Rewards for the Curious Mind

Continuing education doesn't have to be a major commitment

Our Voices blog features many students who have completed certificates and programs and are fully committed to continuing education and career change. But many of our students, like George Mandella, need only a few courses to either brush up on some skills or test the waters of a career change. The outcomes of those few courses can encourage, exhilarate and employ.

Learning to Draw

George’s enthusiastic mindset has propelled him through a variety of careers, from film school to technology to entrepreneurship, and now, to themed entertainment.

“I had a naive notion that in order to have a career in theme park design, I’d need to know how to draw. None of the art classes that I'd taken to date had really clicked, and I figured that I was one of those people who ‘couldn't draw.’ However, this was all about pushing my limits, so I took Drawing Fundamentals at UC Berkeley Extension (in San Francisco.) It was maybe one of the most challenging classes I'd ever taken, but I powered through it and by the end of the course, I had a lot more confidence in my potential, worked with tools and techniques that I had never touched before, and created some wonderful things.”

His instructor, Sheila Ghidini, provided insightful ideas and advice, and challenged the students with a variety of exercises designed to expand students' exposure and experience to various materials and techniques.

Using a Creative Background to Make Better Management Decisions

His next class was Graphic Communication I (now Design Communication I) with Julie Barron. Although this is an early class in the Certificate Program in Interior Design and Interior Architecture, George felt that it benefitted him as a stand-alone course. "It felt very empowering to learn some fundamental techniques for designing and communicating spatial and architectural concepts. Even though I don't create these types of drawings in my day-to-day work, there is no better training for reading and discussing them than going through the process of making some myself."

In his current career as a producer, George doesn’t need to draw or draft as part of his daily responsibilities. However, he does review, discuss, direct, and present this type of work when collaborating with clients and teammates, and he’s constantly drawing on the fundamentals that he learned at UC Berkeley Extension.

“I was on a quest to reinvent myself and pursue a new career that would be more personally fulfilling. In order to pull this off, I needed to rethink almost every aspect of my life—the books I read, the groups I networked with, the events I attended, and learning to see the world in terms of opportunities. The classes that I took at Extension demonstrated how much real learning can happen once you leave your comfort zone, and were a reminder that sometimes the only real limits are the ones we make ourselves.”

Challenge yourself to learn a new artistic skill, with courses from the Art and Design department at UC Berkeley Extension.