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Words of Wisdom from Recent Nokia + Blacks In Technology Nanodegree Scholarship Graduates

Nokia, Blacks in Technology Foundation, and Udacity partnered in Fall 2021 to provide free Nanodegree scholarships to help increase educational and professional opportunities in technology for the Black community while closing the divide between the numbers of tech jobs available and that starts with ensuring a robust pipeline of trained, talented Black tech professionals.

Black people are dramatically underrepresented in the tech industry, which comprises some of the highest growth, most in-demand careers. Black people make up only 3% of employees in the top 75 Silicon Valley tech companies.

What is the Nokia + Blacks in Technology Nanodegree Scholarship Program?

Nokia, Blacks in Technology Foundation, and Udacity are partnering to provide 302 free scholarships to help increase educational and professional opportunities for the Black community.

The scholarship was created to close the skills gap for the Black community and increase diversity in tech roles by creating a pipeline of qualified candidates in desirable fields such as Cloud DevOps Engineer, AI Programming with Python, Java Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms, and Intermediate Python.

Participants create their own study schedules and can learn at their own pace.Udacity understands students have different schedules and work on their course at different times and on different days so the classroom is open 24 hours.

Meet the Nanodegree Scholarship Graduates

I recently had the pleasure of  interviewing four graduates from this scholarship cohort to get their viewpoint and discuss their Udacity learning journey.  They spoke about how their Nanodegree programs provide more clarity in their career goals, how the global community expanded their views, and they all made new friends around the world.

  • Angel is located in the Southwestern US and has completed the Intermediate Python Nanodegree.  Angel was pleased with all the new skills he learned from the projects and working with his cohort that could be transferred into the workplace.
  • Delisha is located in the Northwestern US, is well-traveled, and has moved around the world extensively. Delisha completed the AI Programming with Python Nanodegree. She enjoyed the global community and learned more about time management and planning.
  • Owoeye is located in Africa and was very active in the Slack channel, helping his peers with questions and projects.  He was also the first to complete his AI Programming with Python Nanodegree track. 
  • Khaled is located in the Northeastern US and completed that AI Programming with Python Nanodegree.  He credits  his Udacity journey to his interest in AI and machine learning. Khaled was also already working through the Android Nanodegree program when he learned about the Nokia/BIT scholarship program.  He is gainfully employed at Nokia and shared that his Nanodegree programs have had a great impact on how he currently manages challenges in the workplace.

What was the best part of the Nanodegree scholarship program?

  • Angel: “I enjoyed the structure the Nanodegree provided, the ability to go at my own pace to learn, and how the final project tied everything together. The videos and the project reinforced my learning and tied together the skills and data. The mentors were very helpful and supportive.”
  • Delisha: “Having access to interactive information, resources about the subject matter.  The knowledge center, mentors, and community managers (David/Juliana) are helpful if you get stuck or need help.”
  • Owoeye: “I was very active in the Slack channel and helped my peers with questions and projects. Udacity has a unique way of teaching their students, I’ve taken courses in the past with both Udemy and Coursera. Udacity’s instructors are interesting and give real life scenarios and break down complex concepts into simple ways. Peer learning is great and helps you in real work situations.”
  • Khaled: “I found the resources included with the scholarship program along with the community managers were the best part of the scholarship. The Ask Me Anything sessions, quality topics, and videos helped to solidify the concepts learned.”

What was the most challenging part of the Nanodegree scholarship program?

  • Angel: “Making the time and commitment to learn the material.  You have to sit down and do the projects. If you don’t make time to be involved in the community, you will miss a big part of the experience, your cohort is there to help you succeed.  Find some accountability partners who will help keep you on track.”
  • Delisha: “The capstone projects were very challenging and really push you to understand the material in order to learn the concepts. Watch the videos and don’t try to take a shortcut.”
  • Owoeye: “The most challenging part was carving out time to do the projects to learn the concepts. The projects help you for future projects and help you to gain more knowledge. Also, making time to DO the work – I did a little bit every day. The length of the Nanodegree is on target if you are serious about the program.  I did these and I was the first in my cohort to finish and I was able to help my fellow peers.”
  • Khaled: “Completing all the projects, videos, exercises were challenging but helped teach concepts. You have to manage and plan your time to complete everything within the allotted deadlines.”

What did you take away from your experience in the Nanodegree scholarship program?

  • Angel: “No matter what level you come into the course, there is always something to learn.  Be committed to learning and if you want to get the most out of the program you need to do the projects to get the full scope of learning.”
  • Delisha: “Make sure you plan properly for the months ahead to complete the program on time. You have to set time aside in your schedule and commit to it.  Take advantage of the resume, LinkedIn and GitHub services, which will help you advance in your career.”
  • Owoeye: “My key takeaway was learning the difference between individual work vs group work. My cohort helped me to learn and was a great support system when I got stuck.  If you get stuck, remind yourself of WHY you are doing the ND; it will keep you going and help you stay motivated.”
  • Khaled: “I gained more confidence at work writing Python software code. I learned concepts that helped me write, implement, and organize my code, which prepared me for my current role with Nokia. Learning within a group encourages a sense of community and encouragement. My cohort and community managers kept me motivated and on track when I got stuck. A diverse global cohort has helped me to be a better team player at work and expand my view of the world.”

What piece of advice would you share with someone thinking about applying to a Nanodegree scholarship program?

  • Angel: “Know your “why” before taking a Nanodegree and if you have the time to commit to learning.  Schedule your time to focus on your Nanodegree.”
  • Delisha: “If you have been thinking about changing careers or enhancing your current skill set, Udacity is the perfect platform to do this.  You will learn hands-on concepts that will help you to be confident in your role.  The Nanodegrees offer so much outside of just online learning, you should apply to any scholarship program that will help advance your career. Don’t hesitate to take that next step.”
  • Owoeye: “It takes 2 weeks to create a habit, if you make a plan and persist – you will meet your goals. The cohort community helps you to stay focused and stay on track. You’ll find accountability in engaging in your community.”
  • Khaled: “Apply for the scholarship program – it’s free and will change your life.  Many places charge a large amount of money for a fraction of what you will get.  This is an incredible opportunity and the resources and community are priceless. To be successful, you have to manage your time. Just an half an hour daily keeps you engaged, helps you stay on track to graduate, and in your future career goals.  It’s a no brainer if you want to upskill your career.”

Ready to Upskill and Brighten Your Future?

Most companies are prioritizing becoming more digital, focusing many new projects on digital transformation. In fact, studies show in the coming year, there will be $2.4 trillion in global spending toward digital transformation projects.

Upskill with one of Udacity’s scholarship programs, and completely change careers on your own time, from the comfort of your own home. There’s never been a better time to digitally upskill and move into a fulfilling and well-paid career in tech.

Monique Roberts
Monique Roberts
Monique is on the Marketing team at Udacity. When she's not writing or creating new content, she enjoys photography, traveling, and exploring new restaurants.