012: Teaching WordPress with Sue Jenkins

In this episode, we talk to Sue Jenkins about how she’s teaching her university design students to design and build WordPress sites.

About Sue Jenkins: Sue Jenkins is a web UI/UX and print designer, photographer, and illustrator, as well as the creative director at Luckychair.com, a full-service design studio. An award-winning Adobe Certified Expert, she’s the author of several For Dummies books on design and an Adobe Software Training Instructor on LinkedIn Learning, as well as an Associate Professor of Art at a small liberal arts university in the USA.

Find Sue Jenkins: Luckychair | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Sue Jenkins
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
012: Teaching WordPress with Sue Jenkins

Show Notes

People, places, and things mentioned in today’s podcast:


Amy: Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop, and more in the WordPress community.

Amy: Welcome to episode 12 of women and WP. I’m Amy Masson.

Tracy: I’m Tracy Apps.

Angela: I’m Angela Bowman.

Amy: Our guest today is Sue Jenkins, a designer, photographer illustrator and creative directory at luckychair.com. She’s also an award winning Adobe certified expert, author of several Dummies books, instructor on LinkedIn Learning and is an associate professor of art at a small liberal arts university. Welcome Sue.

Sue: Hello. Hello.

Amy: We like to start our episodes by asking everybody that comes on. What was your journey to WordPress?

Amy: Okay, so my journey was that I started doing web design in 1996 97 and I did a lot of freelance work. I worked full time at a couple places and I love working with nonprofits and women-run organizations and usually places that have no budget. And what I found after several years was that people wanted me to design and build something. They wanted to take ownership after the fact and there wasn’t really anything okay. Available at the time. Um, I’m not sure what year it was, but Adobe came out with something called Contribute, which was like a sister program for, for Dreamweaver. So I had some of my customers using Contribute. But what I found is that the code that it wrote was horrible. And then I spent a lot of time when they got frustrated and going back in and cleaning things up. So I started searching around for other things and I think WordPress has been out for a little while, maybe a couple of years. And I started tinkering with it and going, perfect, this is great. A content management system, I can design and build it, I can hand it off to them, I can teach them how to use it. And it was a perfect fit for me. I don’t think I ever really felt like, um, I had a handle on it cause I guess we all learned at the same time sort of figuring it out as we went. But over time I started to figure out which plugins would work and solve certain problems and fell into a really nice routine. So I don’t remember what year it was. I might’ve written it down somewhere like 2006 or seven when I started.

Amy: I love that we have had so many women that on the podcast that have been using WordPress and making websites for so long. I know, um, all of us, you know, even Tracy in high school was making websites. So what do you think, um, really since it’s not something we went to college for, um, inspired you to want to learn how to do that. Did you teach yourself?

Sue: Yeah. Um, I started doing design after college, my undergraduate, and then I did a bunch of different things trying to figure out where I wanted to go and I ended up doing sales and just jobs that I, and I got to a point where I thought if I don’t do something creative again, I will either implode or explode. Um, so I thought, well, I really like writing newsletters. I love, um, making things on the computer. So I taught myself html and uh, built a horrible website, is really awesome. And, uh, oh, there was, um, I live in Manhattan at the time there was a program, a two year web design certificate program, like nobody else had a program like this and it was at new school, Parsons School of design. So I enrolled in that and um, that was a bunch of programs that don’t exist anymore. So it wasn’t just web design, but it was like director, um, like online education eats type stuff. Flash I think had just come out at the time and after I got that certificate, I started taking on my own clients. Yeah, yeah. So, um, yeah, it didn’t really have school for it. No, other than the certificate program where it would be, you know, maybe 12 weeks on a program and that was it. So a lot of it was figuring it out as I go. And I tend to, uh, talk, talk about myself, like very split, left brain, right brain kind of person. So I’m super visual. I love art and design, but I’m also kind of a tech nerd and I really love the, the challenge, the puzzle of doing code. So it’s a perfect fit for me. Yeah.

