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The New Year brings new hopes and opportunities. It also gives us a reason to reflect upon the year gone by, learn from it, and prepare for the upcoming year. Since we define our success by your success, we thought it would be a good idea to catch up with some of the students featured during the year to see how they have grown in 2019. 

How these students transformed their careers in 2019

Join us as we revisit some of our graduates of 2019:

Richa Maheshwari – From journalism to data

Richa Maheshwari - Richa changed her life in one year! Here’s how she did It.

When we spoke to Richa in January, she had recently moved to Malaysia from India after she got married. She had made a major career move—from journalism to working with data—after studying Business Analytics with Udacity.

We caught up with her to see how 2019 has treated her. Here’s what she had to say. “2019 turned out to be a rewarding year for me! I earned my Tableau Desktop Specialist certification and had the  opportunity to train about a dozen people on data visualization at my company where I worked as a BI analyst. By the end of the two-month project, the newly trained users were able to reduce their turn around time by up to 85%. This month, I am taking the Tableau Certified Associate Certification and hopefully I will be able to end 2019 on a good note and enter 2020 with more ambitions and goals.”

We asked her if the Nanodegree program is still relevant to her and she said, “Without a doubt! The program was precisely about building a foundation in Statistics, Excel, SQL, and Tableau. Whenever I am stuck, I refer back to the basics and watch my course videos and quiz questions and solutions. It is helpful that the course material can be accessed anytime and anywhere. (I also encouraged my colleagues to join Udacity. One of them did and completed the same Nanodegree program).”

What do you predict for 2020? “I would say democratization of technical skills. For instance, a developer will be able to build models and generate analysis without a data scientist. With quality online courses being made available and big companies acknowledging its importance, it is no longer a far-fetched goal to up-skill or relearn. There will only be more takers in the new year.”

David Helms – From a Career in Music to Travel to Data

David Helms with his wife

In February, we shared how David transitioned from the music industry to travel and then to data.  

We spoke to him about how he did in 2019. Here’s what he has to say, “Last year has been one of growth, challenge, and change. I had a successful year as a data analyst at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia before relocating to the St. Louis, Missouri area this fall to be closer to my fiancée. My role at EMU gave me the opportunity to jump right in and learn complex systems as a new data analyst. I learned a ton about databases, advanced Excel, and SQL Server-based analysis and reporting. My Udacity Nanodegree is certainly relevant in my current role.  I use PostgreSQL every day as a Database Administrator at Panera Bread’s headquarters in St. Louis. My Udacity experience has served as a springboard for not only my IT career, but also for my desire to continue learning and expanding my analytics skill set!” 

What’s your 2020 resolution? “To continue regular learning outside of my job! I hope to continue mastering SQL database administration (it’s PostgreSQL for me right now). I also hope to dive further into Python, R, and Tableau visualization!”

Ayşin Taşdelen – From Turkish Art to a Robotics Company

Ayşin Taşdelen - From Turkish Architecture to a Robotics Company

When we spoke with Aysin in March, she was using Deep Learning to explore patterns in Turkish art. Interesting, right? 

Here’s what she’s been up to in 2019.  “Just 3 days after that blog post was published, I got an offer to work as a Senior Software Engineer in the R&D department of a robotics company. I apply AI & ML on industrial robots for academic and industrial research projects. I think all of my Nanodegree programs are relevant to my current role. I think I work for the best company and have the best role in my current location.”

What’s new in 2020? “We are building an AGV and AR app. The app will show our robot’s 3D CAD images so they can see how these will work at their factories and building systems using edge computing and cloud. I think all these technologies will find their way into the systems we use every day. These technologies are not in the future anymore, they are here and they are real. I think they will transform workers’ work by providing people with jobs producing these kinds of technologies rather than doing the work autonomous robots can. More people will have safe jobs building intelligent systems.”

Jeremy Cohen – From Management to Self-Driving Car Engineer

Jeremy Cohen - From management to a Self-Driving Car Engineer

In April, Jeremy shared some amazing advice on how to excel in the autonomous tech field. We reconnected with him to check how he did last year. Awesome, obviously! 

“The last year has been filled with working on self-driving cars. I have gained a lot of skills and experience from working in the field. I have discovered new applications in computer vision for self-driving cars. The Nanodegree is still relevant but I’m now interested in working on more advanced topics. From my perspective, it is an excellent introduction. A lot of the work is actually on implementing research papers and making open source solutions work to test ideas and experiment solutions. I haven’t been in research at all, we’re a small startup, but state of the art solutions still matter a lot. A month ago, I left my job to take some personal time. I don’t know what my next move will be, but it will probably be in autonomous systems!”

What’s your 2020 resolution? “Last month, I started writing to a mailing list about autonomous technologies to share my experience in the field. I hope to reach more people and continue helping others learn about AI. My country (France) is currently on a big strike and I see 20-year-old train drivers getting worried about their retirements in 40 years. For sure, retirements are a concern. But from an engineering perspective, it’s hard to imagine trains will need a driver 40 years from now. We just need to keep learning new skills and keep up with research.”

