Student profile: Myla Twillie

Name: Myla Twillie
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Age: 39
Job title: Freelance writer, bartender

Myla Twillie calls herself “a life student” because she’s been known to sign up for a class and then lose herself in learning for an extended period. “Every time I start something in life, that’s my go-to,” she explains. “I think, ‘oh, I’ll take a course,’ which turns into a whole program.”

After six years at UCLA, she had a degree in sociology “by default” and no other direction for what to do next. She leveraged some connections to find work in the entertainment industry, first with a stint as a publicist for a record label and later with the Magic Johnson Foundation. Myla doesn’t consider herself a spontaneous risk-taker, but when her cousin called in 2005 and invited her to join him on a trip to China three days later, Myla jumped at the chance. She spent a year and a half in China, learning about her cousin’s import/export business, and developed an interest in manufacturing. She even traveled to Bangladesh to visit an apparel factory, whose owner was eager to bring her on board doing sales and marketing, but Myla didn’t feel ready for that level of commitment.

She was attracted to the clothes business but knew almost nothing about it. As she’d done in the past when she hit a wall, she turned to education, this time taking a sewing class at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. And, consistent with her track record, that one class turned into a year-and-a-half-long program.

Just as the program was concluding, however, Myla found out she was expecting her first child. That “threw me off,” so she decided to try something new. “I was lost and didn’t know what to do with myself,” she recalls. She consulted with good friends, and everyone agreed — the one thing that brought together her strengths and passions was writing. But she still needed a push in the right direction. She had amazing connections in the world of entertainment and lots of talent and grit, but “I didn’t know how to put it all together.” And she certainly didn’t have time for yet another lengthy school program now that she was a single mom and tending bar at the sports and entertainment venue L.A. Live.

When a friend recommended Udemy, Myla browsed the library and enrolled in “Amazon Kindle eBook Publishing-How I Made Over $39K w/eBooks” from instructor Steve McDonald. This was not the familiar classroom experience Myla was accustomed to, and she admits, “I’m a strong traditionalist when it comes to education.” Early on, she was skeptical about the quality of the instructors on Udemy and whether the courses would be well-organized. “I really critiqued that hard,” she says. Once she got into Steve’s publishing course, however, “it just made sense to me, and I kind of became addicted to it.”

Next, she took another publishing course, Chad Tennant’s “$50,000 Ebook Publishing Empire: Amazon Kindle Publishing.” Unlike when she’d gone to a traditional school, Myla realized she could assemble a Udemy curriculum of her specific interests. “You won’t find everything in one course and might have to take others, but you can merge them together” to learn exactly what you want. Myla has enrolled in several more writing courses, including Shani Raja’s popular “Writing With Flair: How To Become An Exceptional Writer,” and has been able to establish herself as a professional copywriter. In college, Myla says, “I sat on knowledge,” but Udemy imparts knowledge she can apply “to get to the next level quickly.”

For example, she launched her own business, Outsource Ink, tapped into her network, and secured a gig helping Rihanna with her first Black Diamond Ball, a huge fundraiser for the singer’s Clara Lionel Foundation. One of Myla’s other clients is developing a platform for learning computer graphics while another is creating a line of haircare products. Taking courses on Udemy keeps her going. “When I don’t have much work, if I take a Udemy course, I get another job immediately,” she says. “I tell people all the time — go learn something! I would’ve gone nuts without it.”

Perhaps most satisfying is the writing Myla’s doing for herself. Following the time-tested advice to write what you know, her first e-book draws upon her bartending experiences and blends cocktail recipes with storytelling. “It’s a short, fun read as if you’re in the bar with me having an easy conversation,” Myla says. Her e-book, “Delicious Homemade Cocktails: 6 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Try,” is the first in a planned series and will be available March 2016 on Kindle.

Myla credits Udemy with helping her maximize her existing skills and overcome her self-doubt. “Udemy gave me the validation I needed to feel confident about what I was doing,” she says. “When you put yourself in that position to learn, it’s going to transform you.” We couldn’t agree more!