‘’When I started my degree I was asked by a colleague what my dream job was, well my dream job is actually the job I’m doing now and there’s no way I would have got it without my OU degree.’’
Working full time, 34-year-old Nathanial Lawrence had set his sights on a networking and IT career, wanting to work with Cisco products, but realised he needed a degree to progress. Traditional brick university wasn't an option, so he decided to sign up with the OU; little did he know that years later he'd be working for Cisco directly in a senior role - all thanks to the OU.
OU degree was the springboard to a dream job
"I applied for the job at Cisco once my studies had commenced and was offered the job. At my interview, the panel were really impressed that I was studying with the OU because they said it demonstrated that I was committed and motivated and showed a lot of self-discipline. They said distance learning tested my resolve and proved that I really wanted it, as well as demonstrating that I had lots of transferrable skills.
"I have recently been promoted to a senior role in Cisco – I am currently the Global Systems Engineer for Cisco managing the Barclays account, which is the second largest account for Cisco in the UK. Whenever the client needs new technical requirements to enable them to drive new business goals, I have to understand and articulate how Cisco technologies drive these outcomes at a technical level. Before my promotion, I was a network engineer in Cisco IT working on Cisco’s global internet backbone."
"My degree wasn’t sponsored by Cisco as I had started it before I began working for them, however they were supportive and gave me a lot of resource to help me understand what direction I could go in when I did my thesis, which was very good. My dissertation was based on an industry market transition that Cisco is at the core of. My work has been made publically available as a white paper for the industry to benefit from and was Cisco’s most viewed article of the first financial quarter."
OU degree brings knowledge, and much more
Nathanial says that the OU degree not only gave him knowledge, but developed his soft skills such as writing an communication, which helped him to articulate his ideas effectively.
"An OU degree is really rewarding and you will get much more out of it than you probably first envisioned – you’ve just got to stick with it. For me it has helped me to bring out skills in me that I knew I already had.
"The main benefit of the OU is its flexibility and even though you may have to sacrifice a few things it doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold. I was still able to enjoy life, visit different countries and do a lot of cool things. As long as you really want to do it and you manage your time well, you’ll get there."
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