Getting the Udacity Scholarships: The Breakthrough

Source: Deep Learning on Medium

Getting the Udacity Scholarships: The Breakthrough

Taken from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Udacity_logo.png

In my previous story regarding how I master the AI programming within 1 year, I mentioned on how Udacity and its community help me a lot. As there are about 15000 scholars around the world got accepted to enroll in Bertelsmann Udacity Scholarship Phase 1, and some of them asked me in LinkedIn, “how did you get that”? So, I am going to answer these questions in this story. This article is not just for those who got accepted for Phase 1 but also for those who want to apply for Udacity scholarships in the future.

First of all, what is Udacity scholarships and where to find it?
Browse through the Udacity scholarships page and register to get notify for future opportunities. Udacity often partners with big companies to sponsor nanodegree programs for students around the world. By the time this article is written, the Intel Edge AI Scholarship is still open for application. If you are a beginner in AI and would like to understand how AI works with IOT, you may want to apply for this scholarship,

Second, how to write a good Udacity scholarships application?
This is just my own opinion, I am not their scholarships application reviewer. There are 3 steps you need to complete:
1. Your background — be precise and honest with your answers.
2. Knowledge test — If you don’t know the answer, google and study first before answering it.
3. Essays — The questions are usually why you want this scholarship and how this scholarship helps you in your future career. They also asked about your previous projects experience. When I was a student, I answered that as a student, I have limited funding to fund my study. But when I am not a student, as a fresher, I also answered the same. I think the most important part is why you want this scholarship? The common answer is for my future career development. This is too common. You should think if you are the Udacity reviewer and you are the sponsor, why do you want to choose this student? In Facebook scholarship, I think they want to increase the usage of their own library, PyTorch, and that will be the main reason why they give out the scholarships. So, you should say, “I would like to use the knowledge I gain in this nanodegree for the improvement of human’s life, the well-being of society”. If it is Facebook, you can write, “Facebook helps me connect with others, PyTorch, being developed by Facebook is a very useful library to help novices to apply the deep learning knowledge in many domains.” You should research more on the sponsors, Udacity and the course you are going to take to write a good essay.

Third, once you get accepted to the Challenge (Phase 1), what should you do to get selected to the Nanodegree (Phase 2)?
1. Finish all the lessons — Answer the quizzes, check if there is a check button in the lessons.
2. Slack participation — Try to become channel / technical moderator / student leader. But, by becoming a moderator you are not guarantee to get the nanodegree. I didn’t get the Computer Vision Nanodegree of Secure and Private AI Challenge, although I was invited (selected) as technical moderator. I think the reason must be my essays was very bad and I just particpate as the moderator, but not to the whole community. I was the Student Leader for women-techmakers and the organizer of Japan study group when I was in PyTorch Udacity Challenge. At that time, I also give the webinar on postgraduates, join the webinars, study jams and meetups. I was a student at that time, although I was busy preparing for my Ph.D dissertation viva, I still have time to do this. That’s maybe the reason I got accepted to the Phase 2 and until the Phase 3.
3. Essays — Back to your application form.

Forth, how to manage my time to finish the challenge and be active in Slack?
If you are a student or a freelancer or a job hunters or on your break, wow, you are lucky enough! Because you have plenty of time for yourself!
Even when I was a student and now as working people, I usually spend 2 nights on my weekdays for self-study including this Udacity. I normally spend Saturday for outings and hang outs with friends and family, my Sunday will be house chores and self-study. You need to have a timeline. You can choose to be running in a marathon, like one week to finish all the lessons (take a long holiday for this) or you can do it slowly, finish it within 1–2 months, then focus on contribute to Slack community. You should check the Slack everyday, ignore the not-so-important or not-so-interesting unread messages, focus to join more on meetups either online or onsite, and answer questions in tech-help.

The suggestion schedule is as follows.

Weekdays:
Morning, while commuting to work/college — read the Slack messages, especially the announcements channel.
Evening, back from work/college — spend at least an hour in 2–3 days to look at the lessons and understand it. After all, you join this scholarship to study and gain new knowledge.
Weekends:
Saturday — Spend time with family/friends/yourself.
Sunday — House chores and at least 2 to 3 hours taking the lessons, join the meetups.

What if the meetups and webinars are during early morning or late night?
Identify people who are in the same time zone as you (same country) to have a virtual or onsite meetup, approach them first. Ask for recordings if they have that.
Ask questions that you don’t know in appropriate channel. But first, search if the questions have been asked or not.

Fifth, is it worth to spend your time to earn Udacity scholarships and get the Nanodegree?
1. Udacity Scholars community helps me a lot in my life. Connections and meet new people — I got to become Women in AI Ambassador and know about it from here. I got invited to give a talk for Women Who Code events from someone that I meet during the online meetups here. I got referral to join their companies from here. I got to know lots of wonderful people, like someone who has cancer but still want to give back to society, someone who is disabled but still have the desired to learn, someone who is so busy juggling between personal and working life but still keen to learn. I got so many information on scholarships and job openings here. I learn about Kaggle, Google Colaboratory and Medium from here. I met someone who wants to collaborate in Kaggle here. I got lots of new friends here. I was so amazed being surrounded by people who loves to study here!

In other words, Udacity change my social life so much.

2. The Nanodegree projects are worth for industry and job huntings! I learn how to use GitHub here. I improved my LinkedIn profile until got noticed by Google recruiter here. I improved my resume until it become very impressive enough. The projects are easy to understand, challenging and interesting. The courses’ coaches are from well-known people in this industry. It is explained very well step-by-step with further references attached at the bottom of the video. Dr. Ian Goodfellow taught us GAN in deep learning Nanodegree, Andrew Trask taught the Secure and Private AI, Luis Serrano taught the machine learning parts. I am now using the free courses in Udacity and made it compulsory for my current students to take it as their homeworks.

So, how was it? Does this article answers your questions?

Btw, if you are in the Bertelsmann Challenge, I am one of the technical moderator that appear in the orientation slides. 😉

Taken from Udacity Bertelsmann Technology Scholarship Orientation Slides.

(Disclaimer: I am not working with Udacity and Udacity didn’t pay me for promoting this, this is just a sharing of my experience as one of the Udacity scholars)

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