Tagged: working adults

Is your career on the right track?

Gustavo Siguenza never expected to be where he is today.

Gustavo Siguenza, Bachelor of Science, Project Management, 2019

A carpenter from Dorchester, Siguenza always wanted to go to college but never had the chance. “I didn’t finish high school,” he explains “which prevented me from going to college.” When the opportunity did present itself, however, Siguenza jumped at it.

At first, he tried attending a community college but had a bad experience. As an adult learner, Siguenza worried about fitting in and getting used to being back in a classroom. “I enrolled in community college to ease my fears,” he says.” But, actually, it did the opposite.” In the community college, he felt isolated and alone as he tried to navigate the college experience. “I almost gave up on pursuing a degree,” he says. Continue reading

Success: Do you have what it takes?

Some advice from one generation of leaders to the next

by Phil Hammond

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

You get up in the morning. Get in your car, call Uber, hop on the T or settle yourself in a home office. How do you do it? How do you motivate yourself to be successful in your chosen field? How do construction managers, facility directors and project managers operate effectively, successfully and cooperatively within project teams?

It is estimated that by 2020, 46 percent of the workforce in the US will be between the ages of 24 and 39. For baby boomers, like me, that means preparing to hand over leadership in the workplace to members of the millennial generation. For some, including some millennials, this raises an important question: are millennials ready to lead?  Josh Bersin, in Forbes Magazine, argues they are not.  Pointing to a recent study which showed 30 percent of millennials themselves felt they were not prepared for the responsibilities of leadership due to a lack of confidence managing employees and resolving conflicts, Bersin notes, “this generation isn’t developed for leadership now” (Bersin, 2013 ). Continue reading

bird by bird: how to thrive, not merely survive, in the new academic year

black and white birds on a wire
Photo by Ridham Nagralawala on Unsplash
by Kelly Jenkins Lin

Author and speaker, Anne Lamott, tells the story of her ten-year-old brother who was trying to write a report on birds. Despite having nearly 3 months to work on it, he had put it off until the night before it was due. Close to tears, he sat at the family’s kitchen table surrounded by books and pencils and clean paper, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Then Lamott’s father sat down beside her brother, put his arm around his shoulders and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird” (Lamott, 1994).

For many adults, returning to school can feel like trying to write a report the night before it is due. On the threshold of a new academic year, surrounded by stacks of books and pencils and clean paper they feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what lies ahead and wonder how they will ever make it through. Below are five steps that will not only help students to survive, but to thrive, in the new academic year. Continue reading

Haylee Bacik

Hard hat, mortarboard, softball cap: Haylee Bacik shares how she balances work, school, family and fun

To hear many of Haylee Bacik’s professors and colleagues talk, she is something of a superstar. A 2014 graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology, Bacik earned her Master of Science in Construction Management in 2018, while working full-time and keeping up with a busy social life. Along the way, she received numerous awards and accolades, including this year’s Dean’s Award from the College of Professional and Continuing Education.

But, like so many part-time learners, Bacik wears a lot of hats—full-time employee, student, family member, teammate. And she has faced her share of challenges. Still, she has managed to find time for the things she enjoys—softball, volunteering, and a cat named Bandit.

Below are excerpts from a recent interview with Bacik.

L/L: Tell us about yourself.

Bacik: I grew up in Lowell Massachusetts and attended Greater Lowell Technical High School where I fell in love with carpentry. I first came to Wentworth as an undergraduate because it offered the perfect blend of hands-on learning and real-world application that I wanted. Now, I am a Project Engineer at Gilbane Building Company. Being in the field and solving problems is something that I enjoy doing and that stems from my carpentry shop roots.

[Outside of work and school] I enjoy playing softball. When I was an undergraduate [at Wentworth] I was captain of the team and received the Sweeney Award. Currently, I play in a summer co-ed softball league. I also enjoy knitting, sewing, and all sorts of crafts. And I have traveled to some incredible places—Mexico, Jamaica, Ecuador, and Ireland—but would love to visit France, Africa, and Greece sometime.

And I have a cat named, Bandit.

L/L: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Bacik: When I was younger…I wanted to be a veterinarian. However, in high school, I fell in love with the carpentry trade [which] led me to my current path. In my spare time, I volunteer for the Lowell Humane Society where I help plan events and care for the animals in the shelter.

L/L: What was a typical day like for you while you were going to school?

Bacik: Balancing school and work is no easy task, but it can absolutely be done with good time management. Often, I would wake up very early in the morning, go to the gym, go to work all day, and then stay at work through the early evening until my homework was finished. Every week I planned what I would work on for homework each day based on the weekly deliverables. Chipping away at the work day by day is key, as weekends are never as free as you plan them to be.

