Jay Karamales

Location: Boise, ID
Age: 54
Job title: Software architect/Project manager

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Jay Karamales isn’t one to sit by passively in the face of change. When the northern Virginia area where he and his wife grew up started getting too crowded, they researched other small cities that met their parameters and relocated to Boise five years ago. And, having worked as a software developer since 1980, Jay says the tech landscape is now changing faster than ever, so he uses Udemy courses to stay current, something that’s been especially challenging since he moved into management about 10 years ago.

Jay is currently with a small software company that primarily handles government contracts for military clients. While he’s relatively new there, he’s known and worked with the founder/CEO for years. He made the switch from software developer to project manager because it’s an uncommon skill set in the Boise area. Specifically, Jay has deep expertise as a federal contractor and understands the unique aspects of dealing with government agencies, processes, and requirements, something he’s acquired through “long, painful experience.”

Though he always expected he’d stay a developer and technologist, “the pressure to move into project management was inexorable.” His main responsibilities are meeting with customers to understand the pain points of their business and designing solutions based on those needs, which he then hands off to the development team. Jay certainly enjoys his job, but “when you manage budgets and schedules, there’s very little time to stay in touch with the emerging technologies developers are using, and I’ve felt that more acutely in the last few years.” As he puts it, he wasn’t able to keep up with ”the things people talk about on Slashdot.”

Jay’s bookshelves are stuffed with old tech books he can’t bring himself to discard, but he’s fully embraced online learning, saying he’d been “waiting my whole life” for it. He tried out a few different learning platforms, but “Udemy’s the only one I felt I could commit to because it aligns with my needs and availability.” In particular, Jay quickly became a fan of Rob Percival’s courses, including “The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0” and “The Complete iOS 9 Developer Course – Build 18 Apps.” Now, he says, “I use the Udemy courses to try to keep my skills current so that I am still marketable and also to just satisfy my curiosity as to what the latest developments in my field are, even if I don’t anticipate using them professionally.”

54 - Jay Karamales at Murchison Falls on the Nile [Kampala-Gulu Road, Uganda][11 Feb 2015]Jay especially likes the easily digestible “granular format” of courses on Udemy, explaining how he can complete a short module while at the airport, think about what he’s learned during his flight, and then continue with the next lecture after landing. Even though he’s not in the dev trenches himself, Jay has found applications for what he learns on Udemy about the latest tech. For example, Jay thought responsive web design was pretty slick and wanted to understand it better, which he accomplished with Rob Percival’s instruction. Now, he’s able to speak knowledgeably with his developer colleagues and plan projects better because he’s familiar with the tools being used.

And, while the course material itself is awesome, Jay also appreciates Rob’s easygoing teaching style. “Engaging instructors like Rob make you feel like it’s just your buddy going over this stuff with you; there’s no pressure like in an academic environment,” Jay says. In fact, he describes learning on Udemy as “almost entertainment,” as watching one video “makes you want to do another one.”

Not surprisingly, Jay feels Udemy’s approach to online learning is the future of education and points out how expensive and onerous it is to build and maintain physical schools, train local teachers, and keep everything up to date. Instead, he thinks education needs to adapt to the way people are already living and engaging online.

“When I can’t sleep at 2am and am in the mood to work on a problem, that’s the time to do it,” Jay says by way of example. Given the amazing variety of courses available on Udemy, the ubiquity of the internet, and people’s demand for flexibility, Jay sees the Udemy marketplace and online learning as “a revolution in the way we educate.”