Recent graduate Jake Smith has just gained a big promotion at work to Senior Marketing Manager at Legal & General. He believes his OU degree and commitment to studies were very positively received during his job interview and played a part in him successfully getting the job.“It shows employers that if you put your mind to something you can achieve it.”
Jake initially studied with the OU to improve his knowledge of web design but decided to continue on to a degree. Platform caught up with him at his degree ceremony in Brighton.
First course led to a degree
Once I saw the breadth of courses the OU offered and realised that my qualification would be able to count towards a degree it was even more attractive. I had taken a number of one day training courses with professional training companies through work and though useful they were not in depth enough and really only taught you parrot fashion rather than explaining theory as well as practice and giving you the opportunity to really learn.”
Dreams of becoming a rock star
I had "dropped out" of a degree straight after school to try and be a rock star, with (unfortunately) limited success, 15 years later it felt like unfinished business and so the OU with its flexibility, great reputation and value for money seemed ideal. I knew that I would not be able to afford to do a full time course as my wife was self employed and pregnant with our first child, but I thought that with the wide range of courses I could find a route that would help me develop and give me new opportunities.”
Work supported studies
The OU certificate was really helpful to my role at Legal & General, I was in a role that was very new at my company, there was no real training available in house and so we looked externally. The reputation of the OU meant that my employers were supportive and understood the benefit of me studying, paying for my courses and giving me some study time. The skills I gained from the course really helped me develop in my role and led to a promotion and helped me identify a future career path and gain recognition for my skills and knowledge at work.
Once I had finished the course I discovered that I really enjoyed learning with the OU and so I continued with additional modules which were not work related to complete my degree. My employers were still supportive of my study, giving me interest free loans for the courses. Although my degree ended up being in a different field (Music and technology) many of the skills I developed, such as the ability to take in a large amount of information and make sense of it, writing properly structured essays and managing my time were extremely useful.
Internal promotion at work
Although I am still at the same company, I have been able to move into new areas of the business and can justify my claim that I am a quick learner and able to adapt and take on new skills.
A CV certainly looks much stronger with a degree on it (especially a First Class one!) this is really important when a recruiting manager is making decisions on who to interview. Having the OU on my CV has sparked a question in every interview since I starting studying, and has always been seen in a really positive light. The reputation for quality helps, but so does the recognition of the commitment it takes to study whilst holding down a full time job and starting a family!
Advice for those thinking of doing a degree
The advice I would give is to go for it! You shouldn't underestimate the effort required, but as with most things in life, you get out what you put in. There's no need to put it off, I managed to gain my degree at the same time as holding down a full time job and my wife giving birth to two children. Most importantly make sure you choose something you really want to study or learn about, that way the work always feels meaningful and worthwhile. The huge range of courses available and the quality of the teaching materials, plus the support from tutors and fellow students meant that I really enjoyed my time studying with the OU, in fact where is the prospectus, I reckon I could do some more!
A quote from Jake’s manager: John Laney Head of Marketing, Legal & General
“Jake started his study for the OU with a course on web design that was supported by Legal & General and gave him an excellent grounding in the skills and knowledge necessary for his role. The company has a policy of supporting wider learning and we were happy to do so for Jake. As his current manager I would say that his personal development during his study and the successful completion of his degree were positive contributions in his career development. A good degree from a respected University is a key factor in today's world for securing more senior professional positions.”
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