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?
When you invest in the education of your employees, you give your company the gift of a long-term solution to your talent needs
The following quote has been variously attributed to everyone from Lao Tzu to Maimonides to Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie:
“Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.”
Given its ubiquity throughout modern history, it’s clearly a resonant message, and part of its appeal has to do with its broad applicability—it’s germane to so many different use cases.
The quote is generally interpreted as a lesson about self-sufficiency, but it’s also sage advice when thinking about short-term “band-aids” vs. long-term solutions. Why solve something for a day, only to have the same problem again tomorrow? Why not embrace a long-term solution that eliminates the problem once and for all?
Hiring managers and recruiters confront this issue every day. After all, hiring is essentially an act of problem-solving—a company has a need, and the right hiring decision will solve for it. But what IS the right hiring decision? If you’re a company in need of talent, the solution is often right in front of you!
Now is an excellent time to learn valuable new skills, refresh existing ones, and focus on career-centric soft skills that enhance your hireability
News today from the Labor Department bodes well for job seekers at all levels of experience. The unemployment rate is falling, wages are increasing, and yet there is still a strong sense of demand, as employers continue to struggle to fill roles within their organizations.
Everyone at Udacity is elated this morning with the news from CNBC, that we have been named to their prestigious Disruptor 50 list for a third time—and at #8, our highest ranking yet! It’s certainly thrilling to find ourselves in the company of such world-changing organizations as SpaceX, Airbnb, and Didi Chuxing. We appreciate the continued recognition from CNBC, and take heart that our efforts are having a sustained impact.
X’s Obi Felten, on stage at Intersect 2018
Obi Felten’s rather remarkable job title is “Head Of Getting Moonshots Ready For Contact With The Real World, X, The Moonshot Factory.” In March of this year, she delivered a keynote address at our annual Intersect event. The title of her talk was “Daring Greatly: How to Fail Gracefully on the Way to Success.” In her speech, she addressed what she described as “one of those Silicon Valley cliches.” She was talking about the idea of failing fast. What she had to say about it was wonderful:
“We don’t want to fail fast, but we do want to learn very fast.”
In a world where emerging innovators all over the world are seeking new paths to success on the strengths of their unique backgrounds, novel ideas, and deeply-felt passions, this is a critical distinction. What is important is not that we fail, but that we learn. When people are committing to making their dreams come true, and they’re finding inspiration in the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley, it’s vital that we be clear about failure’s relationship to success.
How to put the “work” in “network”
It is virtually impossible to overestimate the importance of networking when discussing the job search process. You might even say, networking IS the job search!
While learning for the sake of career advancement is critical to your long-term success, it’s only part of the equation. Job seekers often have a difficult time moving from learning to acting, but it’s only when you act, that you produce opportunity.
In simplest form, networking means getting out the door, both literally and figuratively. It means proactively connecting with people. It means building relationships, and embracing the truism that relationships are a two-way street—networking is as much about helping others as it is about being helped.
Networking takes on an added dimension of importance when you’re changing careers, or if you come from what might be considered a “non-conventional” background. In these cases, you have to effectively contextualize your experience, tell your story, and make the case for why you’re right for the job, even if your background doesn’t line up with the role’s requirements. This is best accomplished by forging direct connections, and pursuing opportunities to speak openly and directly with individuals in positions to lend their support.
Put another way, you have to enable people to know the real you. Because you know you’re right for the job. But do they?
Below you’ll find 5 things you need to know to network effectively.
We’re excited to announce that Udacity and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Educate are teaming up to support our students as they go beyond learning AI, to actually building powerful AI models in the real world!
Starting on April 19, all Machine Learning Engineer Nanodegree program students are eligible for complimentary AWS Promotional Credits to explore AWS services, including Amazon SageMaker. This means that our students will be able to harness the incredible computing power of AWS to train and deploy machine learning models faster than ever, without having to worry about hardware.
AWS is the most successful cloud infrastructure company on the planet, and we’re thrilled to bring the power of their services to our students.