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  1. #1
    House of Wax's Avatar
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    back to school.....back to school

    Question for the adults that have or currently are taking college classes......


    We get tuition reimbursement through work and i`ve tossed around the idea of taking advantage of it. Couple problems.....#1 the thought of getting back into it makes me wanna drive off a tall bridge. #2 I have no friggin clue what I would even pursue.


    In order for work to pay for it, it has to be something somewhat related to my current employment, so most likely it`d have to be something in the tech field


    So I guess my question is, where/how is everyone doing it and how in the world did you decide which degree or certification to pursue?


    Just a little background. I`m currently employed (18 years now) at a telco working on phone/internet lines, I like my job and I`m paid well/good benefits, and have no intention on leaving even if I were to obtain a degree/certification in anything. It`s more or less there`s free money available so I kinda feel like I should take advantage of it.....just don`t know how the hell to decide what to pursue
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  2. #2

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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    I`m in college now, so not sure if my opinion means anything to you, but my best advice is to not narrow it down too quickly. So since your at a phone/ internet line company maybe they require you to take classes in business, but don`t narrow it down in business as fast. I would try to take a couple classes that you may not even think you`ll like. I had to take a lot of different business classes (my school only offers business majors) as pre-requisites and this helped me figure out what I actually like. There are a ton of awesome classes out there relating to Technology and Operations Management field. Its starting to emerge into really cool degrees from all types of institutions. I know me personally, some of my favorite classes have been a modeling with Excel course, a database management course, an entrepreneurship course, and an operations management course where we solve ops problems for a real business. If your company will let you, try to take a few different courses and really see what you like. I was surprised by what I liked, and after I took those pre-reqs I found the major and minor I wanted to pursue.

    As for the actual classes part, yea college classes are tough there`s no getting around that. I`m currently overloading and taking 22 credits and it takes almost all my time hahahha. But. If its something you really want to do to better yourself I say go for it.
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  3. #3

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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    I was in your shoes a few years ago. I went back to school 5 years after graduating undergrad (went part time student while working full time at my job). The dilemma of "what degree to get" was sort of solved for me, as I ended up getting a masters in the same degree field as my undergrad, which was directly related to my job (Civil Engineer - specializing in marine geotechnics).

    Was it worth it? Absolutely! Was it hard? You bet. I was working full time, and commuting from Houston to College Station every day I had class as there was no online option. We had a kid in there somewhere too. It was a blur.

    Keep in mind there could be tangential certificate programs you have access to while earning a technical degree (if that`s the route you take). Texas A&M had a Certificate in Business Finance specifically for engineers, which was a two week intensive program designed to give you the broad brushstrokes. Mainly to help the up and coming managers have some financial literacy without spending 2 years on an MBA.

    Another thing is taxes and how they work with tuition reimbursement (and other deductions you might be able to claim)... check with the IRS, but there is a limit on how much tuition help the company can provide before you have to claim the reimbursements as income. I believe is something like 5200 a year (anything over that counts as income). The company I worked for just capped their tuition reimb. at the IRS limit, which was just enough to pay for the 2 semesters of school going part time (or within a few hundred bucks). I was able to deduct my mileage, but there are restrictions and gotchas on that too (and the rules have probably changed since 2014-2016 when I was in school).

    Hope this helps, any other questions feel free to ask away or PM me. Good luck!

  4. #4
    House of Wax's Avatar
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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    Thanks for the input guys.

    My company will pay up to $8k/year

    I got an email back from our H.R. last night that I think sets a tentative path forward.

    We get a slight bump in pay for obtaining each of the following certificates:

    Comp TIA A+
    Comp TIA Network+
    CCNA

    So I think the logical first step is to pursue those as they have a direct financial benefit to my current employment.

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  5. #5

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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    While it might not be directly related to the work you do on the telecommunicaitons front, it might be worth throwing Security+ into the mix as well.

    Something to keep in mind as well is any potential employment commitments which come with taking those classes. Companies I`ve worked for in the past will have some sort of commitment based on the ammount they contribute to education. If you leave the company voluntarily, or get fired, you have to pay them back while layoffs don`t count. If you are happy where you are and have no plans for changing employers, great! If not, you might want to look at your company`s, "fine print" on education allowances.
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  6. #6
    dansautodetailing.com Stokdgs's Avatar
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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    House of Wax -- 18 years at a Telco (which one?) working on phone and internet lines - what does that mean ?

    I worked in Telecom Management for 40 years and it involved understanding all the different aspects of Telecommunications, which today, is most focused on the Internet, wireless everything, still have giant fiber optic pipes moving all the data, all the servers, switches, etc., in those huge data centers, etc...

    If you can get into the higher level of Managing these huge things, there is a lot of $$$ to be made there, and you are already familiar with most or all if it I assume, right ??

    Lucky for me, I got started on the ground floor with a little company in California called AirTouch Cellular, back in the early 90`s..
    200 seat call center, excellent wireless side, no Telecom management at all..

    I interviewed for this job along with a lot of really smart Cellular Technicians, and I got the job because I had the most well-rounded Telecom experience..

    We went on to be so successful at building this little company up, that I ended up being part of the team that built over 1 million square feet from bare ground, multi-level buildings in Campus environments, 10,000 seats for call center reps, and I was able to move the entire company in stages to these new buildings, etc., and NEVER dropped a call, or interrupted our data..
    None of our clients ever knew we were moving..

    This little AirTouch Cellular company eventually became Verizon Wireless..

    A lot of really great jobs are available with all those certifications mentioned above, and if you get as many as possible, you will be very successful in pursuing your ultimate goal...