Tracy: Did you do, were you doing more print work first and then had to transition into web because like I have done that and it isn’t it, there’s very specific things. So like, uh, how was that for you? Uh, that transition of losing control of where the bottom is and the sides are and what color exactly it is.

Sue: I didn’t do a lot of print. Um, I didn’t like newsletter designs that people would email each other a print with sort of spotty here and there. Like anytime there was an opportunity at my stupid sales job to go do something design wise, I would do it and I would make it in whatever program I could at the time, word or PowerPoint or whatever. Um, so for me there were no constraints and the flexibility of the space with something that I was excited to jump into. But I know I’ve worked with a lot of designers who don’t want to do web and they might give me there, there mockups in Photoshop, say, and then asked me to convert that into a website and they don’t know about web design so they don’t design for the web. Um, so I didn’t really have those problems. But as a teacher at a university where I’m teaching students mostly web and interactive media, I do teach some undergraduate, um, you know, intro courses, skills based, but a lot of the students are stuck on that four corners idea. And when I say no, it’s this flexible space, you know, you can go as wide or as tall as you want and they will continually make boxes and then put their stuff inside boxes. No more boxes. Yeah. So I don’t really have that problem. Uh, but I, I honor and respect it. I understand that it can be difficult. Uh, and maybe sometimes I’d say I have slightly the reverse issue where I feel somewhat constrained by the four corners of a print design. Ah, yes. Yep. Still true. But I think there’s room for me and us, you know, to go into that AR VR space, like I just heard about this tool called h five p. Have you heard of that? There is a plugin for WordPress. I haven’t tested it out yet, but there’s, the plugin exists for other platforms, like in the education industry, we use Moodle, which is like blackboard, like a learning management system. Um, and so this plugin allows you to do more interactive things like flashcards, like I think more educationally, but I’m, I just found out about it like yesterday and downloaded the plugin but haven’t installed it yet and in the test site to play with it. But I love it. There’s so many new things that we can do. WordPress has been such a, a relief for me to get away from the Dreamweaver world.

Angela: So how much of your time do you spend in the Adobe world since you are an Adobe certified expert and doing Adobe instruction versus working with WordPress and building WordPress sites and teaching WordPress?

Sue: That’s a great question. So I teach full time at a university. That’s the bulk of my week. And then I run lucky chair evenings and weekends, uh, because school does take up a lot of time cause there’s more to it than just teaching. There’s lots of services and then their scholarship that you’re supposed to do as part of it, like courses on linkedin or writing books or whatever. Um, I try to have about five or six projects going on the side just to keep things fresh and try out new stuff. So, um, and then I do a lot of service learning projects in the classroom. I think it’s really important that my students know how to use WordPress. So one of the things that we do is every semester we’ll pick a local nonprofit that either doesn’t have a website or needs a website refresh and we’ll rebuild it in WordPress. So it gives the students real world experience. It gives the customer something fresh and contemporary, uh, and it’s a win win for everyone. Plus it makes our school look good and good for the community. Um, so one of the things we’ll do is everybody gets a crack at designing a homepage and then they get to make the presentation the customer in person and show off what they’ve done and justify why they made decisions. Then the customer picks one from the many. And then as a group we build it based on the winning design. So there’s a lot of things that they learn along the way. Like how to set up a menu, um, how to deal with the footer custom colors,

Tracy: How does sell your design so that the claim says, doesn’t say, I just want that purple instead of

Sue: Exactly. Yeah, definitely.

Angela: That’s really cool.

Sue: Uh, yeah. In fact, we have a project right now, not naming names, but a customer is all over the place and it was really hard to pin them down to say, give us the content for your website. And then I was trying to explain to them how we could put some of their content into the blog side of their WordPress website and they could have news, they can have this, that and the other. And I said, let’s try and figure out what categories those items can be filed into. So we came up with three categories and then I said, now I need you to give me at least one article for each of the three categories. And they said, great, no problem. And then nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. Weeks are going by. I’m like, oh no, we have to finish the semester’s ending in like four weeks. And I said, we need the articles. Where are they? And the woman said, I’m, oh well we were waiting to talk to the host provider because we need to get more blogs. What are you talking about? Because they think a blog post is actually a whole website. Oh, didn’t know that. I’ve heard people refer to blog posts as blogs and I correct them. No, that’s post on a blog. Have you ever had that before? Or maybe it’s just here?

