In his hit single “School’s Out,” rocker Alice Cooper proclaimed “School’s out for summer! School’s out forever!” I can see why those lyrics would appeal to high school students, but now that I’m older and wiser, the lyrics just don’t resonate. Education doesn’t have to end at a certain stage in life, and it shouldn’t!
As a Deployment Team Lead and Industry Solutions Consultant at TripSpark, I help TripSpark’s developers improve our products, and I also determine configuration settings and install in-vehicle hardware at client sites. A few years ago, I started to think about taking some business administration courses so that I could strengthen my skill set and be able to provide more meaningful input when participating in business discussions. In September 2016 I took the plunge and enrolled in a post-graduate business administration certificate program offered online through York University.
I would like to share my continuing education journey in the hopes that I’ll inspire others to enroll in a course or program. Read on to learn more about my experience, what I learned from the program I took, and how TripSpark supported me every step along the way.
Thanks to the courses I took, I’m able to better articulate my thoughts and ideas to management, assist in creating better project plans, understand company decisions based on financial information. I also developed stronger critical thinking skills, negotiation and influencing skills, and business acumen. When having conversations with our customers, now I can better understand how their businesses work and what their business means to TripSpark.
I would say the Project Management course that I took was the most valuable of all. I gained a higher appreciation for what our Project Managers do and developed the ability to break down tasks into deliverables and milestones. It really helped me with identifying priorities and setting appropriate timelines.
Supporting employee development is a big part of TripSpark’s corporate culture. Overall, my manager and TripSpark were willing to work with me to support my education. TripSpark covered all my program costs including books and materials through the company’s Education Reimbursement Program, which gives employees up to $7500.00 towards an educational program. The entire process, from putting in the request to getting reimbursed for the courses was straightforward and easy.
It was nice to be able to work from home when I needed to balance my work, school, and personal responsibilities. I would also sometimes do coursework during my free time while traveling to client sites.
Having never tried to manage school, work, and family life at the same time, I knew it would be a challenge to fit everything in – but I was up for the challenge!
My advice for adult learners that go back to school is to manage your time well and make the time to do what you love. What I really love to do is get together with my family and friends, so I always made sure to make the time. I also suggest setting small goals. While in the program, sometimes all I wanted to do was to sit down and watch my favorite TV show. So, what I would do is set a goal to watch my show after reading a chapter or finishing an assignment.
I recently received my post-graduate certificate in business administration, but that doesn’t mean I’m done with my education. As Stephen Hawking once said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” My final words of advice for readers is to avoid thinking you have all the answers, and instead actually seek them out! Get out of your comfort zone, explore different ideas and consider a continuing education course. It'll be challenging at times but the reward is worth it!