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Bertelsmann Scholarship — Introduction to Azure Applications Nanodegree Program. Phase I

More than a learning experience!

Katherine
CodeX
Published in
9 min readMar 15, 2021

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Photo by Erick Zajac on Unsplash

Table of Contents

  1. How I got selected for Phase 1

2. What is the “Udacity Technology Scholarship Program”?

3. What is the structure of the scholarship program?

4. Who can apply?

5. The prerequisites for Cloud Track

6. Community participation

7. Community was awesome!

8. Resources

How I got selected for Phase 1

Phase 1 is almost over and it’s time to share my experience during this time with Udacity. In the end of October of 2020, while studying at the coding bootcamp I found out regarding the “Bertelsmann Technology Scholarship Program”. All three tracks were very interesting to me so it was harder to decide which one to choose. As I was learning Fullstack Web Development I was especially interested to learn more about Cloud as it is the present and the future of Web Development and I was always intrigued by learning new technologies! As a lifelong learner, I enjoy growing and learning new things and I try to use every opportunity for that. New knowledge always expands the horizons so I decided to apply.

On December, 1st I was one of the 50,000 students selected to participate in Phase 1 and learn the fundamentals of Azure Applications. I was very excited to start this program and learn more about cloud technologies. Bertelsmann Scholarship Cloud Track gave me this opportunity. And below is the badge I received in an email saying that I was offered a seat in the Technology Scholarship Program powered by Bertelsmann.

Recipient Badge

In this blog, I will go over my experience in Phase 1 of the Bertelsmann Scholarship program but, firstly, a few words about this scholarship and it’s purpose from Bertelsmann University website.

What is the “Udacity Technology Scholarship Program”?

Over a three-year period, Bertelsmann is investing several million euros in founding as many as 50,000 tech scholarships on the education platform Udacity to strengthen peoples tech skills. The idea is to teach employees the digital skills needed for tomorrow’s job market. Specifically, the Group is funding 15,000 tech scholarships annually for Udacity Challenge Courses. In addition, the top ten percent of participants will receive a scholarship for a full Nanodegree in their selected subject area.
The scholarship program is aimed equally at beginners (basic computer skills are recommended) and experienced programmers. It focuses on three tech learning paths:

  • Cloud, i.e. applications for online-based IT infrastructures
  • Data, i.e. applications for the analysis and interpretation of large volumes of data
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), i.e. applications related to machine learning and intelligent algorithms

What is the structure of the scholarship program?

As the scholarship consists of three different learning paths (Cloud, Data, AI) the participants have to decide for which learning path they would like to apply. Each learning path consists of two phases:

Phase 1: Challenge Course
During the first phase of this scholarship, the student is provided with an access to an introductory Challenge Course for 3.5 months. Applicants should be prepared to invest about 3-5 hours per week during this period. The scholarship recipients participating in this initial phase of the program will be part of a robust student community where they can engage with and receive support from their classmates.

Phase 2: Full Nanodegree programs
The top ten percent of participants will receive a scholarship for a full Nanodegree in their chosen subject area. Access to these Nanodegree programs includes expert project reviews, mentorship, and community support. Applicants should be prepared to invest about 5-10 hours per week for the 6 months of the program

Who can apply?

All Bertelsmann employees, as well as the external general public, who want to expand their Cloud, Data and AI skills and are at least 18 years old may apply for this “Udacity Technology Scholarship Program.” The prerequisites for each learning path vary and will be explained in the descriptions of the tracks. Applicants should be prepared to invest about 3–5 hours per week during the Challenge Course and about 5–10 hours per week during the Nanodegree programs.

The prerequisites for Cloud Track

A well-prepared learner has:

  • At least 1–3 years of web development experience, preferably programming in Python.
  • Experience creating and managing databases such as SQL Server or PostgreSQL.
  • Comfortability using Git as a version control system to clone, pull, or push code.
  • A free or existing Azure account, needed to create and provision Azure services.

At the university I learned Pascal, Assembler, Delphi, C/C++, C#, .Net ASP, etc. My bootcamp curriculum covered Ruby, Ruby on Rails, JavaScript and React. I’m glad that the prerequisites did not scare me away as in the beginning I wasn't sure that I’m totally aligned with the requirements but I like to challenge myself and grow. My university and bootcamp were challenging experiences but they taught me how to learn. From thinking that Azure is too complex for beginners, to just being able to create and deploy multiple servers, face verification projects, deploying APIs and creating databases, I surely have come a long way. I’m really grateful to Udacity and Bertelsmann for awarding me the scholarship.

Community participation

Community participation was highly encouraged as it is one of the decisive factors selecting the top ten percent of participants receiving a scholarship for a full Nanodegree. The events listed below along with Slack participation are formally counted towards community participation:

❓Weekly AMAs

A chance to ask any non-technical questions you have about the scholarship program! It’s a great opportunity to interact with the community managers twice a week.

🙋 Student Leaders — AI Track | Data Track | Cloud Track

Beginning of Phase 1 we were given an opportunity to apply for a student leader role filling in the form.

Student Leaders are voluntary representatives of our student community who have big hearts, great ideas, and have a strong willingness to get involved. 💖 💪

Student Leaders are made up of Channel Leaders and Tech Leaders and serve their classmates by going above and beyond — providing outstanding technical and moral support both informally and during organized events!

🗓 60 Days of Udacity

A spin on #100DaysofCode! Pledge to spend 30 minutes studying every day for 60 days. Make studying a habit and keep yourselves (and your peers!) accountable.

