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More career opportunities for veteran Jess Finer

“My life has changed due to being a graduate of this program,” Jess Finer said in reflection on her life since earning her graduate degree. Finer is a veteran and a first-generation college graduate of Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning.

Because of her degree, she was able to explore new career opportunities and advance in her profession as an IT manager for Master Data Management and plan for the future.

Jess Finer on a video call
Organizational performance and workplace learning helped Jess Finer explore new career opportunities. Photo by Cassidy Myers, Boise State Extended Studies.

From Service to Study

Soon after graduating high school, Finer joined the military and began a new career.

“I joined the Marine Corps in 2005 at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan war as an intelligence analyst. The military has educational benefits, and I wanted to capitalize on my post-service benefits there,” she explained.

Her family had long been accustomed to a military lifestyle that included immense sacrifices and a lot of hard work. This mindset was crucial to her success while enrolling in Boise State Online’s Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning.

“Going back to school meant setting expectations and boundaries with my family and understanding that the short-term sacrifice will pay off in a long-term reward.”

Boise State University supports veteran and current military students in their pursuit of higher education. The Veteran Services Center helps veterans transition from the military to university life and navigate GI Bill® VA educational benefits. Military Programs help current military members pursue a Boise State education through tuition assistance, fee waivers and more.

Balancing a Career and Full Life While Learning Online

For most adult students, college can be particularly challenging to balance with other life and work responsibilities. Veteran Jess Finer recognized this challenge early on, which played a significant role in her decision to enroll in an online graduate program.

While learning online, students have some degree of control over their learning pace in asynchronous courses. Even though there are deadlines to meet, students can generally finish the asynchronous material at their own pace. They can then focus on their jobs and their families as needed.

“I chose an online program because it allowed me to maintain my professional career, which is very demanding, and my primary career as a mom. It was a flexible platform that allowed me to be successful.”

Hands-On Experience with Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning

During her time in the organizational performance and workplace learning program, Finer thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on experience. “Throughout this program, we had many project-based courses. I would have to say my favorite project was the needs assessment. We had an amazing team,” she said.

“The project was engaging with a local nonprofit company, Idaho Youth Ranch, and completing a needs assessment. It was rewarding to see the tangible output and value.”

The mission of the organizational performance and workplace learning program is to prepare professionals to engineer inclusive learning experiences and performance solutions informed by evidence so organizations can best address individual, team and organizational challenges.

Fully online coursework, industry-reflective curriculum and caring, passionate faculty and staff exemplify this program’s dedication to helping students succeed and pursue meaningful careers. Students can pursue a master’s degree or graduate certificates and finish with a robust portfolio, research and development experience, a broad professional network and on-the-job experience from internships.

Jess Finer sits at an office desk, working on her alao
Jess Finer is a graduate of the organizational performance and workplace learning program. Photo by Cassidy Myers, Boise State Extended Studies.

Filling a Skills Gap and New Career Opportunities

“I’m in the technical field, and there are so many different challenges where it’s clear that there’s a large gap in soft skills. The development of my soft skills has definitely been a big benefit of the organizational performance and workplace learning program.”

“I have the technical background and knowledge, but how do I communicate that so my colleagues feel supported and so business stakeholders feel heard and understand what I’m communicating? I now have the skills and tools to accomplish that.”

Finer’s organizational performance and workplace learning master’s degree helped her to gain new skills in collecting, analyzing and interpreting data, conducting evaluations and effectively navigating management challenges. These highly desired skill sets apply to a broad range of careers like instructional design, learning/training and development, human resource development, e-learning, performance improvement or consulting.

What’s Next?

After graduating with her master’s degree, Jess Finer feels ready for the future. In her current position, she’s already received a promotion and continues to plan her next steps. “I’m hoping to branch outside of IT, learn new skill sets and leverage the framework, tools, and skills that the program provided me,” she said. “In a new HR role, or wherever that may be, I have the skills and tools now.”

Learn more about the fully online organizational performance and workplace learning master’s degree and graduate certificates:

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