Machine Learning Improves your Shopping Experience

Machine learning is impacting countless industries, from the recent discovery of a black hole to improving healthcare, we are just scratching the surface. The retail industry is a prime example. Retailers and manufacturers are racing to figure out how they can employ machine learning to target specific consumers, monitor trends, and discover new pricing models.

While retailers and manufacturers are doubling down on new ways to target and sell to consumers, Jia Rui Ong, a two-time Nanodegree program graduate, and his team are employing machine learning to help you, the consumer, find the best price for the clothing you desire.

We recently had a chance to sit down with Jia Rui Ong and his team at Yux to discuss their product, as well as, our newly updated Machine Learning Nanodegree program.



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C++ Skills and Career Advice from a Self-Driving Car Engineer

This week we launched the new C++ Nanodegree program, designed to teach students the industry-relevant programming skills to code robotics, self-driving cars, media platforms, servers, and fast-performance applications! We’re excited about this new program and thought our students might be, too. David Silver, head of Udacity’s School of Autonomous Systems, reached out to one of our Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program (SDC) graduates, Jeremy Cohen, to get an idea of how he uses C++ in his work as an Artificial Intelligence and Self-Driving Car Engineer.

Job as a Self-Driving Car Engineer with C++ programming

David: Hello Jeremy, you completed our Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program last year and it’s contributed to some career changes in your life, could you tell us a bit about that?

Jeremy: That’s correct. I think it’s important to give a bit of context around my education experience. I live in France, and here, when you decide that you’re interested in engineering, you are given a couple of education and career paths to choose from. In my case, after high school, I enrolled in engineering school, with a focus on computer science. I enjoyed my studies, and during the last six months, I took part in an internship to gain industry experience. Unlike in America, many of these internships begin with managerial roles. I spent a year or so working as a project manager for an artificial intelligence banking initiative.

It was going well and I felt proficient in my role, but I had this growing feeling that I wasn’t actually proficient in the technology that I was managing. I could manage the project deadlines and lead our team to the next step, but I wasn’t able to speak the technical language, understand the concepts, or review the code we were implementing.

I started to research avenues to gain more technical skills to supplement my university and project management background. I considered going back for another degree, but even that didn’t seem like the way to gain current industry-relevant skills. In talking with my brother about the situation, he said: “Go check out Udacity, they offer the type of skills you’re looking for.”

I landed on udacity.com, watched a video about the new Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program and immediately knew – this was what I had been looking for. It didn’t force me to spend another year at school, was self-paced, and would allow me to grow in skills I needed. I applied for the program within 30 minutes.

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Data Analytics + Healthcare: How Rebecca Found Her Career Passion

Throughout Women’s History Month we’ve introduced you to five incredible women over the past few weeks who have taken the idea of balance to a whole new level; showing us how, no matter what your calendar looks like, it is possible to balance your job, social, and extracurricular activities while pursuing career advancement and new skills.

Data Analyst Rebecca McDowall Udacity graduate

Rebecca McDowall succeeded in changing careers and landing a new job at a top tech company, Accenture. Today, she is analyzing the healthcare sector, looking for ways to improve the data of today for a better healthcare industry of tomorrow. We had a chance to speak with her and learn more about her journey.

Have you always been interested in data?

In a way, yes. I graduated from university in 2016 with a degree in mathematics and statistics. Initially, I chose math purely based on my interest in statistics; I loved the real-world applicability and how you can find data in relatively any part of life. But, I didn’t love the mathematics portion of the degree and when I graduated and started looking for jobs, I felt pretty lost.

Were you interested in any industry or particular job?

My mother works in healthcare and I always had an awareness of how important, yet stressful her job could be. I had a keen interest in trying to work alongside healthcare, possibly healthcare economics. Though I looked, I couldn’t find any entry-level positions based on my degree, so I ended up taking a job as an audio typist for the histopathology department whilst trying to gain internship experience in healthcare economics

I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, but I also knew it was a job in the industry I was curious about. After a few months, I became frustrated; it was boring and didn’t offer any true advancements further into the industry. A friend had also shared a website that detailed jobs of today that might be replaced by technology in the future, and my job was one of them. This got me thinking: how was technology evolving and how could I take advantage of emerging skills?

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What is a Digital Nomad? A Udacity Alum Shares How to Live and Work Remotely

Meet Andrew, a graduate of Udacity’s Front End Web Developer, Mobile Web Specialist, and Design Sprint Nanodegree programs. In 2018 he won a full Grow with Google scholarship in the Mobile Web Specialist track. He works full time remotely as a Front End Developer for a small company called Kynectiv, which helps clients implement simulation-based training. When he’s not programming, he runs a mastermind network for high-performers and blogs about personal development and travel. He’s a full-time digital nomad, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the time of this interview. We caught up with Andrew to learn more about this nomadic life and to answer the most common questions that he gets about his lifestyle. 

