How one lifelong learner without a computer science degree studied deep learning with Udacity and landed an engineering job!
There are many ways to launch, advance, or change a career. Earning a four-year degree in a related field has long been considered the “traditional” approach, but it’s certainly not the only option. This is particularly important to understand when considering technical jobs, or jobs in technical fields, because what used to be considered “alternative” paths are fast becoming viable norms.
Kelcey Morton knows this firsthand, because she found her own unique path to a technology career. She doesn’t have a computer science degree; she majored in International Relations as an undergraduate.Yet today, she works at HackerOne in an engineering role.
This is the story of how she did it.
How a former professor turned stay-at-home parent enrolled with Udacity and became a Data Analyst
I’d like to introduce you to Kevin. He’s a husband, father, and today, a data analyst. But that wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, his family undertook a major change that significantly impacted his life and career. At that time, he was teaching Arabic as an assistant professor at Appalachian State University.
The change was set in motion when his wife was offered an incredible career opportunity in her hometown of Austin, TX. Together, they made the decision to put Kevin’s career on hold so that she could pursue hers. With their 1-year-old son in tow, they trekked west, and Kevin became a stay-at-home dad.
Suddenly, his daily schedule shifted dramatically from being on the university campus all day teaching, grading and conducting research, to being in their new Austin home with his son, feeding, diapering, bathing, dressing, cleaning up, doing laundry and managing naptime.
Getting from Where You Are, to Where You Want to Be
Career change isn’t easy. Life change isn’t easy. Change of any kind can be difficult. External obstacles are a fact of life. They can be overcome, but they’re often overwhelming. Sometimes, the biggest obstacles are self-created. We doubt ourselves. We second-guess, lose confidence, falter, and give up. I know all about it. I’ve been through it. The best thing that ever happened to me, was admitting it was my fault. Admitting that I’d failed because I hadn’t been true to myself. That was the beginning of my new life.
If that sounds counter-intuitive, it isn’t. Admitting my own shortcomings empowered me. It gave me confidence, it didn’t erode it. The day I realized I needed to forge my own path, on my terms, was the day I became a success. What follows are the lessons I’ve learned. I share them with you, because I hope they’ll help you forge your own path, and achieve success on your terms.
How One Udacity Student Turned Her Curiosity About Programming Into A Whole New Career
Every day, we experience new things. New ideas, new people, new concepts, new technologies. Our curiosity gets triggered, and we make mental notes to investigate further. But how often do we actually follow up? What if we acted on just a few of those notes-to-self? What opportunities might we uncover for ourselves? Curiosity is the gateway to growth, but we must be vigilant, and encourage ourselves to act.
We’ve all had those phases when we’re not satisfied with where we are, or what we’re doing with our lives. When you’re in that situation, it’s easy to feel frustrated, and those negative feelings can have a ripple effect, impacting those around you. As hard as it can be sometimes, the solution is to make a change, pursue a new opportunity, and start on a new path. The transformation can be remarkable.
Career change is a unique and sometimes challenging process. One of the more destabilizing aspects of the experience is once again becoming something you probably haven’t been in a while—not qualified. It’s a hard thing to go through, when you’re used to being accomplished in your career. Dealing with this feeling, and overcoming the self-doubts it can lead to, is an important part of successfully executing a change in careers.
We’d like to share a story with you today about someone who went through this experience, and successfully overcame the challenges he faced. Emmanuoel graduated from our Nanodegree Plus program with a great set of skills, but he still lacked the dreaded “minimum industry experience.” Through networking and building community, Emmanuoel was able to strengthen his portfolio, and increase his industry knowledge. He earned a contract role alongside another Udacity graduate, and soon, he’ll have a full-time iOS developer job.
My Career Change Begins
Hi, I’m Emmanuoel, and I graduated from the iOS Developer Nanodegree Plus program in October 2016. Back then, I was just beginning my career transition from finance and business management to iOS development. With no relevant education or work history, I knew it would be an uphill battle.
The good news is that very few of the skills you currently possess are going to be obsolete in the near future, if ever. That said, the work environments where those skills are currently valuable are probably going to change, and possibly even disappear. This makes it likely that at some point you’re going to need to prove that your existing skills are transferable skills. It also means you’re going to need to learn some new skills. These are the new rules of career change.