Amy: No. Yes, for sure.

Sue: Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, got that sorted out. They didn’t spend any extra money buying new domains for their blogs and I got the articles and we’re almost done with the website.

Amy: So how does it work when you’re working with a classroom, you know, and a number of students that are building one website, how do you, you know, break up that project so that it goes smoothly?

Sue: So we got a domain for the art department, but mostly I use it and we have a multisite WordPress installed. So I’m the admin. Each student gets their own space where they can create their own WordPress account. And since I can FTP to the domain too, they also get their own folder where they can upload projects. They’re not WordPress. Um, so then as the Admin, if there’s any themes that they want to use, they have to email me and then I’ll install them. And then otherwise they can kind of do their own thing. And when they get stuck, I can help them out, like installing plugins. Uh, and I think giving them the freedom and flexibility to work in a full install environment on their own is so much better than saying like, go get a free WordPress.com account where there’s so many.

Tracy: Yeah, I did the same thing in my classroom. Uh, well I, uh, and it wasn’t even a WordPress, it was like web too. And WordPress is not what any other person has covered. And I was like, what do you want to learn now? Like WordPress? And I was like, all right, hang on, we’re gonna rocket through all these other things. But yeah, like having them just, uh, a site, uh, with sandbox was, was really helpful.

Sue: Definitely. Um, I find that with WordPress that the students may be rely more on the theme that they select or even if we use a theme building theme, like DIVI, that they still rely on those modules doing the work of the design, which is frustrating for me cause you’re in design school. Uh, so I have to remind them constantly, you know, just because you can put something somewhere, it doesn’t mean that it looks good and you still have to think about how everything looks as a whole.

Tracy: And that’s interesting that you say that because now like I think because I started off with HTML and CSS and all that, such I think first, okay, how can I modify the theme to do this? Not, oh, I see that as a theme. I use that as like use these settings panels. I’ve had some where I’ve done some websites usually for my, my mom. Um, and like we get one of these themes that you can like customize, but I find myself just going right into the code and be like, I’m making a child theme and going for it. Like, yeah,

Sue: Yeah, totally. Yeah. I will do as much as I can. And uh, like a builder or something. And then it’s, you know, more custom CSS to make those special things that make it different work. Yeah, definitely.

Amy: So when you present the class presents all their projects to the nonprofit, this is really, I find this so interesting and you know, the nonprofit responds and they pick one and then it’s time to actually build the website. How do you go through that process?

Sue: Oh, so I, I become the art director and I usually, the winning design will sort of be my assistant in helping to make sure that everybody has the same creative vision. And we’ll talk about it in advance. They’ll say, you know, let’s examine the home, the winning homepage, what colors are we seeing, what typographic are we looking at? What, how are graphics and photographs being used? Look at the buttons, you know, are there any icons so that we really examine what we’re seeing. And then we, I assign them pages. Sometimes I might assign them pages based on their skill level so that the more, um, aware students will have the harder tasks and the ones who maybe probably won’t have a career in design, uh, we’ll have a simpler task to do. But you’d be surprised even with all the instruction that they’ll still come, you know, the next class period with their finish and it looks nothing like the inspiration page. So I’ve started doing group critiques just with the students, not with the client there. And so that we really analyze them. Like, let’s look at the heading. What’s different about this one? Then on the home page, like, oh, it’s all caps and it’s really big. Yeah. Yeah. And so what’s this one that you did? Oh, it’s small and it’s green. So I think it’s a good way for them to start paying attention to the principles and elements of design while they’re doing it. Some, I just don’t know if they’ll ever get there. And I think that’s the mark of somebody who’s gonna really be successful in WordPress versus someone who’s not those attentions to detail. Um, and even like moments of delight, like if you can inspire somebody or make somebody laugh or have a moment with something that they’re seeing a on a WordPress site that can make all the difference. So then at the end of the project, to answer your question, which was what do you do with the client? We usually invite the client back and we’ll have a little party and sort of a reveal and go through all of the pages with them. And that’s where I do sort of my sales job, which is to make sure that they understand that what we did met the goals that we set out at the beginning of the project. Yeah. But I do like to give the students an opportunity to test, drive their skills, you know, their, their interrelation, um, interpersonal skills talking. And we have a rule no self deprecation when the client’s in the room.

