i think i finally have a next step

People who know me in real life know that I can wax poetic for ages about what I want to do next with my life. I’ve been in kind of a rut since finishing the MBA program in 2014, and now my professional life is getting sucked up into that rut. It’s not that I don’t like what I do, but I really can’t see this going on for much longer. I’ve tried making the jump into private industry more than a few times, and each time I get a bite I’m told that I just do not have the experience to switch industries. It’s like that great job hunt of 2010-2011 all over again, only this time I have 6 years under my belt plus two Master’s degrees…and it’s still not enough.

I’ve known for a while now that if I want to switch my career I’ll have to jump back into school…again. I like school, but I really haven’t been sure if I was ready to commit to paying my way through grad school again. I have too many graduate credits through USF to get any sort of financial aid, and I haven’t been in the best place financially to get enough saved up for the first semester tuition payment until recently. So now that I can maybe actually afford to get going, it’s time to start looking into different programs and schools. After evaluating what I like to do with options that were available, I finally found a program that suits my needs and my future career desires: Information Learning and Technologies, specifically the online program through The University of Colorado – Denver. The program costs about the same as the in-person program at USF, and it is more design-focused versus teaching focused. I want to design courses and online learning technologies, not actually teach the course.

I know this seems so far off from economic development research analysis, but after evaluating myself I came to three conclusions:

  • My favorite job that I’ve ever had was tutoring in the AVID program. It wasn’t being in front of students that I loved, it was coming up with different ways to help students learn the same concepts. Not everyone learns well with the traditional AVID approach, and it was my job to find new learning avenues for the kids that were still struggling in my study groups.
  • I really love technology. I’ve been coding blog layouts since high school, so I have a pretty sound knowledge of HTML and CSS. I pick up new ideas and concepts pretty fast, so I’m not intimidated to really jump into something new. I’m constantly on the lookout for new technologies to help convey my ideas.
  • One of the reasons I dropped out of the MURP program a second time was the attendance requirement of the in-person classes. I have a full-time job that sometimes has weird hours or after-work events. Sometimes I have to miss an in-person class, and being penalized for attending to my work duties didn’t sit well with me. An online program would probably be a better choice for me knowing where I am in life currently. I plan to keep working in my current job as long as I can while attending school so I can pay my way through without taking out any additional loans.

But what about my grand ambitions for that PhD? Wasn’t I supposed to have those letters behind my name by the age of 30? Well (1) that isn’t going to happen and (2) my interest is in public policy to help disadvantaged communities. An education Master’s would still let me pursue that down the road if I still choose to. I’ve discovered that I’m more concerned with setting myself up in a good place career-wise versus jumping through academic hoops in the pursuit of new letters to tack on behind my name on a business card. With the state of academia (and the state of public policy, #letsberealhere), unless something drastically changes and the adjunct crisis calms the hell down, I think I’ll stick with working my 40-50 hours and having a life outside of the office.

Whew. That was a long-winded way of saying “I’m applying to UC-Denver’s Information and Learning Technologies Master’s program (eLearning focus) for a Spring 2018 start.” Does this mean I get to say “Go Buffs!” now?

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