Challenging (and fun!) program with really strong network/community. Unparalleled instruction quality and career support. Went from having virtually no programming knowledge to being a confident software engineer in about 5 months. Found first role... Read More
INSTRUCTION AND CURRICULUM
During the technical interview for my current role, I was asked to architect an app based on product requirements from imaginary project managers, wireframe it, and build it out on the spot. For an Alchemy grad, this is a breeze; I did a version of this every day for months and really deepened my skills during project sprints. What really sets Alchemy students apart is our ability to break down a process and execute each step from start to finish. The language itself could be learned through online courses; it would take longer, and the lack of accountability would limited the format’s effectiveness for me personally, but it would be possible. But becoming really comfortable with processes — through demos in iterative practices, projects and many hours of hands-on experience every day — is not an ability I think I could have learned through other means.
Staying up to date
Alchemy’s curriculum is always changing to keep up with the industry. My current software engineering role is with an established retail company that is transitioning its model to focus more heavily on software. At my job, we use the most popular library for building UI components and the most up-to-date syntax. The fact that my current role is using a similar tools to what I learned at Alchemy — and is using them the same way that I learned — highlights Alchemy’s strengths. When the latest JS version was nearing release, we knew what to expect and were able to implement some of its features immediately.
Instructor quality and support
I felt so supported throughout the program by Alchemy’s primary instructors, Dani and Ryan. They are skilled at finding ways to present information that can be absorbed by different learning styles. Several TAs were also available to offer assistance, and one was officially designated to review my work. When I needed assistance, I was always be able to connect with a member of the instruction staff — both while the program was in person and after the pandemic abruptly shifted us to remote learning. This is a huge asset compared to other programs, where you may find yourself beating your head against the wall for hours.
Among the greatest strengths of this program are the one-week sprints on small teams. During each of these four sprints, you will collaborate with your peers to design, build and deploy an impressively professional app. These experiences prepare you for working on teams at software companies: You pair- and mob-program to build features and squash bugs; put test-driven development principles into practice; learn how to implement effective project management strategies; navigate snags in a high-pressure environment; learn new technologies really quickly; and develop approaches for working with colleagues who don’t always share your style or perspective.
These projects become professional portfolio pieces and provide real-world experiences to discuss during interviews. But even more, they prepare you for your future job. In my opinion, they put Alchemy head and shoulders above other bootcamps.
Shannon is an impassioned advocate for grads in the network that she is diligently growing. (I have her to thank for my acquiring the interview that led to my current role.) But she also teaches you how to advocate for yourself as a software developer. She provides you materials to consider your strengths and weaknesses and how you’ll fit in the tech community. This helps you grow your confidence about what you have to offer, which in turn allows you to converse comfortably at both networking events and interviews.
They believe in you when you have doubts. Megan and Shannon will always remind you of just how uniquely awesome you are. That sort of personalized attention simply doesn’t exist at most bootcamps and figured prominently into my decision to attend Alchemy. The community of grads is also ridiculously supportive of current students. (That includes me! Please reach out if you have any questions. I did the same before choosing a program.)
My cohort transitioned to remote learning almost halfway through our program due to COVID-19. I could not have been more impressed with how seamlessly and professionally Alchemy handled the pivot at a really ambiguous moment. Communication channels were completely open with students to ensure that we were well supported, and staff were quick to heed our suggestions. Our actual schedule was unchanged; we simply switched to Zoom lectures in the mornings and worked on labs from home in the afternoons. “Zoom rooms” were available during lab time for students who wished to simulate the in-person experience, when we would often work independently at the same table.
As someone who had to commute at least an hour each way to reach Alchemy’s physical location, I found that I had more time to complete labs and maintain work-life balance. I also found it easier to focus than I did when we were in person. That said, those of you with families at home may have a different experience.
Is the field right for me?
Is it worth it?
Alchemy is more expensive than many bootcamps. Given the depth I wanted from a program and the networking that I considered imperative, that expense was well worth it. The tuition was a big chunk of change that I didn’t have, and as someone with a master’s degree that was already going unused, I wasn’t willing to increase my debt unless I was really confident that I would 1) enjoy the work, 2) be trained adequately to launch into the field, and 3) actually find a job after graduating.
Through my time at Alchemy, I developed not only the technical skills to be a competent software engineer, but also the ability to collaborate effectively on software teams and confidence in myself as a woman in this male-dominated field.
I was offered a job within two months of graduating that almost tripled my previous salary — and I was actively interviewing for other positions at the time of the offer. I expect to pay off my loan in six months.
So yes! Alchemy was so, so worth it. If you are confident that software development is the right fit for you, then look into Alchemy.