Allison Leach

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10 Back-To-School Tips for Adult Students

Posted by Allison Leach on Aug 9, 2018 12:00:00 PM

With summer winding to a close, students of all ages are busy with back-to-school preparations. While for adult students, the days of excitedly selecting a new lunch box may be long gone, the anticipation that accompanies a new school year remains.

In the hopes that our adult students will begin the school year on the path to success, we suggest the following back-to-school preparation strategies:

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Topics: Student

Project Management: Moving Beyond a Natural Inclination

Posted by Allison Leach on Aug 2, 2018 11:00:00 AM

For many, project management is a natural inclination: planning parties, coordinating wedding festivities, organizing community events. This inclination has led many to naturally “fall in” to a similar professional role, overseeing initiatives and directing teams. Yet not everyone who claims this innate ability possesses the knowledge and tools to effectively oversee processes, or manage teams within the workplace.

Jodi Davidson is among the many professionals who “fell” into project management; what began as a natural inclination - supported by a strong background in international business - soon became a career path. Now a seasoned professional, Davidson is committed to helping other similarly-inclined individuals hone and apply their project management skills.

Upon completing her MBA, Davidson sought a natural fit within the business world, a position where she could utilize her skills in communication, planning, and leadership. She began working with a technology company, leading a credit card software project. From there, her role as a project manager broadened with consecutively larger projects - focusing on multi-site software installation - eventually leading her to launch project management offices for two different companies, instituting project management practices therein. “I have worked in every phase of project management,” Davidson explains, “driving everything from contracting, to planning, to leading teams of employees.” 

Project Management, like some project managers, has evolved over time. What was once viewed as a role that someone took on within an office or company, has since become not only a job title, but a career unto itself. “In the past,” notes Davidson, “people were designated to project management roles, and sometimes chaos ensued; initiatives failed because of lack of clarity.” “Over time,” Davidson continues, “the realization came that project management is a separate skill set; showing you have capabilities to launch, lead, and drive efforts.” With this realization, came the desire for certified project managers, who adhered to industry standard.

Founded in 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI), is a globally-recognized organization and standard-bearer, whose certifications and publications are valued across industry. Increasingly, PMI’s PMP® (Project Management Professional) certification has become a requirement for advancement - or even initial hiring - within the project management field. “Employers and clients often want (the project manager) to be certified,” explains Davidson, “so they will see that this individual has studied the discipline, and has acquired the necessary hours of experience.” Noting that she herself sat for the exam years ago, after obtaining the requisite amount of hours in the field, Davidson adds, “Without certification, you can ‘max out’ professionally; certification garners respect.”

Prior to sitting for the PMP® exam, professionals must earn 7,500 hours of experience leading and directing projects (all experience must be accrued within the previous eight years), and must complete 35 hours of project management education.  For those who have completed a degree or certificate program in the project management field, these hours are a given, but for others, a PMP® exam preparation course typically fills the void. The College of Charleston Center for Continuing and Professional Education recently added such a program to their roster, partnering with Davidson to develop and teach the course. “I know it is very difficult to find the time to obtain 35 hours (of education),” says Davidson. “The structure that we built into this course - evenings and two weekends - offers work-life balance.”

In addition to the condensed format, it was important to Davidson that the course have practical applications. Though the course curriculum - as with all PMP® preparatory courses - is drawn from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), it also utilizes real-life situations to help students envision what to expect, and how solutions might work. Davidson emphasizes the importance of learning from her students; engaging, understanding, listening to their stories, and then asking, ‘how we can think through this together?’ Explaining her instructional techniques, Davidson points out, “Rarely are you a one person show; most projects are driven by team work collaboration.” With 19 years of practical experience, Davidson is well equipped to help students not only remember the material, but understand the applications: “With most prep courses, students are very much prepared to take the exam, but are not ready to use the knowledge in day-to-day life.” She continues, “Project management can be very theoretical, but my goal is to have students apply skills and tools immediately.”

While the benefits of PMP® preparation are clearly defined for those seeking certification, there are also benefits for other professionals. “If within the average work day, an individual is asked to use project management skills, they have something to gain from this course,” notes Davidson. Professionals who are not quite ready for PMP® certification may see where they need to gain more experience, or where they require further study - and can perhaps volunteer in the workplace to acquire additional skills. Employers also stand to benefit from employee participation. Through a preparatory course, project managers gain a common language, and a prescribed method for working as a team. As Davidson enthusiastically shares, “If a project is driven by people with project management skills, it increases the likelihood that the initiative will be successful.” With each successful initiative increasing the likelihood that an employer will achieve their overarching goal, well-trained project managers are an obvious boon in any industry.

As to the future of both the field of project management and PMP® certification, Davidson sees only growth on the horizon: “When we look at how innovation is occurring, how companies are able to grow quickly - there is a limited window for failure. From conception to completion, hitting the mark will become more and more critical in project management roles.” To those who have a natural inclination for project management, or those who acknowledge that it is a serous discipline and desire certification, Davidson is encouraging: “If you have an interest, or want to develop stronger skills, why not get training? Certification is very beneficial, it opens doors within companies, and is a great addition to your resume.” Jodi Davidson’s passion for the discipline is palpable as she enthuses, “as much as I can spread the word, I’m all in; project management is a great career.”

