This Udacity Graduate Has A New Artificial Intelligence Career!

Willian Ver Valem Paiva has come a long way—both geographically, and in his career. He’s gone from Brazil to France, via Ireland, and he’s recently landed an incredible new role as a Lead Artificial Intelligence Engineer at a start-up in Bordeaux.

Udacity - Around the World - Student Success

Growing up in Sao Paulo, Willian spent hours working out how to program his computer. It became his passion, and he knew he wanted a career working with computers. When he started looking at universities, he found he simply couldn’t afford the expensive fees to pursue a computer science program in Brazil. What he found instead was a company that would sponsor him to study engineering. It wasn’t the subject he loved, but at least it was a degree program. Within a few years however, he realized he’d made the wrong choice, so he did something very bold. He emptied his savings, left his program, and got on a plane.

This is the story of what happened next.

You studied mechanical engineering in Brazil, but decided it wasn’t for you. Can you tell us about that decision?

When I was 20, I quit my program because I was really fed up with studying something I didn’t like. I’d also been working since I was 16, in some really tough jobs. In one role I managed a whole maintenance team—when I was only 18! That was really stressful. I decided I wanted to enjoy life a bit, so I took the money I’d saved, bought a cheap plane ticket, and went to Ireland. I wanted to learn to speak English and just explore.

I did some different jobs there—kitchen jobs, painting, selling newspapers—which were all much calmer than my jobs back in Brazil. And, most importantly, I also met my wife while I was there!

You moved to your wife’s home country of France then, and that’s how you got started studying Computer Science, is that right?

Yes, in France, universities are far less expensive, so I could actually think about studying again. I was there around two years before I started a course. I wanted to be sure my French was good enough to understand the lectures. As soon as I thought it was, I started a Bachelor’s. I loved it, and followed it immediately with a Master’s, also in Computer Science. It was so good to have the opportunity to study what I really wanted.

And you were supplementing your university studies with Udacity courses?

I was. Long before I signed up for any Nanodegree programs, I started doing Udacity’s free courses—that was right at the start of my software development journey. I’ve had my Udacity account a long time!

When I first started my degree my understanding of French wasn’t the strongest, so I couldn’t understand much of what the teacher was talking about. Maybe just a few key phrases. When I got home each day, I’d research those keywords and use Udacity’s courses to really learn what I was doing at university!

You started your first programming job right after completing your studies. Can you tell us about that?

Udacity - Willian Ver Valem Paiva - Student SuccessI had started an internship with a start-up during the last six months of my studies. I impressed them with the work I did, and it became a permanent job right when I graduated. It was a small company, and because of the skills I’d already built, I was made lead developer. I had a team of developers to manage, as well as working on some AI projects the company was looking at!

Was it overwhelming to have that much responsibility so quickly?

The management side of my role was okay, because I’d managed people before in Brazil. But I did find it overwhelming to suddenly be doing a job with elements of AI and machine learning, where I needed to be a real expert. I had to learn a lot through mistakes, especially early on.

Is that why you returned to Udacity, to be more effective in your role by exploring more about deep learning and machine learning?

That’s right. I started doing my own research into machine learning and AI, but there was a substantial lack of information out there. I’d become really interested in AI during my Master’s, but even at the university there really hadn’t been many resources. I really felt that I needed something more to understand the subjects, and to set myself on a career course in the field. That’s why I took the Machine Learning Engineer and Deep Learning Nanodegree programs.

It was a great decision. There was so much information I could use in my job. And the capstone projects, in particular, were really good. They were amazing at challenging you to go further with all the skills you’d built through the program. One project—where you had to track a face in an image—was really excellent. I spent a lot of time on that, trying different ways to iterate on what I’d built.

You’ve recently transitioned to a much more AI-focused role. Can you tell us about your experiences interviewing for that job?

It was quite unusual—they actually had to contract with an AI expert just to conduct the interview! The company is small, so they needed someone with really specific experience with artificial intelligence who could interview me and make sure I had the skills they needed.

Did interviewing with an expert make the experience better, or more challenging??

It was actually a really good interview. The interviewer was very focused on what I could do, and how I could improve things for the company. They weren’t asking me questions about my education or my experience. They wanted to know I could apply my knowledge and skills to their business.

What made me shine during the interview was that I actually proposed a solution to a problem the company was having. I suggested a way they could overcome their challenge, based on everything I’d learned and experienced. They were impressed, and said they could implement what I suggested. They quickly hired me after that!

Are you enjoying your new role?

I’m really enjoying it. It’s a start-up, so there are lots of opportunities to get involved with different things and build experience. And the AI projects I’m working on are really interesting, and going well. I’ve also still got a software developer role here too, which is great. That’s part of my DNA now. I always want to write better code, so it’s great that I can combine that with AI. There’s a lot of work, and a lot of travel, but it’s all really exciting. It’s a long way from where I was even five years ago.


It’s been such a pleasure learning about your story! Your tenacity, and ability to find creative ways to learn the skills you were passionate about, is really inspiring. And those traits are definitely earning you a lot of success; it’s great to see that your new employer recognizes the strengths you bring to the table. With your drive, and willingness to try new things and push yourself forwards, we’ve no doubt you’ll continue to explore, discover, and build!

Deep Learning at Udacity Evolves

Enrollment is now open for the latest Deep Learning Nanodegree program! Discover amazing new content, and explore your future in Deep Learning, today!

