I have been very fortunate to visit the very first conference held by Udacity called Intersect2016. I have met a lot of very inspirational individuals including Udacity students and employees as well as some of the leaders of technology era in Silicon Valley. It took me a long time to digest all of the information and emotions I have received during this event, but now is time to put my thoughts together and share the main ideas that affected me personally during the event.
Never give up
This thought has been repeated many times during the intersect, but I think best of all it has been put by Laura I. Gomez who is a CEO of Atipica. Laura’s career is very inspiring, she is a very intelligent and highly motivational lady, I highly recommend you to follow her on Twitter (and she has one of the best Twitter usernames ever!).
Only 1% of interesting things has been invented
Sebastian Thrun who is a founder and a CEO of Udacity gave this quote during his opening keynote. I highly encourage you to watch his speech on youtube as it is exceptionally inspiring. His speech starts at 20:11.
Online professional presence is important
Ana Díaz-Hernández gave a small presentation during one of the break-out sessions telling us how important it is to have an online presence. Her presentation inspired me to create a Twitter account as well as this blog.
Networking is even more important
I have to be honest with you, I’m not very good at networking. I rarely participate in Meetups and conferences and I think that Intersect was the biggest conference I have ever been invited to. But I incredibly enjoyed it. First of all meeting so many people and learning about their background as well as their stories was fascinating. It was nice to hear what people think about the current state of the technology era and where they think we are heading as well as to hear the challenges and joys of working in IT.
Udacity kindly organised business cards for all of us and we had a chance to exchange them among ourselves, so for the couple of days after the event my LinkedIn profile received quite a bit of attention. The next day after the Intersect I have received a call from a recruiting agent who saw my profile on LinkedIn and was wondering if I was interesting to learn about a new opportunity. I am not looking for a job at the moment, but I think it was an interesting development.
Algorithms and data structures are still important, but is it for much longer?
This topic has been brought up a lot during the intersect by many people. Udacity is very different from the traditional computer science education. In my experience Computer Science taught by Universities covers a lot of the basics, but not so much the latest technologies which are actually used by the companies. So traditional path for the students is to complete a computer science degree, then go to a company as an intern or a junior developer and learn the stack of technologies on the job. Udacity on the other hand provides a more relevant education, but, to some extent, does not cover the basics as well as Universities do.
One of the examples is Algorithms and Data Structures. A lot of the students mentioned that this is a missing piece of the education provided by Udacity, but a lot of the companies are asking for this knowledge during the job interviews. Advise from Makinde Adeagbo – learn it yourself. Makinde suggested that a lot of the companies are moving away from this requirement, but until then we are responsible for getting our own knowledge.
Hard work pays off
The last couple of years of my career were hard. I have been working full time as a mobile developer, studied part time in a university, studied at Udacity, have been working part time at Udacity as a Code Reviewer and have been invited to write an iOS application for Udacity called Kudacious. I won’t lie, it was exhausting. A lot of the time I had to spend my weekends, evenings and holidays in the front of the computer, while so many people around me were having fun, watching TV shows, playing video games and so on.
But I can tell you, it was totally worth it. During the Intersect I have been named as one of the Inspiring students and it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
It is never too late to switch careers
There were a lot of individuals who are just starting out in their career, but what surprised me (to some extent) is how many people were there who wanted to switch to a completely new career. I think it is a very scary step for anybody and I have a lot of respect for these people.
The future of education is changing today and it is not going to be the same ever again
Education provided by Udacity is starting to be recognised by very large technology companies, it is affordable (starting from $200 per month), people can learn at their own pace, and when they leave Udacity they are prepared for their first job. At the end of a Nanodegree students have a portfolio of their work, their CV, LinkedIn and Github profiles are reviewed by professionals. And they have participated in practice interviews. Other companies will have to adapt or seize to exist.