When choosing a bootcamp, you’ll find that there is a wide variety of options available. It’s important to figure out what values are important to you in your educational process, and use those metrics to find a bootcamp that aligns with your vision and your goals.
There are huge bootcamps and there are intimate ones; there are bootcamps for beginners looking to dip their toes in tech and there are intensive bootcamps for those ready to dedicate themselves to a new career. Many bootcamps have different methodologies and approaches to learning.
In the case of Launch Academy, one of the first five code schools in the world, community is at the core of its ethos. Based in Boston, this small yet mighty school offers an intensive software development program. Launch Academy seeks to provide its students with an advantageous learning experience through a variety of unique qualities. Its rigorous program enables students to make the most out of their time at the school and sets them up for success in the workplace upon graduation.
At Launch Academy, students really get to know the people who lead the school. Because of that, it is able to utilize a rigorous approach that holds students to a high standard. At the same time, the school has your back. It provides students with a variety of backstop mechanisms and safety nets to reduce risk and ensure long-term support.
Launch Academy’s Community-Forward Approach
Launch Academy’s program is curated to greatly benefit students living in the New England area. This is because the school maintains strong connections with 400+ corporations and has tailored the features of its program to focus on the region’s technical needs. This is especially helpful to those looking to find tech employment in the area. However, it should be noted that those living outside of New England can also take Launch Academy’s classes online. Those who are local can benefit from in-person learning as Launch Academy has returned to campus!
With its particular brand of Boston attitude, Launch Academy’s mandate is to always push students to do the best they can, holding them to a high standard so that when they graduate from Launch Academy, they’re optimally prepared to succeed in the industry. Launch Academy views a student’s career as a life-long marathon, not just a sprint to the end of the course. Graduation is considered to be the beginning of a lifetime relationship between students and the Launch Academy team.
The Benefits of a Boutique Program
Because of its small size, Launch Academy is able to provide agile education. That means the school is able to rapidly update its curriculum to keep students on the cutting edge of the industry. Every 90 days, between cohorts, its software engineers meet with a rotating handful of its 400+ hiring partners and ask, ‘what are the skills you’re seeking in people who you plan to hire onto your engineering teams in the next quarter’. They then use the ‘offseason’, a 2-3 week period between cohorts, to re-write up to 20% of its curriculum to ensure students are learning modern, in-demand skills which will allow them to attend interviews from a place of confidence upon graduation.
Community is at the heart of all that Launch Academy does. This includes everyone from the long-standing team of software engineering instructors to students and their 1,000+ close alumni network and even the founders. Students have access to the founding members of the bootcamp, whose vision is carried out through each course, and who still work at the bootcamp today. Students personally speak to the founders during the admissions process. The founding team also helps place people within their network once students graduate.
For the people who lead this bootcamp, it’s not just a job. It’s their passion and their lives. The founders often talk about their personal mission to ‘help people become better versions of themselves.’ The instructors are full-time teachers, not part-time contractors who also work in the industry. This advantage benefits students as it results in continuity and a commitment to teaching. The people who lead Launch Academy are also particularly committed to transparency of student outcomes and the school is a proud and active board member of the Council on Integrity Results Reporting (CIRR).
A Rigorous Program
Launch Academy’s curriculum is delivered under the ethos of something it calls “unsustainable by design”. What this means is that students will be working more intensely in the course than will be required in their eventual employment following graduation. Launch Academy’s goal is to prepare students to obtain the skills, work ethic, and drive necessary to demonstrate to employers that they will contribute immediately, yet maintain a thirst for deeper learning once placed within software engineering jobs.
While the program is rigorous, Launch Academy has its student’s backs. It has structured the program to allow students to really test things out and see if they are prepared for a career in software engineering.
The program is divided into multiple, contiguous phases to provide students time to determine if this is the right path for them and prepare them at a steady rate for the rigor of the bootcamp.
Launch Academy adheres to a polyglot mentality where proficiency in two or more languages enables you to more efficiently learn additional languages and supporting technologies thereafter. This is particularly relevant upon graduation when students go on to work at companies with tech stacks that may vary from that which was learned during the bootcamp. Launch Academy is teaching students how to learn, and how to learn to code. This skill enables graduates to become independent learners who can more easily continue learning on the job and grow their careers.
Post Acceptance Pre-Work
Duration: Acceptance Date to Ignition
Since Launch Academy is a zero-to-sixty program, students enter with varying levels of experience. Some students are just getting started at the time of their admissions interview, while others may have been learning for 6-12 months. All students who are accepted to the program receive pre-work to ensure they validate their love for coding and gain fundamental knowledge prior to the start of the program.
Launch Academy prides itself on providing safety nets for its students. For instance, tuition is not required until the 2nd week of the program and initial payment deposits are fully refundable anytime prior to the week if for any reason a student determines that software engineering is not for them. This serves as the initial safety net for students to reduce risk prior to making the huge commitment that comes with attending a software engineering bootcamp.
Ignition – Foundations Program
Duration: Eight weeks
Schedule: Part-time, online, 25 hours per week
The pedagogical intent of the Ignition phase is to enable all students to begin the 10-week full-time immersive phase with a consistent baseline of knowledge. This ensures that when the learning is accelerated in phase 2, everyone is ready for the challenge.
All students have the option to defer to the next cohort anytime prior to week 7 of Ignition. For no additional cost, they can hit the pause button and double down on what they have learned to date. They then start the next cohort on day-1 of Ignition. This serves as the 2nd safety net for students.
