Education

Don’t let work get in the way of furthering your career

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Posted By Doris Fortner

 

We all know the way that it can go. You’re at an early stage in your working life and you can’t command a high salary, so you take the work you can get and you make enough to get by, but only by working long hours. Time goes by and you realize that you can’t easily move to another job because you don’t have the qualifications, but you’re not earning enough to save up, so you can’t afford to take time off in order to improve your qualifications. You may even feel a bit trapped. Some people spend their whole lives like this, but you don’t have to. It has never been easier to learn while you work than it is today.

Online education

The big game-changer here is online education, which has transformed the way that people study. It’s much easier to fit into your life than traditional approaches to education because you can do it anywhere with a decent internet connection, or you can even download videos and watch them in places without one. In jobs where you spend a lot of time waiting around, such as cashier work in a small grocery store, you can even study at work, while others will find that they can study while commuting by train or bus. If your job requires you to stay in accommodation away from your home, whether that’s a motel or an oil rig, you’ll be able to study without needing special equipment, just your phone or laptop.

Because class sizes are larger and overheads are lower, online education is generally much more affordable than traditional alternatives, but this doesn’t mean that it’s less valuable. These days, most employers take it seriously, as do traditional educational institutions – even the Ivy League. As long as your course is properly certified, a qualification earned this way will be just as valuable to you as a traditional one. It could be just what you need to make the leap into a new role or even change careers entirely, opening the door to a much brighter future.

Flexible hours

Most online courses offer flexible hours across all or most of what they teach. This means that even if you do shift work and your hours are always changing, you’ll still be able to fit study around them. You’ll also find that the majority of courses are highly modular, allowing you to split the work into hour-long or even half-hour-long sections so that you can study during breaks at work. You will still need to work hard and commit yourself to making up at least the recommended number of hours overall, but you’ll be able to fit them into evenings, weekends or whatever works best for you – and if you’re studying online, you won’t need to worry about getting to a particular location in order to get useful work done.

Some types of course include practical elements such as lab work, or involve group discussions, and these will require work at fixed times. However, even then, there is usually some flexibility available in terms of the options you pick. Studying at odd times can add interesting elements to your education because it means that you’re likely to spend more time interacting with students in other time zones – even other countries. This is great for networking as it enables you to expand your network of contacts far beyond your local area, and it will also broaden your perspective, introducing you to new approaches – this might make it easier for you to get your head around concepts that you’ve been struggling with.

Combine work and study

If you plan to stay with your current employer or in your current profession and simply want to gain the qualifications that will give you access to more senior roles, you won’t be the only one who benefits from your education. For this reason, a significant number of employers are willing to offer paid time off to workers who are studying, while others actually sponsor them. Larger companies often have specific programs for managing this, so it could be worth having a chat about your situation with HR. If you work for a smaller organization and you’re thinking about raising the issue with your boss, prepare by identifying specific ways that improving your qualifications could be an asset.

Some professions encourage lifelong learning in order to ensure that as many employees as possible reach their full potential, and this is often done by combining study and work. If you decide to enhance your nursing career with a University of Indianapolis post-master’s DNP, you will need to amass a suitable number of clinical hours engaged in specific duties relevant to your course, and you can do this by engaging with your current employer. This way, you’ll not only get paid for your hours as usual, but you’ll also be able to get closer to securing your qualification. Similar approaches apply in areas such as law and accountancy, and in many blue-collar trades.

Leave your comfort zone

Even if you’re not leaving your existing job to do it, getting back into education after a prolonged absence can be intimidating. You may feel the need to refresh your skills or worry that you’re not up to it. This is not a good reason to remain trapped in a situation that fails to satisfy you, however. There are lots of short courses available online – some of them even free – and they’re a great way to test the waters. Studying at this level isn’t much of a gamble. It will help you to work out where your strengths lie and which skills you might want to work on a bit harder. It will also help you to gain some confidence.

A stable life, even if it’s not what you really want, can easily become comfortable. The questions you need to ask yourself are: do you want to stay there forever? Do you want to look back on your life in old age and note that this was as far as you got? If the answer is no, then education is your way out – so take it and build a career that you can feel proud of.

 

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