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JCCC Stories

Web Development Magic

May 21, 2016

When Chris Stanley found the right certificate program, his career fell into place

Chris Stanley describes his web development certificate as "a little bit of magic."

"It really was a little bit of magic to me," he said. "I wasn't expecting too much when I enrolled."

But…poof! He used funds from a governmental job-training program, put them to work at Johnson County Community College and produced a career he loves.

Stanley, 36, worked for seven years at a contract position in information technology. When the job ended, he could have searched for yet another contract position in IT. Instead, he contacted the Continuing Education program at JCCC to review his options.

From there to here

He began his adult life in the Army. Soon he was stationed in California working as a mechanic. "That was fine, but I never wanted to be a mechanic (as a career)."

After a few years in sales, he switched to IT. He'd always liked computers, he said, but without a college degree, he seemed stuck at entry level.

Stanley did his research. He found out that the demand for web developers is strong. "It's beyond strong. The number of web developers needed in the job market is huge." (The Bureau of Labor Statistics tends to agree.)

He signed up for the certificate despite some reservations. "I already knew some coding, but I thought, 'No way can they teach me everything I need to know in that amount of time.'"

Quick completion, quick to job

The certificate, which starts with a foundation of HTML5 and CSS3 coding skills, requires seven classes. Students can complete the program in less than one calendar year.

Stanley said he pushed himself, reaching even beyond the classroom assignments so that he'd be more knowledgeable and therefore more apt to receive job offers. He approached instructor Brian Peterson with a problem he was working on, and Peterson returned the next day with a wealth of feedback.

"He put in 20 or 30 minutes to put together this response, and it was time he gave me just because he wanted me to succeed," Stanley said. "Brian Peterson is one of my most favorite teachers I've ever had."

Peterson said Stanley was highly motivated. "Chris spent a ton of time outside of class practicing and learning things on his own, which is unusual. By the end of the track, he was learning on his own without my help. This was a joy for me to watch. I kind of got the ball rolling, and then Chris took off on his own," Peterson said.

Stanley was hired by VML, a global marketing and advertising company, two weeks before he even completed the certificate.

"I am extremely thankful they took a risk on me, because most web development jobs say you need a minimum of three years of experience," he said.

'Now I'm passionate…'

He's learned on the job as well, since VML focuses on teaching and learning as well as the bottom line, he said.

"I am in a better spot than I could have ever imagined," Stanley said. "Before, I used to push myself to get to work. Now, if I wake up early and I have an extra hour, I just tell myself, 'I'll go into work early,' because I want to."

His job at VML is "literally a dream come true," he said.

"I'm 36 years old, and it took me about 20 years to find what I wanted to do with my life," he said. "But now I'm passionate about what I do, and I want to tell the world."

For more information about the web development certificate, email or call the computer technology training program of Continuing Education at 913-469-3891.