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Adventures in Education

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So I find myself awake early in the morning on a Friday – the last weekend before I begin a new job as well as begin studying for my Master’s Degree in Strategic IT Management (for me this is a great blend between a MBA and a MSc). It’s a terrifying and exciting moment at the same time. In some ways, I feel like I should just relax – I have been through this before on the undergraduate level. But somehow this feels different. I have these emotions for different reasons than when I went for my undergraduate degree all those years ago.

In some ways it is terrifying because I will be holding down a full-time job as well as pursuing my degree full-time and I haven’t yet figured out how to balance those two things out. There really isn’t a distance/online element to my courses, which means that I may find myself occasionally having to be in two places at once during the day. Whilst I am fortunate enough to work for a company that believes in flex time and I know myself well enough to know that I am determined to do what it takes to be a success, I can’t help but feel like there will be times where I will have to bend the laws of time and physics to make things work. It’s terrifying to be amongst the oldest (if not the oldest) in my class. I attended my department’s orientation today and it is clear that the concerns of a 25 year old student are far different than one in their 30s. I think about whether my 14 years in the IT industry and 8 years in leadership roles will be of any benefit to me in my studies. I think about the little things – like trying to find a group that realises that I can’t just tool around campus on a Tuesday afternoon because I will likely be in the office trying to make my numbers. It’s the little things which I worry will become big things.

On the other hand, I am excited to get back into school and to complete the next phase of my education. It’s something I should have done 5 years ago, but life and circumstances get in the way.  I am fortunate enough to have a role where I will get to influence my schedule (being a Manager probably helps here a bit), making bending the laws of time and physics a bit more possible. As an older student, I bring with me the benefit of work experience and a healthy curiosity on whether my decisions in industry and leadership have been consistent with the theory that I am about to learn. And I am also curious about when it makes sense to throw the theory out of the window.

On many levels I know that this will be hard. The fundamentals of project management will have never mattered more to me than they will over the next 2 years: plan the work; work the plan. I know that sacrifices will have to be made to achieve what I want the next 2 years, but I want to try as best I can to have as good of a work-study-life balance as possible. However, I also want to prove to myself that I can do this. I want to show my nieces and nephews the importance of education by walking the walk and not just talking about it. It’s about being competitive (I’ll be the workplace for a few more decades) and getting ready for the challenges ahead.

I think I can do this. Time will tell if I am right.

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