Student profile: Chris Barney

Name: Chris Barney
Location: Boston, MA
Age: 40
Job title: Game developer

Udemy students are pretty smart. With the threat of layoff looming on the horizon at the game publisher where he’d worked for six years, Chris Barney didn’t wait for the axe to fall. He used Udemy to upskill and get ready to look for his next job.

A few months earlier, Chris’ employer had decided to move from Flash technology to the Unity development platform, and he’d already been using Udemy on his own to learn about it. Chris got a master’s degree in computer science and has extensive work experience, but he’s always considered it part of his job to take the initiative for maintaining his skills and knowledge.

Chris was already an old hand at online learning, having taken a university MOOC and tried other course platforms to feed his curiosity on more academic subjects. It wasn’t something he did regularly, however, because they required a big time commitment and followed a set schedule it was hard to stick with. He’d also tried YouTube videos for learning more specific skills, but “nothing was very well put together.” When he found out his entire team was being let go, Chris continued his self-directed learning on the side with even greater purpose—to be in the best possible position to market himself when the time came.

Udemy offered Chris the flexibility of courses delivered in bite-size chunks he could consume at his own pace. If he wanted to spend a weekend immersing himself in finishing a course, he was free to do so. He also had easier access to Udemy instructors, unlike his MOOC experience, where he never would’ve been able to interact with an elite university professor. For example, Chris is currently taking “Zend Framework 2: Learn the PHP Framework ZF2 From Scratch” and has had “a couple of great exchanges” with instructor Bo Andersen. As an experienced PHP programmer, Chris is getting “a ton” out of the course and likes that he can breeze through by listening at 1.5x speed.

Best of all is how Udemy courses provide “small pieces of targeted knowledge.” In preparation for an interview with a company using Magento, Chris took “Introduction to Magento Community Edition For Beginners.” In another case, he spent a couple of hours with “Learn Javascript & JQuery From Scratch” and was able to speak about it intelligently the very next day.

While job prep is a top priority now, as a lifelong learner Chris says, “What I decide to learn isn’t always in the interest of advancing my career.” Since he’s innately curious and interested in new technology, it’s helpful that Udemy courses are affordable enough that he can sign up for an eight-hour course, sample a bit, and then decide if he wants to devote more time to the topic. He enrolled in a Blender course to brush up on his 3D modeling skills, something he did as an undergrad but didn’t continue using in his professional life. “Having access to those types of courses is exciting to me,” he says. Wherever his career takes him, he knows that “I can’t rely on the skills I have today. Udemy lets me continue to acquire professional-level skills even if I’m not working in the industry.”

Today, Chris is on the verge of accepting a job offer, and he’s getting a jump on his new role with more Udemy courses. His new employer expects it to take about three months to get up to speed on the technology they use, but “it will be a pleasant surprise when I walk in and am fluent already.” We weren’t kidding about Udemy students being really smart.

Update: A couple of weeks after his story posted, Chris emailed to let us know he started a new job. “Thanks in no small part to the skills I polished with Udemy, I was able to secure an increase in both title and salary and have come out of my job search in the best financial situation of my life. I will be continuing to use Udemy both to further my current position and to be ready for whatever comes next.”