Angela: That’s really fabulous. And it sounds like a lot of work. It is a lot of work. Yeah.

Sue: But you know, it’s for the greater good. So, so I, that’s what I’ve had to tell myself with this particular client. They’re just nutso and uh, no, but it’s also a great opportunity for me to say, you know, if you meet with a customer initially and they’re Wackadoo, you don’t have to say yes. Um, I chose to say yes to this woman because I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult. She proved me wrong. She,

Angela: Yeah, it’s, that’s real world. You know, it’s, I teach a course as well. It’s not at the university level. It’s just a one day a week for six weeks. But you know, I, we talk about those. This is, this stuff happens for sure. Yeah. I was curious about, so you do this in person teaching, but you’ve also written books and you do write instruction on Linkedin. Um, were you teaching first and then decided to write, like what, what order did these things happen in and, okay. Do you love writing and cover that you were a technical writer and could communicate in that way?

Sue: Okay. So I was living in Manhattan. I was working for a software development company and I was their designer. And this kind of goes back to one of your core questions, Tracy. So I hired as a every day thing. So there they had customers who needed a logo letter, had business card or brochure, an annual report, a website, a some kind of software interface. So I was just doing everything. Um, oh. And I just lost my train of thought. Whoa, okay. Yeah. So, um, so I was writing for some easiness before blogs scenes yet I met some woman who lived in Chicago and she ran this easy. And then I’m like, oh, can I write some reviews about things in okay tutorials? And she said, sure, sure. So it was like a win-win. She got the articles, I got the sort of free marketing and out of the Blue I get a phone call from some guy who says, I’m a literary agent and I read some of your articles on this e-zine. I think you’re a good writer. I’m looking for an author on web design and would you be interested in a new, a new line of books and would I be willing? So I said yes. And then I cried for like a month after I said yes, some signed the contract, like, what am I done? But I did it. I got through it and uh, it was really cool. I’d never done anything like that before. Working with it with the regular editor and a technical editor. And afterwards they liked it so much. They asked again. And that was my, my first, um, it was a dream weaver for dummies all in one book. And that was like, I don’t know, 690 pages. It was a tome huge. And then they just kept asking. So after about a seven or eight books, my agent, it still feels weird, said, ah, would you like to do some video courses? And by that time the software company folded and I was full time, I’m freelancing and running my own greeting card company and teaching at an Adobe authorized training center in Soho. So I had like a couple of years of teaching in person under my belt. And then he said, there’s this company in Chicago, they do training for people in the film and video industry and we need courses on Photoshop, illustrator, like whatever you can do. So I started making courses for them. Those were DVDs. That was before they figured out how to put stuff online. And then a few years later, um, the agent says, have you ever heard of lynda.com like have-I I read Linda Wyman’s book about like Web colors. The hexadecimal value is like, yeah. So I audition and I got the job with them. So I’m a contractor with linkedin learning that bought Linda a couple years ago. And so I’ve done seven courses right now. So far, a couple of them are refreshes. So I did a, an earlier version and then updated some of the content and I’m currently pitching a new course right now, uh, on another topic, which I don’t know if I’m supposed to talk about it yet because they haven’t said yes or no yet.

