My name is Gordon Yoon. I recently completed a B.S. in Computer Science at UCLA, and simultaneously graduated from the Android Developer Nanodegree program at Udacity. Shortly after, I received a job offer from two tech companies. This is my story.
An Early Interest In Coding
When I started high school, my dad gave me $800 to either buy a new computer or buy the parts to put one together. I chose the latter. I spent an ungodly number of hours researching which parts to buy and waiting for deals to pop up on Newegg.com. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of satisfaction when I saw the Windows logo pop up on my newly constructed desktop computer. And with that experience, I concluded, “Hey, I love computer science!” Yes, I know the two are only tangentially related. But it was enough to spark an early interest in coding and ultimately pick Computer Science as my undergraduate major at UCLA.
The College Years
Throughout my first three years of college, I spent my time on the rowing team, the fencing team, and a hip-hop dance team. I also joined an engineering fraternity and went backpacking across Europe. That’s all well and good, but it means I didn’t spend time progressing my career. As I began my fourth year, I noticed that my friends had spent ample time in chasing down internships, building project portfolios and priming themselves as viable employees for hire. I, on the other hand, didn’t have any relevant internships or projects on my resume.
To get my life/career together, I planned to defer a couple classes to the fall quarter of the following year. That way, I could accept an internship for the summer and recruit afterwards. You can imagine how ecstatic I was when I landed a small-time internship; I wasn’t going to be jobless forever! But it turns out that I had visa issues (I’m Canadian), which prevented me from working in the U.S.
The Google Career Summit
I was devastated. I dodged a bullet, only to be hit by another. As the year neared its end, I felt like I didn’t have many options left. Then I received an email from my brother about the Udacity Android Developer Nanodegree program, where a number of students would be selected to visit the Googleplex for a Career Summit. How could I pass up the chance? I enrolled right away.
Believe it or not, I was chosen and it was an invaluable experience. Googlers from all different departments came to answer questions about Android development and Google in general. There were a number of sessions outlining the process for applying to Google, and even how to interview successfully. I really have to thank Udacity and Google for such an amazing time.
Also, Udacity Career Services were awesome for incorporating udacity related materials into my resumé and LinkedIn. It can be difficult to write about something like the Google Career Summit or comparing college to a Nanodegree. And in terms of interview prep, I felt that practicing with Cracking the Coding Interview and with my friends was also great help.
Even Better Than An Internship
The best and most surprising part of recruiting for me was how highly recruiters regard projects. I didn’t have any recent internships, and more than half my resume was outlining projects I worked on through the Android Developer Nanodegree program. When I started looking for jobs in the fall of 2015, my goal was to land any job. But after receiving interviews with large companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Hulu, and Google, my expectations were adjusted. It seems like having the Android Developer Nanodegree credential under my belt was even better than having an internship.
Best of all, after receiving offers from both Amazon and Google, I officially accepted the role of Software Engineer at Google, and I’m incredibly excited to get started!