Student profile: Sérgio Letras

Name: Sérgio Letras
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Age: 28
Job title: Software developer

Sérgio Letras isn’t about to let opportunity pass him by. He’s been a software developer for about five years and knew from the start he’d “need to keep improving myself in every way I could.” Part of that means staying up to date on the latest technologies and programming languages, both for his professional needs and personal interests, which comes naturally since he’s an avid learner who’s always been curious and self-motivated.

Although he studied computer science in college, Sérgio found himself in a common predicament as a new grad — having a degree but not feeling equipped to perform a job. Sérgio compares it to the difference between studying the manual in order to get a driver’s license versus getting behind the wheel of a real car. He knew his degree would have long-term value when looking for jobs, given the demand for technology professionals, but he also realized he’d have to put in the ongoing work to keep his actual skills and knowledge current.

The value of lifelong learning hit home for Sérgio in his first job, in fact. He worked for a large consulting firm but was on a project using older technology. Moreover, the company was very large and “didn’t pay attention to workers; training wasn’t a priority.” Fearing his career would stagnate, Sérgio decided to learn emerging technologies on his own and went straight to the internet to do so.

“Official certifications and training sessions are usually quite expensive and also sometimes you cannot rely on your company to provide you the training you need, so after trying a few platforms I found Udemy,” Sérgio says. “I really liked it from the start since it has a really clean and neat design. Also, and most important, it has a really wide variety of languages and technologies, which was exactly what I was looking for.”

Sérgio is currently focused on learning Java Spring, which is “really important in the Java market these days” and was one of those technologies he didn’t get exposed to in his previous job. He likes being able to view course previews to decide what to take next and, generally, prefers watching video to other formats. Whereas books tend to delve into theory before getting to actionable instruction, Sérgio says “Udemy is the best way if you just want a quick overview.”

Now, Sérgio is at a different consulting firm but a startup this time so he’s able to get his hands on more cutting-edge technology. Udemy is still playing a role in his professional development and helping him stand out at work. “I can say it’s been really useful in my job since I could meet most of the requirements our clients have requested — and on a personal level as well since I can prepare myself accordingly to stay current with market trends.” For example, after taking a course on “MongoDB Essentials,” Sérgio’s interest in databases grew to the point that he took the official certification exam and is now developing a module at work based on MongoDB, “all from knowledge I gained on Udemy.” He actually considers it part of his job to keep up with trends and learn on his own.

On the personal side, Sérgio’s mission is “ to gather knowledge to work on some ideas I have for personal projects.” He’d like to pursue more of his side interests and, eventually, launch a product independently. Whatever he does, he knows he’ll be taking more courses in order to reach his goals and keep moving forward. “Maybe others aren’t confident enough to take the initiative to learn on their own, but you have to think about what’s best for your career and not for just right now.”