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Brent testing out Google Glass
Brent testing out Google Glass

Udacity’s community is full of passionate students who come from diverse professional backgrounds, and who are taking Udacity courses to advance their careers in tech, including those who have made a jump into computer science through our courses from other backgrounds.

Today we want to introduce Brent, a Udacity student who majored in physics and worked in finance — and who wanted to learn more about programming and computer science to explore careers that included technical aspects. Through his experiences, he’s now interning at Google in product management. Here is Brent’s Udacity experience in his own words:

I took my first computer science course in my senior year of college and quickly realized I had made a huge mistake.  I loved programming, but it was pretty much too late to take more CS courses.  I regretted it again when I joined the working world and realized that while I rarely had to solve the type of complex mathematical problems I had worked on as a physics major, technology was enabling pretty much every part of my job in finance.  Throughout the next four years I frequently wished I knew more about computer science and modern programming languages.

I tried other online education providers, but I really fell in love with Udacity’s courses.  Udacity had the right mix of theory and practicality: I was really learning the core ideas behind computer science but also was super excited to be actually building things like a search engine in Introduction to Computer Science or a blog in Web Development.  Before Udacity I thought I’d never really understand how these things worked, let alone code them myself!

What made it all work for me was that I could take courses whenever it was convenient while still working at a time intensive job.  I frequently came home from work and felt determined to squeeze in at least one of Udacity’s digestible 2-5 minute learning chunks, yet frequently before I knew it I had watched over 20 of these segments and completed the entire unit.  Some weekends I even finished 4-6 hours of classes at a time.

I was also amazed at how Udacity’s interactivity made it a really modern learning experience.  Between the frequent multiple choice quizzes or short programming assignments I felt confident I was really learning the concepts.  The more open ended homework assignments showed me that I was really internalizing the material and learning how to piece it all together.  I couldn’t believe how easy and interactive Udacity made learning, or that I could take classes with the world’s best professors whenever I wanted, or that it was all free!

Furthermore, Udacity gave me the confidence to become part of my local tech community.  After finishing two Udacity classes I started attending Boston Python meetups, then even more meetup groups, and even went to a few weekend bootcamps.  While continuing to take classes at Udacity I decided to go to business school at MIT Sloan and started going to lectures and hackathons at MIT too.

Six months into business school, summer internship recruiting came around and I thought that between what I had learned taking nearly 6 Udacity courses, MIT Sloan, and my own past work experience I was a strong applicant.  I also knew that I loved technology and wanted to make it a more central part of my career.  However, I never would have guessed that Google would offer me my dream internship in product management!

I’ve had an awesome summer at Google.  Whether it was computer science theory, what clean code and elegant programs look like, or even how web applications and users interact online,  I couldn’t have gotten there without Udacity.  If you’re curious about computer science or ever wondered if the technology industry is right for you, you should stop what you’re doing and try out Udacity.  If you’re wondering what courses to take, I’ve posted my own thoughts on the forum here, but I really think you can’t go wrong by diving in and listening to whatever lectures capture your interest.

As for me, I’m looking forward to taking more Udacity courses!  After working as a PM for the summer and seeing just how central good design is to good product I am super excited about taking Dan Norman’s upcoming course the Design of Everyday Things.

I can’t thank Udacity and the community enough.  Stay Udacious!