My name is Rena Ansbacher, and this is my Udacity story.
It begins when I moved back to the United States from Israel. I was focused on schoolwork that would lead to earning a Bachelor’s degree, but I also wanted a pathway to a job. I didn’t have a lot of time to search for an internship, but I knew that I needed a roadmap to a career. That’s where Year Up came in.
Year Up is a workforce development program that empowers young adults to go from poverty to professional careers in a year. I attended a Year Up open house and was immediately embraced by the warm atmosphere. It was that day that I promised myself I would find a way to connect with this community. I applied and was accepted into Year Up,
During my training at Year Up, I was introduced to the Udacity Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree and received a scholarship from Udacity and AT&T. I have no background in tech but it was clear this wasn’t limited to just “technical” people. The Nanodegree program gives you the mindset to troubleshoot problems independently.
I appreciate the Udacity platform and how my Nanodegree studies have applied to my projects at Year Up. For example, I was tasked with building a website for one of my assignments. I wanted to create a more advanced product so I skipped a few modules ahead in my Nanodegree program and watched videos for a later project. My finished product at Year Up was a website for a bakery and incorporated interactive elements like order forms, which created a more seamless user experience.
I was recently talking with a Year Up colleague who heavily uses Excel at an internship, and he shared an experience of the Nanodegree program helping him look at formulas differently. By approaching it from the angle of, “will it give the right end result?” he said he is forced to rethink a problem, and this reminds him to make sure what he is saying will translate properly.
“Understanding programming now helps me to look at problems through the lens of a language, and it translates through everything I do.”
The experience in finance and operations I’ve gained during my time at Year Up has led to my own internship, at the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation. I have experienced something similar to my colleague with Excel. At my internship, I now can look at a formula in Excel and see why it isn’t working properly. Understanding programming now helps me to look at problems through the lens of a language and it translates through everything I do at my internship. The way I look at it is, everything I’m doing has a language behind it. I have to enter the right inputs to get a response.
Challenges and Success
I’ve definitely run into challenges along my Nanodegree journey. Often I address them by searching the forum to learn how people are troubleshooting similar issues. I also have the option to attend office hours as an alternative if I’m feeling really stuck. I receive email offers weekly to attend virtual office hours. This week, I received an email prompting me to think about how I am mapping out my project and inviting me to reach out if I had any questions. This type of regular communication motivates me and feels incredibly supportive.
During the course of my Nanodegree program, I’ve had to re-submit projects a few times. The feedback I’ve received has been really specific and helpful. The reviewers suggest alternative methods of tackling a project, but they don’t give you the answer because they want you to learn. I also feel like I can reach out to the Udacity instructors who are really invested in student success.
“The Front-End Nanodegree is a valuable tool no matter where I go next. I can use this knowledge to help others.”
What’s next? Well, the Nanodegree credential is already on my resume! Hopefully I’ll advance to another level. Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree maybe. Why not?
Rena officially graduated from both Year Up and the Udacity Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree program on Jan 26, 2016, and is starting full-time as a Data Analyst at DTCC! Rena’s Udacity scholarship was made possible by a collaboration between Udacity and AT&T who have jointly committed 500 scholarships to Year Up to prepare students for careers in the tech industry.