Student Success: Ryan Waite Goes to NASA and Beyond

RyanWaite

Hi, my name is Ryan Myron Waite and I live in Gaithersburg, MD. I believe I have a talent—the ability to learn and perform at an exceptional level. I love and live to create! Anything creative will catch my attention, which is why web development is so interesting to me.

Before enrolling in the Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree program, I was working two low-end retail jobs for minimum wage. I got accepted to Virginia State University but I decided not to go in order to stay free from debt and student loans (out-of-state tuition is unacceptably expensive). I knew I needed a change.

A regular day for me used to be: wake up, work, work, and then go to sleep. One day a stick literally flew into my face out of nowhere, and that’s when it hit me—I needed a change.

My Gradual Interest in Tech

My educational background is conventional. I attended a public high school and had average grades. Looking back now, I believe I was heading for an average life, which is despicable to me now, knowing what I am capable of.

Back then, I had no idea how a computer even worked, or what it took to make one function. I didn’t know what went into it, but I knew there was something special about them. Anything that allowed me to create and put things into existence HAD to be interesting!

Udacity, Year Up, & my Nanodegree program

Eventually I heard about a scholarship program with Udacity as part of the Year Up program. I applied and was accepted. I thought, “Wow, you guys are going to offer me an education? For free?”

I learned a lot in my Nanodegree program, skills that I consider really valuable. And I did it for free! I wanted to earn a good salary, doing something I love, and now I’m on my way! Web Development to the rescue! Can you believe I even got an internship at NASA HQ? I did! Have YOU been to Mars? I have, and let me tell you, it’s amazing.

I mentioned above that I learned a lot in my program. I know that’s pretty vague. Here’s how I break it down specifically:

  • 60% was skills directly related to Web Development that I learned through doing specific projects.
  • 20% was learning that on my journey to succeed, I am never alone.
  • 10% was learning what it really takes to succeed.
  • 10% was understanding that a positive attitude—towards life, and towards other people—makes a difference.

The Job Search

Eventually it was time to start getting serious about looking for jobs.

The first thing I made sure to do consistently was keep my GitHub profile updated—almost weekly. I created web projects and web applications on my own time and uploaded them to GitHub. I believe it’s because of GitHub that I started getting some attention.

Then came the interviewing process. I must have sent out at least 400 job applications in the span of just a few months. I talked to countless staffing companies and recruiters, updated my resume at least once a week, and I went on several interviews during that timeframe.

Hired!

In the end, it was GitHub that proved to be my opportunity. A recruiter found my resume floating on a job website—because I posted my resume literally everywhere—and had seen my GitHub profile, and he was impressed. I had a phone interview, and the next thing I knew, I was hired and working as Junior Web Content Developer at 22nd Century Technologies Inc!

“The Nanodegree program got me to where I wanted to go. It not only gave me the skills I needed, but it gave me confidence in those skills.”

Building my confidence was really important, because of what I was up against. I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree. Others did. I knew I’d have to work harder, and I knew I could. But I also had to believe I could succeed.

My advice for others on a similar path: be open to the old saying: “Anything’s possible.” Decide what you want to do, come up with a dedicated plan of action, and stick to it. Nothing great comes easy. Take it slow and understand the life of a developer.

Building Something: On Art, Craft, and Engineering

Kelly on Piano

We’ve interviewed Kelly Marchisio on several occasions previously. It’s understandable why we would—hers is a very compelling story. And we’re certainly not the only ones to have taken interest; among other things, she’s recently been featured in The New York Times. Her path is unique, and her achievements significant.

Building Something

In a recent conversation, she said something really quite remarkable, and it’s not something that we hear very often these days:

“I think people don’t really consider programming to be an artistic thing, but there are so many ways to build something.”

This emerged in the course of Kelly describing what led her to programming in the first place, and how she understands its connection to other interests and passions in her life. Kelly is a singer and musician, and finds many important parallels between the two disciplines.

You can see a short video of Kelly here, which includes a wonderful snippet of her singing!

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15 Minutes After the Interview, I Got a Job Offer!

Woman laptop stock photo

My name is Samantha and I graduated from the Front-End Web Development Nanodegree program. Prior to the Nanodegree program, I was studying management while babysitting in my free time. I had no formal education related to web design or web development but I really wanted to launch a new career. So I studied web development on my own, and wow, that wasn’t easy. I began looking for a well-structured online education program and luckily I found Udacity.

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6 Steps To Student Success: The Horatio Thomas Story

Horatio Headshot

Student Success stories come in all shapes and sizes. Some unfold over the course of years, while others happen virtually overnight. Some take unbelievable turns and twists, and feature major obstacles being overcome. Others though, are often very straightforward, and while they may lack the fireworks of the more “dramatic” narratives, they are no less remarkable for what the student achieves.

Empowering oneself through learning is an incredible thing no matter how you do it, and truthfully, more of us will recognize ourselves in the comparatively straightforward tales anyhow. Those rarefied rags-to-riches tales pull the heartstrings, but they don’t always apply!

At this time, I’d like to introduce you to Horatio Thomas. His is a great story of someone who set out to be in demand, and ultimately succeeded in a very special way. But don’t expect fireworks—just the story of a young man with no programming experience who now teaches others how to program!

For Horatio, the story begins his freshman year at a a student organization at Temple University called International Business Association. Despite having no programming experience, he got handed some web development responsibilities, and had to learn some fundamentals quick. He discovered Udacity, and enrolled in our Intro to Computer Science course.

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Year Up + Udacity = Student Success!

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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

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.

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Udacity Graduate Gordon Yoon: “How I Ended Up with Job Offers from Google & Amazon”

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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.

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