Student Story: Fernando Alvarado-Sandoval

Fernando Alvarado-Sandoval lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two kids. Although he’s currently a technical support specialist, Fernando is using Udemy to brush up on his graphic design skills in pursuit of a more creative career. Between raising a family and working full-time, Fernando squeezes learning into his “me time” while en route to work.

What are the key differences between the traditional courses you’ve taken and Udemy online courses?

When I was in college, classes moved slowly and couldn’t keep up with the latest trends in the fast-moving design industry. Classes sometimes took weeks to cover one topic, and I would find myself relying on online video tutorials and design blogs outside class to learn the subject faster.

Moreover, I always worked full-time during school while also raising a family. As a result, I was never able to focus solely on the classes and topics I wanted to learn and had to take several classes at once. Right now, I work as a technical support specialist and I’m looking to pursue a career in creative design.

That is why learning online on Udemy appealed to me when I saw an ad for a graphic design masterclass. I figured it would be a good refresher course for me, as my skills have gotten rusted since my daughter was born. The course included project-based work for Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, as well as a Facebook group for students to communicate with each other and the instructor.

Once I was learning on the platform, I saw other, non-design courses I wanted to learn take, so I created a list and now aim to take courses on Udemy while my daughter naps or when I’m done with work. Udemy gives me the freedom to learn in various places, at any time, like while I’m on the go in my car. As a working father of two (son age 7, daughter age 1.5), that is huge for me.

Raising two kids while studying is not an easy task. What motivates you to keep pushing forward?

The thought of having a career I love that matches with my passions leads me to be a better person, father, and husband. It drives me to learn more and teach those around me as well. I recently gifted a character design drawing course as a surprise to my nephew. He aspires to be a game designer, and he updates me on his course progress. I love it!

What advice would you give to fathers exploring online education?

It is easy to get stuck in a routine with work and life, and we sometimes forget what we love. I am pushing myself to work toward a career in design. I’ve made my two-hour commute to work into “me time” and listen to Udemy courses and audiobooks on Audible. I do not want to settle for work that doesn’t make me happy, and it is never too late to do what you love, whether you’re a parent or not. My goal is to have a career I’m passionate about that allows me to provide for my family and still be present for my growing children.

As a father of two, what hopes do you have for your kids as they continue their education?

My wife and I understand that how we learn has evolved so much, especially with technology. We want to set our children up for success by building good habits for the future and help them on whatever path they choose. We also do our best to help out when we can at my son’s school (which he loves)!

Online education allows you to learn at your own pace. How has that been beneficial to you?

I love being able to learn whenever I find the time. I know it takes self-discipline and time management, which is what I am working on. One of my goals is to have a website running by the end of summer. It is good to set a goal and stick to it, even if that means getting up a little earlier or going to bed a little later. It is definitely a balancing act but not impossible.

In terms of graphic design and/or photography, what are some new skills you’ve gained by taking online courses?

I am currently refreshing my skills in design theory, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. There are requirements listed on nearly every job posting for skills that were not taught while I was in school. It is up to me to fill in the gaps.

Any advice for budding graphic designers and/or photographers?

Learn as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You will benefit from seeing how the industry works first-hand. If you have a chance to attend any design-related events or conferences, do it. You will not regret it.