Student profile: Kieran McCarthy

Name: Kieran McCarthy
Location: Cork, Ireland
Age: 24
Job title: Customer service

stockme“I actually love how easy it is to learn something new. It’s as simple as finding what you like, clicking join, and drinking coffee while stuffing my brain with as much material as I can learn.”

This simple statement from Kieran McCarthy is even more powerful when you find out he struggled at school earlier in life. Dyslexia made the traditional classroom experience challenging and decidedly not fun. Now, he has ambitions of starting his own business, and “I’ll be using Udemy all the way.”

Earlier in life, Kieran was very into cooking and wanted to have his own restaurant. When he got to culinary school, however, he realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life — and it was really expensive — so he left. His sister knew he loved computer games and suggested he look into learning programming, maybe become a game developer. That’s when Kieran found Udemy and, specifically, “Java Tutorials For Complete Beginners” and others offered by instructor John Purcell.

From that moment, Kieran was totally absorbed and was on Udemy 24/7 — “My parents told me I would hurt my eyes, but I wanted to learn!” With that very first course, Kieran says he was already learning more than friends who’d studied programming in college, and “ever since then I’ve been learning more and more.” Meanwhile, some of those friends are paying off student debt and not even working in their field of study, a trend Kieran feels underscores the drawbacks of investing in a costly full-time education.

Now, Kieran has a five-year plan for himself and has brought an Android app to market called ListOut, while also working a full-time job in customer service, and he’s pleased with the progress he’s made so far. He’s focusing now on web development as he works his way up to learning the full stack of technologies with the help of “The Web Developer Bootcamp” from Colt Steele and aspires to be self-employed by age 28. “If I work hard now, I can make it possible.” His only regret is that he didn’t start learning coding earlier.

His vision is to create educational apps and software that will help other people with dyslexia be better learners too, whether they’re studying chemistry or astrology. “I want to build everything myself from what I’m learning and show that people who want to learn but don’t have the privilege of going to college can still learn,” he says. In essence, he’ll be the living example of what he hopes his products will enable for others. He thinks the secret is making education fun and presenting information in a visual way, just like the games he’s played to learn everything from history to physics and math.

When he was in school, he was frustrated when the curriculum forced him to study subjects he didn’t think he’d ever need, and that made him disengage from the experience. Now, he can throw himself into exactly what interests him for hours. He “jumps on Udemy right after work until bedtime and then more on weekends.” He recalls his school days as being just the opposite: “You’re not learning; you’re just being told stuff you’re supposed to regurgitate. It’s about grades, not education.”

On Udemy, Kieran feels like it’s just between the instructor and himself in every course, like he’s getting individualized teaching. Moreover, he respects that his instructors are “people who’ve actually had jobs and know what they’re talking about. They didn’t just learn something in order to teach it.” Plus, he’s got his pick from lots of instructors who are professional coders and can offer different perspectives. Today, Kieran’s friends who attended college come to him for programming help, the ultimate validation of his chosen path away from traditional higher education and toward self-directed learning on Udemy.