dcsimg
This website is not affiliated with the U.S. government or military.

Online Education and Military Service: A Winning Workplace Strategy

Online education helps you prepare for jobs after the military. Learn how one airman took advantage of the convenience of online continued education to pull ahead in the civilian career world.
Created by: Stanley Rubenti
By the time Abdullah Baytops left military service, he had amassed an impressive arsenal of marketable skills that helped him secure various IT positions in and around his native Washington, DC.  However, Abdullah wanted to transform himself into an even more valuable asset in the workforce.  He enrolled in a Global Business and Public Policy online program so that he could expand his IT consulting business to reach new clients, both in the States and abroad.
Abdullah spoke with us about his experiences with online education, and he highlighted some of the benefits of continued education after military service.
 
       
ASG:
   
       

How old are you?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I am currently 28 years old.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What service were you in?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I was enlisted in the United States Air Force.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What was your rank in the service by the time you left?

   
       
AB:
   
       
By the time I was honorably discharged [from the United States Air Force], I held the rank of Senior Airman.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What prompted you to sign up for the service?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I wanted a chance to get an education and work at the same time.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Your training and work experience, thus far, have been mostly in IT.  What type of degree are you currently pursuing?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I'm working towards a degree in Global Business and Public Policy.  I see international business and information technology as being two different sides of the same coin, and because I already have a lot of IT experience, I felt it best to complement it with more knowledge about global markets and international business.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What has been your experience with online education?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I've loved every moment of it.  There hasn't been a time when I thought back and regretted having to attend class.  Continuing my education has been one of the best things I could have done for my professional aspirations.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Why did you decide to opt for online education over a campus program?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I was already working as an IT consultant, and I wanted to earn additional certifications to support by current jobs.  Because I lacked sufficient formal training, I was prevented from climbing up the ladder in many cases, even though I had plenty of hands-on experience.  Some employers and clients wanted to see that I was at least working towards a degree so that they knew that my career path was in line with their company goals.  Online education allows me to manage my regular working hours without sacrificing too much time.
       
ASG:
   
       

Did your military experience affect your decision to pursue a degree?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Not exactly.  My decision to pursue formal education was prompted by the glass ceiling I had experienced after leaving the service and entering the IT industry.  My military training actually provided me with a tremendous amount of real-life experience.  In the military, everyone was given the same opportunities for promotion and to excel.  There are some, though, who sought to excel through higher learning.   I didn't feel this need until after I had left the service.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Did your military service prepare you for higher education?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Absolutely.  Some of the training I received allowed me to be dependable, reliable and have strong communication skills; all of which are essential when seeking a degree of any kind.  I also developed a knack for IT software and support.  I currently provide training seminars through contract work and through my company, Digital Foundation.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Thus far, what would you say has been the biggest advantage of online education?

   
       
AB:
   
       
The biggest advantage of an online education would be accessibility.  I can be anywhere in the US and still access my class work and assignments.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What things do you enjoy about Internet-based distance learning?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I would again have to say accessibility.   You can get the skills you need to compete in the work force while working to support your family.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Are there any drawbacks to online education?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Sometimes, if you don’t understand the materials, you can become a little lost.  There have been instances when I did not have enough time to gather sufficient resources or contact the appropriate people to help me with certain assignments.  But I guess that's a danger you could face at any school.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Tell us more about the general format of your classes.  How do you send and receive assignments?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Every week the professor posts a new assignment in an area called Conferences.  This post describes exactly what the requirements are for each assignment, and it details what I must do, and when I must do it.  In addition, this description outlines what questions or areas I need to review in order to complete the assignment in a timely fashion.  Reading passages are also included in these descriptions.

I usually have 8 or more projects for my individual classes, and these assignments comprise the majority of my grades.  I'll spend an average of 4-5 hours/week on any given project, not to mention miscellaneous coursework and assignments that pop up from time to time.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

How do you conduct research, take notes, and attend lectures?

   
       
AB:
   
       
I perform the majority of my research using Google search engines and other Web sites.  Notes and lectures in class are held in a forum that is in another Web link that is accessed by user ID# and has examples and study guides and so forth.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

How do you interact with professors and teaching assistants?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Most of the communication is done via email.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

How do you interact with fellow students?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Depending on the course, we occasionally have emails groups and chat rooms that are set up so that we can stay in touch.  Sometimes, I'll exchange emails with students if I feel that regular communication is necessary.  It really depends on the class, project, and student.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Do you feel that your school is responsive to concerns, requests, and other administrative areas?

   
       
AB:
   
       
They are very responsive to any of the questions that may arise during a semester.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Do you feel that your experience has been positively shaped due to the subject nature, or has your experience been more shaped by the fact that all of your learning takes place online?

   
       
AB:
   
       
That's difficult to say.  I think that the subject matter and format complement each other very well.  I enjoy the material tremendously, but I also enjoy the access and convenience of online learning.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Would you consider pursuing another degree after you successfully complete this one?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Definitely.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Would you recommend online education to your friends?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Yes.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Even those friends who are still in the military?

   
       
AB:
   
       
Yes.  But again, discipline is very important since online education can be quite consuming.  I would recommend starting with a light load at first, and then building up as necessary.