Jacek Kaczmarek

Location: Wroclaw, Poland
Age: 36
Job Title: Senior Java developer & solution architect

Jacek Kaczmarek knew he wanted to brush up on his skills, broaden his experience, and become a better developer. Having worked with some older software for a while, he needed to catch up with mainstream Java specs and APIs and quickly understand newer technologies that he didn’t have any commercial experience with. He envisioned himself moving up to becoming a technical lead in a few years and being a valuable contributor to his team.

In the past, Jacek had tried learning from books but found it very difficult to stick with reading and not dive right into coding. It was frustrating that he couldn’t apply what he was reading about as he went along, so instead he just ended up with hundreds of bookmarks in places he wanted to revisit at some point, which wasn’t helpful either. And, of course, book authors weren’t available to answer questions. So this time, he explored the offerings from a couple of big MOOC providers that his coworkers liked, but Jacek didn’t share their enthusiasm. The MOOCs required him to devote a lot of time to the lengthy courses every week or fall behind, but Jacek prefers to explore a few topics at once. He didn’t like being forced to stay engaged with a single subject for hours at a time.

What Jacek needed was something he could follow at his own pace, on his own schedule — like a book — but that was also interactive and let him do hands-on coding right along with the lessons — like an online course. He was clued into Udemy by a junior developer at his company. Jacek’s first Udemy course was “Java Persistence: Hibernate and JPA Fundamentals” from instructor Deshraj Singh Kiran, and he was hooked by the interaction model and bite-sized lectures.

Udemy allowed Jacek to follow his own learning style — an hour or two of lectures each day with 15- to 20-minute breaks whenever he needs to step away for other activities. He cites the approach of software engineer and Agile Manifesto writer Robert C. Martin as a way to “become proficient at by doing simple coding exercises regularly.” He noticed a significant improvement in his manual skills and, even better, he became twice as productive in writing code. For Jacek, it was “an easy win” that would help him work more efficiently without having to consult documentation or lose time seeking out answers from colleagues.

One of the best features of the Udemy course-taking experience, according to Jacek, is having a mix of live coding exercises along with discussion of coding theory, such as in Bharath Thippireddy’s “Java Web Services” course. “If you’re only coding and it’s already after long working hours, your body gets tired,” he says. He likes being able to pause lectures on Udemy and give his body a break without feeling pressure to complete them within a defined timeframe. That gives Jacek a chance to do push-ups, practice plank, or get a drink. He’s been known to do stretching exercises while listening to lectures, too, to help offset the physical drain of being at the computer for extended periods.

His improved performance has boosted Jacek’s confidence. When it comes to APIs, he now “knows better than others what’s possible and what advanced features there are.” He says he tries to log into Udemy every day, even if it’s just for a single lecture, and likes jumping around longer courses to get some variety and not get bored. He’s currently taking a bunch of courses on topics including Java EE, Java Spring Framework, web services and design, and more. He finds it satisfying to watch his progress and get that check mark when he finishes a lecture and says it’s motivating to see how much content is left.

As a busy family man, Jacek is happy to know that he can keep up with his industry and achieve his professional goals by following short lectures on Udemy whenever it fits into his day. Without the stress of completion deadlines, he’s free to gain critical skills when, where, and how he chooses.