Thinking Of Returning To School?

If you are one of the many people who are finding that landing a job is difficult at present, one of the things you might be thinking of is returning to school to further your education. This could be just the remedy you need or a colossal waste of your time and money, resulting in kick-starting your career or leaving you saddled with debt and still with no job. Yikes! Isn’t that your biggest fear!?

Debt; four simple letters which together could find you with a poor credit rating, affecting your future ability to buy a car, a house, even land a job with some organizations. Just the thought of going to school and investing a year or more of your precious time only to have the possibility you could emerge still in the same situation with no job prospects? Why it’s enough to drive a person crazy!

Hang on a minute. Let’s look at this rationally and objectively. Take a breath; a deep one that fills your lungs and then exhale. Do it again. Better? Okay, let’s begin. Oh and I should add that I have no vested interests in any educational institution.

Supposing that as our premise, you are finding it difficult to get job interviews and when you do, you’re not getting job offers. It could be that there are too many people with the same qualifications as you, and in addition, some of your competition have added education. The decision to head on back to school and may be exactly the right decision if employers in your field place a high value on extra education, or you learn they view your education as out-of-date.

Could be that your degree from 1981 is now of questionable value, or in a field like technology where advances come often and quickly, you’re losing out to new grads. If you have been able to narrow down what course or training you’re lacking that is holding you back, then returning to the classroom to get it is wisdom my friend. Don’t even read the rest of this article; get up and go register now!

Another solid reason for more education is if you have come to a point in your life where a completely different career is in order. You’ve grown and with aging you’ve found you have new interests; interests which you’d like to pursue as a career and your current education doesn’t qualify you to compete. Same advice, quit reading and contact the College or University and get yourself registered.

There is another kind of situation you might be in which could also have you considering the classroom as an option. You might not be at all sure what kind of work you’d like to do. Returning to school would cocoon you from the world of work for 2-3 years while you pursued a degree or diploma.  Couldn’t hurt at any rate to add some letters to the end of your name, and hopefully you’d figure it out in that time.

Well it’s not up to me to say one way or the other but generally I’d say all education is worthwhile. It will add to your resume and maybe some time in a placement applying those skills could indeed spark a real interest you then pursue and life all works out beautifully. That money you owe when you graduate isn’t debt at all but rather an investment you’ve made in your mind and your future. Well done!

However, that time you spend in a classroom could actually prove harmful. If you graduate and then don’t feel inspired to look for work doing what you went back to school to learn, that money you spent might actually just be plain old debt; with you no closer to knowing what to do with your working life.

A good idea perhaps is before investing your time and money in school, interview some people doing the work you might be doing upon graduation. Pick their brain, find out what they really do and ask yourself if you’d be happy in a similar position? Ask the employers you’d be asking to hire you when you graduate if they prefer graduates from certain schools or programs. Not much point happily going to school somewhere only to graduate and then find employers don’t value what you received or the institution you got it from isn’t recognized.

One thing is for sure; don’t return to school just to hide from work. If you’re not sure what to do, spend some time working in several jobs. Invest a year – maybe two or three actually – doing a number of jobs finding out what you like and what you don’t.  You choose what goes on a future resume anyhow, so don’t fret about job hopping; you’re on a mission of discovery.

Going back to school is a wise decision which will improve the way you think, make you more competitively employable and give you an edge. However, upgrading your education and then finding out you’re eventually working in a job you could have got three years ago without your new degree might be a waste of time or just part of your education in the game of Life. Depends on your attitude and how you view things.

Best advice if you’re on the fence? Make a decision either way, and make it NOW; the stress of not deciding isn’t helpful. You’re on the clock.


Opportunities Squandered

Most who facilitate classroom instruction will tell you that a classroom full of adults and a class room of high school students should be instructed using very different techniques.

My first introduction to this concept is still as fresh in my mind as the day I experienced it first-hand sitting in my first university Sociology class. I can recall the Professor telling us he wouldn’t be taking daily attendance because it was up to us to get what we needed by being present; we were accountable to ourselves. That has stuck with since that September morning way back in 1979!

So zoom ahead to 2015 and I’m the person at the front of a room and I’m facilitating employment workshops with adults, all of whom are either underemployed or out of work entirely. I’m doing my part in similarly trying to make people accountable first and foremost to themselves for both their attendance and their success.

I’ll be honest with you that things haven’t changed much since 1979 as I’ve experienced them. Personally I was the studious one who never skipped a class and really wanted to soak up whatever someone was trying to educate me on. I was open to learning and while I didn’t agree with everything being taught, I did so if I couldn’t come up with a counter point of view based in experience and fact.

In a group of 12 invitees to an employment workshop I’m running for two weeks, here’s what I’ve observed: 1 never bothered to show up at all – for the second time by the way. 4 have missed one or two days of the 7 we’ve had to date with questionable reasons. One in fact won’t even tell me why she was absent one day.

So why let such people continue on in a class at all? Well some people wouldn’t quite frankly. In fact one of my colleagues has a rule that you cannot miss a single day in the first of her three-week class or you’re out. That’s her call, it’s her program.

Me, I figure that I’ve explained the expectations even before class began in a personal 1:1 chat and they agreed to the conditions. the only one in fact they are hurting is themselves. Disappointing, disrupting, disrespectful – absolutely. Do they really care about these things? No, not always. But if they are to be truly treated as adult learners I’ll teach and share with them what I can, when I can. If you aren’t present, you can’t learn.

Now of course the real world doesn’t work this way and I’ve told them all this. Miss time away from work with no excuse and you’re gone. And if you can’t commit to being at a class for 2 weeks to help you get a job, how on earth are you going to perform should you get one?

There are some consequences which at least one of them will feel personally today. A colleague of mine who helps match our clients with employers who have job openings asked me for the resumes of the people in my group. I gave them to her and then she asked me who were my ‘A’ and ‘B’ people. Those whom have shoddy attendance, who have been less than committed to their own job search and have been idle, she doesn’t want to pass on to employers with whom she herself is trying to build a reputation with for sending quality people. So some are going to get interviews for real jobs, and some will undoubtedly think it unfair they didn’t get a chance. They did get a chance however. They didn’t make the most of it.

My advice is pretty straightforward; all the people you interact with are constantly observing your behaviour and sizing you up. Your behaviour ultimately predicts how you are going to act in the future. If you want inside leads on jobs, help, advice, good references, people to speak well of you, etc. demonstrate through your actions that you are deserving.

One of those in my group is disappointed she hasn’t had a job interview yet. Ironically in my opinion, her ‘interview’ started on day one when she walked in my class. I’ve been evaluating her since then and watching how she participates, her commitment to her own success, how she handles adversity and disappointment, how she copes with life events outside the class. No it’s not a job interview with a job on the line at this time, but I could be a reference in the future and either be a great one to extol her virtues or politely decline when asked because I would tell the truth.

If you want others to help you, you must first decide to help yourself. It stands to reason that if you aren’t committed to your own success, other people are going to stop going out of their way to really work hard on your behalf. If you get a job lead, follow-up on it. If you are told you should get out from the screen and knock on doors, ask for interviews, make some phone calls, do some research, etc. you should.

Opportunities don’t come along as frequently as we’d like. When they do come along, we always have a choice to seize them, dabble in them or let them pass us by completely. We always have a choice and it’s our decisions that define us.