career boosts

January 10, 2009
9 mins read

getting an education at unf

      In this economy you’re going to need the right stuff on your resume. While experience is an important factor, education is often what helps get you promoted. It’s also what you’ll need if you decide to make a career jump out of your field or into management. Says Robert Wood, Dean of Continuing Education at the University of North Florida, “As layoffs increase, the number of available jobs decreases. Applicants can distinguish themselves by attending certificate programs or by preparing for and obtaining specific designations such as the Project Management Professional (PMP®) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA®).”

      Perhaps you took a two-year course to train you for your career but you don’t have a B.A. under your belt. In order to get into management most places have educational requirements that must be fulfilled. That means that even if you are qualified to be management, you won’t get the position without a degree in higher education. A management-oriented degree, specific to your field, might be just what you need. Or you can go for a more generalized degree so that you have a larger range of options.
brushing up your skills

      Keeping your job and being perceived as a valued employee can depend greatly on keeping your skills up to date. For this reason a short course that will get you certified in a particular computer program might be just the thing to give your resume a face lift and keep you in your job. Often, employers are willing to reimburse you for these types of courses, just make sure you know the rules before going in. A good selection of computer certification courses are offered at UNF.
Computer courses aren’t the only things that can keep your resume up-to-date. Whatever field you work in, it’s advisable to look into the courses that are offered at local colleges. Even if you take a basic course, it can keep you connected with what’s currently happening in your field- and it looks good on your resume.
going into another field

      “We also offer several certificate programs for individuals who are either looking to change careers or to give themselves an edge on the competition,” says Wood.
If you think you want to make the move into another career, getting a few courses on the subject helps not only to make your resume more attractive, but also in making the decision. While you might want to make a move from accounting into paralegal, taking a class will either help solidify your decision or help you to know where you’d fit in. You’ll be able to figure out what you should specialize in and if the move is actually the right fit for you.
Wood’s Continuing Education program at UNF can also help you decide how to make the jump: “Today’s economy has people stopping and asking themselves ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ It’s a good idea to examine your personal interests to determine what path to take. You may find you have an interest in technology, research or in learning to work more efficiently, and there are numerous careers where these interests are the foundation of success.
“The University of North Florida Division of Continuing Education offers a Career Management Program to help participants develop a career plan to successfully market themselves and gain proven job search skills.”
Working and going to school might seem daunting, but don’t despair. Today things are made even easier. Schools have night courses, online courses and intensive weekend courses to help fit the needs of most working Joes or Janes. If you’re looking to give your career a boost, it can’t hurt to look at what our local schools have to offer.
fun learning for the new year at unf

     The New Year is a time to try new things, so why not sign up for some of the more recreational classes UNF has to offer? Not only can you learn new things and meet people with the same interests, some of these courses can even help you with your New Year’s resolution.
cost & time

      A one-session course might cost just $29, or you can go in for a seven week course at about $109. The most expensive course is one on setting up an e-Bay store at $200, but the rest range in price from about $40-100.
The courses are generally one night a week and can be from one session to seven. All of these classes are held either at night or on a weekend. Most start about 6:30 pm and go till 8:30, so they can pack a lot of information into a few sessions.
Sessions start January through April, but not every class is available every month. Each class has its own schedule, so make sure you check out the website to see what you can fit into your itinerary.
cherish nature

      This January UNF is offering a new course: “Be Green, Live Green, Save Green.” The seven-week course ($99) can teach you how to live a lifestyle with a smaller environmental impact all while saving you money. The first session is on the 14th, but it is possible to sign up just after the first session. You can also show your appreciation for nature by taking a backpacking and survival course, “Spring Gardening in North Florida” or a class on floral arrangement.
learn tech for fun and profit

      Surprise your grandkids by showing them that you do indeed know how to work the iPod they gave you for Christmas by taking “Introduction to iTunes, iPhone and iPod.” Brush up or learn Excel, figure out your Apple or just take a one-session course entitled “Which Mac is Right for You?” Those who are more profit-minded can take one of their eBay courses. learn something practical
Just because the U.S. isn’t all that fiscally responsible doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to be. UNF offers courses like “Raising Financially Responsible Children” and “Social Security, Medicare and Retirement Planning.” You can also learn how to stage your home to sell (something you’ll need in this market), and understanding insurance policies. You can even learn the basics of car repair, how to set goals, how to deal with stress or take a class on long-term care.
learn a new language

      Get in on the latest fad, sign language for babies (it supposedly helps in cognitive abilities and lessens tantrums), or just take an intro to Spanish course.
get physical

      If getting into shape is your New Year’s resolution, it might help motivate you if you had a class to go to. UNF offers yoga, Pilates, ballroom dancing, belly dancing and even straight up workout sessions. A woman’s self-defense course is also offered.
“Belly Dancing” is one of their most popular courses. Says one student who took the course, “I have now taken it twice and will take it again. It’s fun, great exercise and relaxing at the same time.”
Whether you take a course at UNF or one of the other colleges, know that somewhere out there is a course for you. Take the plunge! Sign up to learn something new. As for me, I’m looking at their “Wine Tasting 101” course.
screenwriting course at unf

     One of classes UNF offers is a screenwriting course. We spoke with a former student, Elizabeth Copley, about where her experience with the course took her.

