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Mailbag: Continuing education

Jul 03, 20033 mins
Data Center

* Reader feedback on continuing education

Based on the feedback I received in response to an article about continuing education, many of you may be toting IT books to the beach this summer. This supports the findings of a survey from TrueCareers in which respondents said skills enhancement is a way to make yourself more marketable. (See

When Mary Beth Royal was laid off from her consulting job in 2001, she decided to get an MBA in IT. “I am seven classes into my Masters at Jones International University now, with no intention of failure, and have opened my own business,” says the Ohioan. In addition to her technical skills, she credits “my continuing education for my confidence to do something like this at my age!”

Mark Starry, an IT security specialist for Capital Region Healthcare in Concord, N.H., is a little more than halfway through a Master of Science in Information Assurance from Norwich University. “I want to be ahead of the curve if and when the market of IT security professionals becomes saturated,” Starry says. “I think my experience will be my best advantage, but a masters degree and CISSP certification will be the icing on the cake.”

Simone Golik began pursuing a master’s degree in business and technology last year, and has found it to be immediately useful with a career move into a more strategic role. “Importantly, the focus is not so much on the technology itself, but more on the effect of technology on the business,” she says.

Rob is one of the many upgrading his education in the areas of programming, Linux and networking. He notes that technology has changed and employers are looking for specific skills and certifications. “The high cost of instructor-led courses is a barrier,” he says. “I am trying to keep down the cost by using CBT self-paced courses where possible. I am also using the local community college for certain programming courses.”

The soft economy has caused one reader to delay graduation from an MBA program. “I dropped down to only one course per trimester to prolong my time in the program. I would like to graduate when the economy and the job market is on the rise,” says a telecom employee who wishes to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, Kevin is pursuing an Associate’s degree in computer science, and plans to obtain CCNA and A+ certification. However, he says the motivation is not because this will make him more marketable in his former sales career. “The real reasons that I am in school are that it’s a place where I can still be the smartest cat on the block, it’s a convenient patch of sand in which to stick my head, it’s something to do that is not mindless and painful,” Kevin writes. He suspects there are many like him.

Finally, Larry Seibold doesn’t think learning can substitute for doing. “Many of us have been programmed to believe that learning is a precursor to moving on and doing, whereas those that really succeed, seem to move on and learn in the process,” he says. “This is not to say that taking classes along the way can’t really speed things up (it definitely can), but I believe that taking classes ahead of the game, can really slow things down!