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All About Drupal Training with Mario Hernandez

September 10, 2019

open waters

In this episode, we talk with Mediacurrent's Mario Hernandez about why training is so important for web teams to grow and stay competitive. And yes, we are once again interviewing one of the hosts. 

About Mario 

In addition to his position as Head of Learning, Mario is a Senior Front End Developer with over 15 years of Drupal experience. He and I actually started on the same day, 5 years ago. Mario is a regular speaker and trainer at tech conferences including Drupal Camps and DrupalCons. He is a co-host of the Open Waters podcast and an active participant in the Drupal core project and other open source projects. Prior to Mediacurrent, Mario also has over 10 years of experience in the Federal Government.

Project Pick

Apollo GraphQL

  • Server
  • Client
  • Platform


The best way to learn is to teach. 

  1. How did you get started with Drupal and front end development in general?
  2. How did you get started doing training?
  3. What is your favorite part of training people?
  4. Is Mediacurret’s training limited to only events and/or only Drupal?
  5. How do you think training is most effective when working with a client’s internal development team?
  6. In addition to FE training, does Mediacurrent offer training in other areas?  Yes! We offer training in Accessibility, SEO, Back End, Digital Strategy, GatsbyJS and more
  7. How can organizations interested in our training offerings get more information?



Mark Casias: Welcome to Mediacurrent's Open Waters podcast, the podcast about open source solutions. I'm Mark Casias, and with me here today are my co-hosts Bob Kepford.

Bob Kepford: Hello, people of the internet.

Mark Casias: And Mario Hernandez.

Mario Hernandez: Hello everyone.

Mark: How's everything going out there in the sunny California lands where you guys live?

Bob: It's hot and sunny.

Mario: It's very sunny and beautiful today. So, yes. How about you?

Mark: New Mexico is actually cloudy and windy, but it's very nice. It's always better when when it's cloudy because we're standing about 10 feet away from the sun when it's not. So, this episode, we're going to be talking to a very special guest from way out there in the world. Mario Hernandez.

Mark: Mario is a senior front end developer at Mediacurrent with over 15 years of experience. He and I actually started on the same day, five years ago, so I've known this man for quite some time. He's a regular speaker and trainer at tech conferences, including Drupal camps and DrupalCons. Mario is the co-host of the. Open Waters podcast, you may have heard of that, and also an active participant in the Drupal core project and other open source projects. Prior to Mediacurrent, Mario has also had 10 years of experience with the federal government. What were you doing at the federal government?

Mario: I was doing Drupal work.

Mark: Oh, experience in Drupal with the federal government. I thought you were a spy.

Mario: No. Well sometimes, but no, mainly Drupal.

Mark: Okay, good. We'll get into the, how's this gonna work? Are you gonna interview yourself? Cause you normally do the interviews.

Mario: Yes. I'll be switching roles. I'll be asking the questions and answering them.

Mark: Yeah, no, I don't think so. I don't, I don't think that'll work. I think that'll confuse people. At least me, it'll confuse me and that's, I'm the only one that needs to not be confused here. So, but we'll do that after our Pro Project Pick or are we just, are we calling it the pro project pick or just the project pick? I don't think we've settled on that yet. I mean, 10 episodes in or something like that. And we still haven't figured out the names of our segments, but that's okay. The project pick. Bob, what do you have for us?

Bob: I was going to say we could call it the water pick, but that doesn't work.

Mark: Yeah, no, no, no. We'll think of something better, or we won't. It'll just be the project pick, your choice.

Bob: Well, today I just wanted to highlight the Apollo GraphQL project. So GraphQL, you may have heard of that. It's similar to SQL, but it's a standard for writing queries and it's very popular these days as a replacement for Rest API. But the Apollo project specifically is a collection of different projects that make it easier for you to work with GraphQL. There's a client which you can use in your, in your JavaScript project. There is a server component which I've been using on a project recently, and then they offer a platform where they host the GraphQL server. So it's if you are doing Gatsby or React or Angular or if you're building some sort of data normalization layer, it's a very very powerful, well-documented, full featured project. So worth checking it out over at

Mark: Very cool. So that's keep that in your quiver. All right. Let's get on with the interview, and Mario, I guess what we'll do is we'll swap Bob and I'll swap between the the questions here that you, that you wrote out for yourself. So I hope you're prepared.

Mario: I hope so. I've been studying those questions.

