- Udacity is an online learning platform with over a million users.
- Udacity has partnered with public organizations to advance people’s careers in tech.
- Udacity graduates tell Insider how the bootcamp helped them get promoted at work.
Melissa Kovach has worked in media for over seven years, but had to make a difficult decision: In an industry that is rapidly going digital, should she take out more loans to pursue higher education? Kovach avoided the costly move thanks to a partnership between online learning service Udacity and the state of Ohio.
Udacity, started by Sebastian Thrun, the former head of Google’s autonomous car project, recently partnered with government agencies to attract more people into the tech. Earlier this year, the company began working with the Center of Rural Innovation and is now partnering with the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio and OhioMeansJobs to train Ohioans in key tech skills, with tuition covered.
Insider spoke to Kovach and other graduates of Udacity’s “nanodegree” program, a three-month training program, about how they made the transition to technology.
Kovach found Udacity through a Facebook ad, where Udacity advertised technology courses in partnership with OhioMeansJobs, a public program for Ohio job seekers. Attracted by the courses covered, the convenience and the skills taught, she decided to learn more about the technical aspects of digital marketing, such as paid advertising and content management.
After completing the program, Kovach brought more search engine strategies to her current job and said she got a raise for her efforts. According to a 2020 survey of 128,000 graduates of Udacity’s Nanodegré program, half of the participants achieved a median salary increase of 33%.
“My college classes – obviously I learned a lot, but a lot of it isn’t so relevant anymore,” Kovach said. “You learn a lot of the basics, but not so much application because at university it was never a thing. That’s the advantage of online learning platforms, they can change in real time.”
Kovach’s journey follows a similar path to other Udacity graduates, which is in part supported by GV, the VC arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. Although Udacity clients, Theresa Newman and Nikitha Gullapalli, are not part of Udacity’s public scholarship program, they also found that a traditional four-year college degree did not adequately prepare them for the necessary career transitions they wanted to make into tech.
Newman has been a front-end developer for over 20 years and used Udacity to learn React, a popular web development framework. As a developer in the dot-com era, she wanted to update her skills in programming languages and frameworks that quickly became essential in application development.
“When I started, employers were really looking for a bachelor’s degree. Now when I go to developer groups, like Girls Who Code, I see how much more common bootcamps and alternative paths to technology are,” said Newman, who has been promoted to Senior Web Developer at Haymarket Media.
Gullapalli tried different careers: she studied computer science, was a hardware engineer and then a web developer, before becoming a pastry chef in a restaurant. However, thanks to Udacity, she became passionate about mobile development.
“I logged into Android because we use apps all the time and wanted to develop something that I could use on a daily basis,” Gullapalli said.