Some things just make sense.
For Stephen Greene, earning his Master of Science in Management Information Systems online from Lamar University is all about practicality — a great program from a familiar school at the right price.
“I did my bachelor’s degree at Lamar,” he said. “Going online seemed to make sense for me. Lamar’s master’s programs are rather inexpensive compared to other schools that cost twice as much. Also, I do a lot of work that involves having a ton of experience, but I don’t quite have the years of experience in it. Earning a master’s degree solidifies me as a valid candidate for some jobs.”
Currently working in the advanced technical support area for IBM Cloud, Greene handles anything from rebooting a server to delving into VMware bots. When he’s not solving problems with operating systems, he is working on his master’s-level coursework.
“My shifts can vary,” he said. “I mostly work days, but sometimes I can be there two to three hours later. So being able to do homework at work actually really helps.”
Greene believes that getting his master’s will open more doors at his company, and he wanted a program that suited his career goals without any unnecessary distractions.
“IBM has a bit of a policy where if you’re in a management position, they expect you to have a master’s degree of some kind,” he said. “Usually people have an MBA, but for me, an MS would be a lot more applicable to my current job.”
Choosing the right program was the first step. Greene is taking the next step by finding the right ways to use what he is learning.
Building a Knowledge Base
When it comes to a field as broad as information technology, it is sometimes more important to get a firm educational foundation than it is to be able to immediately put it to use.
“It helps to have general IT and general technical knowledge,” he said.
Having this kind of solid framework for his career potential assures Greene that he will be able to move onward and upward as opportunities come his way.
“It’ll also help me in the future when I’m applying for different jobs,” he said. “I have a wider breadth of knowledge in things like data mining, SAP, healthcare analytics — the overarching concepts that you learn in this program are widely applicable to any IT job.”
For now, Greene is content to just let the information wash over him and work together with like-minded individuals in the online MS in MIS program.
Connecting in Cyberspace
In one of his early classes, Greene was able to see the real humanity behind an online program.
“One group project that comes to mind is when we had to play a simulation in SAP together, and it required us to all work in tandem,” he said. “We were working against other groups simulating a company selling shoes, and we had to have the highest profit out of everybody in the class to win.”
Though located in different areas around the country, the group was able to come together using the technology at their disposal to form a tight group that transcended distance.
“We just mostly used chat and voice chat programs such as Discord to talk,” Greene said. “I think it was a lot easier to work together. There were occasions where I worked in a group project during my bachelor’s where I was the only one doing anything. … it seems easier this time around because everyone is there on their own accord.”
Greene has also found himself reconnecting with an old passion that he hopes to make a part of his path forward.
“MISY 5370: Data Mining and Predictive Analytics has actually been really fun,” he said. “That one had me doing a lot more work in crunching numbers and doing more things in Excel that I hadn’t had to do in a long time. And I’ve always found data mining and information science to be a really fun field. That’s what I wanted to go into in the future.”
With his graduation date set for December 2019, Greene is hopeful that the time, effort and money will pay off. If the past can predict the future, the outcome will far exceed his expectations.
Getting the Best ROI
In all of this work, Greene knows that he is making a solid investment in his future. He understands the payoff because he has seen it happen before.
“I feel like Lamar has a really, really high return on investment when it comes to their programs,” he said. “I only spent maybe about $24K getting my bachelor’s degree. And right out of school I got a job making $55K. Now, five years later, I make $90K, and I’m currently interviewing for a job that’s going be up to $100,000.”
Getting a near-400% return on investment on his bachelor’s degree, Greene sees that it’s not about where you go, but what you know.
“Anybody who’s considering getting a bachelor’s or a master’s at Lamar probably should do it because the cost is a lot lower than most schools,” he said. “I’ve never ran into an issue where someone said, ‘You went to Lamar, I’m not going to even consider you for a job.’ I’ve never had that problem. If anything, it’s helped.
“Most employers see an applicant from UT for example, and say the onus is on him to prove what he’s done,” he said. “Being from a smaller school, they’re looking more at my experience and my skills rather than where I went to school.”
The only hindrance in one’s career potential, Greene said, is a lack of the right experience and the right education. It won’t be long before he has both.
Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Science in Management Information Systems online program.