Google-sponsored Android Developer Nanodegree - A Journey
My Nano-steps towards dreams and how I landed my first-ever scholarship.
Speak to someone who is living their dream, and they will tell you that they wish they didn’t have to sleep.
It was the start of 2018. Udacity along with Google had announced Web and Mobile scholarship for 30,000 Indians. After having worked with Android for the major part of my programming journey, I was on the lookout for an opportunity that could transform my career prospects and make me a better developer. I applied immediately!
Challenge Course →
The acceptance email came in on 7th of February 2018 and I was quite excited with the chance to improve on my existing Android skills. 5000 students were selected from a large pool for the Intermediate Android Developer track and we had to undergo a 3-month Challenge Course.
The selected students received a badge to showcase their achievement on social networks.
The Challenge Course had 2 main focus points —
- Completing 100% of the course i.e. parts of the 1st module of the Nanodegree.
- Interacting with the community which included helping fellow students, building connections, and networking with each other.
The 3-month Challenge Course ran from 14th of February to 14th of May 2018. After completing the majority of the course quickly, there was a lot of focus on collaborative projects. This ensured that the developers got enough experience working in a team and got familiar with GitHub as a Version Control System. In addition, student moderators hosted topic-wise quizzes every week.
The interaction with the community and working on collaborative projects (both design and development) along with my semester exams was quite difficult towards the end of the course. I used to work on the projects during study breaks and after coming home from exams. Finally, the challenge ended and we had to wait for around a week for the final selection of students to the Android Developer Nanodegree Scholarship. 150 students were to be selected from the pool of 5000 for the Android Developer Nanodegree.
It was the 23rd of May 2018, when the selection emails for the Nanodegree were supposed to be rolled out. Having never received any scholarship before, I was clearly nervous. But then it came. The email. At 1950 hours. It said - “Akshansh, congratulations! You’ve been selected for a Google India Nanodegree scholarship.”
I was overjoyed, jumping up and down the house and really glad that I made it! I informed my parents, my friends, and shared the news on social media. The wishes started pouring in. And I couldn’t stop smiling. It was a game changer!
There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.
Nanodegree Course Applications →
The cohort started on 29th of May 2018 and we had 6 months to complete the course and attain the Nanodegree. Below is the link to the article where I provide a walkthrough of the initial projects. The article was also published in one of the leading blog accounts on Medium.
Continuing the journey, the next application I built was Garnish - a recipe app, that included video tutorials retrieved from the links. This taught us how to handle raw varied incoming data from sources, handling state on rotation, building for tablets, and a lot more core Android lessons.
The next two applications were quite simple and easy to implement. In the 5th one, we learned about Gradle builds, developing and maintaining libraries for modular codes, and connecting to Google Cloud Endpoints. While the next one was about creating a seamless User Experience by incorporating Material Design into our apps. This one was one of my favorite modules where I learned about topics right from Surfaces to Bold Design, from Motion in apps to Adaptive Design, and more. The Capstone Project was an event planning application named Kwik.
Kwik is an ad-hoc event planning application that provides assistance and helps overcome the inertia of creating, discussing, and attending events.
Challenges Won →
The scholarship program for Udacity Nanodegree is a little different from the normal ones because of a number of challenges and greater participation within the community. There were a few challenges I participated in and to my surprise, I was among the top in a few out of 150 students!
Won the Course Completion Challenge and the Knowledge Hunt Challenge during the course!
Won the 2nd Project Completion Challenge and stood 3rd in the first Knowledge Hunt Challenge. The contents of the Goodie Bag won.
You need to do things. Not enough people do things.
Extra-curricular Work →
During the Nanodegree course, we had access to “AMA Sessions” (Ask Me Anything) every week on our Slack community, where students would ask general questions about the scholarship program (not tech related). I observed that there were a lot of redundant questions being asked every week related to the course which I thought weren’t productive either for the moderators or the students.
I needed an excuse to build something for the community and this was a perfect opportunity!
So, I built a Google Assistant Action which aimed to decrease the redundancy of general questions being asked. Other than decreasing the intent for similar questions, users wouldn’t have to wait for weekly AMA sessions or for a long time to get a response back from others. The moderator, Akshit Jain, was pretty supportive and impressed when I showed him the action. It was then promoted in every session for 2 to 2.5 months before I no longer could maintain it due to time constraints. Want to check it out? just head over to the Assistant app and say —
“Talk to GIS Robo” OR “Ask GIS Robo about Nanodegree Scholarships”
One of the posts where the action was promoted -
And finally I graduated on the 7th of October 2018. A hearty “Thank You” to each and every one of the instructors, Udacity personnel, classmates, moderators, and anyone else I’ve missed.
The Nanodegree Graduation Certificate.
The journey through the scholarship has been incredible!
I’ve found a great community of developers with varied specializations but a concentrated mindset to learn & grow and make the world a better place. Also, a new-found confidence to overcome any obstacle through the art of Lifelong Learning. 2018 has been an amazing year full of experiences that has molded me into a better developer. Looking forward to having a more established 2019!