I Cried After Completing my Nanodegree And It Was Worth It—My Udacity Journey

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash | https://unsplash.com/photos/z1d-LP8sjuI

The Start of the Journey

It’s hard to think that almost a year ago I was applying for a Nanodegree. I was not on the hunt for scholarships or looking to enroll in a bootcamp or nanodegree. I saw the opportunity on social media and almost did not apply. Afterall, I thought, I knew how to code—I had been learning to code for years! I was mostly self-taught but I was employed as an email developer. There were people with similar backgrounds as me who were struggling to find something—anything—in tech. I thought that I didn’t deserve the scholarship and this was before I even applied!

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I owed it to myself to apply. There is no good in self-selecting. After thinking about it for a few days, I took a chance and drafted an application.

The Office | You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Michael Scott (Wayne Gretzky)
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Michael Scott (Wayne Gretzky)

Since I had a background in front-end development, I took a chance and applied for the Mobile Web Specialist track. It looked like it could be challenging, but I was excited about the idea of learning dynamic front-end languages. I did not come into the scholarship with a goal except to do my best to learn from the experience. If I made it to the second phase—the full Nanodegree—amazing! If not, at least I did not self-select and would walk away knowing more about mobile web technologies than I had before.

In early January, two months after applying, I got an email. My application had been accepted! I was one of 50,000 people who had been selected for the Grow with Google scholarship. I told everyone—including my Mom. To say that I was excited was an understatement.

What Was Accomplished Along the Way

Since completing the Nanodegree, a few people have asked about my experiences in the program. I was honest. The program was more difficult than I expected. Coming into it, I knew enough Javascript to be dangerous, but ES6 was a whole new world. I had never heard of promises outside of elementary school secrets and I certainly did not know Javascript classes existed. As I worked through the course material and learned new concepts I realized there was way more to coding for the web than I realized.

Service workers? Nope. Never heard of them. IndexedDB? A database inside of the browser? No way! Lighthouse audits? Cool! I had used Chrome for years and didn’t know that tool existed just a few clicks away.

The learning curve to all those new concepts was one of my biggest hurdles. With HTML & CSS when I run into an issue, I could troubleshoot it relatively quickly. With the coursework, especially service worker, IndexdDB and promises, I was completely out of my element. Taking a break from the course material helped me to get through those hurdles. From reading Jon Duckett’s Javascript book while in jury duty or streaming Javascript videos on Youtube, I learned that it was 100% ok to look at external resources. As long as you get the concepts and can work through the problems, you are on the right track.

Web Design Books by Greg Rokozy | https://unsplash.com/photos/vw3Ahg4x1tY
Web Design Books by Greg Rokozy

My challenges with ES6 and promises meant I often got stuck when trying to add new functionality. It comes with being a developer. To be a good developer, you need to learn how to ask good questions so that you can get unstuck. You need to know how to articulate what is happening in your code, what you are expecting to happen and what you have tried so far. It helped to build my confidence in the course material to know that yes, I tried A, B, and C, but I still get XYZ error when I was expecting something else.

Doing this, also made it easier to get help from other scholarship recipients who could help to guide me to a working solution. Concepts like passing parameters between function finally clicked after talking it through with another scholarship recipient. When I finally worked through a concept, I was exhilarated! It gave me to push to keep going. If I could figure out that one bug from the day before, I can get through the project.

Reflection on your Journey

Now that I’ve completed the Nanodegree, I feel amazing!

I’m not going to lie. I cried when I saw my certification of completion. It represented over 9 months of new concepts, frustration and feeling like I would never be a real developer. But I did! This certificate and the projects that I worked on during this course help to prove that. I am a developer. Period.

Looking back, I learned a lot but also that there’s so much more to learn—that I’m ready to learn. My experience in this course has shown me I’m on the right track with learning Javascript, with React being the next item on my learning list. I also feel more confident in my technical skills now that I survived—heck, crushed—the selection process and course material. I am confident that I can jump into trying new things—I’m looking at you Python!—and be ok in the end.