Google Developer Scholarship - a great opportunity to become a developer

Become a developer

You want to become a developer. I encourage you to look for new opportunities.

I don’t have a job at the moment. The scholarship is still going on. I’m learning every day and having fun in the while. The main goal is always the same: to become a professional web developer. Keep that in mind. Always. Be persistent. Be patient.

If you are still in doubt, continue to read. What follows is my story with this scholarship.

What is it?

The Google Developer Scholarship is a program sponsored by Google and taught by Udacity. Together, they have one mission: to reach out as many people as possible and promote code learning. In fact this program is available for residents in EU, Russia, Israel, Egypt and my beloved Turkey.

The entire program consists of two parts:

  1. Challenge - or Phase One - and
  2. Nanodegree - or Phase Two;

The 2017/2018 edition - the one I’m participating to - consists in four learning paths:

  • Web development for beginners and intermediate
  • Android development for beginners and intermediate

A great thing about it is that this year’s edition offers more opportunities than ever before. As a matter of fact each track offered 30.000 spots:

  • 20.000 for beginners
  • 10.000 for intermediate

Then, after this initial period, only top 10% students of each track could progress to the Phase 2. It means only 10% could access the full, six months-long program.

So from the initial 60000 people only 6000 got to the second phase.

How I applied to Phase One

It was an average October afternoon. I decided to check Facebook as it had been months since last time. I’m scrolling my feed and there I read about a Google Developer Scholarship opportunity.

Application was due by October 15, 2017.

There was a big chance here. I could continue to learn web development, I thought, but with all the good that came with this. It meant persistent mentoring, a guided path, a guarantee to learn from the best.

At first, it was tough to think of a reason that would make me worthy of it.

Then I calmed down, reasoned. I made already the decision to commit to coding and don’t look back. I was well aware I would dedicate body and soul to it, if accepted. This is what makes me worthy of it, I realized. Commitment. I had nothing to lose. Everything to gain.

So I spent the preceding weeks writing, deleting and rewriting my motivational letter.

October 15th arrived and it swallowed my application letter like a hungry, green blob. They inform me the selection result would arrive via email two weeks later.

Oh gosh.

The longest two weeks of my life. There were only few, blessed moments when I was not thinking about the announcement.

With all that anxiety in my body I didn’t sleep well the night before.

This is what I experienced.

I wake up, it’s 5 AM.

I Check my email.

Nothing.

An hour goes by.

I check again.

Nothing.

Anxiety rises.

Another hour. Still nothing.

I start to rethink my existence.

The day goes on while nothing relevant comes into my inbox.

It’s 5 PM.

Exhausted, I check again a last time. Finally, there it was.

GDN rejected email

Rejected.

Homer heart attack

I could not avoid facing how sad I was about it. It was like I hit a wall with my bare face.

The most successful people met failure along the way, I thought, so I had to keep learning. I had to be strong, practice every day, all day long until I become good enough to get a job.

Two days later I see this:

GDN Phase One - Accepted email

A mistake.

I felt like Homer here, when he had a heart attack and was transition between his body and heaven.

Homer transition

To this day I imagine a scholarship selector sitting on a chair making an evil laugh a la Montgomery Burns

Mr. Burns evil laugh

What I’ve learned

This scholarship challenge altered the way I see web development.

I discovered the other side of web development: to learn together with a community. It changed the way I see team work.

And you know why? Because good folks at Udacity decided to make participation to the community compulsory.

At the beginning it bothered me because I’m introvert by nature.

I used to avoid social interaction when possible. Day by day though, I started to see the true potential behind it. I saw why Udacity wanted us to interact and help each other.

Here I learned cooperative learning, mutual help, contribution to open source project. I learned the power of improving with people is the core heart of web development. The best part of it to be honest.

If I continued to learn alone I would have been a man in a cave who had never seen the world outside.

During this experience I learned the most and quickest I ever did in my life.

I grew both as a developer and as a person.

And for that I am grateful.

My plans have changed. I don’t want to only become a professional web developer. I want also to be part of a greater reality than myself. I want to be part of a greater community. I want to live a meaningful life. I want to help other developers. I want to grow together with and connect to people around the world with code.

Together is better indeed.

There it was, Phase 1 finished. In two weeks we would have known who was going to Phase 2: the main dish.

Phase Two

On February 14th - Valentine’s Day - I received this

GDN Phase 2 - Accepted email

I love you Udacity.

I was so euphoric to read that message that I jumped all over the house. My neighbors must have thought I lost my mind.

What is different

Here is what:

  • Participation to community is not compulsory anymore. By this time everyone learned the value behind it;
  • A new, dedicated Slack workspace. Recipients from all tracks converged here. Consider that there is 10% of the original 60.000 participants. It makes things way smoother. Also, community managers have an easier job to do now;
  • Each student has a mentor who gives feedback on code, projects and the scholarship in general;
  • We can take advantage of Udacity’s career portal. It means we can receive 1 on 1 support to improve our professional profiles and prepare for interviews.
  • August 15 is the ultimate deadline to finish the program. I can’t graduate if I don’t finish all the projects by then. It makes sense: we’re talking about a scholarship after all. Based on this there are recommended deadlines to submit projects. I take them as compulsory so that I can avoid piling things up. Plus, it’s important to meet deadlines in a working environment. Once a reviewer accepts my projects I build my own version. For example, these days I’m building my own portfolio.

What is new

We are already almost month into it and I am so excited for the weeks to come. There are initiatives coming up, such as:

  • two webinars on March 21 an 22 to talk about life after graduation
  • two hackatons for Android tracks on April 14-15;
  • two hackatons for Web development tracks on April 21-22;
  • our community managers will spotlight the most outstanding students on a weekly basis. Read more here

As you can see there are opportunities everywhere if you are serious about coding. Use socials too. That’s how I found out about this scholarship.

Take the risk.