Constantly Learning: The Lauren Smith Story

Lauren Smith, Udacity, Student Success

Career change is a daunting undertaking. It often involves a great deal of risk, and always requires courage, self-confidence, and faith. Some of our favorite stories to share are those in which students bravely challenge themselves to embark on new journeys. Lauren Smith is a wonderful example of this, and we’re so excited to share her story with you today. Lauren very kindly took some time to chat with us, and her thoughtful answers offer great inspiration to anyone considering a new career.

Continue Reading

The Path to Success: Skills, Confidence, Action, and Grit

The Path to Success: Skills, Confidence, Action, and Grit

Skills + Confidence = Action. Action + Grit = Success

It begins with skills. You have to have them to get the job, and you have to have them to keep the job. Skills are quantifiable. They can be measured, tested, and tracked. But when you possess skills, something else happens. Skills give you confidence. When you learn by doing, you experience this directly. You build something, and you directly experience what you’ve built. This experience is powerful. It lifts you, it empowers you, it motivates you.

“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.” —Ryan Waite, Udacity Graduate, describing his journey to becoming a web developer

When you combine skills with confidence, you get action. Without skills, you’re not as likely to take a risk, you’re not as likely to go for an opportunity, you’re not as likely to undertake a new challenge, because you’re not equipped to succeed. If you lack confidence, all these same truths apply; in short, you won’t go for it, because you don’t believe you’ll get it.

Continue Reading

Transformation: The James Peterson Story!

James Peterson Udacity Student Success

When a Udacity student graduates, we celebrate it wholeheartedly. When a Udacity graduate begins the process of pursuing a new role, a new job, a new career, we support them every step of the way. When a Udacity graduate lands a new job, we shout to the stars in praise of their achievement. And, we share their story! Which is exactly what we have the pleasure of doing today. Readers, meet James Peterson!

Continue Reading

A Passion For Education: Aaron McLean, AT&T and Udacity

Today’s post is guest-authored by Aaron McLean, Principal Technical Architect for AT&T Integrated Cloud.

My name is Aaron McLean. I’ve worked at AT&T for 17 years as a web developer and architect. In fall 2014, our group was in need of high-quality, low-cost training and certification. While we had online training, we needed more specific certifications within our software-centric network environment. Then one day, an email was sent to us from John Donovan (our Chief Technology Officer at the time), asking us to check out

Continue Reading

Harnessing Nanodegree Power To Solve World Problems!


If that sounds like a lofty title for a blog post, it’s not. It’s based on a very real story, about a very real group of people, who are trying to do very real good in the world. If you’ve not yet heard of them, then it is my very real pleasure to introduce you to Hacksmiths!

What is Hacksmiths? Hacksmiths is actually a “who,” and here’s how they describe themselves:

The Hacksmiths are a group of software professionals working collaboratively in a virtual environment in an effort to solve real world problems through the development of software.

There is a little more to this description than first meets the eye. This “group of software professionals” actually shares a common connection which at first may not be obvious, but is revealed in a recent blog post on the site:

Continue Reading

Self-Empowerment Through Learning: The Amazing Transformation of Ammar Jawad


It is a great privilege to share Student Success stories on this blog, and today I am honored to present a really remarkable tale of accomplishment. Ammar Jawad is a self-described political activist who experienced the power of social media firsthand while manning a highly influential Facebook page in the heat of the Arab Spring. He has gone from unemployed and struggling in Denmark to employed and successful in the UK in less than five years, and throughout his journey, he’s carried with him the inspiration of his mother’s example, who raised four boys while completing two Master’s degrees in Syria, then relocated to Denmark when she couldn’t find work in Syria. We were able to talk with Ammar recently, and we asked him about his journey. Here is what he so graciously shared with us:

Continue Reading