Attending an online university requires students and faculty to work harder to connect. Instead of getting to know someone face-to-face in a classroom, engagement must happen through forum posts, emails, phone calls and chat sessions.
However, there is one exceptional opportunity for faculty and students to meet face-to-face: graduation. This year, American Public University System, which consists of American Military University and American Public University, is holding its annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 18 at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland.
What led you to choose a master’s degree with APU? Was it based on passion or a specific career goal?
I have a bachelor’s degree in statistics and a graduate degree in data security from Iraq. However, both of these degrees weren’t enough to help me find a job in the United States after I came here in 2009.
I decided to pursue my studies and get a higher academic degree. Academic credentials are highly in demand in today’s job market.
I did research on what would be the best degree for me and not only from the job market’s perspective. The degree needed to be affordable. It had to be done while I worked at Walmart.
After all my research, I figured out that studying at APU for an MBA degree in global business management was a good choice. From what I’ve gained, I can say it was the best choice.
Tell us about your position at Walmart.
I’m a replenishment manager at Walmart’s Home Office – the Sporting Goods department. My responsibilities are at a high level. I ensure that we have the right items at the right stores with the right price and right quantities at the right time.
Did your degree with APU help prepare you for specific challenges you’ve come across in your current position?
Each of our MBA classes required research and discussions. The subject of most of my research was Walmart: I always needed to know more about Walmart.
By the end of my studies, I had accumulated a wide knowledge of Walmart. That helped me in obtaining my current position at the Walmart Home Office. It also helps me every day in accomplishing and managing my job’s responsibilities and tasks.
See more of Jalal’s story in the video below.
What are the biggest challenges in your industry?
The retail industry is the biggest industry in the United States and in the world. Almost all of the other industries depend on retail to sell their products and services.
Walmart is #1 as a Fortune 500 company worldwide. It’s also the biggest store in the retail industry and the world. But there are always challenges in any industry; the biggest challenge in retail is the other competitors.
What are two key pieces of advice you would pass on to someone new to online education?
The most important advice I’d give is to understand your class requirements and needs. Take enough time before the class starts to read the class syllabus carefully. Understand the class and your instructor’s requirements and expectations. Be sure to know what book is required and order it early so it gets to you before the first day in class. Know the most important due dates. Don’t forget to enter your class in the first week and introduce yourself to the class and to your instructor.
What is your favorite thing about online learning?
The most important thing in learning online is the flexibility. You can attend your class any day of the week, at any time you want, from anywhere in the world.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have many hobbies and interests for my narrow amount of free time. I like sports such as swimming, horseback riding and soccer. I’m also a licensed judge for the International Shooting Sport Federation and volunteer for different organizations.
What have you been up to since earning your degree at APU?
Receiving my master’s degree from APU was a pinnacle in my life. This degree enabled me to work for several land management agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. To assist the USFWS motto in conservation management, I served at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center as a training technician and delivered content on resource management, sustainability and conservation. From there, I began working for the state side of fish and wildlife management for the Management Assistance Team in Shepherdstown, WV.
Presently, I am a park ranger working for the National Park Service as a Biological Science Technician. The knowledge and resources I obtained from earning my degree at APU gave me the ability to work for land management agencies and focus on resource management and conservation in a field I am passionate about.
We have all heard how important planning and tracking our progress is to reach our goals, but this can be especially important in an online environment. How do some students reach their goals more efficiently, or seem to have it “easier” than others? Many students focus on goal planning and track their progress throughout their online program, and this includes creating and achieving short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals can include getting at least a ‘B’ in your next two classes, while a long-term goal could be graduating with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Short-term goals can be created and crossed off a list as they are completed, while long-term goals can be revisited at specified time intervals.
Sonya Young lives in Florida and has been in the workforce for nearly 20 years. She’s an accountant who already has her Associate in Applied Science in Accounting. Over the years since her first job, she got married, and kept working. Life was busy – and it continues to be busy. But that hasn’t stopped Sonya from pursuing additional academic credentials and her bachelor’s degree.
Sonya originally started her career in an entry-level position in accounting, and her talent in accounting quickly became apparent. After she earned her associate degree, she was able to take on new responsibilities. She got promoted – several times. Now, she’s a financial officer at a nonprofit.
And yet, around 8 years ago, Sonya realized that “not having my bachelor’s degree was becoming an issue. To advance even further in my career, to earn a directorship at a nonprofit, I knew I needed to go back to school.”
By Dr. Jennifer Douglas Director, Graduate Studies at American Public University
As reported by the Council of Graduate Schools, employment for individuals with master’s degrees is expected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020. Completing a master’s degree can enhance your career prospects by providing you with deeper knowledge in the content area as well as transferable skills for the current job market. According to research conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools, graduate students need to develop transferable skills in order to be successful in the workplace, whether seeking a new career or advancing in a current one.
When I was Chair of Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage, I was asked to visit Hawaii for two weeks; I was part of a brainstorming exercise into what Hawaii wanted to be known for. So, my Dean and I shipped off to Hawaii, along with Senator Ted Stevens (Alaska) and Senator Daniel Inouye (Hawaii).
We were participating in a business transition exercise with about 100 other “experts.” At the end of the week, I had learned that Hawaiian business people wanted to add a brand to their identity that was not tourist, pineapple or any number of things that seem, well, Hawaiian. I purchased five Hawaiian shirts many Alaskans wear in the summer. Ultimately, I learned two things. One was that some leaders in Hawaii wanted to be known for biomass that is, burning all that green stuff that grows all the time and product alternative energy sources. The second thing was seeing how a brainstorming session could be seen in different viewpoints, not just from the different ages of the participants or different cultures.
Have you tried to live without your iPhone or cell phone for a day? A week? Two weeks? Can you imagine leaving your cell phone at home, cut off, and drive away to the coffee shop to meet some friends, to the hardware store, or to the grocery store? How does this make you feel?
My granddaughters told me that they use their cell phones to stay in touch with their friends, and they instant message or text others over 300 times each day. Have you gone out to dinner with your friends or spouse and seen a family of four or a couple on a date sitting at the table, each texting or checking email? I have. I suspect you have.
Has that person been you? When we go to dinner, we routinely turn the sound off of the iPhone or turn it off. I place my phone in my coat pocket. My wife’s cell phone is in her purse. It ,too, is turned off, lest her brother text or call her to ask some silly question like what is the weather like in Virginia or to tell us what his two cats have done today, lying around in the sun and doing nothing.