Mark: Okay. So we'll start off. So you've been with mMediacurrent for five years now. How old did you get started with Drupal and front end development in general?

Mario: Yeah, so that was back in the late nineties, early two thousands. When I used to work for the Disney studios in Burbank here in California, and they were building their first website, so I started writing HTML for that and really liked it a lot. So then, after that, I moved into the federal government where I did a lot of development, mostly front end. And that's how I was introduced to Drupal. BVuilt a couple of websites with Drupal there. But my focus has always been front end, and to this day is what I love doing.

Bob: Wait, hold on. I've known you for five years and I didn't know you worked at Disney.

Mark: Yeah, actually that was news to me as well.

Mario: Yeah, I worked there for two years. If you've driven on the 101 or 134 you see the Disney studios there. So I was a computer operator at the time and then I was learning development while I was working in. That's how I got started.

Mark: Yeah. Wow. Very cool.

Bob: So you've been doing Drupal and development, I know for a long time and I've worked with you on projects and stuff, but I don't know if I've ever heard you just explain what got you interested in doing trainings, 'cause you've done multiple trainings at different events open to the public kind of, you know, on various topics. What got you interested in doing trainings?

Mario: Yeah. So training is something that I feel very passionate about. I love doing it. What really got me interested is especially when I started working with Drupal, I depended a lot on training tutorials. And that's really what allowed me to build some of those sites that I was tasked with building for the government. And so I always thought that, you know, it was a way for me to kind of give back to the community, being able to help others get started or level up their skills by providing tutorials or training workshops. I've also done some online training, I did for a couple of years I did training, online training for a company in the East coast where I would teach things about, you know, front end development, responsive design, HTML, and things like that. So always enjoyed it.

And so lately I've been putting a lot of effort and work into a Mediacurrent's training initiative, which we have been doing for a couple of years at different Drupal events, DrupalCamps, Drupal cons two years in a row. And Markie has been helping me with that. So yeah, it's a great way to give back to the community, to meet great people, and to also learn, because I feel like every time I do a training session or a training workshop, I end up learning myself a lot more in an effort to get myself ready for the training and the questions that may come up during the training.

Mark: Yeah, I've always had an, actually this is a quote from Douglas Adams: "the best way to learn something is to try to teach it to somebody," right? That's actually why I get involved with the trainings as much as I can as well. But, so is that, what would you say is the favorite part of when you're training somebody? What really makes you happy about doing that?

Mario: It's just here in front of people saying, you know what, I am excited about this and I can't wait to get back home and start working on it or start putting this into practice, or hearing back from people after the training, through email or social media saying, you know, how helpful the training was. It's really rewarding to be able to get that feedback and you feel like, you know, you've done your job if you help even one person during the training. I always felt that no matter how simple you think an idea or a topic may be for you, it may be a very important topic for someone else to learn. And, you know, if you have that knowledge, I really highly encourage everybody to experience that and share it with others. So I try to do that and not just the training, but writing blog posts or the podcast that we all do here together. So just a great, great feeling to be able to help others.

Bob: So I'm aware that you've done these events, these training events and things at Drupal events. Is this something that Mediacurrent only offers through actual events and is it beyond Drupal events? What, tell us a little bit more about the training.

Mario: Yeah, so we are, as I say, we're really ramping up our training initiative at Mediacurrent. And most of the training that we have been doing has been at different events, whether it's DrupalCon, Drupal camps and other events. But in addition to that, we also provide training for clients. So we have engaged several clients on training and whether it is front end training, back end training, and anything else, we encourage clients sometimes, or if they have an internal team that they want to ramp up on our project to work with us, to collaborate with us, providing the training to the internal team is a great way to allow their team to contribute from the get-go on the project. We can ramp them up before the project development starts, and as we start the development, they have a very good understanding of our process, our workflows, and they can start contributing to the project right away.

So we have really great success stories with a couple of clients where that was the case there. They were able to contribute early on to the project and because of that, the projects were really a success. So having that onboarding experience for their team is a great way to get started on working with us. But also sometimes when we hand over a project, we are able to provide a training, too, whether it's site building or any other type of training that a client's team needs to be more efficient with and be able to, you know, have more success with the product that we just built for them. So yes, client training is something that we highly are putting on our list of priorities to provide to clients that we engage with. And so far we've seen great great success stories with them.

