October 14, 2016: Friday news roundup

Time for another look back at what we found online this week that piqued our interest and fed our curiosity.

How learning and development are becoming more agile
The makeup of the modern workforce is changing, from full-time employees to a patchwork of freelancers, contractors, and project-based part-timers. One HR exec says in this article, “The future of learning is three ‘justs’: just enough, just-in-time, and just-for-me.” This aligns perfectly with Udemy’s own POV, and we’re thrilled to see more HR leaders get on board.

HR ranks these must-have skills high on entry-level workers’ resumes
Sticking with our friends in HR, the Society for Human Resource Management conducted a survey of its membership to see what skills are most critical for entry-level employees. Following a larger trend, the responses weren’t about hard skills like coding. Instead, dependability and reliability, integrity, and ability to work on a team were named as the most important attributes.

What happened when I dressed up to work from home for a week
Anyone who’s been on a regular work-from-home schedule knows how easy it is to let things like personal appearance slip when your only human interaction is via chat and email (and maybe answering the door for UPS). This writer experimented with swapping her PJs for “real” clothes and found it made a difference in her sense of professionalism and productivity.

Why Peter Drucker’s writing still feels so relevant
Prolific professor and business expert Drucker passed away at the age of 95 in 2005, but his writings on management continue to carry weight today. His ideas around “knowledge workers,” decentralization, the IT revolution, and much more feel prescient to us now. This article suggests Drucker continues to be relevant because he was “a citizen of the world” who applied his deep understanding of history to his theories.

The two questions one of the world’s best musicians asks about everything
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has won countless awards and performed around the world. He was born in Paris to Chinese parents who moved the family to New York when he was seven, and Ma says that experience was instrumental (sorry) in fostering his lifelong curiosity about the world. Read on to learn what he asks himself whenever he encounters a new idea or situation and how this practice has helped him understand “people’s habits, other cultures, history, and music itself.”

Hidden gems for October

Hidden GemsIt’s time to take another dive into the Udemy library to unearth some of our lesser-known courses and topics you should be learning about! We present herewith the work of several instructors who want to help you relax, save on travel, look sharp, be a better parent, and make your own timepiece.




screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-3-17-58-pmLearn Watchmaking, the King of All Crafts
In today’s hyper-digitized world there’s something refreshing about wanting to understand the intricate mechanics behind watchmaking. Even if you don’t plan to go ahead and try building your own, you’ll be fascinated to see how master craftspeople work with tiny tools to create accurate timepieces. Instructor Christian Lass, a certified Swiss watchmaker, is eager to share his specialized knowledge.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-3-20-11-pmDress to Kill: A Men’s Primer on Style and Fashion
If wearing a hoodie is your idea of impeccable style, instructor Pablo Rosario is here to clean up your act. In his course, you’ll learn how to dress in a way that gives you confidence, so you can command “attention, respect, and admiration” every time you walk in a room. Rosario doesn’t just look sharp—he delivers his style tips in a down-to-earth tone that’s like getting advice from a trusted friend, not the fashion police.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-3-22-20-pmThe Manual Labor of Zen Meditation
When you’re browsing courses on meditation, you expect tranquil nature scenes, maybe someone seated in the lotus position with their eyes closed. Instructor Gordon Greene, on the other hand, confronts you with a man splitting lumber, hardly a vision of peace and serenity. As Greene, head priest at Spring Green Dojo, explains, it’s hard work to train your body for zen meditation, but his gentle manner is supportive and his message is inspiring.

funny-girl-sticking-out-tongue-720x340Positive Parenting
Notice the URL of this page, and you’ll get a taste of what instructor Debbie Godfrey, a certified parent educator, covers in her course. She uses fun, entertaining videos to help students understand the power struggles that can arise between parents and children and what can be done to minimize tantrums and tears. As she breaks down examples of patience-testing behaviors, Godfrey keeps a huge smile on her face so you’ll stay motivated and even have some laughs while learning effective parenting techniques.

travel-hackHow to Fly for Free: Master the Points Game & Travel Cheap
Booking travel has gotten so confusing, with different fares listed on different websites and airlines hiding fees til it’s checkout time. Instructor Daniel Stanford says he’s “obsessed with bargain hunting, saving, and investing.” In this course, he shares his travel-hacking secrets for redeeming frequent flier miles and getting the most out of credit cards that offer airline points.

