By Tech Powered Dad | February 18, 2019
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It’s becoming more common all the time for people to leverage online learning to advance their careers. In some cases, it’s a way for people who are already in the workforce to retool their skill set and move on to a new career. In others, it may be a college student that’s concluding their studies but has realized they didn’t get exactly what they needed out of that four year degree (or advanced degree) to pursue the career path that now appeals to them. Whatever the reason, online learning offers the opportunity to jump in with reasonable costs on your own pace, without another full-blown degree.
I actually followed this path myself, taking advantage of Coursera’s Data Science Specialization. This was a 10-course specialization that offered the ability to learn data science in than a year. Rather than forcing me to piece together my own set of classes, the specialization author’s pieced this together for me with a curriculum of data science courses from top to bottom. This is becoming a common practice with online providers. Students want the whole package assembled for them. I recently wrote about one of these providers when I did a Springboard data science review. However, there’s a comparison I’ve been interested in doing since that review, Springboard vs. Udacity. Springboard offers “career tracks” while Udacity offers “nanodegrees.” How similar are these two programs, and does one have something to offer over the other?
What is a Springboard Career Track?
As I mentioned in my recent Springboard review, Springboard is a company who’s sole focus is on offering a online, tech bootcamp experience. They have been around for just a few years, offering training in fields like data science, cybersecurity, and UX design. I’ve had a chance to see them up-close because for the last year, I’ve worked as a Springboard mentor, more on what that means in a minute.
Springboard “career tracks” are specifically designed to give, high intensity, short term training to students that are set on making a career change. For approximately 6 months, Springboard students in a career track take classes in alignment with their curriculum. They receive weekly 1 on 1 mentoring with a career professional in their chosen field via Skype. They also received career counseling and coaching from their career coach, who will help them through the process of getting a job in their new field as well as negotiating a salary.
Springboard offers career tracks in several different fields:
The data science, AI/Machine Learning, and UX design career tracks include a job guarantee. This means if you complete Springboard’s course and follow their career coaching, they guarantee you’ll find a job in 6 months or they’ll refund your course feeds. They back this up with extensive interview preparation during their career track programs. Students do multiple mock interviews that simulate different types of common interview practices including a coding challenge. In fact, Springboard has been running their Data Science program for several years now and has been able to place all of their graduates, and with good salaries.
What is a Udacity Nanodegree?
Udacity is another popular option for learning a new set of career skills online. They offer many popular “nanodegrees” in areas such as programming, data science, business, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. Programs tend to run for about 10 hours a week for 6-7 months. Udacity’s list of nanodgegrees is impressive and growing. Most of them involve selecting a specific specialization. For example, a data scientist might take a nanodegree in natural language processing.
There are some other similarities to Springboard. Udacity also offers career coaching and mentorship to assist its students through its many programs. They even have preferred industry partners that are on the lookout to hire impressive Udacity graduates, though are under no obligation to do so. A key difference worth noting, though, is that it is on the student to reach out to schedule time with a mentor. Some Udacity mentors are mentoring dozens or more Udacity students, so students occasionally report feeling like they are imposing by reaching out to schedule an appointment. Springboard students, by contrast, have a guaranteed 30 minute time slot with their mentor each week. They also have regular intervals that they meet with their career coach.
Should I Choose Springboard or Udacity to Prepare for a Career in Tech?
For most career switchers, I’d recommend the Springboard option. Springboard offers some features that Udacity does not:
- An assigned 1 on 1 weekly mentoring time
- Career guidance that is actually taught as part of the curriculum
- A job guarantee in data science and UX design
Most Springboard employers are more expensive than Udacity, but many tech employers are offering salaries and even signing bonuses that will more than make up for the cost of the program. Udacity does offer some specific niches in their nanodegrees that Springboard doesn’t (example Artificial Intelligence for Trading). That said, Springboard has started adding “specializations” to their career tracks such as Deep Learning and Natural Language Process for the Data Science Career Track, and students always have the opportunity to work with their mentor on a particular are of interest for their capstone projects.
|Popular Programs||Data Science, Cybersecurity, UX Design||iOS Developer, Self Driving Car Engineer, AI Programming|
|Job Guarantee||Data Science, AI/Machine Learning, and UX Design career tracks||No|
|Job Search Assistance||Comprehensive||Resume and interview coaching|
|1 on 1 Mentoring||Weekly||As requested|
|Pricing||Click for pricing||Click for pricing|