Kalyan Dechiraju

@kalyandechiraju

My journey from Electronics Major to Associate Android Developer

Last week I got my certification from Google. I became an Associate Android Developer. I would like to share my experience of this little achievement.

Background

Well I should first tell my background before sharing my experience. I have done my majors in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. So as you might guess, my knowledge was limited to C, C++ and SQL. But my interest has been towards mobile development. So I burned my hands with C# and started developing Window Phone 8 apps (thanks to Microsoft Student Center in our college). Then I got my first job as a Software Engineer and I learnt Java. With my knowledge in Java, I jumped into Android Development. Alright enough about me, let’s talk about how I ended up getting the certificate.

The Exam

If you know the destination, you can adjust the sails in the right direction.

You can read about the exam contents and other instructions on the certification page. Let me share my view of the exam.

The exam is well designed in such a way that it covers all the concepts mentioned in the Exam Content section. Unlike other certification exams you might have seen, Google organised the exam to test your skills not by asking you to write complete code for a specific requirement, but to complete the existing code. So to solve this, you need to understand the existing code first, which is very important.

Don’t be scared though. You can clear the exam if you are good at Android Platform APIs and fundamentals. There is no shortcut to this. After all you gotta be good at your game.

The Journey

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

Well, I have to admit that my knowledge with Windows Phone Development helped me jumpstart learning Android. Like many of you, I started by creating a small application and see what’s going on. Then I started filling the missing pieces of puzzle by seeking help in StackOverflow. Soon, I am able to develop some functional apps. I did a freelance project too (Yes! although it’s a minor one). But then I realised, how far can I go by just finding the missing pieces?

Stepping up

If I want to give this a serious shot, I have to step up my game. I started looking for best resources to learn Android. That is when I stumbled upon Udacity. Udacity has an Android course made in collaboration with Google! What else do I need?

So I signed up for the course. At that time, it was the first version of the course. Now there’s better version available with more resources. From my experience, this one course can make any programmer an Android Developer. It taught me what I am missing, the Android fundamental concepts. After this course, I am able to start developing apps by seldom looking for help in stackoverflow. That’s a good sign for me.

First App

With the knowledge I gained from that course, I decided to develop an app for me (for myself). My favourite category has always been productivity. So I have decided to make an app that I would use everyday. A personal task manager.

Unless we develop one complete app for ourself, we cannot claim to be a mobile developer.

Now, I have started to think like a mobile developer. I started filtering out the tools that I need for my application. After a lot of research I chose Realm as local DB and Parse as backend. They both are in their early days and are packed with many features. Parse was a hosted PaaS at that time. With these tools, I started working on my app every night.

Roadblock

One fine morning, I woke up to the email of Parse being shutdown. Well, like many of you, I felt frustrated for choosing it. Luckily I was in early stages. So went back to the search engine looking for better and permanent alternative. Also I have changed my mind to switch back to Sqlite with Content Provider and Loaders. At that time Realm is a fast evolving library and not all features were available (I think it’s in 0.3.x version).

As a replacement to Parse I chose Google App Engine. Again Udacity helped me out in choosing Google Cloud.

Milestone

Finally, the app is ready(Yes! I killed my app multiple times and redesigned from scratch). Tasky made it’s way into Google Play Store.

What’s next

When I am almost done with the first version of my app, Udacity released another course as a continuation for my first one.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
Paulo Coelho

This is another course every Android Developer should take. This helped me to boost my skills even further. This helped a lot in building my portfolio.

Then came the Certification Exam

In Google I/O 2016, this exam was announced. This program targets the gap between developers launching their careers and employers.

This is all good. But why should I take it?

To put it simply, I am a full time Java Developer. Now I wanted to switch my career into being a full time Android Developer. This exam seemed to help in achieving that.

D-Day

Finally, I paid for the exam and I got 24 hours to submit back. After I have completed the exam, I realised one thing.

If you take those two Udacity courses, you can complete the exam in half the time with confidence.

Another thing to keep in mind is to sign in to your Udacity account using a Gmail address while purchasing the exam. I got to know this by facing many problems after submitting the exam (I was unable to visit my exam dashboard due to this issue). With the help of Udacity support, I submitted my identity proof properly.

Exit Interview

This is the final step in the exam. Purpose of this interview is to verify your identity. It’s a 5 minute zoom video call with a set of questions regarding the exam and Android fundamentals.

After all this hustle, I got the email with the link to my certification. http://bcert.me/sbhnvehg

I hope this helps you. Thanks for reading!

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