Delving into DevOps with instructor Ward Viaene

wardRounding out our Q&A series with tech instructors, today we’re introducing you to Ward Viaene, who teaches “Learn Devops: Continuously Deliver Better Software.” It’s one of three courses available from Ward in the Udemy marketplace. Read on for Ward’s thoughts on getting into DevOps and what professionals in the field need to know.

How long have you been working in DevOps?
I started my career as a very technical system engineer 10 years ago and slowly progressed into a more general IT specialist focussing on DevOps, cloud, and distributed computing. The term DevOps has only been used for a few years, and people practicing it can be from any background. I come from an operations background but have taken many roles in companies to be able understand the needs of different teams and departments.

How did you become a DevOps expert and what advice do you have for those starting out?
The idea of DevOps is to foster a culture where dev and ops collaborate to work smarter and more efficiently, reduce the delivery cycle, and deliver better software. I became more and more involved in the full process of delivering software; I was not just doing development (dev) or operations (ops). By understanding the full lifecycle, getting involved with different teams, and finding ways to optimize software delivery, you can become a DevOps expert.

Are there any traits that seem to set people up for success as DevOps engineers?
A less technical, more business-oriented approach really helps in this field. At minimum, you need to understand what happens in software development and operations (often system and network administration) — the fundamentals of how software is written, is maintained, and runs on servers and in the cloud. To stand out, you have to understand the whole development lifecycle: how software is delivered, who’s involved, and what role everyone plays.

What’s the hardest part of learning DevOps? Any advice for getting past this?
It’s difficult to get different teams to work together. Companies are not set up this way, and traditionally, the development and operations teams barely communicate with each other. The hardest part is not implementing a new tool; it’s working together to optimize your work and then implementing tools to make this happen.

What are the main things someone needs to know about DevOps to get a job in the field? What, if anything, do they need to be learning outside your course?
This is not the kind of job where you can just sit behind your desk and work on something in isolation. You need to be able to communicate effectively with your colleagues around the organization.

To convince a hiring manager you’re right for the job, you need to show how your technology capabilities will translate into value for the company. An example: Is the company using a cloud service, such as Amazon AWS, but is everything set up manually so nothing can be reproduced? A DevOps approach might be to automate the way cloud is used, make the environment more flexible, and, in the long run, reduce costs. Showing how your contributions would deliver these benefits is the best way to establish yourself in the DevOps field.

Where do you see DevOps growing in the next 1-5 years? What will professionals need to do to stay marketable in this field?
One of the drivers for adoption of DevOps is definitely cloud technology. The cloud enables companies to be much more flexible, which translates into adoption of DevOps methods to achieve better delivery of software. DevOps professionals will need to know all the offerings of the major cloud providers to be able to implement the correct technologies and not waste time doing something like managing your own database when the cloud provider already offers it as a service.

Distributed computing and big data are growing in adoption, and DevOps professionals will need to learn about that too. Developers will write applications to handle big data, which need to be deployed and maintained the same way as normal applications. Currently that’s a challenge, and there aren’t a lot of people out there with the full skill set.



October 7, 2016: Friday news roundup

As this week winds down, our thoughts are with those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Still lots of other news and ideas to talk about, however. Stay safe and check out these articles about implicit bias, hiring from within, and what our CEO thinks about robots in the workplace.

