Life’s Too Short Not To Be Audacious

Life’s too short not to be audacious. What are you dreaming of accomplishing in 2015?

Here’s a challenge for you: make an Audacious Goal for 2015.

What’s an Audacious Goal? It’s a goal with three characteristics: specific, (a little bit) scary, and smart.

Specific

Picture yourself in one year. What does your moment of “making it” look like?

Scary

Step outside of your comfort zone and into your growth zone. Set yourself a big challenge and remember that “failure” is a crucial step in learning.

Smart

Work smart. Set yourself up for success by giving yourself a structured plan for achieving your goal. What do you need to accomplish each month to make your vision happen?

scott
Meet Scott!

We’re inspired by all the things that our students achieve, and so we asked Scott, a Udacity student, to tell us about his most memorable goals.

We first met Scott when he shared learning tips from his journey as a mathematics grad student to becoming a software developer at Prezi. Here is the Audacious Goal that Scott set for himself when he decided to learn development.

Specific
When looking at changing careers, I told myself that in one year, success would mean working as a programmer somewhere, with a hobby project I’m maintaining. Or alternatively, discovering I’m not meant for software development.

Scary
I worried a lot about my time and about failure. I was planning to invest so much time into changing my career, but maybe I would discover in the application process that it would take another year or two to reach a point where people would hire me. If so, do I stay in school and accept that programming remains a hobby? Or do I quit school to focus on studying CS full-time with no income? I felt the risk, and it scared me.

Smart
I decided that six months after starting to seriously study, I would apply for programming jobs or internships. To compensate for my weak CS background, I would have a personal project which would wow employers, as well as a resumé of of online courses.

I had a structured path to achieve my goal of creating a webapp, and I had to modify my path at different points because I couldn’t possibly have known in advance what I needed to learn. I wasn’t always sure that I chose the right next step, and sometimes I had to backtrack and re-plan what my next move would be. In planning, I always knew that my eventual goal was to create a webapp and I used that as a guiding light which helped me say “no” to certain things I would have loved to learn about (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Cryptography).

After 3 months of learning and building a webapp, I felt comfortable enough to apply for a job at Prezi, even though I didn’t consider the webapp totally ready. But I’ve since learned that software is never completely ready, and I had really overengineered what could have been a much simpler webapp. I didn’t feel that my time was wasted though at all: I learned a lot and got a job because of it!

Udacity students –

What is your #AudaciousGoal for 2015?

Share in the comments or tweet at us with #AudaciousGoal! Can’t wait to cheer you on!

Best of 2014: Udacity Edition

Thanks for making 2014 a Udacious year! While we were busy building Nanodegree credentials with industry leaders, you were busy learning new skills and advancing careers. Thanks for letting us cheer you on!

3 Top Notch Student Projects

Here are some of our favorite 2014 student projects!

dataproject_NL

Data visualization: the geography of American music

Beautiful, puppy-specialized website mockup

Are NYC subways more crowded when it rains?

 

Top 3 Nanodegrees

Our students were most interested in these three Nanodegree credentials, which industry employers built with us.

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Data Analyst – by MongoDB, Facebook & more

Front-End Developer – by AT&T, Google & GitHub

iOS Developer – by AT&T & more

 

Top 3 New Courses

You made these three courses our most enrolled courses released in 2014.

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Developing Android Apps – Built by Google

Programming Foundations with Python

Intro to Data Science

 

Top 3 Blog Posts

In 2014, you made these 3 blog posts our most popular blog reads.

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8 Skills You Need to Be A Data Scientist

Python vs. Java: Udacity Instructor Weighs In

5 New Web Development Courses Open!

 

Congratulations on making 2014 a stellar year full of learning new skills and discovering new career paths. Let us know in the comments what your favorite 2014 learning moments were and what your goals are for 2015. We can’t wait to see what you do in 2015!

Dog Puns and Web Dev Fundamentals

Truly great websites can change the world wide web, and the people outside it.

Recently, a Front-End Web Developer trailblazer single-handedly sparked a dog pun epidemic in our Mountain View offices with his first nanodegree project, a puppy-specialized website mockup.

Im-paws-ibly cute, no? But enough about BarkMind, PawLocker, Pawstumes and other amazing puppy-oriented products. Who is the man behind the puns?

Haopei is a self-taught freelance web developer and web entrepreneur hailing from Guyana. When Haopei got his first computer in 2002, he was “amazed at the extended possibilities made available by the internet,” and began teaching himself how websites work.

He “built some embarrassing stuff along the way,” but stuck with it and eventually taught himself to build sites including SpaceSeek Guyana and SkilledGuyanese. Haopei shares, “SkilledGuyanese, a much needed job website here in Guyana, is built on Google App Engine and with Python, which I learned in Steve Huffman’s Web Development course.”

Why teach himself? Haopei describes a classic access challenge: “I decided not to attend the (only) university in my country, since I found that the web components being taught were outdated. It’s challenging for any university to keep up its curriculum with the pace of changing web standards, after all. I decided to continue learning online.”

Haopei knows that despite learning web development on his own, he has gaps in his knowledge. He says, “I think most self-taught web dev people, like myself, learn by sporadically searching the web for tutorials, and along the way, we miss out on some important parts.”