EU: What motivated you to take the screenwriting course?
Elizabeth Copley: I had completed a full-feature script with instruction from various screenwriting “how to” books and other resources (DVD seminars, etc.). At the Jacksonville Film Festival, I was made aware of the Continuing Ed course at UNF and signed up immediately. I felt that having hands-on instruction from a professional, seasoned Hollywood writer would drive home how it’s really done and improve my new skill set. Turns out, that was exactly the case.

EU: Did you connect with other students while you were there?
EC: Absolutely! Some of us have begun attending the local chapter of the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association. Additionally, a friend I took the course with created a Yahoo site for us to stay in touch. I hope to see my classmates participating in the 48 Hour Film Festival next spring.

EU: How did it contribute to your success?
EC: Our instructor referred me to a producer – he’s hired me to help him complete his script as well as for other consulting/documentation needs in getting his film made. I’m a working screenwriter!
Copley will be one of the participants in Jacksonville’s 48 Hour Film Project in April.
the accelerated degree program at jacksonville university

We asked Diana Peaks, Director of Adult, Graduate and Transfer Enrollment at Jacksonville University about what their Accelerated Degree Program has to offer.

EU: How did you design the program with working people in mind?
Diana Peaks: The Accelerated Degree Program was designed for full-time working adults. The classes are all 8-weeks in length. We are a semester school with spring, summer and fall semesters. We divide each semester into two 8-week terms, so we have a “rolling admission,” which means that a student can begin at any time during the year in any of the 8-week terms. Each of the classes is just ten minutes shy of three hours in length and the student is only on campus once per week per class. They also have the option to CLEP up to a maximum of 30 credit hours, which is equivalent to 10 courses. This is both economical and saves them time…
It should also be noted that Jacksonville University has a longstanding tradition of serving adult learners. In fact, the University was founded in 1934 as an evening college to serve working adults in greater Jacksonville. Every aspect of JU’s Accelerated Degree Program is specifically designed to make the challenge of completing a college degree realistic and achievable for adults with work and family obligations.

EU: What kinds of career changes can you offer?
DP: We have adult students in their mid to late 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even a few in their 60s. Some come in to earn the degree for promotional opportunities and a good number come to transition careers. We’re seeing more of that with the economic downturn. We have a great program for people who want to transition to teaching K-12. It is our Teacher Certification Preparation Program. They can do this two ways: earn the undergraduate degree with a minor in education or come in with already having earned an undergraduate degree and take the 5 courses at the grad level. Once they pass the state certification exam, it is the State of Florida that certifies them to teach. More information is on our website. We offer business degrees and a bachelor of science in social sciences for our accelerated undergraduate students. With the BS in Social Sciences if they minor in either or both Psychology, Sociology, or even Political Science, there aree many opportunities in counseling, working in education or even going on into criminal justice positions.

EU: Can you talk a little about your online courses? Are they a big part of what you do?
DP: We have a few online courses in the undergraduate program (ADP). However, most of our courses are campus-based. We survey our students periodically and each time that we have a very large percentage prefer the classroom. In fact, contrary to popular belief, a good number of our students (especially those in their 40s and up) prefer the classroom and some of them have left online programs to come to JU’s ADP for that reason.

EU: Are there any short certification courses so that people can brush up on their computer skills?
DP: A student may come in as a non-degree candidate and take any of the courses we offer day or evening. We have a great CIS class, CS150 (“Personal Productivity Using Technology,” which covers hardware, software, how to navigate through applications, using the Internet, etc). It is one of the best courses for anyone who wants to brush up on their computer skills. It is offered in the day or evening.

EU: Are most of your graduates successful at reaching management if that’s their goal?
DP: JU has a long history of successful graduates. In fact, the NE Florida region for many years has been known as a virtual “Who’s Who” in the C-level and upper echelon of major organizations for JU grads. Not to mention the many successes that go beyond our state. If you have a student who is focused, committed to their studies and who genuinely wants to learn, we provide the environment conducive to meeting their personal career goals regardless of the industry or position. Our JU graduates do very well.
For more info, head to their website at:

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