Covalence’s Catalyst program is a full-time, immersive 12-week bootcamp delivered online. Catalyst students commit at least 40 hours per week to learn the curriculum through recorded video lectures and real-world project-based assignments. Covalence requires Catalyst students to attend daily webinars and participate in code reviews. Catalyst students have a dedicated instructor while going through the course, and they also have full access to the Covalence Community through Discord where they can receive additional real-time help from fellow students, Covalence alumni, and staff. At the end of the course, students will have a portfolio of real projects deployed to their GitHub profile, and they will be equipped with the necessary skills to be employed as a junior-level full stack software developer.
For students that are looking for a more flexible option, Covalence's 6-month Molecular program provides the same time-tested Full Stack curriculum as the Catalyst program, but it is offered at a part-time pace and flexible daily schedule. Molecular students receive weekly one-on-one mentoring with an instructor, exclusive features within the student learning portal (that Covalence built), and priority support channels in the Covalence Community. Like their Catalyst counterparts, Molecular students will also have a portfolio of projects ready to show prospective employers at the end of the course, and they'll also be ready to enter the job market as junior-level full stack software developers.
Covalence welcomes students from all backgrounds and experience levels. For both of their programs, students receive additional job prep and career resources, access to submit questions in a Stack Overflow-like Q&A feature in Covalence's student portal, and the ability to submit their assignments for review for personal feedback from an instructor.
Recent Covalence Reviews: Rating 4.68
Recent Covalence News
- The Switch to Online Coding Bootcamps at Covalence
- October 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
- August 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
For students that are looking for a self-paced option, Covalence's Atomic program provides the same time-tested Full Stack curriculum as the Catalyst and Molecular program, but it is offered at a self-paced and flexible schedule. Atomic students can attend our daily instructor-led webinars, receive exclusive features within the student learning portal (that Covalence built), and priority support channels in the Covalence Community. Like their counterparts, Atomic students will also have a portfolio of projects ready to show prospective employers at the end of the course, and they'll also be ready to enter the job market as junior-level Full Stack software developers. Students can start at anytime.
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- Minimum Skill Level
- No experience required.
- Placement Test
OnlineFull Time40 Hours/week12 Weeks
Catalyst is a full-time, immersive 12-week bootcamp delivered online. Catalyst students commit at least 40 hours per week to learning the curriculum through recorded video lectures and real-world project assignments. Covalence requires Catalyst students to attend daily webinars and participate in code reviews. Catalyst students have a dedicated instructor while going through the course, and they also have full access to the Covalence Community through Discord where they can receive additional real-time help from fellow students, Covalence alumni, and staff. At the end of the course, students will have a portfolio of real projects deployed to their GitHub profile, and they will be equipped with the necessary skills to be employed as a junior-level Full Stack software developer. Once students make it through the application process, they can start on any given Monday!
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- $50 application fee
- Financing options are available through Skills Fund.
- Refund / Guarantee
- Job Offer Guarantee
- Minimum Skill Level
- No experience required.
- Prep Work
- Catalyst Prep course, which is included in the application fee.
- Placement Test
OnlinePart Time25 Hours/week24 Weeks
For students that are looking for a more flexible option, Covalence's 6-month Molecular program provides the same time-tested Full Stack curriculum as the Catalyst program, but it is offered at a part-time pace and flexible daily schedule. Molecular students receive weekly one-on-one mentoring with an instructor, access to instructor-led webinars, exclusive features within the student learning portal (that Covalence built), and priority support channels in the Covalence Community. Like their Catalyst counterparts, Molecular students will also have a portfolio of projects ready to show prospective employers at the end of the course, and they'll also be ready to enter the job market as junior-level Full Stack software developers. Once students make it through the application process, they can start on any given Monday!
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- Tuition Plans
- $400/mo for 12 Months
- Minimum Skill Level
- No experience required.
- Placement Test
44 reviews sorted by:
- Only Applicants, Students, and Graduates are permitted to leave reviews on Course Report.
- Post clear, valuable, and honest information that will be useful and informative to future coding bootcampers. Think about what your bootcamp excelled at and what might have been better.
- Be nice to others; don't attack others.
- Use good grammar and check your spelling.
- Don't post reviews on behalf of other students or impersonate any person, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
- Don't spam or post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings.
- Don't post or link to content that is sexually explicit.
- Don't post or link to content that is abusive or hateful or threatens or harasses others.
- Please do not submit duplicate or multiple reviews. These will be deleted. Email moderators to revise a review or click the link in the email you receive when submitting a review.
- Please note that we reserve the right to review and remove commentary that violates our policies.
Click here to log in or sign up and continue.
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.
I completed the Front End Development course during Summer 2016. Everything related to the course was as advertised. It was a very demanding, fast paced experience that allowed me to build my knowledge base and skillset at a much more accelerated pace, in a much more organized manner, and with a much more sound foundation than I could have pulled off learning on my own.
