How Udacity Changed my Life at 30

George Szabo
Apr 13, 2017 · 6 min read

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis

3 months ago a beautiful journey started for me. I was selected for a scholarship program, the Android Beginners path offered by Udacity and Google, which truly changed my life. This is a short story of turning your life in a new direction. A story about landing a new job in two months. A story about learning. A story about changing one’s life.

Life after 30

I have almost 10 years of professional record behind my back and I had already gained experience in a vast range of roles and positions. I’m a professional bee keeper, I am a singer-songwriter of a band, I am the founder of a volunteer group, I organize tech meetups, worked as an IT guy for Telekom and Mercedes, I tried myself as a Smart City Expert of my hometown, Debrecen, and most recently, I worked as a Sales and Marketing Manager. But to be honest, I was always missing something.

Me in some of the roles :)

Lately, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what really matters to me. I have had great career opportunities, but I refused them over and over again. Because none of them seemed to satisfy my expectations. Maybe it’s a Y generation thing, but I always wanted to experience three major elements when it came to work.

- The joy of creating something from literally nothing
- Inspiration — doing things that inspire others
- Challenges — tell me I can’t, and I will definitely prove you wrong

So, I took everything into account, and in the second half of last year, I decided to learn to code. With no prior coding experience it sounded crazy enough to give it a try. That’s when I applied for the Android Scholarship launched by Udacity. Why did I go for Android Development? Because Android is now the most popular operating system in the World with more than 1.5 billion users. I thought “I could build apps that might affect millions of people’s lives in a positive way.” Isn’t it just motivating?

Rearranging my life

What I have learned so far is that one needs to let some things go to create space for the new ones coming. That’s what I did. In January I quit my job, before I knew I was selected for the scholarship. I know, it may sound totally reckless, but I have also learned that sometimes you just need to take the risk.
I have a friend, the Invisible Programmer who suggested me to start with Java basics, so from the very first day of 2017 I started to watch a series of Stanford lectures, a whole semester of programming methodology held by Professor Mehran Sahami. And then, the email I was waiting for finally came: “Gyorgy you have been selected as a scholarship recipient!” I was sooo excited. And not just because I had been selected. I knew I will get to know incredible people and find new friends, with whom I will walk together on this path paved with excitement. AWESOME!

More than 200 likes on my post on Facebook

What these 3 Months Taught Me

I literally could not wait until the gates were opened. I started on the very first day, when the classes were available and completed the first Singe Screen App project (User Interface Class) in two days and I successfully built a Quiz App, and an animated Dragon Ball app, where you could rematch the famous battle of Goku and Frieza. Check out the promotional video.

It started as a simple box fighting app, where you could count the hits of the fighters

I also joined Gleb (Lithuania) and Stephen (the Netherlands/Denmark) to build an IT Security app, that helps you secure your OS so that you are safe from hackers. It’s not finished yet, but a few weeks and it’s out.

And this was one of the main reasons I loved this scholarship: I met great people along the way. Thousands of people were selected from almost all EU nations. It was like a cultural melting pot of open minded people with one common mission: learning Android Development. Could you imagine people from all across Europe chatting day by day on #Slack helping each other to make progress?

8,613 people in the general channel of our Slack channel. It might be a world record :)

Learning by Doing

As I made some progress with the course material, my hunger for knowledge was just getting bigger and bigger. So I decided to speed up things a little bit.

All of us have different preferences when it comes to learning. Some people like reading, some like tutorials, some like learning in groups and some like learning on their own. Me? I like learning on the job. This has been the best and fastest way for me since graduation. So in the middle of February I decided to get in contact with CodeYard, one of the application development companies in Debrecen, my home town. I told them about my plans of becoming an Android Developer and about the Udacity Scholarship and asked them if they were looking for Junior Android Devs. Bad news: they were not. Despite that, they invited me to their place, so that I can continue my scholarship there, and if I get stuck, I can ask and they help. This mentality is exactly what I am looking for when it comes to working with someone. So I insisted on working together.

I knew I was far from being a junior dev at that moment, so I came up with the idea of helping them with things I was good at, thank to my prior experiences. Before that, they had mainly Hungarian clients, so I thought I could help them go international. And they loved the idea. So the deal was, I help them with their international projects and clients, and they help me learn coding faster. Moreover, if I land projects to work on, they will be able to hire me as a full-time developer. It’s an absolute WIN-WIN. So we agreed and I started on 1st of March as a cross-functional intern. AND I LOVE IT HERE! On one hand I can do what I am good at: Business Development, and on the other hand I am at the right place to complement what I have learnt during the time of the scholarship. It could not be a more perfect match.

The scholarship ended yesterday. 1250 people will be selected for the next round, which grant full access to the Android Basics Nanodegree by Google. I don’t know if I will be selected or not, but now it would only be a plus. I am already on the right track and that is of utmost importance!

All in all, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Udacity and Google for creating a great opportunity for me and my fellow students!

Special thanks to Anaïs Bourg (Udacity Community Manager) for all the boost and positive energy, Ali Razavi, Nandan Pandya and Abhisek Raj (Forum and Slack Mentors) for all the tips and their patience, Emily Kellert for the final touches on this article and to all my fellow Hungarians, for being so extremely helpful towards each other during the scholarship, hope to see you in the next round.


Me on my first day in my new role @CodeYard HQ

George Szabo

Written by

Android Developer @

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