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Topics: Courses

Guiding Students Toward Degree Completion

Posted by Allison Leach on Jul 27, 2018 3:29:37 PM

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Topics: Feature

Fulfilling a Long-Term Goal

Posted by Allison Leach on Jul 19, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Kathryn Bunn has always been ambitious.

 A serious student in high school, Bunn expected to excel in college, alongside her high-achieving peers, yet found that she was lacking the maturity necessary to succeed. After a difficult two years at the University of Florida, Bunn reluctantly decided to withdraw from school.

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Topics: Student, Feature

Making Your Dreams a Reality

Posted by Allison Leach on Jul 10, 2018 7:00:00 AM

Shanard Deas grew up in an community where few children dare to dream.  With a small number of overstretched role models, and limited academic direction, young people in his neighborhood were often left merely aspiring to survive - to move beyond the disheartening realities of their surroundings.

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Topics: Student, Feature

Explore the Benefits of Non-Credit Online Courses

Posted by Allison Leach on Jun 22, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Summer has arrived, and along with it, a time when many choose to take a break from their academic or professional lives. Yet opportunities exist to further one’s career, while still maintaining the relaxed pace of the summer months. 

The College of Charleston Center for Continuing and Professional (CCPE) offers over 250 individual non-credit courses, many of which target highly sought-after skills, applicable across a wide range of industries. The instructor-led courses are all held exclusively online,
and allow students to move at their own pace - an ideal scenario for summertime learning!

While all of the offered courses are economically priced, the CCPE is currently offering a discount on select courses with a July start date (sale prices effective June 18 - July 18, 2018).

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Topics: News, Courses

8 Suggestions for a Productive Summer Break

Posted by Allison Leach on Jun 19, 2018 4:30:00 PM

During the academic year, adult students often burn the candle at both ends: juggling the responsibilities of academics, work, and family. Yet the arrival of summer typically offers some much-needed breathing room, whether in the form of a reduced course load, weekend getaways, or a complete break from school.

With summer in full swing, we hope that our students have been able to take some much-deserved time to unwind, and recharge for the upcoming semester.

Regardless of your academic plans, please consider some of the tips below, to ensure a productive, yet relaxing summer break.

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Topics: Student

Job Interviews: Responding to Difficult Questions

Posted by Allison Leach on Jun 14, 2018 1:00:00 PM

The SPS blog has been re-running several posts from our job search series, in the hopes of helping our Bachelor of Professional Studies'  graduates - and all recent graduates - with their job search.

Job interviews can be nerve wracking all-around, but for adult students, an interview can present scenarios that are particularly anxiety-inducing. Whether you have a large gap in your employment history, are embarking on a new career, or are self-conscious about being in-and-out of school over the years, you may be concerned about how to address your shortcomings in an interview setting.

A prospective employer will generally only schedule an interview with someone who is a viable candidate. If you have been honest on your resume, your shortcomings are usually already apparent, and the interviewer will be looking for you to assure them that you are the right professional for the position.

Below, we’ll address several possible scenarios, demonstrating how you can put a positive spin on your less-than-ideal experiences.

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Topics: Insider

Bachelor of General Studies Offers Advantages for Returning Students

Posted by Allison Leach on Jun 7, 2018 3:00:00 PM

A recent study by Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute estimates that by 2020, 65% of all job openings will require education beyond high school; 35% will require at least a bachelor’s degree.  The emphasis on post-secondary education in the labor market has been growing steadily over the past four decades, with recent years showing an increased demand for competencies such as decision-making, communications, analysis, and administration - and a reduced demand for “physical skills.”  

In many industries, a bachelor’s degree is the signal that the prospective employee is “trainable” at a rigorous level, has acquired skills in critical thinking and research, is an effective communicator, and is capable of both self-direction and leadership. The degree is a gateway credential, needed by those hoping to advance - or even be hired -  regardless of employment experience. While individuals who have earned some college credit are better positioned than those with only a high school diploma, a lack of a college degree still contributes to a greater risk of unemployment: in South Carolina, the unemployment rate among individuals with some college is nearly 3% higher than those who have earned a bachelor’s degree. 

This trend in the labor market has implications beyond the employability of those lacking a college degree,  also influencing earning potential over time. The Bureau of Labor statistics lists individuals who have earned some college credit as earning only 65% of the weekly salary of those who have earned a Bachelor’s degree. This disparity is likely due not only to lower starting salaries, but also the lack of advancement opportunities for individuals with some college credit.  

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Topics: Student

Job Interviews: Preparation is the Key to Confidence

Posted by Allison Leach on Jun 5, 2018 3:00:00 PM

The SPS blog has been re-running several posts from our job search series, in the hopes of helping our Bachelor of Professional Studies'  graduates - and all recent graduates - with their job search.

Everyone who fills out a job application hopes to “land” an interview, but the notion of an impending interview can strike fear and anxiety in even the most composed of candidates.

As with every part of the job search process, research and preparation is key. Going into an interview with an idea of who you are meeting, what you might be asked, and what you plan to say, can have a significant impact on your confidence level and overall presentation.

Below, we have compiled a list of preparation tips that will hopefully ease uncertainties, and put you on the path to “landing” your ideal job.

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Topics: Insider

About the SPS

The School of Professional Studies is your partner on the journey toward a more fulfilling future. We are accessible, flexible, creative and tenacious. We work hard to provide access to the education you need to build a brighter future for yourself and in turn, for our community.

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