What I learned about life after taking a Udacity Nanodegree program…

Six months ago I started Udacity’s Tech Entrepreneur Nanodegree program. I learned everything I had expected to — like how to monetize my idea, how to create exciting & interactive prototypes via tools like InVision, and how to hire a suitable creative team. With each project I completed I learned more and more about how to bring my idea (in this case, an app) to life!

However, after graduating this week, I realized it was the things I learned that I hadn’t expected that have me revved up to start another Nanodegree program today.

  1. Confidence is key. Just like anything in life, confidence plays a big role, and online learning is no different. When I started the Nanodegree program I would tell myself, “you aren’t an entrepreneur & probably won’t ever be one,” but through talking with the Udacity coaches, other students, and learning the course content, I was able to see that the biggest difference between entrepreneurs and myself was that they had the confidence to act on their ideas. Many well-known entrepreneurs are interviewed in the Nanodegree program and each one talks about how they failed many times before they succeeded…and the reason they are successful is because they had the confidence to keep trying after failure.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In traditional school you can raise your hand or look at your friend’s text book to see what page the class is on — but in online learning, sometimes it can feel like an apocalypse has occurred & somehow you are the lucky, lone survivor. This was not the case with Udacity! Anytime I needed help, advice, or just to go over my ideas with another human being, I was able to reach out to the Udacity Coaches via “1 on 1” appointments. These meetings directly bridge the gap between traditional butt-in-seat schooling and New Age online education. The ability to video chat with a coach made me feel like I was truly a part of something — and it prevented me from reaching an often inevitable educational “point break.”
  3. Make time for yourself. If you are already settled in a career (like myself) it can be hard to justify setting aside time to learn. But let me tell you…aside from eating healthy & working out, it is the best thing you can do for yourself! Consider your “learning time” as time for you — book a little time each day to learn — then guard that time like you would guard family time or vacation time. You are worth it!
  4. Just do it. If you are like me and went through a traditional schooling system, then you probably have the mindset that you need a reason or a predictable outcome for why you should learn something. This way of thinking is ridiculous. Don’t judge why you are learning — just do it . There doesn’t always have to be a specific outcome or purpose for learning new content. It’s ok to learn something new, just for you. But hey, if you do need to learn something in order to get a job, Udacity’s Careers Team is ready to get you hired.
  5. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Technically, I learned this from my dad, but it was made true when completing my Nanodegree program. Some days you get discouraged & other days you feel like you could conquer the world — no matter what kind of day it is, always keep the larger picture in mind. Truly learning is all about focusing on the bigger goals at hand like, “I want to learn!” vs. “I want to complete my project by 6pm.” If you commit to “saddling up” for the long haul — you won’t regret it in the end.

With my newfound skills, I am excited to get started on the Ruby Programming Nanodegree program….why? Because I want to keep learning.

What do you want to learn?

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