It’s 2019, it’s a brand-new year, and it’s the time when many of us start planning major changes in our lives. Whether you are thinking about learning new skills, changing your career, or landing a fresh opportunity at your employer, this is the time of year to make that happen.

Udacity New Skills Student Success Quote

Nicola Poerio changed his life when he landed a new role in the self-driving car division of his employer, Fiat Chrysler, without any previous work experience in autonomous systems engineering. All after building his skills with Udacity.

Nicola had been working in the automotive industry for over ten years as an engineer. He’d built a career he calls “satisfactory” at Fiat Chrysler, one of the world’s biggest automotive companies. And he’d done well in his work, taking on new projects and management responsibilities along the way.

The problem was that Nicola wasn’t completely satisfied with his career. While his work was interesting, his area of research was no longer the cutting-edge of technology. He also couldn’t shake the sense he’d missed out on his true career passion, a passion that first emerged when he was completing his Master’s thesis.

“I was focusing on virtual driving for race applications—programming early autonomous vehicle systems. I realized quickly that the field was going to be really influential in people’s lives. Sadly, when I was looking for a job, I couldn’t find a way to continue with it.” 

A decade later, Nicola could see that self-driving cars had become a major fast-growing field, and he saw his opportunity to take a leap in his career. He looked into a position on Fiat Chrysler’s autonomous vehicles research team, but they weren’t convinced that he had the right type of knowledge and experience to succeed on the team

“I didn’t like that answer. I felt that I was an engineer that could do whatever I was passionate about. So I started looking at ways to get more skills on my resume that were relevant to the industry. I thought about doing a PhD first, but that simply wasn’t viable. I have a family and many commitments, and I didn’t have the time or money to invest in something like that.”

That’s when Nicola found Udacity and the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program. It was exactly what he was looking for—accessible, affordable, and laser-focused on the skills he needed in his dream career.

After completing his Nanodegree program, Nicola approached his employer again. This time, he was ready to promote himself properly, with a portfolio of projects on deep learning, sensor fusion, and localization that he’d built as part of his Udacity Nanodegree program.

“The hiring manager wasn’t convinced at first. But then I showed him what I’d been working on in my Nanodegree program. And he could see my determination and knowledge, and my passion for the subject. I told him my previous experience would be really relevant, and that my new knowledge meant I could contribute on their projects immediately.  And I won him over! His next words were “okay, welcome aboard!” I was so happy!”

Nicola is now working as an Automated Driving Researcher at Fiat’s Research Center. Just months after enrolling in his first Nanodegree program, he landed his dream role and is excited about the new path he’s on.

“I feel like I have a very good starting point, but I’m excited that I will learn much more in the practice of my job. This is certainly not a final arrival point for me—neither professionally or for my education. I’m all about continually learning, and I’m certainly not done studying with Udacity!”  

Make this January the time you skill up and land your own dream career, just like Nicola has done. Enroll in your ideal Nanodegree program before January 23, and get 10% off using the code NY2019 at checkout! Your dream job can’t wait. Get started today!

Adam Lane
Adam Lane
Adam Lane is a writer at Udacity. Happiest when telling stories and arguing over commas, he has previously written about topics such as education, law, the energy sector, and travel.