Udacity - Deep Learning Nanodegree program

The Deep Learning Nanodegree program was one of the first Udacity programs built as a direct and immediate response to the very latest advancements in the field of AI, and as such, it was an early and unprecedented opportunity for aspiring learners to master valuable and in-demand deep learning skills. Deep learning is such a dynamic and rapidly-advancing field, and it has been a delight to see so many students learn and grow with this field. Thousands of students have graduated from the program, and many have gone on to great careers at companies like OpenAI, NASA, and more—not to mention the amazing personal projects our graduates continue to build!

As researchers learn more about deep learning, and as the technology evolves, our curriculum must advance as well. The rapid pace of change in this field means that we’re constantly updating and enhancing the content in this program, in order to consistently ensure our students always have the best educational experience possible. Staying up-to-date with a field this innovative isn’t easy, but our commitment to doing so is a big part of why this program is so special.

In this post, I’m going to share some exciting new updates to our Deep Learning Nanodegree program: the use of an additional deep learning framework: PyTorch, a new section on Model Deployment, and a new lesson on Image-to-Image transformation!

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From Software Engineer to Data Scientist: One Udacity Grad’s Machine Learning-Powered Career Change

After twenty years as a software engineer, this lifelong learner decided to enroll in Udacity’s Machine Learning Nanodegree program, and he now has an amazing new role as a Data Scientist!

Udacity - Machine Learning - Student Success

Over the course of his twenty-year career in software development, Antal Berenyi has learned many important lessons. Perhaps the most important of these is the need to keep learning and redefining what you do. Antal just graduated from Udacity’s Machine Learning Nanodegree program, and he’s now applying the skills he learned in the program to a new data scientist role. He’s a passionate advocate for the positive impact machine learning can have on society, and he’s made it his mission to play a leading role in making this happen.

We spoke with Antal to learn how he acquired his new machine learning skills, and how he used his project portfolio to land his new role.

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Start Learning Google Ads with This Free Guide

Whether you are new to digital marketing, a small business owner, or an experienced professional looking to add new skills, mastering Google Ads is a critical skill for marketing success. Start learning today by downloading our free glossary of Google Ads terms, created by Udacity’s digital marketing experts.

Marketers building Google Ads campaigns

Our free guide will help you gain an in-depth understanding of many of the key Google Ads terms and phrases. You’ll learn the meaning of many of the most commonly-used acronyms, and understand crucial terms related to Search, Display, Video, and App advertising. It’s a great first step towards running your own Google Ads campaigns!

Download your free copy of the Google Ads Glossary today!

  • Learn the most important terms for the new Google Ads platform
  • Understand crucial concepts, such as CPC bidding, the difference between behavioral and contextual targeting, and the new Smart campaigns
  • Start your journey to developing a 360-degree understanding of Google Ads

This glossary is part of the curriculum for the Google Ads Nanodegree program from Udacity. In the program, you’ll gain a complete understanding of Google Ads, as you run live campaigns with real budgets, and get feedback from experts in the field.

Commercial Acumen and Intrapreneurship: What they are, and why they’re critical for career success

Commercial Acumen - Intrapreneurship - Udacity

In June of this year, an article from human resource consulting firm Robert Half posed an intriguing question:

Why is commercial acumen so important for a finance career?

The article was published as Udacity was en route to launching our Artificial Intelligence for Trading Nanodegree program, so we were of course curious to explore the article’s insights. As it turns out, the lessons apply far more broadly than just the world of finance.

What is commercial acumen, and why is it important?

Possessing commercial acumen can be everything from a competitive differentiator during your job search, to the defining characteristic that nets you a promotion, earns you a raise, or places you on an innovative team.

But if it’s something so important to possess, what is it, and how does one develop it?

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Introducing the Artificial Intelligence for Trading Nanodegree Program

Enroll today! Learn to build financial models with real data and get hands-on experience with natural language processing, deep learning and more!

Introducing the Artificial Intelligence for Trading Nanodegree Program - Udacity

Companies are getting serious about artificial intelligence across a wide range of industries, and innovators in finance and trading have been notable early adopters. As detailed in The Wall Street Journal, “investors now have at their fingertips an expanding ocean of data about the global economy and financial data, such as changes in earnings estimates and accounts receivable.” Traders who can leverage data and technology, including artificial intelligence, are gaining significant ground accordingly:

“Quantitative hedge funds are now responsible for 27% of all U.S. stock trades by investors, up from 14% in 2013.”

It’s no surprise that talent wars are heating up in this field. One need look no further than this headline to understand that finance, and trading in particular, is entering a new era: Silicon Valley keeps losing top talent to quant hedge funds.

Udacity and WorldQuant partner to launch the Artificial Intelligence for Trading Nanodegree program

Our research found that there is massive interest in learning how to build financial models for trading, particularly among data analysts, software engineers, and programmers with Python skills. This is why we’re so excited to announce our new Artificial Intelligence for Trading Nanodegree program! We’re especially pleased to have partnered with WorldQuant, a global quantitative asset management firm, to build this program, as it brings together our groundbreaking learning platform with one of the true pioneers in the quantitative trading space.

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Enter the KUKA Robotics Challenge!

Win a week-long, all-expenses paid trip to Germany to visit the new KUKA Udacity Learning Lab at KIT. Plus, attend the NVIDIA GTC Conference in Munich. Enter the KUKA Robotics Challenge today!

Enter the KUKA Robotics Challenge - Udacity

Announcing the KUKA Robotics Challenge!

Today, we’re excited to announce a new challenge developed in collaboration with two valuable partners of our Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program—KUKA, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). It’s the KUKA Robotics Challenge, and you are invited to enter the challenge today!

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