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Are Udacity nanodegrees worth it for finding a job?

Discussion in 'Hot Topics from Quora' started by Quora Feeds, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. Quora Feeds

    Quora Feeds Member


    Allan Hui

    While online degrees are getting some attention, I think it's still at the "early adopter" stage. The efficacy of your nanodegree will depend on:
    1. The requirements and scope of the role (obviously).
    2. Whether the company's HR has any guidelines for how to evaluate online degrees. Some companies will have very stringent guidelines that even hiring managers might not be able to bypass. Startups tend to not care as much.
    3. Who else is applying to the position. If others have a formal/traditional degree, you might be at a disadvantage unless their degree and work experience have zero relevance to data analysis.
    Assuming you get the degree, and everything works in your favor above, you should be able to get to the phone screen. Then it's less about the degree, but how you've applied your skills. Make sure that while you're pursuing the degree, you're constantly working on projects - especially projects outside of class. There is so much data on the internet that are accessible, think how you'd process them to find insights. (Check out reddit's dataisbeautiful sub-reddit and see what insights people are sharing). Think about creating a blog/portfolio to share your analysis and insights.

    Even better is doing pro-bono work at a non-profit to help them optimize their operation - eg. if they use mass mailers to fundraise, could the mailers be more targeted to increase response rate and cut down postage? If so, who should they target? Key is to run projects that make an impact. Find something that gets executed on so that you know the results. Then you've got real solid examples for the interviews.

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  2. Quora Feeds

    Quora Feeds Member


    Paul Miller

    I am currently enrolled in Udacity's iOS Nanodegree. In the context of what they offer, I feel that the price is very much worth it.

    You get a number of very well written courses, taught by leaders in industry and education. You get practical projects that lead to a portfolio showcasing the skills you have learned. OK, you get that for free, what do you get if you pay?

    You get dedicated course coaches to answer your questions. Forums and chat rooms to interact with others in your cohort. A peer group of great people all working towards the same goal. Code reviews to tell you where you are going right and wrong. Career advice and direction. Certification of your efforts. Once you graduate (and even before) Udacity will market you to industry on your behalf, if you want them to.

    Personally, I think getting all this for $200 a month is a bargain. And charging for it helps separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of who the students are.

    If you are really quick, they have a special offer on for the next few hours where you get 50% of your tuition fee back when you graduate. That is a seriously good deal.

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  3. Quora Feeds

    Quora Feeds Member


    Seth Weidman

    ★★★★★
    I'm three months in to Udacity's 10 month data analyst nanodegree program. I have found it to be extremely well-designed and thought-through; it is as good of an online program as I have come across.

    Pros

    As with other Udacity courses, the content itself is excellent. Clearly the makers of the individual courses have thought backwards from "What do we want our students to know?" all the way through to how best to teach the students the content.

    The lectures are engaging. The exercises are at an appropriate level of difficulty and are well-motivated. Each of the five projects you'll complete as part of the nanodegree is interesting, instructive, and would make a good addition to a GitHub portfolio.

    Joe Falkson also vouches for the quality of another Udacity degree program here: Is it worth paying for a data analyst nanodegree?

    What really sets Udacity's program apart from others (like Coursera's), however, is the support they give you outside of just teaching data science skills. They set up "office hours" where you can ask questions about the nanodegree, provide resources on how to conduct informational interviews, and identify data science sites that those looking to break into the industry should read frequently. In addition the user community is robust and helpful.

    Overall, I haven't felt lost, I feel like I can get help when I've needed it, and I have felt motivated to continue.

    Cons

    The nanodegree program, along with all nontraditional certification programs (such as the Coursera Data Science Specialization, which I have also complete all the classes for), is unproven. Employers may simply not know enough about the program to trust it yet over, say, the University of Washington program that another poster mentioned. So, as much as I like the program, I don't think there's evidence yetto support a claim that completing the degree is guaranteed to get you a job as a data analyst at a tech firm.

    Still, if any company can overcome this problem and get employers to take its certifications seriously, it will probably be Udacity. It is one of the more mainstream online certification programs - Marco Rubio mentioned Udacity by name it in an interview on The Daily Show a few weeks ago - and their instructors by and large are people who come from the kind of places that Udacity students want to work, like Facebook and AirBNB.

    More on this topic here: How seriously are Udacity nanodegrees taken in the industry? Are the hiring managers for tech firms able to shed any light?

    And of course, the cost. Access to nanodegree content is $200/month, and the program takes about 10 months to complete, for a total cost of around $2,000.

    Who would benefit most from it

    I work in strategy consulting - now internally for a credit card company - so I have very little programming experience in my job (though I have a lot from working on MOOCs), though I have a background in statistics and a solid quantitative foundation. The program therefore will actually take me 10 months; on the other hand, it will all be new programming knowledge and techniques that build off of the analytic foundation I have already. If you have a background similar to this, the program is good for you, though it will take you the full 10 months.

    If you're already an experienced programmer, and have a GitHub repository full of projects, you can actually just complete the five projects, pay for a couple months of the nanodegree, and get the certification from Udacity -that's all you have to do the complete the degree. Or, you could just start applying to tech jobs!

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