Mark: Cool. And you may have already answered this, but I just want to kind of reiterate, how do you think training is most effective when working with the client's internal development team?

Mario: Yeah, so in the case of the clients that we engage with, we determine what their requirements or the goals are. In some cases we handle the entire build and development project, right? But in other cases, clients may have a team that they may not be up to speed with the latest workflows and technologies that we use. And so they will ask us to conduct maybe a couple of days training or a week long training workshops with their teams so that they can be up to speed. And when development starts, they can be part of that process as well so, at the end of the project, they are left with a product that they can maintain on their own and continue to scale without having that much need from our team. Or even, in any case, it may be just like maybe a consulting capacity that we may participate, but they will be able to handle pretty much all the development that is required by the project.

Bob: Cool. Okay.

Mario: And in addition to that, you know, if somebody is wondering, you know, what training do we provide or what training will clients be getting from us?

Mark: Hey, no stealing Bob's question! He was about to ask that.

Mario: I thought he skipped that one, so.

Mark: Oh, no. That's number six. Go ahead.

Bob: Well, I don't, I think we might be redundant now at this point.

Mario: I think, I think you guys asked me the same question twice, but it's okay.

Mark: No, no, it's number seven. We're on track here. Come on, Bob, Spit it out.

Bob: What happens when Mario writes the questions? Oh, wait. He did.

Mark: Yes, exactly. (laughs)

Bob: So you do a lot of front end training, but beyond the front end training, what are other types of training does Mediacurrent offer?

Mario: Yeah, so I kind of focus, yes, on the front end part of the training, but I team up with other people and the team like Markie even you, Bob, I know we conducted some of the training for clients other team members who...

Bob: Hey, what does that mean? Even me?

Mark: Even you, Bob.

Mario: Yeah, that's doesn't sound good, huh? (laughs) Even Bob can do this. No. So yes, the training that I focus on the most is the front end part of a development process. And we've be conducting component development training for awhile, responsive design, HTML, CSS. But we also team up with other team members who have experienced on other areas, such as SEO, accessibility, back end development, digital strategy, and lately Gatsby, and so when a client comes to us, we can actually tailor the training to their needs.

Mario: It's not a cookie cutter type of curriculum that we put in place, it's something that we can customize it to the client's needs and be able to offer a more relevant training to the client based on their requirements or their needs. So when is it, the training is conducted at an event, you know, it's a more general type of training where it can be applied to pretty much any project. For clients, we do emphasize on making sure that we are meeting their needs when it comes to training.

Mark: Cool. And how can organizations or people interested in our training offerings get more information?

Mario: So we are revamping our training offerings. And as I mentioned before, we have several topics that we can train on, but for additional information, people can go to where they can see a lot more details on the different offerings, maybe perhaps different packages, depending on the level that you want your team to be trained on. And all the information that is related to training can be found there, so you can reach out to us and see how we can help you with your training needs.

Bob: Yeah. And we'd like to remind our listeners that the Mediacurrent's blog includes a huge selection of tutorials and most on most topics around technology, including accessibility, SEO, front end and back end development, design, user experience, marketing, digital strategy, all kinds of stuff. You just got to go to a and check it out.

Mark: I like how Mario writes out the questions that makes you have to read stuff, Bob.

Bob: Yeah. You like how I didn't write it, read it the way? I didn't write it or read, read it beforehand.

Mark: It's a little, for those of you in the, in the back of the room, it's a little thing. Comment by interviewer.

Mario: Can only do so much for you guys.

Bob: I know. Well, he tried to, he tried to interview himself, so, to be fair.

Mario: I was trying to help you out. But you guys did all right, though.

Bob: You did answer your own questions. That's when I'm worried about you.

Mark: Yeah, exactly. If you ask questions, say, huh, that's a great question. Yeah.

Mario: I don't know the answer to that one.

Mark: Alrighty, Mario, good hearing from you. Hopefully we'll have you back on the show next episode, maybe.

Mario: Yeah, that'll be great.

Mark: I, probably, I guess.

Mario: I'm sure I will be there.

Mark: Sure. actually, yeah, you will. You kind of have to be, you're the co-host. And thank you for doing that, by the way.

Mario: Well, thanks.

Mark: And thanks for coming onto the show. That's it for today. Thanks for joining us. If you're looking for more useful tips, technical takeaways, and creative insights, visit for more episodes and to subscribe to our newsletter. Thanks for playing.

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