Students are not expected to complete the Ignition phase work alone. The Launch Academy team actively supports students during Ignition through Slack and Zoom for questions and guidance.
Launch Academy believes that software engineering is a team sport and that learning is accelerated through collaboration. Virtual clinics are available during Ignition to reinforce what students are learning and these clinics are recorded and available throughout the course work. Students often form virtual study groups and often will meet in person or virtually to collaborate on challenges during the Ignition phase.
Launch – Immersive Program
Duration: 10 weeks
Schedule: Full-time, on-campus or online (student’s choice)
Once students have developed strong programming foundations, they move on to the main portion of the course which will take them to a professional level of software engineering. These 10 weeks are the most intensive part of the training. Launch Academy notes that most students devote between 60 to 80 hours a week to the program. Hence the previously mentioned, ‘unsustainable by design’ philosophy.
In Week 7 and Week 8, students form teams of four to build a large, fully functioning app from the ground up. Here they will learn not only technical but also soft skills. While working with agile development methodologies such as morning standup, students will gain valuable experience to carry over to job interviews. For instance, when asked to provide an example of a time they ran into a communication challenge when building a software project in a team setting, the student will now have a real-world experience to provide to the interviewer.
Students complete the immersive by constructing a ‘Breakable Toy’ app, a fully functioning capstone portfolio project which they will use as an ice breaker when being introduced by Launch Academy to its hiring partner network.
Throughout the 10-week immersive phase, students receive career services, professional training which includes preparing their personal digital brand, including their Github profile, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, and resume. Starting in Week 6, students begin attending mock interviews which mirror the various technical and soft skills interviews they will encounter upon graduation.
Flight – Post-Grad Support and Lifetime Access to Alumni Support
Launch Academy views a career in software development as a lifelong marathon, not just a sprint to the end of the course. As such, graduation is seen as just the beginning of their relationship with students. By screening for lifetime learners during the interview process, the program aligns with intellectually curious students who are seeking to learn and grow within the companies they are employed following graduation.
Upon graduation, the school keeps the job-focused momentum going by providing students with structure and support to help them land a role at one of the 400+ companies within its network that have hired alumni over the years. Students receive strong support and guided curriculum on the job application, they intensely prepare for job interviews and even receive assistance with negotiating their compensation package if they so desire.
Following placement into a job, students gain access to lifetime alumni support where they will receive free curriculum upgrades every 90-days to learn new skills on the job to assist in earning promotions. They can also come back to Launch to use the office as a free workshare while working on side projects along with fellow alumni to build their personal network within the local software engineering community. If a student wishes to change jobs down the road, Launch is there to help with preparation and placement into new roles.
How Launch Academy Cares for Its Students
Launch Academy has many structures in place to support students from the get-go which includes a free optional three-week prep program. All enrolled students have the option to participate in the ‘Science of Learning’ curriculum which requires approximately 5-10 hours a week of virtual learning. Those who complete this optional prep course will receive a $1,000 scholarship off their tuition. This free prep program is designed to serve as one of the many safety nets offered to students to ensure they validate their love for software engineering while also preparing themselves study habit-wise for the start of the program.
Once someone is accepted into the Launch Academy program, they are provided with learning materials right away and highly encouraged to do three things before they start the program:
- Students are expected to validate their interest in coding and coding as a career. They can use the pre-work materials provided to validate if they are passionate about coding and make that firm decision before they pay any money or quit their current job in advance of the full-time 10-week phase.
- Students are expected to prepare for the program. It may have been years since their last engagement with education and Launch Academy wants students to get back into the learning mindset. This is crucial seeing as they will be learning in a non-traditional environment that includes collaborations and hands-on exercises.
- Students will get to know the pedagogical approach within Launch Academy’s learning experience through the materials and decide if it is the right program for them. This three-week prep should help students make their minds up before making the financial commitment. If you do complete this program, you get a $1,000 scholarship toward the tuition.
Additionally, students will not be asked for tuition until the second week of the Ignition stage. This gives them extra time to decide if Launch Academy is a good match for them.
After completing the eight-week part-time phase, students who wish to hit pause have the option to do so once. They can defer this part of the program and be a part of a later cohort. They will maintain access to all learning materials and start at Week 1 again at no additional cost.
These multi-tiered safety nets allow students to try their hand at Launch Academy’s program with little to no risk.
Launch Academy’s Financing Options
The upfront tuition cost of the program is $17,500. However, there are several options available to cover the tuition.
Students can take out a loan through Launch Academy’s partnership with Ascent Funding. Through Ascent Funding, students have a variety of payment options that allow them to take the course and pay the tuition back three months after they’ve graduated—and ideally, have landed a high-paying software engineering job.
Deferred payment options are possible through Ascent, meaning that students don’t start paying back the loan for a grace period of three months after they graduate, giving them ample time to focus on seeking employment.
Scholarships of $500 are also offered to minority groups on a rolling basis, which includes women and members of underrepresented communities in tech.
Is Launch Academy the School For You?
If you’re looking for a school that allows you time to explore whether software development is the right path for you, but also offers an intensive curriculum, a rigorous approach, a tight-knit community, and a lifetime of career support, then Launch Academy could be the bootcamp for you.
If you’re interested in applying to the next cohort at Launch Academy, you can schedule your one-hour Zoom interview here.
Not ready to interview? Schedule a 15-minute Informational Call with one of the founders here.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.