Sanjeev Yadav – Multiple Nanodegree programs and one awesome life

Sanjeev Yadav - Multiple Nanodegree programs and one awesome life!

While studying at one of the premiere engineering institutes in India, Sanjeev also invested his time in  Udacity. When we spoke to him last May, he had already graduated from five Nanodegree programs, was enrolled in a sixth, and had landed a job. 

Here’s what he says about 2019 (his first year at work). “I haven’t yet completed one year at the job I got after graduating from Udacity’s Nanodegree programs. But, so far, I have applied a lot of the technical and networking skills I learned in the core and extracurricular sections of my Udacity Nanodegree programs. My job is very SQL-intensive and I work for clients who demand reports with tight deadlines.. I use SQL a lot and sometimes go back to my Nanodegree lessons to do revisions.”

Grace Livingston – Growing a startup while raising a daughter

Grace’s story is nothing less than pure inspiration. She told us earlier this year that when she got pregnant with her daughter, Jackie, she decided to transition into a new career. She graduated from our Self-Driving Car and Flying Car Nanodegree programs and founded her own startup. 

Grace Livingston - Growing a startup while raising a daughter

We reconnected with Grace to find out how 2019 has been. She said, “The last year was extremely busy. I was able to continue studying computer science at Georgia Tech as well as managing my  startup on the side. The company had grown into an eight person team. We’re in the process of perfecting the product and soft launching our beta program. We’ve also acquired paying customers and received angel investments.  The Nanodegree programs were a game changer for me. Since I started working on Nanodegree projects, self-driving cars, deep learning, robotics, and AI, I’ve been playing around with various data. Honestly, some of the initial prototypes started as side projects that helped me to not only improve my skill set but also to explore cutting-edge technology and collaborate with teams on interesting projects we didn’t think were possible before.”

She also added that “Udacity’s Nanodegrees not only introduce incredible projects but also make it possible to dig deeper into the subject matters and the new papers and concepts behind these projects. Once you get more deeply involved, you can find a world of exciting challenges and massive opportunities that are waiting to be discovered. “

Varun Joshi – Living his dream as a software developer

Varun Joshi - Living his dream as a software developer

Earlier this year, Varun shared his story about transitioning from Android Development to Software Development. We’re glad to see that he’s  still doing well and enjoying it.

“The last year has been absolutely phenomenal! It started off slow, I had just left my old job and  had just jumped into the Full Stack Nanodegree program. This was unknown territory at first but my confidence grew as I kept learning. After about a month and  a half of applying to jobs, I got a great opportunity at Searce Logistics & Analytics that has allowed  me to grow and get on to a solid career path. I am still learning new things everyday and that makes it even more exciting. I work on both frontend and backend technologies and meet like-minded people who enjoy building great software everyday. Coming from an Android Developer background, it would not have been possible to switch to a web developer role without the Full Stack Nanodegree program.”

“The most important lesson from the Nanodegree program was don’t be afraid of learning something new. I was tasked with learning and implementing a Docker environment as my first project at my new job, and I had a great time doing it. In the end, it is not about the certificates. It all boils down to the skills you have. The Nanodegree certificate was an added bonus, but the things that helped me the most (and still do) are the concepts I learned in the Nanodegree program. Pursuing the Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree has to be one of my best decisions yet.”

What’s your 2020 resolution? “I plan to get a good grip on Angular and Python. Then, I want to start learning React. In short, be a better developer today than I was yesterday!”

Herlina S. Toler – A proud mother and a professional data analyst

Herlina S. Toler - A proud mother and a professional data analyst

We spoke to Herlina last month and, honestly, didn’t expect much to change. But, as you all know—change is the only constant.

When we reconnected with her she was super excited about an upcoming project and said,”At the last weekly meeting, my supervisor mentioned that he would like for me to work on an annual report. This is going to be a new assignment, and  I am sure it will be a good challenge for me.”

What’s in store  for 2020? “I am currently keeping an eye on more online courses and I am prepared to take another Nanodegree program which is right for me. Recently, I received an email from Udacity regarding the upcoming Pledge to America’s Workers Scholarship program. I am looking forward to it!”

Marcela Ceneviva Auslenter – From a lawyer to an iOS Developer

Marcela Ceneviva Auslenter - From a lawyer to an iOS Developer

Marcela was featured on our blog just last week. She has already planned her 2020 to-do list, which also happens to be aligned with one of the biggest technology trends. 

Here’s what she has to say. “I think the tech trend for 2020, and something I personally want to focus on in the future, is Machine Learning and AI generally. I’m aware that Udacity already has some amazing courses with ML and AI. So, I hope to start on one of those as soon as possible.”

These are just some of the students who have made us what we are today. Check out our year in review blog post to learn more about 2019 at Udacity. 

Thanks for making 2019 an amazing year! We hope it was great for you too. Want to share your story with us? Click Here.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Ritika Pradhan
Ritika Pradhan
Ritika is the Brand Communications 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.