Tracy: That’s an impressive amount of courses, like one is difficult to come up with. So

Sue: Really writing of course is like writing a book because, well, the way I work is I come up with a concept and then I write out a table of contents and sort of learning objectives, pitch it to my content manager, he or she will pitch it to their people and get it approved or not. If it goes to contract, then I expand the table of contents. And that would be really figuring out what should be on every video within each chapter. And then linkedin learning started requiring about two years ago, uh, quizzes. So at the end of every video, there will be a quiz or chapter, I guess it quiz, all the examples I have to come up with. I make PowerPoints to accompany everything I say. And I actually write out scripts.

Amy: Now you are, you know, writing books and teaching classes and doing all these freelance projects on the side. Um, when do you have time to have a life and what do you do in that life?

Sue: Okay. So I don’t, but I’m currently working on saying no and letting go of things. Um, I’m tenure track at the university, which means there’s all these hoops that I have to jump through. So I applied for promotion and got it. And then the fall I apply for tenure. And once I apply for tenure, then I can start letting go. But my university is doing a big core revision for the liberal arts core and I’m a cochair of the core curriculum committee, so I’m really in it. Um, so there’s very little free time I find. I, you know, I get up at five and I exercise and I drop my son off who’s 16, um, go to work and work all day, come home, make dinner, and then work till like eight or nine and then go to bed. So, not a lot of free time. However, I have been saying the weekends are mine and I will totally relax and go out shopping or go to dinner and uh, watch Netflix or whatever and just really try to own it. I started reading again, which is really lovely. Um, travel, I’ve been traveling a little bit more and I find for some reason when I travel I don’t feel like opening up my laptop. It’s funny how that works. Yeah. Yeah.

Angela: I had the same thing cause I feel like I’m just so almost addicted to the work. Like it can’t put it down, but then you put me in Europe or something and I’m like I th I, if a client even eat, he emails me with a problem. Like I will log into their WordPress site on my phone before I can dare to crack open the laptop.

Sue: Yeah. So that’s a great way to step away for sure. Travel. Yeah.

Amy: Well, I noticed you said you were working on trying to say no more and I that’s come up before in the podcast and I wonder is this something that is more likely and more common among women? Do we have a more difficult time saying no and why do you think that is and what should we do to fix it?

Sue: Okay. That’s a huge prepared question and it’s I think absolutely yes. I just came across this woman comic that I saw before where she talks about emotional labor or um, labor in the home that the women do. Like remembering all the things, journaling, all of the things that you have to do and then doing and let, and then the husband saying something like, well if you had told me I would have done it or you just need to remind me to do that and I will do that but we would shouldn’t have to do that. I’m at the workplace here, the women step up and they get stuff done. The men are like, Eh, don’t have time. I’m already over burden. I do so much. And they don’t. And I think there is a sense, at least for me, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, but not like a snooty perfectionist, but just like, I like things done well, so if somebody is not going to do it, I’ll just do it. I’d rather have it be done than not done, which is probably an issue for me. I should go talk to my therapist about.

Amy: I think you might be my soulmate.

Sue: Yeah. Um, there’s one other thing I was going to say with, oh, okay. So you know, we want to get things done. We want them to be done well and if no one else will pick up the slack or we delegate and they don’t follow through, I find that one of my issues with the saying, and this goes to saying no to, is that I feel like I want to get a certain amount done. So let’s say, you know, my client, one of my clients right now and she’s like, well, let’s finish this page today. So I would probably go home and work until whatever, 11 or 12 at night until it’s finished. Right. But that’s not workable for me because I’m going to have to get up at five. So what I’ve started doing is 10 minutes worth just 10 minutes and I’ll check at the 10 minute mark how I’m doing. Am I at a stopping point? Do I want to switch gears and work on something else? Do I want to keep going another 10 minutes? And that actually has given me the freedom to say no more often and to stop sooner. And you know, to choose my family time over work time. But definitely, I don’t know. I Dunno if it’s me workaholism women in general, women like us who are in tech. I’m not really sure the answer. I Dunno. What do you all think?

