Two weeks ago, I handed in my final project in completion of the requirements for an MA in Organizational Leadership, a theoretical paper about Complexity Theory. I have mixed feelings about finishing the program – on one hand, I’m thrilled to be done, but on the other hand, I’ve enjoyed the experience immensely, and will actually miss quite a bit about it. It’s time to shift gears, though, and I am looking forward to the next set of opportunities and challenges that come my way.
As I was working on setting up this blog tonight, I had a flashback to high school. I was often bored in school as a kid, but I was also fairly good at it, and occasionally, a teacher took an interest and tried to give me something more challenging to do. In sixth grade, my teacher let me work ahead in math. I finished the entire year’s work in a month. I didn’t have to do math for the rest of the year, so instead, I read when everyone else was stuck doing long division or whatever it is you do in sixth grade math. As a sophomore, a guidance counselor thought I should take the pre-SAT a year early, just for fun. I did it though I wouldn’t say it was particularly fun.
I expected to go to college, but I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. None, whatsoever. My high school counselor offered me a test that was meant to help determine what job I would be good at. It was a sort of affinity test. I answered a ton of questions, and it spit out the ideal job for me at the end. I wish I had a picture of what my face looked like when my counselor shared the results – they had me pegged as someone that would love to be a garbage collector. Needless to day, I stopped going to her for help.
That was in the late 80s, so I hope that today’s kids have better resources available to them when they face the big question. Regardless, I soon learned that there’s no substitute for experience. My first work experiences all came in factories or restaurants, as I lived in an industrial area of the Midwest. Those jobs taught me a lot about what I didn’t want to do, and I eventually found myself in the Bay Area, and with luck and a little hard word, I ended up with a career in technology. While it’s a career that has served me well, and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to grow, I took some time off and did some freelance work over the past few years so I could get my Master’s degree.
When I began, it was more or less a bucket list kind of pursuit. I didn’t really need the degree, but I always wanted to get it. Lucky for me, the program I chose was excellent, and has given me a lot of new fuel and knowledge I can apply to the rest of my career. I am convinced I got much more out of the learning process by waiting until I had years of work experience before I went back to school. I could relate much of what I was learning to real-life experiences I’d already had, and this made the lessons more meaningful. I would highly recommend both the program I took part in, and the process of pursuing higher education as an experienced adult, whether it is in pursuit of a degree or not.