The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Project Management program opens career doors 

Janet Crittenden

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“There were days that I wondered why I would do this. I enjoyed all of it. I thought it was hard. It required a lot of work,” she said. But Janet Crittenden’s hard work paid off. 

Since graduating in December of 2012 with a master’s degree in project management from UW-Platteville Online, Janet Crittenden is enjoying her new position as Project Manager/Process Improvement Coordinator for the University of Minnesota Rochester—a career change at age 53.

Janet had worked on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota for 32 years. In 2000, while Assistant Director of the Registrar’s Office, Janet was part of a restructuring that combined the public contact services of the Office of the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Student Accounts into the One Stop Student Services Center.

The restructuring mandated that managers have bachelor’s degrees, which Janet lacked. An exception was made for Janet, but the experience underscored the value of credentials.

In spring 2009, she completed a campus-based bachelor’s degree at the U of MN, while working full-time. By fall of that year Janet began coursework in a campus-based master’s program (at the U of MN). Two semesters into the Liberal Studies program, Janet decided a degree in project management would be most beneficial to her career. “I wanted to get a degree that was going to help me in my job,” Janet said.

“The project management program prepares you to work as a manager in any organization. The methodologies used by the Project Management Institute are fairly new, but projects are not new—they’ve been around forever.Even if someone does not want to become a project manager, the classes teach skills that help people manage projects,” Janet said.

Since the U of MN doesn’t offer a master’s in project management, Janet began exploring options. A colleague, and UW-Platteville alum, encouraged her to explore the program at UW-Platteville Online.The program is one of only a select few to be globally accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI)®.

“I liked online courses better than face-to-face courses-perhaps because of my age. When you’re in your 50s and you’re attending classes, and the majority of the people in class are in their 20s, you feel out of place. When you’re online, you don’t get that feeling, in fact, being online, it seemed like other students kind of looked up to you more for advice and that worked out better for me,” Janet said.

She enjoyed making connections with her online classmates, and remains in contact with some. “You get to know people as you work together on projects.” 

“The instructors were accessible and responsive,” said Janet, reflecting on the program.“I learned the most in Business Communications, taught by B. J. Reed.I thought it would be easy, but it surprised me. I used to write like I talked and thought that was okay, but I’ve learned how to write in a more professional manner.”

Capstone advisor and reference, Ginger Levin said, “Janet was an outstanding student. She showed an in-depth understanding of project management and consistently submitted high-quality work, on time or ahead of schedule. Her excellent work assisted her in obtaining another position where she continues to excel.” 

Janet applied for her new position while completing her capstone project during the final term of her coursework.Her capstone focused on standardizing written procedures and recommending a central location where Academic Support Resources (ASR, a department on the Twin Cities campus) could easily locate these procedures.“My experience at the University of Minnesota along with my project management education seemed like a perfect fit.I thought, ‘I can do this!’”

-- Denise LaBudda


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