L/L: What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you solve it?

Bacik: The biggest challenge completing school while you are working full time is balance. The balance between work, school, your social life, family, and friends can be a real struggle. For me, it was making plans way ahead of time and fitting those planned events into my weekly schedule. There are going to be events and gatherings that you just won’t be able to attend. Knowing your limits and not stretching yourself too thin is so important, because making too many commitments is going to burn you out.

L/L: If you had to do it over again, what 3 things could you absolutely not do without?

Bacik: 1. A good, reliable laptop with a strong internet connection. (My classes were online)
2. A weekly/monthly planner. I used Outlook often to keep track of both work and school.
3. The support of my family, company, co-workers, and friends.

L/L: What is next for you?

Bacik: Post-graduation I have continued to work as a Project Engineer for Gilbane Building Company on a $12 million freezer/cooler expansion project in western Massachusetts. This is a great opportunity for me to learn about ground improvements, foundations, steel, and refrigeration systems as well as cost management. I look forward to gaining more field experience to further develop my career in project management.

L/L: Finally, If you were only allowed to post one Tweet what would it say?

Bacik: Be Kind. Be Driven. Be Humble.

a man and woman kneel next to a car with the Lowell Humane Society logo men and women pose on a softball field 

Check back for Part II of our interview with Haylee Bacik as she shares her thoughts on a career in construction management and the past, present and future of construction.

How Can I Tell if Online Learning is Right for Me?

As noted in Part One of this series, a growing number of colleges and universities are adding online learning opportunities to their course offerings, especially for part-time students. In addition, more and more students are turning to online learning as a way to fit their educational goals into their busy, professional lives.

For many online students, job and employment goals play an important role in their decision to pursue online learning opportunities. Seventy-three percent of online students reported that job and employment goals are the most important reasons for enrolling in an online program, according to this 2018 survey published by Best Colleges.com

Whether they are “Industry Switchers,” students transitioning to a new career (35%), or “Career Accelerators,” students who want to strengthen their professional skills and credentials (30%), students report that online learning offers them the best opportunity to advance their career on a schedule that fits their lifestyle.

But is online learning right for everyone? In this post we will look at some characteristics of online learners to help you determine whether an online learning environment is the right choice for you.

Characteristics of Online Students:

Depending on the format of the online program, students who interact and participate in an online learning environment require a different set of characteristics and study habits to ensure academic success than their counterparts in a more traditional, classroom-based environment.

To see if you have what it takes, ask yourself these questions:

Am I self-disciplined and self-motivated?

Unlike a classroom-based environment in which the instructor meets with students once or multiple times a week, most of the learning activities and communication in an online course are asynchronous, or self-paced. Students can participate and complete online assignments without any time or place constraints. In an online learning environment, consequently, it is possible for students to complete their course work at a time and place that is convenient for them.

However, with increased flexibility comes greater responsibility. Without the structure of the traditional classroom environment, online learners must be disciplined and self-motivated to keep up with the pace of the online course and complete all assignments on time.

Am I able to commit and set aside time each week for my online course(s)?

Online courses often require at least as much, if not more, time and commitment than classroom-based courses. Online courses, on average, require 10 to 12 hours of time per week for a three-credit course. While there is greater flexibility around when to complete an assignment within a given week, there is rarely time to procrastinate in an online learning environment. Before enrolling in an online program, make sure you can set aside enough time each week to keep up with your assignments.

Do I have good communications and writing skills?

In online courses, nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that you feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing to the instructor and your classmates. Find out how much writing is required and consider ways to improve your writing skills, such as working with a tutor, if necessary, before enrolling in an online course.

Will I miss the interactions of the classroom experience?

Depending on the course, the level of interaction between the student and instructor can vary in the online learning environment.  Online learning is often supported by a Learning Management System (LMS). Depending on the LMS students will have a number of tools to engage and communicate with their instructor and classmates such as threaded discussions, email, and web meetings. Before the start of the course, refer to the syllabus to determine the instructor’s expectations regarding participation and assignment guidelines. The carefully consider whether the tools available suit your interaction style and will help you meet the instructor’s expectations.

Am I comfortable using a computer?

Regular access to a reliable computer and internet connection is essential for any online learning program. You do not need to be a computer guru to be successful, however, you do need to have some basic technology skills, such as word processing, using a web browser, and downloading and installing software or hardware needed to meet the course requirements. Additionally, you should be comfortable navigating the LMS, uploading files for assignments, and participating in online discussions which are a significant part of the online learning experience.