Amy: Well, one of the thing, I think you mentioned emotional labor and how that’s become a thing and it’s something, you know, my kids are teenagers now, but when they were little, um, it was something that never even occurred to me. But now I’m wondering, is this a thing outside of your running your family? Like in the workplace, you mentioned, you know, you felt like the women were getting stuff done, the men weren’t, is there an emotional labor to your, you know, kind of company job that affects your, like mental balance as well?

Tracy: I feel when I, when I’m working on projects, especially things, well, things that I really care about, like that is like, that’s my baby. You know, like I am very invested in the success of this project because I, you know, really want to see it succeed. I want to see it off to college, you know, like that kind of, uh, that kind of stuff. So I don’t know if, if, if men have that same emotional connection to what they, they’re up like a project like that.

Angela: Yeah. And the, um, the boundaries thing, it does seem like guys are a little bit more comfortable saying, Oh, my schedule is booked up. I really can’t fit that in. And, and you’re just like, this has to get done and you just do it. Yeah. Just pick it up.

Amy: See, I’ve never really, oh, you know, until recently really thought of this as a men versus women thing because I thought it was just, you know, I don’t trust anybody, so I just do it all myself. I just thought it was an Amy thing. Yeah. But now I’m seeing it more in other people and I’m wondering if maybe I’m not so unique and I’m really much more ordinary than I thought.

Sue: You know, one thing that I see in the classroom, and this is only tangentially related, is sometimes I’ll pose a question and I want to engage in a dialogue and there’ll be crickets. Nobody says anything. And I will wait. I will just wait and it might take four minutes before anybody breaks and can’t stand it and they’ll say something. So when opportunities come up, now you know, we need a volunteer for x, Y or we need four people to do something. I don’t raise my hand first. I want to wait and see if anybody else is going to feel so uncomfortable that they’ll step up too. And honestly, it’s the same people all the time, me included. Eventually nobody says anything. And then somebody will say, okay, I’ll do it and somebody else and say I’ll do it. But I think there’s definitely something to the men saying, no, that doesn’t fit in my schedule. I can’t do it. Just like maybe work socially conditioned to s just accept that.

Angela: Yeah, there is the kind of like not wanting to disappoint people and you know, and you know, w wanting to take care of people and wanting to make sure things are taken care of and feeling kind of a certain sense of responsibility towards, towards it all. So we’ll have to get some guys on this show sometime. Well maybe we’ll have a men’s hour and we can pose these questions to them, especially if people have worked in teams and see what the, what the perspective is on that.

Sue: You know, another thing that’s really hard to do is to just say no or no thank you or I’m unavailable period and not provide a reason. Justification why you’re saying no and I think you’ll get. And so I would love to do that, but I can’t cause it’s my son’s birthday and I already promised it. Like that doesn’t matter. You never see a guy doing that.

Tracy: Yup.

Amy: And I have done that. I have actually in my, when I’m turning down a project, I have a candy email and I send it and I find that sometimes people get mad that I didn’t provide a reason. Well can you tell me why not? You know, it’s very interesting and never from a woman. Um, but I will get that kind of response from time to time. And you know, I don’t know how to respond to that. Other than make up a reason other than I just didn’t want to work with you in my, your, your red flag was right.

Sue: Exactly. Yeah.

Tracy: Well, and I wonder if that is, um, like we’re ready for someone to oppose what we just said. So we’re preemptively saying this is why, um, to give a little bit more weight to that. Uh, yeah. Cause I, I, it’s, so I try to break myself as that. I, it’s hard. I have tried getting rid of the apology and apologetic language that will be the next one. Is having reasons for saying yes or no?

