Mid 2017 was a life changer for me. A senior colleague at the SME (small medium enterprise) where I had just started working told me to start looking for another job because I “do not fit into the culture” and there is “no future” for me. I was devastated, having resigned from a comfortable corporate job three years earlier to join another SME that made big promises (with zero follow-through). I found myself in a dark place at the thought of having to start looking for another job – again.
As a Namibian businesswoman I knew that my experience did not count especially with on-line application channels managing applicants from the top down. The highest qualification was the barrier to entry in most cases. Instant action was needed, and I was accepted by an internationally recognised university for a prestigious Masters degree in Business Administration. Funds were an issue and I could not raise the deposit before the registration deadline.
I was then accepted by the IMM (Institute of Marketing Management) Graduate School to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in BusinessAdministration. This was wonderful because the qualification was internationally recognised and fully online, and had a semester payment plan option. After being accepted I had two weeks to gear up my lifestyle from wife/mom/businesswoman to “student”. A second-hand reliable laptop was procured, the man cave quickly converted into mom’s study and mentally I started the journey. I was preparing for six subjects a year, six four/five-hour exams a year, twelve assignments and daily online tutorials, as well as weekly lecture sessions.
I documented my journey on social media for my network to see why I had fallen off the face of the earth. No more coffee dates or girlfriend catchups, and weekends and evenings became a blur of household chores, pyjama days and submission deadlines. It is worth mentioning that I did not enjoy the corporate comforts of study leave, exam preparation leave or assignment leave. I worked a nine-hour day, five days a week and completed my Degree in my own time. With strict monthly budgeting I was 100% self financed and shopping became a Q&A session – do I need this and if so, is there a cheaper option on the shelf?
I did allow myself the spoil of Jacobs coffee but everything else was a compromise. Slowly weeks became months and the months became years. I submitted my final project in the middle of the Namibian COVID19 lockdown and waited patiently for the results. One winter’s day in 2020 the email arrived “IMM Graduate School is pleased to inform you that you have successfully passed your BBA degree. Your Statement of Results is attached, and an official certificate will be available after graduation in March 2021”. I re-read these lines a dozen times as reality settled in.
Needless to say, the graduation ceremony never happened and the anticlimax of my certificate arriving by courier ended my Degree journey.
At 53 years I now have a degree.
It’s not “only a degree” as one recruiter scoffed – it is MY degree. In January 2021 I started a Postgraduate qualification in Project Management: Principles and Practices with the University of Stellenbosch Graduate School and have since also passed this postgraduate course.
I am now putting a plan in place to start MY MBA! Finances remain an issue because I do not qualify for corporate bursaries or government support, but I will not give up although it might take a little longer.
I hope my story has inspired you to action your dreams! My message to you is: never underestimate your ability as a businesswoman. You are stronger and far more capable than you give yourself credit for. Get YOUR qualification, no matter what the sacrifice, it’ll be worth it.