This Udacity graduate put everything on the line to pursue a new career. He discovered he had real ability, and found his new life direction!
Samuel Almeida is a natural planner. He loves the sense of purpose and direction he gets from setting a goal, and then achieving it. Since his childhood in Teófilo Otoni, Brazil, Samuel had a plan for his life. It began as just an idea, but as he got older, and pursued undergraduate and graduate studies, he became certain that he was heading towards a pharmaceutical career. When he landed his first job in the field, it felt like the realization of a dream that had been years in the making.
He started a job in drugs research in Belo Horizonte, and seemed firmly set on his path. But he was in for a surprise. Samuel discovered his job—and the pharmaceutical industry—didn’t suit him at all. He didn’t feel challenged by the projects he was working on, and he didn’t see any way to grow or develop. It was a tough thing to accept. He’d spent years of his life, and considerable expense, on preparing for a particular field. Now that he’d made it, the reality didn’t thrill him, and he wasn’t happy.
At that point, it didn’t occur to him that he could, or would, actually change careers, he just knew he needed to find something to re-energize himself.
“I’ve always had an interest in programming and technology, and had been in the habit of keeping up with news and articles about the latest developments. I started to think that learning to program could be an interesting new hobby that might also help me do my job more efficiently.”
Samuel hadn’t actually done any programming before, so began teaching himself the basics by watching YouTube videos and completing free online programs. His interest grew, and he eventually determined that he wanted to take a comprehensive developer program. He found Udacity’s Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree program, and was confident it covered all the topics he wanted to learn.
“I got a good sense that Udacity’s seriousness about programming matched my own growing excitement, so I decided to sign up and combine studying with working.”
He worked hard on the program. He approached every project with the goal not just of meeting expectations, but exceeding them—he was determined to push himself. A project using Google App Engine (GAE) really fired his imagination. He loved the challenge of building a login, cookie system, and password hash for a blog using the GAE platform. He spent a great deal of his free time on the project, and the positive feedback he received convinced him that programming could be a big part of a new career plan.
“It was really the moment when I felt I could say, ‘Yes, I can change industries and become a developer!’ I knew it wasn’t just a side interest; I had real ability as a developer. I had my new life direction!”
Samuel completed his Nanodegree program within a year and started looking for his first developer role. He had a few interviews but nothing seemed to click. He persevered, certain he had what it took to execute a career change, and become a professional developer.
“The recruiters had heard about Udacity, of course, but they had never interviewed a Udacity graduate before. I think they were amazed at the range of skills and hands-on experience I had on my resume, and my ability to apply it to an actual problem!”
Samuel landed a position with the company within two months of graduating from Udacity. He uses what he learned in the program everyday, including working with Flask, Ajax, and API. He isn’t done with learning either—he is currently aiming to study Udacity’s Machine Learning Nanodegree program to add to his developer skills.
“I really enjoy what I do and I am learning a lot every day. But what makes me calm and self-assured when I’m dealing with new, complex things, is the grounding the Nanodegree program has given me. I never feel lost, and I’m able to work through problems, understand the issues, and propose solutions.”
That is so good to hear Samuel! Congratulations on your successful transition to a career you love. You’ve shown it’s possible to take any path you choose, even when it is very different from the one you thought you “should” be on.