Angela: This came across on Twitter recently where a woman said she found herself apologizing when she’d reply to emails late, she’d say, I’m so sorry. It’s taken me a couple of days to get back to your or whatever. And she decided she was posting this on Twitter that she wasn’t going to do that anymore. She wasn’t going to apologize for replying late and she was just gonna say hi, you know, um, thank you for your email and just go into the response like, we’re all behind on email. Why should we all be apologizing? Four, uh, getting, you know, not responding within 20 minutes of email. So that’s, that was interesting to see that thread in it. And there were comments like, this is something women to apologizing a lot for things.

Sue: I also read something that said, instead of saying sorry, you say thank you. Yeah. Oh, sorry. I was like, thank you for your patience.

Tracy: Thank you for waiting. Yup.

Amy: So I wanted to ask you a question. I’m back to your class cause it’s still in my head and I can’t stop thinking about it. So you’re teaching a class and it’s mostly on design. How much of it is, you know, design versus, um, WordPress versus, you know, where you’re using design, like versus print versus the web, that kind of thing.

Sue: So I’m lucky in that I get to teach all four years of their students, the undergrads who go through the program. So first and second year is more skills based, exposure to the software and then projects that get them to use the software and learn design skills. But there is separate graphic design classes and then in their third and fourth year they’ll take interactive media with me. So that’s where we start learning html and CSS, building websites, you know, hand coding, using tools like brackets or Dreamweaver or, um, code pen and then a WordPress. So I tried to expose them to as much as I can, but I’m also constrained somewhat by what the school will support technologically. But I think at minimum they’ve gotta be doing WordPress cause if they’re going to work at all, they’re going to probably doing WordPress. Um, so I would say maybe two out of the six classes that I teach are really focused on the web.

Sue: It’s so it’s design and service at the web. It could be like I’m building a jquery slider and designing a webpage around that or building a whole WordPress website or like the service learning thing. Uh, we do have them build their own portfolios and they can choose to do WordPress or build it by hand or use another tool. And they almost always opt for wix or Squarespace or something where they can do it for free. And it’s more plug and play. Like, you know, moving pieces around. Like they would do an illustrator rather than building. So I find that, uh, probably of 30 or 40% of the students really take to web and the rest of them could take it or leave it. They just, you know, like I want to do print or packaging the ones that get it, love it. And we’ve had some really good success with students graduating from our little university and going on and doing really nice things. So one of my students from about seven years ago is now the lead designer at Verizon for all of their online a marketing.

Amy: Well, that was actually going to be my next question is if you knew of any of your students that had graduated and gone on to pursue a career in the field or specifically a career in WordPress?

Sue: Um, yeah, actually there was one student when I first started teaching at the university that was a 2012. And I didn’t know her. She was just in my class and we were doing WordPress, Eh, and she lived in, um, Binghamton, which is like an hour away from me. And about six months after she graduated, I got an email saying, I just want to say thank you for teaching us WordPress because of you. I was able to get a job at this company and that’s what they do.

Sue: It’s just a WordPress shop. And, uh, a couple years later I got another email from her saying, we’re opening up a satellite office in your town and we would love to have your students intern with us. And then if you know anybody, we’re hiring and she’s, she and I have been in touch since she left pretty much. She just had a baby. Yeah. WordPress has been instrumental in the success of a lot of the students who graduate from this particular program.

Angela: Do you ever, I’m speaking we’re camps or get involved with like deputy campus or any thing like that.

Sue: I didn’t do conference talks until last year even though I’ve done a lot of onscreen stuff with courses and I’ve taught in the classroom, I was really afraid to do a conference talk. And like the biggest thing I’d ever done at the university was speaking to about 45 other faculty. And that freaked me out. I thought if I want to get tenure, I should probably deal with this sphere. So I decided to start applying for conferences and my first three proposals got rejected and then the fourth one was accepted and that was WP campus. And the fifth one and the sixth one and the seventh one was accepted. So I did four conference talks last year and when I got to WP campus, it was in St Louis. I was like, ah, my people, like not only it’s WordPress people but it’s people in education so that we have similar, um, perspectives. And even though I’m not on the it side, I’m on the teaching side. That there was a lot of overlap. I loved it there. Um, yeah. So, uh, I’ve also started teaching more and I mean, sorry, doing more, more conference talks and I found that actually I really love it bigger.