With Udacity, Haopei’s “been able to pick up useful foundational information, regardless of how basic the course or project seems to be” and is “making breakthroughs.” Go Haopei!

Haopei’s dream job is to be part of a team that builds “useful, value-adding, socially-impactful, world-changing things. Incredible things can happen when skilled, passionate people collaborate on a vision.”

We cannot wait to see what you do next in the nanodegree and beyond, Haopei!

Luca: Designer, Developer, Nanodegree Pioneer

Find the right nanodegree program for you.
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As we get to know our first Front-End Web Developer nanodegree class, we are absolutely inspired by our amazing students, and we can’t wait to introduce them to the community.

Today, we’d like you to meet Luca!

Luca is a freelance interaction designer based in Milano, Italy, who is “not really interested in becoming a web developer!”

Instead, Luca enrolled in the nanodegree to learn to prototype his own designs.

Web Dev for Design Prototyping

Luca’s sketches and wireframes for a coffee machine

As an interaction designer, Luca says, “I believe that it’s impossible to design great products without prototyping and using them to see what doesn’t work.”

While he “used to use software to make mockups and wireframes,” Luca prefers to code simple, responsive prototypes. He finds that the nanodegree is “perfect for [his] goals” because adding HTML, CSS, Git and JavaScript to his skill set will allow him to code interactive prototypes that will give his users better experiences.

Luca’s Rule #1: Write Code Every Day

We are super impressed with Luca’s projects, and when we asked for the secret to his success, he told us: “I have a new rule: try to do a little every day.”

Luca recommends reading John Resig’s blog post, “Write Code Every Day,” as well as the Udacity data team’s findings on successful student behavior, if you need a little extra inspiration to make your own daily resolution.

Luca’s Rule #2: Real Life Projects

For Rule #2, Luca draws on advice from Ruby on Rails and Basecamp creator David Heinemeier Hansson. In his blog post, “How Do I Learn to Program?” David shares how he finally *really* learned to program after twenty-plus years of programming.

Check out Luca’s first nanodegree project, his own portfolio!

The answer? Learning by doing things he truly cared about, by “programming because I gave a damn about what I was writing and I wanted it done sooner rather than later.”

Luca echoes, “I apply what I’m learning on my real life projects because when I care about what I do, I put more effort into it.”

Biggest Nanodegree Surprise: The “Why” of Learning

Luca’s biggest nanodegree surprise – so far! – is learning how to learn.

He says, “I am improving my skills and my knowledge; this I expected. I didn’t expect to learn how to learn. In How to use Git and GitHub, Sarah and Caroline use conceptual maps and reflection as learning tools.”

He adds, “One thing I love about Udacity classes is that they focus as much on the big picture of why to do something, as on how to technically execute something. When you focus only on the HOW, your knowledge is fragile.”

Google Q&A: Scalable Apps with Java

Why is cloud computing one of the fastest growing fields right now? Why should you learn to develop scalable apps? What’s the best way to leverage Google’s App Engine and Cloud Endpoints?

Ask the experts!

CloudFundamentals

This Thursday at 9am PT, Google Developers is hosting an “Ask the Experts” Q&A session with Magnus Hyttsten and Jocelyn Becker, the instructors behind Udacity and Google’s Developing Scalable Apps with Java course.

Magnus and Jocelyn will tell you why you should think scalably, and answer questions from you and your fellow scalable developers.

Ask & vote for your questions here.

Tune in here for the show on Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 9am PT.

Ask the Experts: Google Q&A on Web Performance, Android & Cloud Fundamentals

The Google Developer Advocate team – who brings you Website Performance Optimization, Android App Development, and Developing Scalable Apps – wants to answer your questions and share insights and best practices for their fields.

We’re holding Q&A sessions in the last two weeks of August for you to meet your Android, Cloud and Web Performance instructors and to ask them your burning questions.

Developing Android Apps with Reto Meier and Dan Galpin

Q&A: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 9am PT.

Ask & vote for your questions here. Tune in here for the show.

Check out the course

Developing Scalable Apps with Magnus Hyttsten and Jocelyn Becker

Q&A: Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 9am PT.

Ask & vote for your questions here. Tune in here for the show.

Check out the course

Web Performance Optimization with Ilya Grigorik

The live show has aired, and you can tune in here for the recording!

Check out the course

Why is Website Performance Optimization Critical?

What is the Critical Rendering Path?

How can you boost your site performance with PageSpeed Insights and Google Chrome’s Developer Tools?

 Ask the experts!  Ilya Grigorik and Cameron Pittman, instructors of Udacity and Google’s Website Performance Optimization mini course, will answer your questions in a Q&A on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 9am PT.
Ask & vote for your questions here.  

Tune in here for the Q&A.

Ilya Grigorik is a web performance engineer at Google, the author of High Performance Browser Networking (O’Reilly), and an instructor of Udacity’s Website Performance Optimization mini course. Cameron Pittman lives and breathes web development as he creates programming courses at Udacity.

 Website Performance Optimization teaches you to optimize any website for speed by diving into the details of how mobile and desktop browsers render pages. You’ll explore the Critical Rendering Path, PageSpeed Insights, and Google Chrome’s Developer Tools.

Happy optimizing!