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Luis Yoshida - Freelance to Full Time - Udacity Student Success

The move from freelance to full time is a significant transition, and it’s not always an easy one to navigate. In this post we talk with Luis Yoshida, a Full Stack Web Developer here at Udacity. Luis worked as a code reviewer and freelance web developer prior to joining Udacity full time, and in our interview below, Luis details his journey and offers advice on how to ask questions, find your next full-time job, and thrive in a new work environment.

Greetings Luis! To get started, let’s explore your background. How did you get started in web development?

Before working as a programmer, I worked in finance for seven years. Web development sparked my interest, so I started to take local computer science courses and MOOCs to learn coding. Once I had a basic skillset, I left finance and started to develop my portfolio by working on freelance projects for friends and clients.

What kind of freelance work were you doing?

I worked on marketing websites, blogs, services with Facebook api integration, web apps, and web scraping.

You also worked with Udacity, right?

Yes, I was a code reviewer!

Why did you decide to pursue full-time work?

Although freelancing was a great way to build my portfolio, the work I was doing was relatively simple. After about three years, it started to get repetitive. I am always interested in learning and being challenged, so I felt it was time to evolve. Also, I worked alone while freelancing. I wanted the experience of working with a team, so I decided full-time work would be good next step for my career.

What was your mindset as you started to look for opportunities?

When I first started looking for work, I was worried that I was unqualified because I didn’t have formal work experience in this field. One of my greatest challenges was just confronting my uncertainty about my qualifications. I didn’t know what to expect from the interview process, and I wasn’t sure my technical skills were good enough for a full-time position. But despite my concerns, I pushed forward and I started applying to jobs. I framed everything as practice. I researched companies and read job descriptions. I also examined the prerequisites for the roles and assessed if I was familiar with the in-demand skills.

What did you do to better your chances, and increase your confidence level?

I tried to improve myself and read everything. Some of the resources I used included:

Udacity’s Career Resource materials were also very helpful. I also applied to as many jobs as possible, so that I could practice my interview skills. I felt the more I practiced, the better my chances were for finding full-time work.

What did you prove to yourself?

That it is possible to get through the interview process! You don’t need to know everything, but you do need an attitude that shows you want to learn. Showcasing that you can learn fast when needed is really important. This includes asking questions, looking for feedback, and working through problems.

Can you detail for us your journey to a full-time job?

I was working on freelance projects and personal projects from 2012-2015. In April 2015, I started a Nanodegree program with Udacity, and soon after that, I applied to become a Udacity code reviewer. I worked as a code reviewer from August 2015 to January 2016. During this time, I started applying to full-time jobs, and practicing for job interviews. In January 2016, Udacity was starting business here in Brazil, and I was invited to help adapt and translate the content to Brazilian Portuguese. This is what ultimately led to the Full Stack Web Developer opportunity.

What was the change like, moving from freelance to full time?

My programming skillset was why I got the opportunity, but once I started working full time with Udacity as a Full Stack Web Developer, I gained a new set of responsibilities and challenges. For example, working on a team. This wasn’t something I could practice before, so I had to learn on the go. I’m still learning how to work with other people on a team!

Any more advice for people looking to start full-time careers?

When looking to further your career, it is important to know where you want to be in the near future. Knowing what type of projects you want to work on helps you to focus. Once you know where you want to be, you will have an easier time focusing on what technical skills to build and what companies to connect with, and apply to.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, and congratulations on your new role! Any last thoughts?

Thank you, and yes! Things are moving so fast in today’s world, you must always be prepared to learn new things. Never stop learning!

We owe a debt of gratitude to Luis for his generosity, and there are so many great takeaways here. Luis’ story makes clear the importance of building up one’s own portfolio through freelancing and personal projects, and his journey to full-time work is a case study in the importance of self-motivation when it comes to improving your skillset. Above all else, his positive mindset shines through at all times. Never stop learning, indeed! Thank you Luis!


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Elyse Kolin
Elyse Kolin
Elyse is an adult educator with a background in higher education, academic advising, and online learning. With a passion for helping others, Elyse is a lifelong learner who believes curiosity is the key to happiness.