Freshman Computer Science Major Turns to Udemy to Learn Real-World Skills

We’ve made the point many times that the days of learning can’t end once formal education ends. Workplace transformation—whether the result of automation, AI, globalization, or other economic forces—is changing job skills too fast for anyone to feel like what they know today will be enough to keep their career moving forward tomorrow.

These days, even full-time students are looking beyond the classroom in order to meet their learning goals. That’s how it is for Bryce Ellis, a freshman computer science major at the University of Memphis.

As Bryce tells it, “A year ago, I didn’t know anything. No programming experience, no Java, no Swift, no Udemy.” But, with an older brother already out in the world and doing well in the tech industry, Bryce decided he’d check it out. When a friend told him about Udemy, it was a perfect fit for this self-motivated learner.

“I love going to class, but I also want to learn what I can do and build skills for myself. That’s why I’m always reading and doing side projects,” he says.

Getting a Jump on Skills for the Future
On college move-in day, Bryce took a free Udemy course on making a card-game app, which he then showed off to all of his new friends. Now, he’s going all in on iOS development and becoming adept at “solving real-world problems with apps and technology.” Learning online was nothing new to him; he’d found Kahn Academy as a high school student when he needed calculus help. In fact, he says, “I’d rather go online than talk to a teacher.”

He feels that way in his college classes, too. With 30-40 students in a class, all relative newcomers to computer science, “Everyone’s confused, it’s hard to understand the professor, and you can’t pause him and go back to listen again,” Bryce explains. Taking Udemy courses eases the pressure.

Bryce likes that Udemy’s video lectures are “intuitive and natural,” and he can make copies of the instructors’ code and play around with it on his own. Among his favorite instructors are Ray Wenderlich, who connected with Bryce on LinkedIn and has given him advice, and Sebastian “the Swift Guy” Henry, whose repetition and consistency has helped Bryce push through periods of frustration.

Learning That’s More than Academic
What Bryce really loves about Udemy courses is that he’s gaining skills he can put to use right away, which isn’t the case with his college lectures. “Once you finish a Udemy course, the skills you can apply keep growing and growing,” he says. “The courses are simple but challenging, and you really learn hands-on, instead of sitting in a lecture and just listening for two hours. This is real-world, applicable content.”

And he really means applicable! Bryce recently participated in a weekend-long entrepreneurship competition. His four-person team had 48 hours to build an app, and because he was “fresh off Udemy,” Bryce had confidence in his skills. He enjoyed the experience of being part of a diverse team and using creative thinking to develop their concept. And they won! The judges were amazed by their work, and Bryce says he even got some job offers as a result.

For now, however, Bryce is happy to work toward his undergraduate degree while continuing to master iOS development and take Udemy courses. “Once I get good at that, I’d love to learn VR and AR,” he says, adding that he’d like to feed his passion for public speaking, too. No matter what, he won’t be standing still.

“How you approach the world is just as important as what you can do,” Bryce explains. “I want to be able to do more than just code.” We have a feeling Bryce is going to do a lot more.