The instructor was extremely helpful throughout the process and always available to assist whenever needed. At the end of the class, Depot/U invited a number of potential employers to attend our final presentations. After we presented, I was contacted by one of the CEOs at a software development company who had attended and ended up landing an internship with his company, which was exactly the kind of gig I was looking for when I enrolled in the program.
It took a lot of hard work, but if you are looking to make a change and get your foot in the door in tech, I would fully recommend Depot/U. If you fully commit to the process and fully immerse yourself in the experience - completing with the required prework, showing up to class each day, staying up late night after night by yourself working on assignments, listening to the instructors and guest lecturers, etc. - the process works.
I graduated with the first class of Depot/U and would highly recommend anyone that is interested in the developer world to give it a try. The agency that I work for found out about Depot/U and realized immediately that it is a great tool to have in any city. I was working in a different department when my agency offered me a chance to take the course and move over to the interactive department. I immediately jumped on the opportunity as I had been practicing front end development on my own for a couple years with no huge improvement. In just 10 weeks, I was able to learn everything I needed to jump directly into the intereactive department and hit the ground running. I recommend doing all the pre-work plus some and you should have a good grasp of the work in class, even though it might take a week or two to click.
I was able to make many connections that help my career progress and I could never say enough about the friends that I have made by taking the course.
I was a student of the first Depot/U developer's boot camp class and highly recommend the course to anyone interested. The instructors were very knowledgeable, approachable, and were always willing to help one-on-one when needed. I learned a lot of new skills at an extremely quick pace during the course. The only warning I would give is about the pace. It is very fast and you might feel lost at first. This is normal. If you are prepared to focus, spend many hours per day coding, and if you enjoy hands-on learning, you will excel in this class. I'd recommend checking out the pre-course work assignments to get a feel for some of the course material.
I consider myself lucky to have participated in the first class for this program. I landed a significantly better job than I previously had, made lots of professional connections, and made lots of great friends that I still keep in touch with.
The material in this program is very good. They go over it with an online video everyday during the lecture part of the day and you are given an assignment in the afternoon for a “lab”. That is the basic structure of the class. You are pretty much left to struggle through it unless you ask the TA or instructor for help. Everyone seems to go at a different pace. Some people get it easier than others of course, and once someone gets behind some people seem to stay that way. It is EXTREMELY fast paced. The week before our projects were due, our instructor missed the entire week and no-one knew why. Once he returned he explained why he was out, but also said that the students should not need an instructor this late in the course, that students have to build the app on their own. I disagree with this for the simple fact that students are PAYING for an instructor to be there in person, to a point when you all are coming to the same road block you need someone to guide you in a different direction. I understand to a point that the situation that occurred could not be helped. But there was poor communication all around on the part of the instructor and Covalence regarding this issue. That to me is poor business practice. I would take the course again, I learned a lot and enjoyed the material, but there probably needs to be some kind of policy implemented in case an instructor is going to miss a consecutive amount of time.
I started the course a few weeks ago, and I'm pleasantly surprised. I've been through a bunch of different online options, and I learned some concepts. They were good teachers, but the structure of this online course makes you learn the material at a deeper level. You get labs that you have to complete before moving on, and they aren't guided. You actually create projects locally and push them to GitHub which I like since it builds my portfolio.
Also, the community is great. You are put in a channel with the other classes that are in person as well. There are several hundred people active and the conversations range from coding to cats.
I'm still going through the course, but it is working for me. I am learning at a level I never have before, and I highly recommend it.
I did the Molecular plan so that I get 1:1 support and career services.
The lectures and instructors were great and helpful! There was a clear path of what all we were learning and what was expected of us. It was definitely hard work and extremely confusing at times, but they do that on purpose in order for it to really sink into your mind. One major downside, however, of my particular cohort was the size of the class. With 30 students and only 2 instructors there to help, it sometimes felt like we were all fighting over time with them and I know I definitely missed out on getting help sometimes. Some students had complaints throughout the course, and it really seemed like the Covalence team had a hard time accepting negative feedback. There was even a (very inappropriate) speech from the CEO delivered in front of our friends and family at graduation blaming the students for their problems with the course.
However, I can't deny that Covalence jump started my career and allowed me to learn more than I could ever imagine in such a short time. I definitely have them to thank for my current and future success. I'd reccomend the course to anyone trying to break into the development field.
Recently graduated from the Full-Stack program in Birmingham. I did most of the course pre-work and felt comfortable enough to follow through with it. Here's an honest review after some time to reflect on the experience:
** I had no coding experience prior to this course**
The course starts off with "easing into" coding with some simple styling labs. There's one lab a day after the morning lecture where students get to struggle through the exercises. I think Matt Landers (Covalence founder) has smartly used this "struggle through it until you get it" concept to maximize the efficiency of the program. 10 weeks is a very short time to get students quality time and exposure to coding and I do think that struggling through it is the best way (albeit very difficult) way to learn the material. By the time we reached the final projects, I felt like I had most of the tools to feel self-sufficient in creating a full-stack website. Feeling comfortable and feeling independent definitely took some more studying on my end, especially for the "final assessment," to feel like I really had a solid understanding of how everything worked together.