Digital nomad jobs quote

What’s your travel schedule like as a digital nomad?

I like to really get to know a place when I travel! For two to six months I pick a “home base” and use it as a launching point to explore a region. I also think about what skills an area is best known for, and I’ll practice some of them for as long as I’m based there. For example, while I’m in Thailand I’m practicing Muay Thai, Buddhist meditation and Thai cooking. These learning “challenges” feed my curiosity and stretch my comfort zone. Taking these skills with me for the rest of my life is far more valuable to me than any souvenir.

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How Marcy Fit Re-Skilling For a Mid-Career Change into a Packed Schedule

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’ve introduced you to numerous women who are balancing their dedication to re-skilling, growing their careers and the demands of everyday life. Marcy Bursac has successfully made a mid-career change in the midst of raising a family.

Marcy Bursac Udacity quote from Front End Web Developer Nanodegree program

When Marcy realized she wanted greater balance in her work-life schedule to allow for more time with her kids and husband, she was faced with a dilemma about her career. She took the time to reimagine what she had done previously, and what she could do next. Over the course of a year, she enrolled in an intensive local tech program, the Udacity Front End Nanodegree program, and became involved in the local tech community. Her experience is marked by motivation, dedication, and hard work. We recently chatted with Marcy to learn how she changed the direction of her career in the midst of an active personal life.

Thank you for chatting with us, Marcy! Can you start by telling us a little about your educational and professional background?

Hi Caroline! As we chat, I am in my home studio having just finished the final assignment for my first MBA course, Accounting.  Milestones are so fun!

After receiving an undergraduate degree, I began work in a non-profit pediatric clinic. I was immediately taken with non-profit work, and thus began an incredibly meaningful chapter in my life. I spent the next 12 years working with several organizations on behalf of underserved populations such as individuals who were homeless and individuals who were unemployed or under-employed.  It was during my time with one organization, Dress for Success Midwest, that I learned about the underrepresentation of women in various STEM-related fields. I was intrigued.

At the same time, a friend of mine worked at MasterCard Foundation, and we were able to collaborate to create a local non-profit tech program with the mission of aiding single moms to rapidly propel their career into tech jobs, to achieve a living wage much more quickly than through a traditional college degree. Seeing women who had never coded building their own program over just a few short weeks, I found my own interest in the tech sector, coding, in particular, growing. In the evenings, I began a free online program which lasted a few lessons until I was lost and I totally put that wild idea to the wayside.

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A Career in Motion: Darien Martinez Torres, and the road to Autonomous Systems

A passion for learning sent Darien Martinez Torres back to the classroom after twenty years as a developer. Today, this two-time Nanodegree grad works on drones and flying cars!

Darien Martinez Torres - Udacity - Student Success - Autonomous Systems

Darien Martinez Torres has nearly twenty years of experience as a software developer. For much of that time, he has worked as a contractor—jumping from role to to role as opportunities have appeared. He enjoyed the new challenges each job brought, but he also had a nagging sense there was something more out there for him.

When he heard about the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program, he recognized an opportunity to reconnect with subjects he’d learned about years before—such as image and sensor processing. It sounded amazing, but also a challenge—he’d need to balance studying with the demands of work; not to mention family life with three children! Nevertheless, he enrolled and committed to studying hard, collaborating closely with a group of fellow students. He quickly realized that much in the field had changed, and there were many new skills he’d need to learn anew.

Darien has now graduated from two Nanodegree programs, and he’s doing something incredible—he’s collaborating with a group of fellow graduates to put his new skills into immediate practice, and he’s building out his own idea for a platform to share advanced experiments.

We chatted to Darien recently to hear about what drives his passion for learning, and to learn more about his exciting new collaboration.

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This Business Analytics Grad Set Her Sights on Success, and Landed a New Job

Vidya Thandra Satyanarayana pointed to an office building, and told her father she’d work there one day. She was right.

St. Louis Missouri

Vidya Thandra Satyanarayana was told from an early age not to take chances in her life. There were health-related reasons for this, but it was still hard news to hear, particularly for a young girl in India with dreams of education and a career in her future.

The years ahead would bring additional challenges, including a move to another country, and a ten-year gap in her work experience. But nothing could stop her, and today, this Udacity graduate is working at what she describes as a “dream company” in her adopted hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

This is her story.

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