Chris J Powell

Back to School – For Me???

As my daughter wraps up the final two days of Grade 9 I sit here thinking about the dozens of missed or lost opportunities that I have had over the years because of choices I made…what feels like a lifetime ago.  I would like to think that I am intelligent, hard working and have a future at just about anything that I attempt mainly because I am bull headed and don’t give up on things easily…but more than once, my choice to attend College instead of University has come back to bite me.

It is funny because when I think back to 1991 and that singular choice that I made to accept the offer to attend Georgian College in Owen Sound Ontario I thought that I was making a good decision, one that would provide me and my future family a real future…the reality is…it has not done that.

To all the young people out there, this is as much a warning to you as it is a cathartic call to action for me!  The choices that you make today and tomorrow will remain with you for a very long time.  If you have the option…I can’t stress this enough…get your degree…even if it is a bull shit General Arts Degree that is really not worth the Vellum it is written on…it is a Degree!

I could have attended University…heck I was accepted to 3 of them…but I chose to attend College because financially I was footing the bill and there was not room in my budget for 4 years of being out of the work force!

The education that I got was great, I landed a good job even before graduation thanks to the Co-Op Program and I excelled at every position that I took over the ext several years, moving up through the ranks and even achieving management roles more than once…but then, I chose to get out of the Law & Security Field…and this is when things started to go South.  You would think that I would have thought about Re-education at some point before this…and I have…but with a Family…I just could not afford to stop working to go back to school and the even bigger reality is…I did not want to commit multiple years towards going back to school part time.

So now at almost 42 I am staring down at my less than relevant diploma that I busted my ass to achieve (by working a full time job, and at times driving 90 minutes each day to get to school) I wonder what would I be doing now had I chosen to put myself into debt and attend a University?

I know that the choices that I have made are what defines who I am today and that choice of a Left Turn or a Right Turn 22 years ago would have lead me down a completely different path.

I know that living in the past is just as dangerous as living in the future.  The plotting and planning and goal setting can become consuming and the pity party that I through for myself over the weekend…well no one attended but me so it is time to figure out the next chapter of my life.

I know that I need to get some education.

I know that I need to acquire some new and relevant (and marketable) skills.

It is time that I build the new Krispy!

But I am just not sure what that should look like.

I know that I can not afford not to work…so that means Part Time Education.

I am really thinking that Certifications may be the way to go.  If I pile enough Professional Designations onto my resume…I am surely to be looked at more favorably because getting a degree at 42…while it may seem like a good thing to do professionally…personally I don’t think that I could really handle the 20-something snots that attend Western University here in London…so stay tuned.

I am gonna start to do some figuring.  I need to lay out my options, build a real budget for this transformation…and maybe…if things go as hoped…I will be looking down the barrel of a real and bright future of my choosing…not one that is built for me!



3 thoughts on “Back to School – For Me???

  1. Hey Man, interesting post.

    Here’s a thought for you though. It’s been my experience that the degrees I have matter less than the work I’ve done.

    Places that have wanted to see a piece of paper that I got half a lifetime ago turn out to be places I don’t want to work.

    Places that are interested in seeing what I do now are the ones I want to go to.

    Rather than toss a bunch of money at people who will gladly take that money and not give you anything other than a useless designation that may or may not mean anything to a hiring manager, why not use that time and effort to make a really solid portfolio for yourself?

    You’re good at social media, so leverage that to showcase your portfolio, and demonstrate to people that your talents lie in creating social capital, and not just in a bunch of useless papers that sit in a drawer.

    If while assembling that portfolio you realize you need some things to back up your work (for example I’m a certified ScrumMaster and a certified Agile Product Owner), then go for those things…but it’s the work that should be speaking for you, not the papers you’ve accumulated in your lifetime.

    • Thanks Brian the comments are very much appreciated. The reality is, I have lost out to promotions, transfers and new jobs on nothing more than the lack of that piece of paper and that is incredibly deflating.

      I had given some thoughts to building out an iron clad certification plan…and that is still an option. It is still too bad that our society looks so closely at the letters behind a person’s name rather than at the ability to work hard, give 110% and commit to the project/process/priority all the time every time.

  2. I’d argue that you really need to balance your own needs with the needs of an organization.

    If you’re really losing out on opportunities due to a piece of paper, and that piece of paper is not fundamentally important to your own peace of mind…maybe that isn’t the place for you.

    I’ll give you a “for instance”, I was once up for a role at the Region of York as “Webmaster”, it came down to me and a guy with a university degree in Geology. I have a two year college diploma in Radio and Television Broadcasting, and a certificate in Adult Education (I taught Ecommerce 101 for two years at George Brown College).

    The other guy got the job. 10 Years Later, he finally launched the redesign of their website…the key deliverable of the job we had interviewed for.

    In that time I had redesigned TSN’s site twice, helped out with a CTV and Globe and Mail redesign, and pushed through no fewer than five separate redesigns of Info-Tech’s site.

    It’s pretty clear to me that the requirement of that piece of paper was an indicator of the level of bureaucracy in the organization, which I would have stifled under.

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