Tag Archives: graduate

Beginnings: Never Too Late

We celebrated the 2017 AIM graduates last week and look forward to starting a new cohort this week. In a way, these are beginnings for both groups. Our new students are just starting their AIM graduate careers with perhaps some uncertainty as to their new journey. Our newest alumni now have options open to them in terms of discretionary time and they will possibly pursue a passion or career position or even choose to continue their academic journey.

I think we often tie beginnings to specific events such as graduation or a new job or starting a degree program or any number of life events. In reality, we can declare fresh beginnings at any time for any reason. In this blog post I would like to explore ways we can move beyond our self-limitations and break out in new and productive ways.

Simple Steps

I have written about this topic before but I feel it is important to revisit. This message is as much for myself as it is for my readers. Beginnings do not have to be large undertakings. It can be as simple as taking a class on something you are interested in that is completely outside of your career field. If you have goals to improve your health and fitness, it is not necessary to run a marathon tomorrow but a simple step would be to get out and walk and enjoy nature. That can lead to other greater goals that could lead to running a marathon someday, or it can simply lead you down the path of better health. Sometimes it takes just simple steps.

One of the dilemmas of a new undertaking is devoting time to it. This could require giving something up. If you are like me, you may have habits and routines and commitments that fill your day. If you were to pursue something new, which of those routines would you be willing to give up? Sometimes this is the hardest part of starting down a new path and requires an examination of goals and values.


Congratulations to all of this year’s AIM graduates. I am proud of your accomplishments and am honored to have played a small part in getting you to the finish line. This is not an ending or a final resting place as such, but a beginning. Take advantage of your new knowledge and relationships that you forged and create the world that you want. Often, it starts with a simple step.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

How My Graduate Education Opened Unexpected Doors For Me

2010 AIM Program graduatesI have been pondering how a graduate education has helped me in my life and career. The catalyst was an article I read recently titled “In Defense of the Master’s Degree.” To be fair, the article was written by the chief strategy officer at Northeastern University, so it may have been a bit biased. His thoughts, however, echo my own experience and the benefits I have enjoyed since completing my master’s degree.


As the article points out, up until recently the master’s degree was primarily a stepping stone to a PhD, though it sometimes became a final stopping place for those who did not make it to the finish. In the 1970s the trend shifted towards specialized graduate degrees in business, science, engineering, and computer science. The master’s degree became not a step to the PhD, but a destination in and of itself. At the same time, the number of advanced degrees in liberal arts has trended down.

Is it worth it?

With rising student debt and a proliferation of professional certificate programs, some are asking whether a graduate degree is still valuable. It is obviously important in medicine and law and in sciences such as chemistry, but is it important in computer science or information systems or business? Are employers looking for evidence of hands-on experience via certifications, or are they looking for evidence of the reasoning skills, critical thinking, and specialized knowledge that can only be developed through graduate-level study?  I believe that the answer is both.


Beyond the obvious advantages of education and knowledge, there are benefits I did not expect:

–       The opportunity to do focused research. I was able to dive into the area of using computer simulation to solve business problems. This helped me to focus my interests and had real-world applications for my employer.

–       Increased confidence. Not only was I able to apply for positions that required an advanced degree, but I was confident that I could compete for and excel in these jobs.

–       Increased networking opportunities. A graduate cohort is generally small enough to give you the opportunity to engage the fellow students, and the faculty, both personally and professionally. This expanded network has helped me immensely in my career.

–       Becoming qualified to teach. When I pursued my master’s degree, it was strictly for the increased knowledge and professional opportunities. To my surprise it also opened doors for me in the academic world. This was unexpected and has been a great source of personal growth for me.


When weighing the costs and benefits of an advanced degree, I encourage you to look not only at the extrinsic values of professional advancement but also at the intrinsic value of increased knowledge, confidence, and peripheral opportunities. My degree has opened doors for me and allowed me to network with talented individuals who took me to places that I never would have considered.

