Hacking further education goals while shining at work

Although striking a balance can be stressful, having a support system from an employer who does not sabotage your effort to close family members who encourage you on the go boosts productivity at work, and home and makes it easier to learn. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Pursuing a postgraduate degree is a personal initiative that not many people are willing to undertake.

While furthering one’s education can be a daunting task, especially juggling between assignments, and career and family engagements, one gets value for what they schooled for once they acquire their certificate and can leverage on job offers.

Although striking a balance can be stressful, having a support system from an employer who does not sabotage your effort to close family members who encourage you on the go boosts productivity at work, and home and makes it easier to learn.

Grace Njane, a Human Resource (HR) manager is currently pursuing her Strategic Management Master in Business Administration (MBA) and shares that the journey has not been easy.

Ms Njane who is in her last semester says she has had to make sacrifices to ensure some of her responsibilities don’t go neglected. Ms Njane, 28, says her spouse pushed her to acquire her MBA before building their family. Without children in the picture, she says, it has been much easier.

With an 8-5 work shift and evening classes that run until 9 pm, Ms Njane has had to make use of her weekends to study and thus has fewer interactions with her family members.

“My day starts as early as 5 am and being a manager at my workplace, I have to get there early, work then leave in good time for my evening class. It is difficult to have time in between to study,” she says.

As demanding as any Master’s or PhD is, Ms Njane advises that taking care of one’s mental health is crucial. Having people to talk to, going on a vacation, or taking some time off work can help one feel better and be more productive.

During her examination days, Ms Njane says she takes study leave but sympathises with employees who do not have them, hence having to split their annual leave days to make room for their exams.

However, she notes that once one has bagged their Master’s or PhD they should start scouting for new challenging opportunities as soon as they can rather than let the degree accumulate dust.

“The purpose of furthering your education is to acquire new skills that will help you combat new challenges or even solve the challenges in your organisation,” she says.

“Failing to take up challenges is a disservice to the hard work and effort you put in.”

With her MBA fitting into her career growth plan, Ms Njane notes that in the course of her learning, she has been able to develop an extra skill set that will earn her an HR director position or a strategist position in companies.

“I also want my MBA to benefit my consultancy when I officially flag it,” she shares.

Kelvin Kadipo, enrolled for MBA in Strategic Management 2016 but did not join class immediately saying laziness and work engagements made him not study then. However, in May 2022 he enrolled afresh.

“It’s been a roller coaster. I regret not starting then because by then I had not married and had less commitments, unlike now,” he shares.

Marrying in 2018, welcoming his newborn in 2020, changing jobs in 2021 and settling in, Mr Kadipo notes often than not life takes a toll on him but dedication, support, and encouragement from his spouse make it easier.

Initially, Mr Kadipo wanted to pursue his Master’s for personal fulfilment but when he re-enrolled, he realised that the higher learning gave him a better view, strategic understanding of management as he wanted to be at the decision-making table.

Noting that in the current job market for one to be considered they must be different, Mr Kadipo shares that a Master’s degree gives one that upper hand.

“Almost everyone now has a bachelor’s and if you have post-graduate education, then it gives you an edge. It will also make you qualify for high-level positions in companies as well as public service organisations,” he adds.

Though the units he is currently pursuing are theory, Mr Kadipo says that the examples given in class are very practical and he relates with them in his field of expertise.

With him pursuing his MBA out of his own will, Mr Kadipo notes that even though one might not get an employer that pushes them to further their education, they should take it up as a personal initiative not only for their career but also for other opportunities.

Employers who push their employees to pursue higher learning boost productivity in the organisation. “The more knowledge acquired, the easier for employees to serve with all benefiting.”

However, some managers curtail their employees’ quest for knowledge frustrating them at work. Mr Kadipo notes that more often than not these employers are intimidated by the progress one is making and feel the employee will get them fired or they will land a better opportunity than them.

“Those employers should take it upon themselves to further their education and understand that we are not in competition,” he opines.

Echoing Ms Njane, Mr Kadipo shares that more education also gives an employee a bargaining tool when it comes to salary negotiation.

“Always remember your skills are not a waste, and when one utilises the knowledge acquired for the well-being of the organisation then they should be rewarded accordingly.”

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