Tami didn’t know what to do after getting hurt on the job. As a wife and mom—with another one on the way—she knew she needed help getting to that next paying career. Fortunately, she contacted her local workforce development board and job center where she found a team that helped her see all her possibilities and how to take the next step. Tami explained that she had some basic needs for her new career. As a mom with a husband who is a critical worker, she wanted a career that would enable her to stay home and work remotely if her family had to move due to her husband’s work. She wanted a career that would be more satisfying and give her the chance to be creative and help others.
The workforce consultants at the career center showed Tami the choices in education they could provide to help her move forward with a new career. They all agreed that web design was a terrific career path and a good fit for Tami. Tami did not have any previous training in web design, but her counselors told her that would not be a problem. Some of the options were classroom-based courses that would require her to wait for the next semester to begin. These courses offered her a course completion certificate, not an industry certification. However, they also offered Tami an option that had rolling enrollment, meaning she could start immediately. The course and instructors were all online and only required her to have internet and either a PC, Mac or Chromebook. All the coding and development tools were all included and cloud-based. And the feature that got Tami most excited was that the course prepared her to receive a full International Industry-Recognized Certification from the Web Professionals Organization. This was not merely a course completion certificate, but an industry certification from the professional association of web designers, developers and app creators. Tami filled out paperwork and was meeting her instructors within days. She was very thankful for the workforce development board job center team who made this all happen.
With COVID-19 affecting how we work and live, many people like Tami are seeking new career paths that will allow them to work with more flexibility and freedom. Let’s hear from Tami and her instructor.
Tami enrolled in the Web Design and Development course through California State University San Marcos. She had worked on early social media sites years ago and remembers that was the first time she got excited about the potential of the internet. However, before starting the course she didn’t have any actual training in design or development. The course taught her everything she needed to know from the ground up and developed her into a skilled and knowledgeable web professional, all as a remote learner.
In the months that Tami was working through the course, she faced several events in her personal life, including a pregnancy, that required her to pause her learning for a time. Because the course is self-guided, she could easily take a break and resume when she felt ready. Tami praised how helpful Cal State San Marcos was throughout her journey, saying “I reached out to them a lot when going through things and having to say, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t get school done this week or this month. So, can I do an extension?’ They were always sweet and encouraging about it. They said, ‘Oh, no problem. We can extend it for you.’” And Steve Waddell—co-developer of the course, instructor, and curriculum development partner of WebProfessionals.org— was always available to answer questions Tami had along the way. This unique model allows the student to work at their own pace as a virtual learner, without the pressure of a traditional classroom setting in which all students are expected to keep the same pace no matter what life circumstances happen in the process.
One of the key features of the Web Design and Development course is the optional WebProfessionals.org exam, which enables the learner to earn a certification administered by the Web Professionals Organization, the premier industry association for web designers and developers. Tami commented on how well the course prepared her for taking the certification exam at the end of the course: “I’ve taken tests before that seemed to include nothing that I had learned. In the Web Design and Development course, every quiz prepared me for the final certification exam. I have test anxiety and was worried I was going to fail, but Steve talked me through the process and said I would do well. And he was right—I finished in 30 minutes, and it was easy.”
Having an industry certification and project portfolio sets Tami apart from other professionals that companies may be considering hiring, which allows her to hit the ground running in getting clients and starting work on projects. Equipped with new skills, knowledge, a portfolio and certification, Tami can work directly with clients to solve problems and meet needs. The experience of taking the course and working with Cal State San Marcos made her a fan of the university and how willing it is to help adult learners like herself.
To others who may be thinking about a new path but don’t know how to switch careers, Tami says “I would tell anyone else that they can do it. And I know people say that, but seriously, I am the worst with school sometimes. I have struggled with self-esteem issues, but doing this course gave me so much. It gave me more than just the education—it gave me the knowledge, strength, ability and confidence to do it. It taught me that there’s way more to web design than I realized—there are so many different types of jobs out there that I can do now because of this course and certification.”
Helping Adult Learners Switch Careers and Develop New Skills
Steve Waddell commented, “I get to have a unique perspective as a teacher. Since I am one of the co-authors (I also need to shout out Daniel, the other head co-author and the other 24 team members who helped build this course) I know why we designed the course as we did. This course has over 170 tutorial and industry subject matter videos. We created a terrific ‘play with the code’ live sandboxing feel to help the students learn to create web pages and sites. And I can be proud of all the ‘techy’ stuff we did as instructional designers. However, it is when I am facilitating, supporting and helping the students that I really understand their learning needs. The experience allows me to be a better course developer and I enjoy the teaching.
It is so much fun seeing students reinvent themselves through online education. I am Tami’s ‘teacher’, but the course is really self-directed, self-paced education. My job boils down to coaching and supporting when the adult learner struggles. I struggled when I was first learning how to create web pages and sites and it really is fun to relive some of those early struggles and help guide students over the humps, just like the people who helped me out years ago.
Tami is the example of what is great about adult education—especially online education. Watching her reinvent herself and switch careers from a more physical type job to a creative tech field was actually quite fun for me. This is what adult education is about. Anyone can reinvent themselves. Web design is about helping individuals, groups and businesses bring their stories and products to market. Tami loves helping people, and when she was struggling with things in life that so many adult learners must deal with as they reconstruct themselves into a new career—including jobs, family, illness, and pandemic—it was her passion to help others that kept her moving forward. I am so proud of how she stuck to it, and a shout out to CSUSM for all their support.”
Start Your New Career Path Today
Maybe you are similar to how Tami approached her career shift and are thinking about how to find an exciting and in-demand career path, even in the age of COVID-19. The time is now to learn at your own pace and begin your career start, all from the comfort of your couch or kitchen table. If you’re not sure where to start, WebProfessionals.org is fortunate to work with many workforce development organizations, public and private universities and colleges in the US. Our workforce, university and post-secondary partners offer a variety of course options from multi-year programs, semester-long, and 90-day career certification sprints. If you want to find a school to work with, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can point you in the right direction.
We also see the need to help with over-aged and under-credited youth, and we always welcome the opportunity to partner with organizations in helping to re-engage these youth in education and a brighter future.
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