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My name is Kushal Sharma and I am currently living in New Delhi, India, moving to Bangalore by the end of December for a new job. But more on that later.

Personally, I am passionate about programming and learning new things every day. I love to read and travel, and enjoy learning about math and philosophy. Earlier this year I enrolled in Android Developer Nanodegree because I love to write programs and figured this was a great way to reach thousands of users. I think Android is one of the best platforms to work on—it has a huge open-source community and a user base of millions, and I really wanted to validate the countless hours I spent learning online from blogs and tutorials. And the fact that this course is a collaboration with Google…well that made me take it even more seriously.

My Non-Traditional Route

I would say my educational background is a long story—and not at all normal. I am a graduate in Computer Science from Delhi University. Prior to enrolling with Udacity, I was mostly working on my own Android applications, some of which are published on Google Play Store. At the same time, I was pursuing a Master’s Degree from a university at New Delhi, but I only ended up completing the first year. There was really nothing that excited me about going to a university. I cleared all my exams for the first year, but sticking to the university curriculum didn’t feel like it would properly prepare me for the kind of work opportunity I wanted.

For me, I think formal education is only needed until a certain point. I don’t feel the need to study everything because on the off chance I might need it five to ten years down the line. I want to learn the latest things, and I want to implement those things now. I want to take on bigger challenges and find a way to solve them. I love to learn on the go. I want to train myself not only to write programs but to think like a programmer and learn new technologies as they evolve.

Spending a lot of time online (often learning new things about programming) enabled me to share ideas and access information that might require years to learn via classrooms and textbooks. Technology changes so fast that it seems by the time a new way of learning reaches the formal education system, it’s already obsolete. I quickly found that online education helped keep me updated with every new bit of tech I wanted to learn. There are no boundaries and no restrictions with curriculums.

Enter Udacity

I first got to know Udacity from this year’s Google I/O, and from that moment on I was completely excited about it! Right from the start of the Android Developer Nanodegree program, I learned a lot. Every project had something new in it for me. And although I was already making apps on Android for more than a year before I joined the Nanodegree program, the learning curve was exponential. Aside from the awesome code reviews (which I had always dreamed of. Seriously), it helped me validate my approach towards writing Android applications. It encouraged me to push my limits and write code in new situations, and I ended up gaining experience and exceeding my own expectations! It felt very self-rewarding.

“The HR team called me and said I did great job with my projects and presented me an offer letter. I could hardly believe it!”

But the program is definitely challenging. One challenge in particular was with a project called Super Duo. The project contains half-written code for two applications and some user feedback. One needs to add the missing features in the app and fix the bugs from the given user reviews.

I was never put in such a situation before and had to decide if I should rewrite the entire code or just make changes. It was such a valid real-life scenario that someone would face joining a new company. So I rewrote the code for the first application and made changes to the second application. There were several times I got stuck on almost every project, but there were always resources ready to help guide me through the struggles, including Android documentation, Udacity forums, Stack overflow, Github and Udacity Google Plus groups.

A Brand New Job and Journey

When I started looking for a job, I focused on showcasing my projects and working on my Udacity profile. The placement team at Udacity is one of the best, and the projects you complete really do speak on your behalf. For me, there was no formal interview. The HR team called me and said I did great job with my projects and presented me an offer letter. I could hardly believe it!

I recently joined Flipkart and am very much looking forward to working with the best teams on awesome projects. My hope is that these projects will reach millions of users and change their lives in positive ways. I am really excited about the opportunity and will be putting all my effort toward making this world a better place.

What’s next? I plan to start with the Machine Learning Engineer Nanodegree program in February. It’s something I have always been very curious about.