Code or practice the topics of the Foundation Course for 30 minutes EVERYDAY.

I joined the #60daysofUdacity slack channel and daily posted a short announcement in the #60daysofUdacity channel, summarizing my daily work progress and noted which day I am on.

I encouraged and supported students daily by leaving an emoji under someone’s posts or replying to them directly.❤️🤝

60 Days of Udacity, not only helped me to be consistent with the learning process but also helped me to remember and celebrate what I was able to achieve during the day every day. It kept me motivated and I was inspired by other students’ routines and very often it gave me an idea of what and how to study. I felt as I had mentors and friends inspiring me on every step of the way. Hundreds of students from all over the world were trying to improve themselves and lift others up along the way providing help or sharing the knowledge. After I completed the challenge I received a badge but I didn’t stop on the 60th and kept going till the end of Phase 1.

#60daysofUdacity Badge

👩‍🏫 Study Groups — AI Track | Data Track | Cloud Track

Study groups allow to build deeper connections with your peers and gain the additional support you may need to complete the foundational course. Many students create study groups specific to their region and have regular meet ups!

I also did! I organized meetings for fun, prepared technical webinars myself and collaborated with others or invited other students to give a speech. I enjoyed preparing webinars after getting familiar with the material and shared with others. The webinars helped me to practice my public speech skills. In study groups I shared useful resources I found along my learning journey.

📔 Study Smarts Week

During this week community manager posted tips each day to help us stay motivated and focused while studying!

📚Student Stories

It was one of the most inspiring initiatives as I was truly touched by fellow stories and this community organized activity gave us opportunity to Learn about some of classmate’s journey and what it was that brought them to Udacity, yet we were able to read only top 10 selected stories. Out of over 90 of the amazing Student Stories I was honored to be among the finalists and be selected by the community and be part of top 5 stories!

We wrote how we came to Udacity and what we hoped to do with our new found skills!

Every student who submitted their story would have a chance of being featured on the Bertelsmann Technology Scholarship Site. The Top 5 stories from each track could be featured on Udacity and the Bertelsmann team! ✨

🚀 Study Jam

A vibrant, fun marathon study session where everyone works to complete the foundations course!

An activity where everyone could find a place to express their talents, share the knowledge or help volunteering. The range of activities was so wide from creating and hosting our own webinars, make life lesson walkthroughs, help with flyers, volunteer for tech channels and announcements. Some students created various games and quizzes and a-lot of fun activities happened, Study Jam Slack channel was vibrant for a duration of a 24 hour period. It was so much fun that we decided to have a second one. It was also a great time to ask all our questions as expert students were standing by to help everyone.

For the study jams I prepared webinars on Python and second one was on “10 facts about Azure and SAP” along with the flyers.

🤝 Mentor/Mentee Program

The Student Mentorship Program requires dedication time and effort on everyone’s part, but it is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding journey.

We could enroll as a Mentee to receive mentorship or enroll as a Mentor and help students to finish the Challenge coursework by March 15th deadline. For a Mentor — this is not only a GREAT way to give back to the program but one of the best ways to reinforce what you have learned!

🎁 New Community Program: TBD (Size Byte Gallery 🎨)

It was a surprise activity at the end of Phase I. Some of the best ways to retain what I’ve learned are through applying it to a task and teaching someone else the same concept.

In this challenge, it was a mix of both! We were asked to create a simple “card” that breaks down a concept from the Foundation course. These cards can hold a visual graphic, chart, infographic, notes, or a video!

All our cards we uploaded to Notion Gallery!

📝 Midpoint Survey and👨‍💻End of Program Survey

The opportunity to express your opinion about your experience in the program. The survey was for the Udacity Community Team to gauge our experience in the scholarship program so far. The survey was taken into account as we geared up for the second half of the scholarship program and for future scholarships.

🔄 Reverse AMAs

In this AMA, our roles are reversed! The community manager was asking us questions about our experience in the scholarship program throughout the hour.

🎉 End of Program Party: Friday, March 12th

The celebration of the (near) end of the program! Throughout the hour, community managers were sharing fun facts and our personal highlights from the scholarship program. This event was open for all 3 tracks. It was a wholesome party!

Community was awesome!

I enjoyed the practical content of the course as practice makes it perfect and I was able to get familiar with Microsoft Azure GUI and corresponding CLI commands. Although this scholarship has been more than a learning experience! It gave us opportunities to learn from others and help others, practice communication skills, be active and creative.

I think the requirement to get into the next phase is wise as it requires people to be active in the slack group and whenever you’ve got stuck completing a lesson you could get help within hours from fellow students. Slack community gave me an opportunity to connect with like-minded and talented people from all over the world who are trying to achieve similar goals.

The community has been awesome! Always kind, patient and very positive community managers made the whole experience even more amazing! From not knowing anything about cloud to organizing events for enthusiasts like me, it was all because of the support that I received from the Bertelsmann Cloud track community. Along the way, I am absolutely inspired by the international community of students that has been very supportive and encouraging. It has been a great experience!

Resources

📖 https://bertelsmann-university.com/individual-campus/program-information/udacity-technology-scholarship-program.html?fbclid=IwAR3Jk2SzbhcgNXlN3692mc0wsi-VW2o_zgkC-jILpJ-aJ-Cpcqxk0mVKRrQ

📖 https://www.udacity.com/course/cloud-developer-using-microsoft-azure-nanodegree--nd081

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