“The economy really spurred me to change jobs — I was an auto mechanic for 13 years. I had always done photography as a hobby, and a lot of that is digital now and related to Web design. I had created a couple of Web sites here and there, and a friend with a Web design business pushed me to start learning more. But I realized that I wasn’t learning fast enough informally and I really liked what I was doing — so I wanted to buckle down and get a plan for a more complete education.
“I have attended classes at several different community colleges, but my professors at El Centro have by far been the best I have encountered. Two professors in particular — Don Bittinger and Hal Spiegel — both stand out of the crowd. I haven't left an IDT class without having all my questions answered and a clear understanding of the materials. I cannot say this about other instructors I have had.
“Don’s and Hal’s personalities and obvious desire to help students succeed really impressed me from day one last semester and are a huge reason I am continuing my education at El Centro. They are not just dry cookie-cutter-projects-from-the-book types of teachers; they encourage students to expand upon the lessons, put their own creative twists and styles on things and make the next one better.
“Mr. Bittinger has really encouraged me to push myself with every aspect of the things I do. Even in areas where he doesn’t teach a class but where he knows I can integrate my IDT and graphic design skills, he has always been a source of encouragement and help.
“With me, this career path was a good fit, because as an auto mechanic, I already had a huge background in problem solving and math. There’s lots of problem-solving involved in designing Web sites and math in the programming and coding. It was a natural transition in some areas, but before I had no creative outlet in my work — now I have that as well. My dream job would be to work in a full-service design studio that includes building Web sites and produces still and motion content.
“I’m confident that the choice I made when I decided to change careers and pursue a degree was the right one. Really, I wish I’d done this years ago — I have a family and four kids, so if I can do this, anybody can. There’s a saying that the hardest step of a journey is the first one. The hardest step for me to do was to register for that first class. But now I’m on my way.”
Career-changer Jason Jones is a full-time student at El Centro working towards an associate degree in Internet Development Technologies.