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Udacity mentor - workforce transformation

How Mentorship Drives Learning Outcomes

I came to Udacity in 2019 after a decade of working in international education and development and seeing firsthand how access to education could be life-changing for students. 

The same is true for organizations — companies that value workforce development and invest in their employees’ skills tend to outperform those that don’t

According to IBM, the half-life of technical skills is only two and half years. In order to equip your employees with in-demand skills in areas like data science, artificial intelligence, programming and cybersecurity, you need to make sure that they’re getting the support they need in their training programs.

As Udacity’s Manager of Mentor Performance, my job is to make sure our mentors have the tools to help your employees develop, demonstrate job-ready technical skills, and that they get feedback that’s personalized, accurate, clear and thorough.

The Struggles of Self-paced Learning

Think about the last time you tried to learn something new on your own…it’s hard! Developing new skills comes with lots of trial and error and can be frustrating. 

Many students who take online courses, where they are expected to work completely independently, give up during these challenges, never actually completing their coursework or developing the skills they need to be successful.

Human Support at Critical Moments

However, at Udacity, we have a global network of more than 1,400 mentors who are always available to provide students with encouragement and support. Mentors primarily interact with students in two ways:

  • On-demand support on our 24/7 Knowledge platform so that students can get unblocked quickly 
  • Unlimited project reviews with detailed, personalized feedback that helps students further develop and demonstrate their skills

Thanks to our vast network of mentors across all time zones, questions posted to our Knowledge platform are usually answered in under an hour, and most students receive project feedback in less than 24 hours. 

Beyond simply providing corrections, mentors share tools, strategies, and resources that aren’t just useful for a particular project or Nanodegree program, but for their work as professionals. Our learners often cite the support of their mentors as a motivating factor to resubmit projects and graduate from their Nanodegree programs. 

Expert Technical Support for Your Teams

Our mentors go through a rigorous screening and application process. My team selects mentors for the expertise they have related to each project, and their performance is consistently monitored through audits and evaluation of student feedback. 

Most of our mentors are leaders in their fields — over 40% have a masters or doctorate. They work as CTOs, start-up founders, engineers, and more.

For most, mentoring at Udacity is a way to keep their skills sharp and make a positive impact by training the next generation of business leaders and technologists. 

Many mentors use personal examples from their careers to highlight how the things students are learning are directly applicable in the industry. This valuable insight helps students more quickly and effectively apply the things they learn at Udacity in their roles.

Our Mentorship Model as Compared to Other Learning Platforms’

Although many other companies claim to provide mentorship services, almost no one offers the depth and quality of support provided by our mentors. Our mentors evaluate every line of code, visualization and piece of collateral to determine whether or not the learner has met the high standards set in the project rubric. 

They highlight positive aspects of the student’s submission, provide suggestions for optimization and improvement, and note where students need to make changes (with resources and support for getting it right next time). Every student — regardless of whether or not they have passed the project — gets advice on how to continue to improve and apply their skills. 

Udacity graduates leave their Nanodegree program with immediately applicable, practitioner-level skills — ready to tackle and overcome the challenges your business faces and ready to change the world.

Learn more about Udacity’s enterprise offerings or request a demo for your organization.

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Meaghan Shanahan
Meaghan Shanahan
Meaghan is in her third year at Udacity, serving as the Manager of Mentor Performance. She has worked in education and upskilling for over a decade. After starting her career as a teacher in the US and South Korea, she transitioned to training new primary school principals in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. She believes that when you train a teacher, principal or mentor to do their job well, the benefits are exponential and world-changing.