It took Aaron Eden a while to find his career calling—but once he did, he never wavered. “I graduated high school in 2001 and just worked odd jobs until I enlisted in the Air Force in April 2004,” says Aaron, currently a staff sergeant stationed in Korea and the lead information management officer for his organization.
“Other than a beginner’s programming course in high school, my initial computer programmer technical training (after my basic training) was the first real exposure to any kind of structured programming course.”
During his seven years in the military, he’s been assigned a variety of technical duties, all of which he has handled with aplomb. Yet, despite his on-the-job prowess, he knew that lacking a college degree would curtail his options for the future.
“The military puts a strong emphasis on furthering your education,” Aaron says. “In most cases, if you’re not [pursuing education] in some fashion, your chances for promotion are greatly reduced. Because the military tuition assistance has made most of my education completely free, and [because] I had a lot of time on my hands at the time, it just seemed silly not to be taking advantage of the opportunity.”
A Match for the Military
A coworker recommended American Sentinel University, and Aaron’s own research confirmed that it was the right fit.
“American Sentinel’s emphasis on supporting the military really won me over,” Aaron says. “Before I officially enrolled, they sent me a report of what would transfer as credit out of my military training, on-the-job training, and college classes I had taken at my first base. I was very surprised and pleased at how much did actually transfer.”
Having earned his Bachelor of Science Computer Science in 2009, he’s now working toward his Master of Science Computer Science at American Sentinel.
Aaron has been fortunate to have a built-in advantage for juggling work and school. “I was afforded quite a bit of time during normal work hours to do school work, as it was beneficial to my assigned duties in the Air Force as well,” he says. “The Air Force’s software engineering school [that] I attended at the start of my career also helped to make the 100-level courses much easier.”
Rising to the Challenge
As Aaron progressed to intermediate and advanced courses, he found that the knowledge he gained made him more and more effective at work. “There are a million ways to solve a problem as a programmer, and I found that, more often than not, I was getting it done, but not the best way possible,” he says.
“The courses I took with American Sentinel have definitely paid off in terms of being a more productive software engineer.” In fact, he’s seen concrete results—he and a colleague designed and implemented a system to track performance reports for all Air Force personnel on their base, which the leadership team liked so much that they are considering rolling it out to other bases.
Aaron also chose to enroll in a number of elective courses to supplement his required course work and says he got even more out of them than he anticipated.
Contemplating Civilian Life
Once he completes his current term of enlistment, Aaron says, he’ll pursue a career in the private sector as an application or database developer. Thanks largely to American Sentinel, he expects the transition to be smooth.
“I don’t think there’s any question that having a degree, much less a master’s degree, will help me to find a satisfying job that will both challenge me and provide well for my family,” he says.
“I owe American Sentinel University a lot for everything they’ve done for me, and I really think that my experiences here have laid a very solid foundation for a successful career.”