Melvin Ware

Location: Topeka, KS
Age: 37
Job title: Web analyst, Topeka Public Schools

Opportunity knocked for Melvin Ware, and he answered.

Two years ago, he was a computer repair technician for the Topeka Public Schools and the administration was having trouble filling a web applications position. His boss, the director of IT, asked Melvin if he’d be interested in learning how to be a web designer and maintain their website. At the time, Melvin didn’t know HTML or CSS or much of anything about web development. He hadn’t thought about becoming a web designer, but he also didn’t plan on being a repair tech forever. Melvin seized the opportunity and managed to teach himself enough by reading books, watching YouTube videos, and doing Google searches.

Fast forward to the present…

Melvin was asked to build a staff website that would allow employees to log in and see their personal information, salary history, vacation status, and so on. Although he’d managed to learn how to create static web pages on his own, this project introduced far more complexity. He’d need to understand how to connect PHP to a SQL database with users, provide login functionality, make it secure, and pull in information dynamically through sessions. He expected he’d need to learn PHP and maybe some JavaScript.

Melvin took an intensive, week-long PHP course in a classroom setting as well as an online course through an open source framework company, but he didn’t feel like he was gaining the in-depth understanding he wanted. He remembered watching YouTube videos made by Edwin Diaz on how to use Bootstrap back when he was first getting into web design. He appreciated Diaz’s down-to-earth style and sense of humor and felt like he really connected with Diaz. Melvin wanted to find more of his material, went to his website, and discovered Diaz offered more than a dozen courses on Udemy, including a “PHP for Beginners” course that was exactly what he needed.

Melvin’s school district uses a content management system (CMS) whose backend is coded in PHP. He was a bit intimidated when he first realized he’d need to learn about it, but after taking Diaz’s PHP course, “I feel like I could eventually design my own CMS. I’m not there yet, but that’s the goal.”

As he refines and adds to his skill set with Udemy, Melvin has gained a new confidence in his abilities and is thinking about what else he can do with his newly-found knowledge. When he gets promotional email from Udemy, “I can’t buy new courses fast enough.” He’d like to learn JavaScript and object-oriented PHP. He’d like to help his church update its website, and he’s thinking of getting better at playing guitar.

With a full-time job and two kids at home, “the only intimidating thing now is finding enough time to go through and take all of the courses I want.”