We’re all a little biased, even if we don’t know it
It’s a good thing that people are starting to recognize unconscious bias in the workplace, in the classroom, in law enforcement, and in virtually every other facet of our lives. But do we really understand what the term means? As researchers and psychologists explain here, having implicit bias is not the same as being racist or sexist, and that oversimplification actually hinders our ability to overcome our biases.

How writing to-do lists helps your brain (whether or not you finish them)
I cannot function without my to-do lists (plural!), but it turns out not everyone naturally embraces this form of self-organization. Frankly, I don’t know how those people keep their lives together… This article steps through the ways to-do lists help you remember things, see the big picture while tracking the details, and manage your deliverables more efficiently.

Why companies overlook great internal candidates
Udemy believes talent is fluid, and we often move great people into different roles where their skills are needed and where they want to grow. According to this Harvard Business Review piece, lots of employees would appreciate this flexibility from their employers too. Workers want to be recognized not just for what they’ve done in the past, “but what they are capable of doing.” Plus, it would help employers close the skills gap if they considered candidates right under their noses.

The new tech talent you need to succeed in digital
This headline calls out tech talent, but the article isn’t just about programmers. As new technologies enter the workplace, companies become “much more dependent on the collective skills and strengths of a multidisciplinary agile team rather than on the heroics or talents of any one individual.” So, along with those full-stack architects and DevOps engineers, think about experience designers, scrum masters, and product owners to round out the team.

How humans will learn to coexist with bots
Udemy CEO Dennis Yang shared his own point of view on workplace automation and AI in this piece. As he says, robots are already a big part of our lives today, and their role will continue to grow—eliminating jobs in some cases and transforming others. But these technology advances will also create new jobs, and that’s where the opportunities lie for people who upskill for the 21st century. On a related note, Dennis was also part of a feature, The business of ME, on how technology is enabling greater personalization of products and experiences like learning.

Instructor Jason Cannon on what it takes to be a Linux pro


Last week, we shared thoughts from instructor Chris Bryant on earning Cisco certification. Today, we’ve got Jason Cannon, the instructor behind “Learn Linux in 5 Days and Level Up Your Career,” which boasts nearly 29,000 students. Jason’s 10 other courses explore various aspects of Linux programming in his same helpful style. He shared more tips for building a Linux career in our email Q&A.

How did you become a Linux expert and what advice do you have for those starting out?
I’ve used Linux on my personal computers since as early as 1995 or 1996 and started working with Linux professionally in 1999. I was immediately drawn to Linux. It was love at first sight for me. The Linux design and philosophy made total sense to me, and I wanted to learn everything I could about it. I started using Linux daily and set out to get a job using Linux. Since then I’ve used Linux in almost every type of situation imaginable: at large well-known corporations, at small privately owned companies, at a startup, at a security firm, at an airline, and at a university supporting researchers. I’ve run Linux on hardware, in virtual machines, in containers, and in the cloud. I’ve done so many things with Linux it’s hard to list them all. Along the way I’ve written a few books and taught a few courses on the subject. Do that for 17+ years, and you’re called an “expert.” :)

My advice to those who are starting out is to use your time wisely. I see so many people wasting precious time searching for free videos and reading random blog posts trying to cobble together their own Linux curriculum. The result is usually hours, days, or even months spent learning unrelated bits and pieces with no clear structure and no real progress to show for their work. I highly recommend taking a course that uses a logical and systematic approach so you learn things in an order that makes sense. This way you can build upon your knowledge.

Another common mistake is spending a lot of time trying to find the “perfect” Linux distribution and worrying about the choice. It’s way more important that you just start learning Linux. Linux is Linux at the core, and the concepts you learn when starting out apply to every Linux distribution. Pick one and get started!

Are there any traits that seem to set people up for success as Linux professionals?
In order to be successful as a Linux professional you have to be very good with details. Forgetting to use a comma or misplacing a colon in a configuration file can render a Linux system unusable. I don’t say that to scare anyone but just to highlight how import attention to detail is when you’re working with Linux.

