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At Udacity, we are constantly investing in new ways to add more value to our programs so our students can be successful. Recently, we redesigned our Nanodegree programs and launched new features to help our students master the skills needed to be competitive and advance their careers.  

Today, we have the privilege of speaking with one of our multi-Nanodegree program veterans, Sanjeev Yadav. He is currently enrolled in one of our recently redesigned Nanodegree programs and has completed five Nanodegree programs in the last two years. He was eager to share his experience with us.

Sanjeev Udacity Graduate Data Engineer Nanodegree Program

As a college student, what motivated you to enroll in the Data Engineer Nanodegree program and so many others?

I wanted to augment my skills and become better. Before enrolling in Udacity courses, I researched various paid programs on the internet. I wanted to review every program before deciding where to enroll. I wanted to learn who actually took these courses, if they liked them, and where they were currently working. The last part was especially important to me, and that got me really excited when I was looking at Udacity graduates. Some graduates were working at Amazon and others were at Google and Facebook. So, I thought that if they could do it, I could do it too. At the time, there were mixed reviews, which I expected since Udacity’s Nanodegree programs were still early in their development. I decided to experiment and figure it out for myself, especially because they had a seven day, 100% money-back guarantee. Within the first seven days, I started a project and really liked the content. I immediately scheduled a video meeting with my mentor, and from there, I started creating my schedule. Today, I’m enrolled in my sixth Nanodegree program.

We are pairing students with personal mentors. Do you interact with your mentor?

When I initially started, we had in-classroom chat box messaging with Udacity’s mentor and email support. The addition of Slack has made communicating and sharing files even easier. In my most recent Data Engineering Nanodegree program, I have been assigned a personal mentor. Typically, I do all my own research and try to solve the content questions myself. When I really can’t solve something on my own, I turn to my mentor. I had my challenges, especially with the first project in the Data Analyst Nanodegree. That first project was difficult and the instructions were not very descriptive, so I scheduled two meetings with my mentor.  Mentors are such a critical part of the program. I have even become a mentor myself because I’ve had so much experience throughout the span of my five Nanodegrees. I am currently a mentor for two Nanodegrees—Data Analyst and Data Engineering. I was excited about the prospect of giving back since I’ve gained so much from Udacity.

Is your Nanodegree program experience fulfilling your expectations?

Yes. I love Udacity because of the personalized support system. This was one of the important factors that I considered when choosing a program. One month into the program, I submitted my first project and the personalized feedback that I received was incredible. The feedback highlights your efforts without focusing too much on the negative. They congratulate you and advise on how you can improve. Whenever I had a problem with non-technical issues, I would send an email, and within 10 hours, I’d receive a reply. When my mentor was available and I pinged him, I received a prompt reply as well. Overall, I’ve been able to develop practical skills, establish a stronger career profile, and ultimately land a job offer.

I imagine that your time is limited. How were you able to balance your life and school?

The program’s flexibility has allowed me to plan my time around my college studies.

Based on my experience, I recommend considering the level of difficulty before you start a program. If it’s a beginner course, it won’t be as challenging, but if it is more advanced, I recommend reserving blocks of time. In terms of balancing my workload, I wasn’t able to dedicate time to my current Nanodegree program because I was finishing my college exams.  Now that I’m done I can dedicate ample time to Data Engineering.

How have the projects helped you with your skills and career pursuits?

The projects have been a very important part in my career pursuit. All the projects are very practical, and you can apply them at a variety of jobs. I have found that the difficulty level of the projects increases over time, and so does your knowledge. I added a few projects to my resume, which got me on the shortlist for my internship. I feel like recruiters were so impressed that they asked me less questions because my project qualifications spoke for themselves.

As you plan your next steps, how has career coaching and services been useful to you?

When I started, there were online courses like networking and improving your career, LinkedIn, and Github profiles. There were different resume courses based on your level of experience. Some were designed for entry level jobs and others for people looking for a career change. After completing my first Nanodegree, I submitted my LinkedIn and GitHub profiles for review and didn’t  receive as positive reviews as I had hoped. I decided to wait about five months before resubmitting because I didn’t believe that the feedback would be much different if I resubmitted it right away. After waiting and adding more information and experience, I received a much more positive response.

In the last couple of months, they launched a new program, which provided me with a career coach in addition to the other career services for my Data Engineering Nanodegree program. Based on what you want to accomplish, your career coach can help you get there. They meet with you on a call or video and they provide live feedback as well as a written recap of what was discussed. In my first meeting with my career coach, she taught me about keyword optimization on LinkedIn and how to improve my summary by stating my skills. I saw my profile views increase after that optimization. Since I still didn’t have a job offer, I scheduled a second interview and received more advice on how to network with third-party connections. As I was waiting for my second interview, I got a job offer! I wouldn’t have received the offer without the help of Udacity. One of my favorite things about Udacity is that they focus on what happens after you finish the degree. Last year, they hosted a local career fair, and this year they’ve already hosted two in the first half of the year. Even students who hadn’t completed the courses were able to land jobs from the valuable tips Udacity shared.

How do you see this program impacting your career?  

These programs have significantly helped my career. I had practical projects, which impressed recruiters because it showed that my knowledge and experience was applicable to the real world. Udacity’s personalized support gave me valuable feedback throughout the program and helped me successfully complete my projects. Since my goal was to immediately get into the job market, it was great to learn and quickly implement ways to optimize my career profile. I’ve had large companies like American Express and Gartner try to recruit me. More importantly, I successfully landed my first job because of Udacity about three weeks ago!

Congratulations on your exciting career move. We’re excited to see you accomplish the goals that you’ve set for yourself.  

If you enjoyed the story and would like to learn more about Sanjeev Yadav, see what he has to say here.

If you would like to learn more about gaining in-demand skills with Udacity Nanodegree programs, check out our programs here.

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Ritika Pradhan
Ritika Pradhan
Ritika is the Content Manager at Udacity and is passionate about bringing inspirational student stories to light. When not talking to the amazing Udacity students, she can be found reading an article or watching a video on the internet.