Today’s post features Oscar Estrada, former film student who, through the help of Udacity and LaunchCode, was able to turn his tech education into a programming job at Atyls.tv.
I’m a vicarious learner. I learn through other peoples’ experiences as long as they’re willing to share them with me. I’m not sure it’s something that is all that common, but it has helped me out immensely. It’s also why I initially wanted to be a director and work in film. I always re-watched movies with the director’s commentary on whenever possible. I like understanding people and how they think, and people think the most when they’re solving problems.
I love this idea that anyone anywhere can go exactly where they want to go, as long as they can prove themselves. I’ve always excelled in math, and I remember having a passing interest in programming when I was really young. I tried to teach myself BASIC on my mom’s very dated computer. And I do mean,“Try,” as the computer wasn’t exactly telling me what I was doing right or wrong, and more importantly, why.
“…programming was presented to me in a structured learning environment…and that was the first time I realized I could love programming.”
I didn’t have someone teaching me or a method to follow. To me, programming became this really esoteric thing that only programmers knew about, and that the only way I could learn about programming was if, say, my parents were already programmers teaching me. So early on, I had this very a passing interest and had a relatively bad experience with it. And I didn’t think to go to college and study computer science even though I knew I might be able to figure it out. In short, it didn’t seem like fun.
So I decided to pursue a career in film because I liked how a movie or TV director could make people think. Although that was challenging in its own right, it wasn’t something that really spoke to me until I came across Udacity and programming was presented to me in a structured learning environment. It was something I could follow along with, and that was the first time I realized I could love programming. In fact, if it wasn’t for Udacity I wouldn’t have landed my current job as a programmer for Atlys.tv with the help of LaunchCode.
“Web Development [course] was essential because it gave me something tangible: a project that I could show other people. That in itself was a rewarding feeling.”
In some ways I felt like I was always inclined to program, but I really wanted to give directing a try. In retrospect, I should’ve known film school was the harder way to go about it. I discovered Udacity in December of last year as I was looking for a job at the time. Little did I know that I would ultimately find one through Udacity and LaunchCode. Back then, I only knew of Codecademy and CheckiO. I didn’t know what to do after Codecademy until Udacity.
Through Udacity, I took courses including Intro to Computer Science, Web Development and Programming Languages. Web Development was essential because it gave me something tangible: a project that I could show other people. That in itself was a rewarding feeling.
“This experience has absolutely changed my life—I wouldn’t have a job right now otherwise.”
When I felt confident enough in my ability, I looked online for job opportunities. I quickly found out that many jobs required a computer science degree. Then I came across LaunchCode who was exactly about that: self-motivators.
LaunchCode is based in St. Louis, so I didn’t know how much they could help because I live in LA. I decided to submit an application with them anyway, and to my surprise a month later, they wanted to interview me. My interview went great, but they said it could still take several months before I could get an apprenticeship, living in LA and all. But a mere two months later, I got hired with Atlys.tv.
This experience has absolutely changed my life—I wouldn’t have a job right now otherwise. And I do recommend Udacity to friends and family, including one friend in particular. And so far he hasn’t bitten. Maybe if I was a bit more outspoken he would end up taking my advice! It just might change his life.
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