    Here is an example of how most big Telco`s operate --

    After I left Verizon, (well, they pushed me out because I was at the very top, not Executive Management, I Consulted for a few years, and got a Consulting job with AT&T, Bothell, WA.
    Huge multi-story- 9 building Campus, with a bigger, Data Center across the street.. A really big Switching Center for AT&T..

    Me and my little team of 3 Telecom people were tasked with using the proprietary databases, go find all the - Unfinished - projects, figure out what they are, what happened, where they go, and get all the people involved ( all were multi-state Giant Data Pipes Projects across the the entire US), and complete the projects for AT&T..

    We found over - 3,000 - unfinished projects !!! Another team before us found over - 4,000 - unfinished projects !!!

    If you ever wondered why this Carrier, has such crappy service, etc., sometimes, well, this is ONE of many reasons for sure...

    The Telecom Field, is still wide open for good people with well rounded experiences that are Motivated to do good every day and not be unwilling to work 40+ hours at a time, especially when doing major Construction projects...

    Get all the Server, Switch, etc., Certifications you can and these will help you go farther and higher if you want to go there..

    Someone still has to - Manage - the entire shebang, and it cant be an Executive who really knows - Nothing - about the Telecom Field, if your company wants to be successful and move - Forward -

    AirTouch Cellular/Verizon was so successful and is still successful today because we - NEVER - let anything Go Down.... We were all very smart people who willingly worked across departments (No stupid political stuff ever), and always had back ups for everything..

    Certainly, you know that things occasionally go down for no reason, right ?

    Well, instead of today`s totally unprepared people who just say - " oh wow, never seen that before" and have NO plan on how to get it back up and running, we - Always - had back up - Everything - running, and just switched it over to the Back up... What a concept !!

    We also never did anything Stupid..

    I remember once, AT&T did a Software Upgrade to their Cellular Switches on a MONDAY Morning, and knocked themselves OFF LINE for 3 Days!!!! No Service for 3 Days !!!
    Little AirTouch Cellular reaped thousands of new Clients...

    Verizon never goes down because we/they never did dumb stuff like that without having a Back UP and a Back OUT Plan that had been already rehearsed in the LAB, etc., and if we were not absolutely satisfied with the change, we just did not do it... Go back to the drawing board...

    I actually LOVED this work and the 60 hour+ work weeks, were hard but still manageable ... It all depends on what YOU are made of and what you want to do with it..

    Happy for you, hope you find that path that works for you and allows you enough - balance - so that you have a great family life as well !!!
    Dan F

  7. #7
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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    I started on right when Verizon took over for GTE in our area and we are now Frontier.

    I do a little bit of everything...voice, DSL, special Data circuits, basically anything that comes off the switch to the customer

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  8. #8

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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    I look at it like this you dread going back. Is the volume in pay increase worth the (Iím assuming 2 yrs) time. Do you LOVE doing your job? Not liking its and itís benefits but what you actually do for 7-10 hours a day? If not that will be a lot of time devoted to doing things that you donít like. I would look over the courses.... maybe sit in on a class or two and find something you are interested in that would also hopefully be covered by your company


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  9. #9

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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    I`d look into programs related to your field at different universities. Look into the details of whatever makes you feel exited and if you still find the contents will contribute to your professional development, then go for it.
    Many universities are putting together very interesting programs, particularly around subjects that are dynamic and capture attention, like yours.
    Have fun.
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  10. #10
    House of Wax's Avatar
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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    Quote Originally Posted by Coatings=crack View Post
    I look at it like this you dread going back. Is the volume in pay increase worth the (Iím assuming 2 yrs) time. Do you LOVE doing your job? Not liking its and itís benefits but what you actually do for 7-10 hours a day? If not that will be a lot of time devoted to doing things that you donít like. I would look over the courses.... maybe sit in on a class or two and find something you are interested in that would also hopefully be covered by your company


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I do enjoy my job.

    This more or less boils down to feeling like I should take advantage of free money to form a backup plan in case someday the you know what hits the fan and I for some reason lose my job or have to move on to something/somewhere else.

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  11. #11
    dansautodetailing.com Stokdgs's Avatar
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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    Quote Originally Posted by House of Wax View Post
    I started on right when Verizon took over for GTE in our area and we are now Frontier.

    I do a little bit of everything...voice, DSL, special Data circuits, basically anything that comes off the switch to the customer

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    So, you are a C/O tech in a C/O ?

    I installed OC-48`s on SONET Rings in our Data Centers as part of my job and then tested them with the C/O Technicians using my T-Berd test equipment, before I signed off on them..

    Another fun part of my Telecom Management job was handling the Dialing Plan for the company, including Toll-Free numbers..

    I put 800-922-0204 into the AirTouch Dialing plan for Customer Service back in 1995 !!! It still there and in use !!

    Had several punch-down tools for the old `66 blocks and the newer ATT 110 blocks.. Yeah, had to know the color code. white-blue, blue-white, etc..

    We had dedicated switch and server technicians who just did all that stuff, and then of course the cellular technicians who managed their boxes in the data centers as well..

    Someone or perhaps a few people should be managing everything in there, the temps in there, (raised floor, etc.,) all the Fiber and Copper cabling, the fire safety part (used to be Halon), the zillion Vendors, etc...
    That job should be over $100k to start..
    Dan F
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  12. #12
    House of Wax's Avatar
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    Re: back to school.....back to school

    I do some work in the C/O`s , but no, I`m not a C/O tech. The bulk of my work is on the outside lines. Our C/O techs make just a bit more than I do. Just waiting for senior C/O tech in my area to retire lol

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