Angela: That is, that is really cool. And um, what would be for people who are nervous about that?

Sue: One of the things I did, I, I, I joined one of their little committees for diversity and inclusion and one of the things they wanted to develop was training for other people. And it just so happened at the time I said yes and I worked with them for like a month. Some shit happened in my family and I needed to spend more time dealing with that. So I had to bow out of it, but I know that there’s a lot of training materials for WordPress to encourage people to go to camps. And I was going to talk at Rochester last year and then they lost my submission and then didn’t realize they lost it. So they said apply again this year. So I applied and I hopefully will get in and go talk there.

Amy: That’s awesome. Yeah. Speaking in front of people, it can be, even when you’re a teacher, when you go outside of your element and then having to speak in front of people can still be very nerve wracking.

Sue: Yeah. But what I found is that you know, the people, especially women in WordPress, we’re really generous and we want everybody else to succeed and we’re willing to kind of extend ourselves to help each other. So if any of my students came to me and said, oh, I want to go speak at a word camp, can you coach me? Like, heck yeah, I’d love to out good share my methodology and how I put a proposal together, which I got from other women in WordPress. I could share how I, before I go give a speech, how I put my PowerPoint together, like all of it.

Tracy: What are your subjects that you speak about?

Sue: Uh, one was at word, a WP campus in July was how I actually run a blog for the art department. So we have about nine different majors and a couple of minors. So I’ve got one student in each area writing once a week on what it’s like to study art in that area at this university. So there’s a painter, a sculptor design, major illustration, et cetera. And so I designed and built the WordPress website. And then I, I figured out how to get students to say yes and I did all the training, some of whom have no computer skills at all. So I taught them how to edit their images. I use Pixler, it’s free online instead of Photoshop, how to use WordPress. Everybody gets a bio page and they love it cause they get their photo on there. And I ask them a series of questions and that goes on there. And then I give them the opportunity to write one, two or three semesters, and that would be including winter break and summer break so that it’s a year round thing and within maybe a year we have over, we had like 1500 people. Now we’re like 2,500 but we’re, we’re global and we got people all over the world following us, which is really nice and, and it’s easy for me, it’s time consuming because I have to read everybody’s post and make sure that grammatically correct and they’re not bashing the university here or saying something weird, but otherwise, I love it and it’s a nice way to give them something. The university puts perspective students give them something back. And also these individuals, students, this is something that could go on their resume and I’m sure no matter what area of the arts they go into, this experience with WordPress is going to be valuable for them.

Angela: I love that. It’s just so I’m just, I’m so amazed by everything that you do and that we can meet in person and just talk and talk and talk. I was thinking about calling to WP campus this year. I’m looking into it.

Sue: cause it’s Portland, right? Going to be in Portland.

Angela: Yeah I did. I’m working on my first university, a websites this year. And so now I feel like I’m official and Amy does too. Don’t you work on university sites?

Amy: Yeah, I work on not for the university but for departments and grant projects and so you know, it takes a long time when they go through the university marketing department. So if they outsource then it gets done a lot faster. So well wanted to thank you so much for being on today. And before we go, if you can tell everybody where we can find you online.

Sue: Oh, okay. Well thank you too. This was really fun. I was nice to have the chat with you. A lucky chair.com is my website on Twitter. I’m active there all the time. So lucky chair news, uh, um, on Instagram too, at lucky chair. Those are the main places you’ll find me. I still have a Facebook cause I manage a lot of my customers Facebook presences. So I’m, I’m there, but my main place is Twitter. I also do photography, so Sue Jenkins photography. Although I, it needs a refresh. I haven’t updated it in forever.

Tracy: Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much. This was really fun to talk to you.

Sue: Thanks

Amy: Thank you for listening. Interested in being on the show. Sign up on our website, women in wp.com follow us on Twitter and Instagram and join our Facebook group to have conversations with other women in work.

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