Another trait of a good Linux professional is having the ability to troubleshoot problems, which takes logic and critical thinking skills. Many times you’ll be playing the role of technology detective. Troubleshooting also goes hand-in-hand with attention to detail. When a system experiences a problem, you’ll need to comb through logs and look at configuration files, sometimes one character at a time, until you spot the issue.

What’s the hardest part of learning Linux? Any advice for getting past this?
Letting go of preconceived notions and expecting Linux to act like Windows or Mac.

Where do you see this field growing in the next 1-5 years? What will professionals need to do to stay marketable in this field?
I don’t see the growth of Linux slowing any time soon. Its adoption has been steadily increasing, and it’s practically the de facto standard OS for new enterprise and web-based applications. My advice to professionals is to pick an aspect or use of Linux that interests them the most and make that their specialty. Just a few examples include cloud computing, containerization, networking, security, monitoring, automation, configuration management, scripting, programmable infrastructure, and DevOps.

September 30, 2016: Friday news roundup

Let’s skip the chit-chat and get straight to the good stuff. Here are a few articles we hope will give you food for thought this week.

The one question you should ask about every new job
People change jobs rather frequently these days. Each time we ask ourselves, will Company X be the right place for me? But we feel like we can never know the whole story til we get inside (and then maybe regret our decision). Assessing company culture when you’re on the outside is tricky, but this Wharton professor has some tips for figuring out what kind of organization you’re looking at.

Why you need to be outcome independent
First the bad news: rejection and failure are inevitable parts of life. But here’s the good news: if you become more flexible in your thinking, you can cope with those events, learn from them, and move on with confidence. That’s the crux of becoming outcome independent—recognizing the multitude of possibilities in our world and staying open to paths you may not have considered before.

5 design jobs that won’t exist in the future
More good news/bad news here. While some design roles will fade away, others will rise up and grow, according to the leaders and influencers quoted here. Design as we know it is changing with new technologies just like every other field of work. Jobs of the future will require designers to go beyond what they know today and get comfy creating for virtual and augmented reality as well as artificial intelligence and algorithms. Are you ready to be a post-industrial designer?

There is no right way to learn
A lot of very bright people don’t perform well in school. They may have dyslexia or ADHD or some other so-called “invisible disability.” This article describes experiences of several students who struggled or were dismissed as “stupid” until they found more thoughtful educators who recognized their potential to learn and achieve.

How to get better at dealing with change
This article overlaps a bit with the one about outcome independence and offers more suggestions for learning to go with the flow in a constantly changing world. Again, it’s all about mindset and being kinder to yourself during challenging times. Can you find humor in a tough situation or shift from an emotional response to a problem-solving attitude? Don’t beat yourself up for feeling stress and take the time to remember what’s really important in your life.

Talking Cisco certification with instructor Chris Bryant


Instructor Chris Bryant has published 11 courses on Udemy focused on helping students earn Cisco and CompTIA certifications. More than 4,700 people are enrolled in his “CCNA 2016 200-125 Video Boot Camp” alone! We did an email Q&A with Chris to find out what it takes to succeed as a networking tech and where these skills can take your career.

How did you become a Cisco/networking expert and what advice do you have for those starting out?
I began as a junior network admin for a local school system here in Central Virginia roughly 20 years ago. No one in this business starts at the top. I didn’t even get to touch a Cisco router or switch in my first admin job. That was for the senior admins! The real key to success with Cisco technologies–or any technology for that matter–is to master the fundamentals of networking and then just work your way up from there. It’s not an easy path to success, but it is a simple one.

Are there any traits that seem to set people up for success as network admins?
The great network admins I’ve worked with have the ability to stay calm under pressure, both pressure from people and time pressure. Additionally, the network admins who do the best for themselves in the long term are those who understand they’re getting into a field that requires lifetime study. You can’t just earn a certification or two and then sit back for 20 years. You’ve got to keep up with an ever-changing field.

