Web Pioneer Develops Key Industry Skills at UCSC Extension


- Ann Fitzsimons, Alumna, UX & Web Design and Internet Programming & Development

Term : April, 2015
Department : Technology
Program : Internet Programming & Dev, User Experience and Web Design

When it comes to the Internet, Ann Fitzsimons is a true Renaissance woman. Her passion for the web came to life when she moved to Silicon Valley after completing her undergraduate degree in dietetics and food administration. While opportunities for young dietitians were scarce, Fitzsimons discovered her aptitude for business while working in tech. Though she developed key programming skills on the job, every few years she returned to UCSC Extension, where over the years she has earned certificates in UNIX Programming and Administration, Internet Programming and Development, and, most recently, Web Design and Development. Fitzsimons works as an HR web technologist at NetApp and runs an independent web development business on her own time.

What kept you coming back to UCSC Extension?

Even though I worked in the field, I still needed to prove that I could walk my talk. I felt that I needed to have the education to support the work experience I was getting. The first company I worked for got me in the industry and trained me, but I was very proactive. As industries came along, I realized I needed an education in each one. UCSC Extension always seemed to have the classes I needed. I really enjoyed the quality of the education; the high caliber of instruction that I found at UCSC Extension was similar to what I’d found at Cal Poly as an undergrad. Whenever I’ve needed anything to help support my career, UCSC Extension has given me the convenience and the full depth of offerings that I think I need, at the level of quality that I look for. If I need classes, I go here. UCSC Extension always seemed to have their ear to the ground as far as what was going on in the industry,

What stood out to you about your courses?

The instructors realize that they get all these different levels of students coming in. When I was getting my Web Design and Development certification I saw students on education visas. Some were coming in from the graphic print industry and wanted to learn about the web and others, like me, were already working in the Web field.

The instructors are able to adjust to everyone’s needs. In my web design program, in the final class you have to build a website and everyone encourages each other. Even though I had been doing both Intranet and Internet websites for a long time, I really learned a lot here.

What skills do you think web designers need?

I think that having a certification and an online portfolio are both needed. A portfolio is essential for anyone in the online world. You have to keep yourself up-to-date; if you get laid off or have any job interruption at all, within a year or two you can be out of date. That’s why I run a side business; I get challenged and learn new things. With one company I might be working in Drupal, in another it’s Joomla, another it’s HTML or email. That’s the great thing about the web: there are so many jobs available. You can be a hardcore back-end programmer, you can be a front-end user interface person; you can do the graphics or be a designer, you can be a front-end web producer, you can go into search engine optimization to help companies get on the first page of Google.

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