My main frustration with the program came with the misleading job prospect promises. Throughout the program and beyond graduating, Covalence keeps a network of job opportunities and will provide students with job listings for entry-level development jobs. There is a student success coach looking over job listings on job-hunt websites (Indeed, Monster, etc.) and providing advice on resumes and cover letters. She was very helpful where she could be and these are great resources to have! However, they do not live up to the expectations that were set at the beginning of the course. If you're already a proactive person, these resources are what you as an aspiring developer would be using anyway so it really doesn't afford you much of an advantage in the job market. We were told about the great connections that Covalence has with employers, some of whom are actually your mentors in the course, although I literally saw my mentor once - the initial meet-and-greet day. You are also told how rapidly Birmingham is growing and how in-demand web developer skills are currently. These claims are still true! Just know that the bootcamp is your foot in the door to web development. It will require much more work on your part to really be marketable as an entry-level developer in the job market. In reality, you will be doing 95% of the work to get yourself hired so set your expectations accordingly and take the job promises guardedly.
Final thoughts: The program is overall a great program for an accelerated jump into web development. The cost certainly beats the alternative (entirely self-directed learning or Computer Science degree), but the price tag is a bit high for the value IMO. If you already have job prospects, using these skills to supplement existing skills to make you more valuable, or your company is already sending you, it's a slam dunk and you have nothing to lose. If you're quitting your job to change direction and fully jump into web development, make sure you really take time to weigh the pro's and con's. It's literally an investment so make sure you feel like it's worth investing in.
DepotU is in a fantastic location - look up Innovation Depot. I had an excellent experience. My class was very, very happy with our instructor. Be prepared to work hard! DepotU certainly wants to give you your money's worth. We had a lecture every morning and a lab every afternoon. The class size felt just right.
The DepotU director, Haley, was super helpful with getting students connected with potential employers. Recruiters will stop by occasionally. Try to make friends with your classmates - you will work alongside them throughout the process. Know when to ask for help, but try to learn how to accurately search for a solution on the web.
I had done a fair amount of self teaching before Depot/U, but was looking for something more. I needed a real human there to answer my questions and give me the "why" from time to time. David Stapleton did a great job with his lectures, as well as 1 on 1 help throughout the course. I am glad I took the course, as it has advanced my career and helped me get into a field that can be very tough to break through.
This course is definitely worth it, but make sure you are ready to give 110% and you are totally invested in learning to code!
Choosing to attend Depot/U has proven to be one of the most impactful decisions I have ever made. The course was not only tremendously useful in terms of learning specifics about front-end development in order to enter the workforce as a developer, but it also continues to pay professional dividends from the contacts I made while attending the bootcamp.
I was in the very first course in the Fall of 2015, and it took me a long time to determine whether or not it was something I should do. I was already learning web development on my own, but I wanted to get up to speed quickly in order to start a career as a software developer. It was around this time that I discovered Depot/U, and I vetted them as best as I could at the time (I didn't have the luxury of student reviews that all of you do!). After meeting with several prospective students and the instructor, I finally came to the conclusion to take the course, and I am very glad that I did as it has completely changed my life and its trajectory.
The coursework – while not extremely rigorous in nature – was very, very fast-paced, and so I will echo others that have left reviews and state that you may find yourself falling behind. That's to be expected. (It's a bootcamp, afterall. Treat it as such from the beginning, and you'll get much more out of the course.) Do your best, and focus on understanding what you're learning and why. There will be a moment where things start to click, and it becomes much easier thereafter.
Since I was a part of the first course, there was a learning curve for both students and instructors, but there have been significant and beneficial changes to the curriculum infrastructure that make this bootcamp an even better investment in yourself. With that being said, that's how you should view the course. It's an investment in yourself - no one will be holding your hand through job interviews, so it's up to you to put the time, energy, and effort in to make the most of this opportunity while you're in the course. Moreover, use the opportunity to network with people as much as possible; you never know when a simple introduction will lead to a job offer or business venture.
I was very fortunate to secure a job as a front-end engineer soon after graduating, and the opportunities that have come from my involvement in Depot/U continue to astound me. I highly recommend this course, and I wish those involved nothing but the best. Happy coding, everyone.
I'm currently a student, and at about 1/3 of the way through the curriculum, I'm already applying stuff I've learned to the 'real world', even automating some of the work at my office job. The instructors are knowledgeable and are quick to respond to code reviews, even though I'm in the self-paced bootcamp.
The lectures themselves are very digestable and the info is presented in a very clear format. The labs are pretty fun exercises and they try to keep you engaged. Overall, I'm genuinely enjoying my experience programming through Covalence, and as this review stands, I haven't missed a single day in committing code for this whole month yet.
I can't speak for the job assistance yet because I still have a couple months to go until completetion but they still offer advice and webinars year-round for career assistance, so I'd imagine the direct career assistance as you come near the end of the program would be just as on-par as the rest of the course.
Excellent value, excellent product.
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 →