What’s the hardest part of learning networking? Any advice for getting past this?
To me, the hardest part is learning the theory that most networking courses hit you with at the very beginning. Networking theory isn’t always the most exciting material around, and it can be dry, but it is important. Every student will ask themselves at some point, “Do I really need to know this?” When it comes to network fundamentals like the OSI model, the answer is, yes, it is that important!

What are the main things someone needs to know about networking to get a job in the field?
It’s a good idea to be well-rounded; don’t just learn about Cisco routers and switches. The broader your education, the better off you are. Learning IPv6 above and beyond my course is an excellent idea (although I’ll teach you enough to get started!)

Where do you see network admin growing in the next 1-5 years? What will professionals need to do to stay marketable in this field?
Anyone who tells you they know where networking will be in five years is lying. This is an ever-changing field, and it’s your responsibility to keep up with it. It’s great to have a specialty, whether that be security, voice, video, or something else, but whatever you do, you must stay current with this field or you’ll be left behind.

September 23, 2016: Friday news roundup

Happy day-after-the-autumnal-equinox! Is it feeling like fall where you are? Perhaps the new season puts you in a mood to turn over a new leaf in your career, in which case you should check out Udemy’s job openings. Meanwhile, thought-provoking articles are always in season around here, so let’s get to it.

Computer science class fails to notice their TA was actually an AI chatbot
At Georgia Tech, a professor created a bot to serve as a teaching assistant in his computer science classes. It was an experiment born out of necessity: his real TAs were overextended. Turns out “Jill” did a great job and the professor will be using more bots in the future. I wonder if English majors would have realized they were dealing with AI…

The surprising quality you need to be successful as a woman in a male industry
With a long background in financial services, including serving as a CEO of Merrill Lynch and Citi, Sallie Krawcheck knows a thing or two about being the only woman in the room. She founded and now leads an investment company focused on a female clientele. So, what was the must-have trait that helped her rise through the ranks on Wall Street? It’s a good one.

We need a better way to visualize people’s skills
Is the résumé overdue for a revamp? This writer puts forth an interesting idea: building profiles that illustrate candidates’ competencies in a variety of areas over time. The objective is to show “precisely what people can do,” in the same way the GitHub grid displays developers’ contributions and projects.

There’s a powerful hack to remember something you’ve just learned
Turns out exercising your body (at the right time) can help your mind achieve peak performance too. This finding came out of a very small study, and more research is needed to understand the phenomenon better. Still, it aligns with more established science showing physical fitness and cognitive health are closely connected.

Facebook, Google, other tech giants answer Obama’s refugee plea
We are thrilled and honored to be included with some of tech’s leading innovators in working to improve the lives and conditions of refugees around the world. As this article points out, the UN estimates that in 2015 alone, conflicts and persecution “forcibly displaced” 65.3 million people worldwide, the biggest forced displacement since World War II. The UN has classified 21.3 million of them as refugees. Udemy is doing our part by enlisting refugees to be instructors and create courses in their areas of expertise, which will let them earn legal income.

Udemy hosts documentary screening, discussion of women in tech

The lack of diversity at tech companies has gotten a lot of media attention in the last couple of years, but real solutions have been few and far between. That’s the backdrop of the documentary “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,” which was screened to a packed house of guests at Udemy HQ September 14.

To get the crowd of more than 125 attendees warmed up, we assembled a panel to share their own experiences as women and minorities working in tech. They talked about how the film resonated with them, the obstacles they’ve faced (and overcome) in their careers, and what companies and individuals can do to create a more inclusive environment for engineers from all backgrounds.