If you have an advanced degree or if you are contemplating starting one, I would love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

What May Be Expected of an Undergraduate after Graduation

Today’s post is written by Anna Grigoryeva, an undergraduate student working part-time with the AIM Program. As the economy and job market continue to be affected by changes in information technology, the growth of social media, and access to big data, we wondered how today’s undergraduates are managing and interacting with today’s information. We asked Anna to share her thoughts on preparing to enter the job market.

Anna GrigoryevaAs a senior undergraduate at the University of Oregon, it is with excitement that I say I am ready to graduate this upcoming June. I started attending the University of Oregon in 2010, right after I finished high school. While I was attending high school, I started early college at Portland Community College, where I pursued my Associate of Arts Transfer (AAOT) degree. When I entered UO, I had more than sixty transferred credits and was determined to study what I pictured my career path to be… or so I thought. And the journey began.

I changed my major at least five times. Starting off with a focus on interior architecture, then some political science courses, to actually changing my major to political science! Unfortunately, the subject dulled for me, therefore I pursued the next appealing subject, which happened to be economics. I became dissatisfied with my dead-end career choices after declaring economics as a major and made another switch—this time to business. Later, I pursued journalism with a concentration in advertising and public relations. I went through so many majors, my parents decided to put a stop to it. They knew I wanted to graduate in three years, so they encouraged me to make up my mind, and fast! Finally settling on a major—general social sciences with a concentration on economics, business and society—was the most suitable decision I made. It was perfect, because I already had some background in economics, business, journalism and political science, which fit the major requirements. For this reason, I am graduating early.

My classes range from arts and languages to mathematics and sciences. I decided to take a wide variety of classes outside my major because I wanted to learn things I never would have discovered otherwise. In this economy, I believe that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t impact your future much. Unfortunately, I feel it is recognized as equivalent to a high school diploma nowadays. I know I want to pursue my master’s one day, but with all the loans I took out, my master’s degree will have to wait a little longer. Right now, what matters is all the connections you make—your social network, your job/volunteer/internship experiences. Employers are looking for recommendations outside your classroom. Some of them don’t even check your transcripts, and that can be frustrating because we know how much effort we put into getting good grades. That’s why I chose the path that I did. I’m happy with the degree I chose and the ability to graduate a year early. I feel that I have experienced college at the UO and acquired many skills and plenty of experience for my prospective employment and nonemployment opportunities.

If I happened to graduate with just my degree, without any previous job experience, it would be difficult for me to find a job. So far, all employers that have interviewed me focused mainly on what kind of experience I have, or generally, what I have to offer. Because my background ranges from social sciences to arts and sciences, I am a very creative person. Therefore, I decided to publicize myself via social networks. I started building my LinkedIn professional network, where future employers may see my job description and recommendations from people I worked with. My Facebook and Twitter pages are professionally-oriented in that I make sure everything on them is appropriate and professional. I created an online portfolio where people may look at my projects and possibly contact me for future employment.

I believe that, in the current work field, being open minded and having a broad range of experience is important. It’s also necessary to show interest in new developments within your occupation. Although it is ideal to have a degree in economics, business and society, it is also beneficial to have a well-rounded background because employers are seeking individuals who are able to cope with the potential hardships that they may encounter in a work environment. Some experiences that have made me a more well-rounded person are: becoming president of the German club; earning a bachelor’s degree in science; gaining work experience through helping with the Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program’s blog and social networks; acquiring skills as a technical support assistant; interactions and connections made through Relay for Life volunteer work as the online chair, and recently as a marketing and publicity coordinator for an on-campus magazine for women, Her Campus Oregon. These skills and experiences, along with others, compose my profile and display how social and busy I was throughout my educational career. I’m ready to graduate and am anticipating showing my prospective employers what I have to offer.

After graduating, my plan is to become a full-time adventurer and move to Germany whilst pursuing an occupation with an open position in the marketing/advertising field. Eventually, I would enjoy embarking on a new educational journey by pursuing a master’s degree there.