, you create strong bonds with your classmates.
I keep in touch with the Covalence staff as well. I regularly go to graduations and see the new graduates’ final projects, which just keep getting better.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about going through a coding bootcamp?
There's so much advice. You can't go through it and expect to just let the information come to you. It's something you have to pursue 100% and just give it everything you've got. Treat it like it is your job already. A lot of people will say, "There's no way that I can be job ready in 10 weeks." You can be job ready in 10 weeks, as long as you treat learning to code as though it is your career already and dedicate all of your time to it.
And make sure that you're passionate about programming before you start a bootcamp, and that you're going to dedicate your time to it. Just be persistent and be passionate and know that no matter how difficult it may seem, if you keep pushing, you'll succeed for sure.
Need a summary of news about coding bootcamps from July 2017? Course Report has just what you need! We’ve put together the most important news and developments in this blog post and podcast. In July, we read about the closure of two major coding bootcamps, we dived into a number of new industry reports, we heard some student success stories, we read about new investments in bootcamps, and we were excited to hear about more diversity initiatives. Plus we round up all the new campuses and new coding bootcamps around the world.Continue Reading →
Need an overview of coding bootcamp news in May? You’re in the right place! We’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. This month, we read about a number of insightful surveys about employers, programming languages, and learners. We read advice about choosing a bootcamp, learned about efforts to encourage women and veterans to learn to code, and heard about student experiences at bootcamp. Plus, we added a bunch of interesting new schools to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Here’s what we found ourselves reading and discussing in the Course Report office in February 2017! We found out the three most in-demand programming languages, we read about how coding could be the new blue collar job, and looked at how new schools are tweaking the bootcamp model to fit their communities. Plus, we hear about a cool app for NBA fans built by coding bootcamp graduates! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the June News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →