Matías Hernández: leveling up by sharing knowledge

Matías Hernández: leveling up by sharing knowledge
Meg Cumby
Meg Cumby

Based in Chile, Matías has been a professional developer for 10 years. He wanted to share his knowledge to help others, while also leveling up his expertise to move beyond being a "ticket" developer and be the kind of developer that can contribute to better decision-making.

As a long-time egghead learner, he knew one of the great ways to do that was to learn in public and create content to teach others. He particularly wanted to create content in Spanish, given that it's his first language, and it was a possibility that we here at egghead were open to when we invited him to become an instructor.

Matías struggled to carve out time to create his first screencasts, finding it difficult to balance working on content with his full-time job and being a parent of two children.

After the pandemic hit in 2020, he found himself searching for a new job. At that point, he renewed his resolve to dedicate time to create content to share his expertise publicly.

One of the things that makes it challenging to get a new job in my case is that almost all of my work is under a non-disclosure agreement. You have nothing to show since your work belongs to the company or client. So I cannot show that work, but I can show that I know what I'm doing through teaching.

Creating his first screencasts

Matías started with recording his 30-second demo, followed by his first full-length lesson. egghead team members Zac Jones and Lauro Silva provided feedback to help him improve and fine-tune the lesson. Getting welcoming and supportive feedback helped him overcome some feelings of intimidation and imposter syndrome to complete the initial lessons.

They are really quick with the feedback cycles, which made me feel that they were interested in my work and that feeling helped me to continue and push forward," says Matías. "They have critiques, but every critique is good feedback. It's impossible to feel bad about your work because every mistake you do is a learning opportunity with them. They make you feel like you can get it done!

After incorporating the feedback we gave, Matías hit an important milestone, publishing his first lesson in May 2020. He published other lessons, some in small 3-to-4-lessons course collections, including ones in Spanish — a first for egghead!

Some of his lessons are in both Spanish and English. Creating content in two languages provides Matías with an interesting perspective.

You can think about something in different ways because each language represents a different culture and way of thinking," he says. "Doing the lessons in a bilingual way makes me think harder about how to explain something in my native language, especially since there is no direct translations for many tech words.

Learning how to apply instructional design and user research

When he was unsure of what to focus on next (analysis paralysis is a common struggle for a lot of creators), we did a planning session with him to narrow down a topic for a more comprehensive set of lessons, which can be a good stepping stone before exploring doing a full course. We walked him through applying instructional design to define the desired end result for the learner, as well as what concepts would and would not be covered.

Lauro and Zac helped me to nail down the curriculum, which helped keep my ideas in place, says Matías.

He also joined our first Instructor Course Club, where we brought together a group of instructors to learn and support each other in designing and producing an effective course supported by user research and outcome-focused instructional design. As part of the Course Club, Matías learned how to research what pains those people are experiencing, use that research to help select a topic to teach, and apply instructional design to create an effective curriculum.

I joined a lot of communities to read and understand what their troubles are," he says. "So you actually end up teaching something that will help someone else. It's not just whatever you think that people need, it's actually what people need.

Gaining confidence as an educator and building a growing catalog of content

Between May and December 2020, Matías published a total of 34 lessons on egghead — some individual ones, some part of smaller courses. His screencasts were the first Spanish content egghead has ever published, which is pretty cool to see!

He's looking forward to finishing recording and launching his first full egghead course Pensando en React (Thinking in React). His goal is to help people effectively start working with React and be less confused by first developing an understanding of how to work with a component-based layout.

With the confidence he gained with creating screencasts, Matías started creating even more types of content to share his experience with Spanish-speaking developers.

egghead helped me to kickstart my side career as an educator," he says. "I started writing my blog and newsletter (including small email courses), started two podcasts, and began writing in freeCodeCamp. I'm sharing posts and helping others in some communities. I became an Auth0 Ambassador and a Cloudinary Media Developer Expert.

He says his egghead videos and the rest of his public body of work likely helped him land his current job as a Senior Staff React Developer, as it allowed him to demonstrate his expertise.

Creating educational content has become part of Matías's routine. It's still a challenge to dedicate time to work on side projects on top of his full-time work and family. One of the things Matías says he learned over the course of 2020 was being careful to avoid getting caught into a "hamster wheel of content creation."

It's still hard for me to keep up with everything, but I'm working every day to improve that," he says. "l'm trying to take time without actively publishing in order to create a good plan and be able to deliver better material.