Google Career Summit, photo by Caleb Whang
Google Career Summit, photo by Caleb Whang

Google has a long history of nurturing new talent, and our partnership with them has taken on additional resonance as we’ve watched our students directly benefit from this relationship. Most recently, Google’s Career Summit proved to be an extraordinary example of this process in action.

Whether you’re an experienced or aspiring developer, you’ve probably dreamed of hearing seasoned engineers and tech stars gush over your creations, and you may have even envisioned yourself strolling through the doors of one of the world’s most prominent tech companies like royalty.

Going To Google HQ

Last month Udacity and Google made all these dreams and more come true for fifty of our Android Developer Nanodegree program students. These students—with varying backgrounds, and from all over North America—came together for four days at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View for an event dedicated to careers, student success, and Android development.

Their stories were incredible. Some were lifelong developers, while others were pretty new to coding. They were technology directors, mechanical engineers, college students, and high school teachers. Each had a unique perspective to share with their peers, as well as Udacity and Google employees.

Our student attendees spent the first few days absorbing career advice and enjoying gifts from Google employees. There was everything from life guidance to specific critiques relevant to getting Android jobs at Google. They even had the opportunity to meet with Google employees in small groups to discuss interview strategies.

The Hackathon!

The most unforgettable part of the experience was the hackathon. It was magical to see students apply what they learned in a Udacity Nanodegree program and it was even more incredible to see how everyone came together to (very quickly) concoct a mesmeric and unique Android app.

In less than 72 hours the apps were ready to present, and they amazed everyone in the audience. There was everything from interfaces beautiful and clean enough to be in the Play Store to apps crafted with complex APIs and data storage designs.

“Social Good” was the hackathon’s theme, and students all had their own ideas about what that meant to them. There was an app for keeping track of vaccines, one for helping new immigrants find necessary resources in their communities, and another to help the unemployed get back on their feet. Several of the apps took to heart the idea of social pressure as a force for good. In one app you got points for attending charity events, and in another you could be granted “good karma” for performing kind deeds. These points could be shared and used to encourage your friends and neighbors to carry out their own acts of kindness.

The “most technical app,” as selected by the judges (including our own Sebastian Thrun!), integrates a number of APIs to create an app to help the blind define their surroundings. It scans images of the user’s environment and reads out loud what is in those images, and uses the same technology to read out the contents of album photos. It also shakes to warn the user when he or she is too close to walking into an object.

Advancing Careers & Getting Hired!

All in all, students and employees learned magnitudes from each other. Students learned how to collaborate and build quickly, applying what they had learned in the classroom in a whole new way. They learned how to advance their careers. (We just heard that one of our Summit students got an offer at Amazon!) And perhaps best of all, the hackathon groups vowed to keep in touch and discussed plans for launching their apps on the Google Play Store.

On behalf of all of us at Udacity, I’d like to say thank you to Google for providing lots of time and resources to make this event so incredible. And thank you to our amazing students who’ve been working so incredibly hard! The students who attended the Summit definitely earned it, and we can’t wait to plan similar events and reward even more students in the future!