After reflecting on your answers to these questions, you should be able to determine if an online learning environment is right for you. Keep in mind that while the online learning environment provides a number of advantages and is becoming increasingly popular among colleges and universities as well as employers, your own learning preferences and lifestyles should determine the ideal learning environment for you. If you are self-disciplined, have strong written communication skills, can set aside a sufficient amount of time each week and are comfortable using a computer and interacting with peers online, then an online learning environment might just be right for you. If so, why not give it a try?

About the Author

Ke’Anna Skipwith is the Director of Online Learning in the College of Professional and Continuing Education at Wentworth Institute of Technology. She holds a MS in Learning Technologies from Drexel University and is pursuing her Ed.D at Northeastern University in Higher Education Administration. She is a member of EDUCAUSE and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA). Ke’Anna is also the co-author of the book: Best Practices in Engaging Online Learners Through Active and Experiential Learning Strategies (2017).

References:

BestColleges.com. (2018). Annual Trends in Online Education.

https://www.bestcolleges.com/perspectives/annual-trends-in-online-education/ Accessed April 26, 2018.

Let’s Be Honest: Why Does Online Learning Matter?

More and more, colleges and universities are moving away from traditional, classroom-based learning models to more convenient and affordable online offerings. According to a recent study, distance—or online—learning in the United States has seen a steady increase over the last 5 years, while on-campus class attendance has decreased by 6.4 percent. And given the advantages of online learning, for both students and colleges and universities, the trend is likely to continue.

To review the Babson Survey Research Group report, “Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education in the United States” visit: https://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/highered.html

What does that mean for students? In this post we will look at what online learning is, how it works and the benefits it offers learners and, in particular, part-time, working adults. Next week, we will look at whether or not online learning is right for you.

What is Online Learning?


Let’s face it; there is no formal definition of online learning. The evolving landscape of online learning is a contemporary form of e-learning where students engage with course content via the internet. Online learning offers meaningful learning experiences using a wide variety of teaching formats including fully online, in which all activities are online, hybrid/blended, combining online and classroom learning, asynchronous or self-paced learning, and synchronous, or real-time group learning (see chart).

Course content and learning activities are provided online through a Learning Management System (LMS) which is easily accessed by both instructors and students. Because online and hybrid courses are available via the internet, they are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week and  provide opportunities for innovative and practical experiences where students can apply their knowledge and skills.

What are the benefits of online learning?

Whether students are engaged in group or self-paced activities, online or a combination of online and classroom instruction, new and often innovative learning experiences take place. Online learning allows students various ways to communicate and process information from a variety of sources including the internet, web resources, and the learning community created within the LMS.

There are numerous benefits to learning in an online environment:

    • Convenience: Students have the opportunity to learn from anywhere and at any time. Online course materials are easily accessed and can be downloaded from the LMS allowing students to create a schedule and select a location that fits their needs.

 

    • Confidence Participating in online courses can be less intimidating for some students than in a face-to-face environment. Students who may be shy are much more likely to participate in an online course environment. This produces a greater diversity of opinion and shared perspectives as well as creates an engaging student learning experience.

 

    • Credits: Today, many colleges and universities are accepting transfer credits for online courses. Depending on the program, students may be eligible to transfer in college credit and complete their online degree faster.

 

    • Cost Effective: Online learning is less expensive than traditional classroom-based courses. Students who work either full time or go to school part time would not have to take time off or waste time commuting to campus. This allows students to be committed to their learning without having to worry about missing a class.

 

    • Communication: Online learning makes is easier for students to reach out to their instructors with questions, support and feedback. Students can connect with their instructors in a variety of ways such as through online discussion forums, email, or by scheduling a web meeting or phone call.

 

    • Career focused: Employers are seeking more online learning opportunities to help employees develop new skills, provide new career paths for professional growth and advancement. Students would have the opportunity to take online courses that allows them to be remain competitive and improve their job performance.

 

Simply put, online learning is a win-win for everyone. For colleges and universities, it presents the opportunity to offer new and innovative learning experiences to more and more students. For students, and in particular, part-time students trying to balance work and family, it opens the door to the education and training they need to reach their personal and professional goals. And for employers, it provides a steady stream of well-trained and educated employees to fill much needed positions.

With all of that going for it, online learning is sure to continue to grow and will likely be the wave of the future in higher education.

 Next week, we will discuss ways to determine if an online learning environment is the right choice for you.

About the Author

Ke’Anna Skipwith is the Director of Online Learning in the College of Professional and Continuing Education at Wentworth Institute of Technology. She holds a MS in Learning Technologies from Drexel University and is pursuing her Ed.D at Northeastern University in Higher Education Administration. She is a member of EDUCAUSE and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA). Ke’Anna is also the co-author of the book: Best Practices in Engaging Online Learners Through Active and Experiential Learning Strategies (2017).