Panelists, L to R: Tiffany Williams; Sara Hooker; Brenda Jin; Claire Hough; Ingrid Avendaño; Angie Chang; Anita Anderson

Panelists, L to R: Tiffany Williams; Sara Hooker; Brenda Jin; Claire Hough; Ingrid Avendaño; Angie Chang; Anita Anderson

From the film’s website: “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap” exposes the lack of female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gap, highlighting breakthrough efforts that are producing more diverse programmers. With humor and optimism, CODE considers the importance of creating a more balanced tech workforce and asks: What would society gain from having more women and minorities code and how do we get there?

Our panelists were:

  • Anita Anderson – Director of Mobile Application Engineering, Nickelodeon
  • Ingrid Avendaño – Site Reliability Engineer, Uber
  • Angie Chang – VP Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright
  • Claire Hough – SVP of Engineering, Udemy
  • Brenda Jin – Senior Platform Engineer, Slack
  • Tiffany Williams – Software Engineer, Aclima
  • Moderated by Sara Hooker – Data Scientist, Udemy

They represented an interesting mix of paths into the tech world, which made for a lively and insightful pre-movie chat. One common theme was the need for women to speak up and advocate for themselves. That leads perfectly into the next event Udemy’s hosting around diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace: “Negotiate Like a Boss.”

Part of the Breaking Glass Forum series, this event will bring together speakers from the C-suite, human resources, and sales/business development to examine why “women are often uncomfortable negotiating for a better job offer, a raise or a promotion, which can leave us feeling undervalued in our careers. For women of color, pay inequities can be even more pronounced and negative in their impact.”

Udemy is proud to co-sponsor the Breaking Glass Forum with Women in Technology International as part of our “Women at Udemy” program, which aims to connect, empower, and celebrate women in the workplace. Our very own VP of People Lisa Haugh will be on the panel sharing her negotiating tips, and the discussion will be followed by an interactive workshop where attendees can practice key negotiation tactics with professional coaches and receive direct feedback on how to improve.

Negotiate Like a Boss is happening at Udemy HQ October 11; space is limited so register early!

September 16, 2016: Friday news roundup

You’ve made it to the end of another work week. Take a moment to wind down with a look back at some articles that got us thinking over the last several days.

Ask an economist: How can today’s college students future-proof their careers?
Depending on what you read, robots are either coming to eliminate our jobs, change our jobs, improve our jobs, or some combination of the above. Here, a bunch of brainy economists weigh in with their own advice for “which skills they’d focus on if they were about to start their first year of college this fall.” Some outlooks are more encouraging than others.

You don’t need to be in tech to find high-paying part-time jobs
Okay, this one IS encouraging. A jobs website searched for part-time openings offering at least $50/hour, and you’ll be surprised (skeptical?) of what they found. It’s actually a pretty diverse list of industries and roles, which suggests more employers are coming around to the idea of flexible work schedules.

Hesitant to make that big life change? Permission granted
Lots of Udemy students are taking courses in order to switch up their careers. Still, it can be scary to leap into unfamiliar waters and might even feel foolish or irresponsible, depending on your circumstances and the magnitude of change you have in mind. Drawing upon the research of Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt, this columnist shares how he found the courage to take that leap—and why he thinks you should too.

Fewer of the world’s entrepreneurs say they need Silicon Valley anymore. That’s a problem.
It’s only taken a few years for China and India to start producing home-grown startup “unicorns” of their own, leading many to wonder if Silicon Valley still deserves the title of “innovation capital of the world.” Now, aspiring entrepreneurs in other parts of the world have incubators in their own backyards, and companies like WeChat, Tencent, and Alibaba are recognized as just as valuable and trailblazing as anything coming out of Silicon Valley.  

8 simple decisions that took my business to the next level as a mompreneur
Udemy instructor Kenz Soliman shares her story of overcoming doubts and fear to achieve success teaching in our marketplace. Kenz has published 25 courses and enrolled nearly 10,000 students and wants other moms to follow her example and pursue their own dream jobs. She’s got a great attitude, signing off as “just a boss girl who took a leap of faith.” Keep up the awesome work, Kenz!