Confidence, Commitment Carry Network Engineer Through Master of Science Information Systems Program
The thought of attempting a master’s degree program fills some people with outright fear—but not Bernard McClain II. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Peirce College in Pennsylvania, he couldn’t wait to move forward with his education.
“I thought to myself, I might as well continue to the next level and obtain my master’s degree while I still had the drive,” says Bernard, a senior network engineer for a life insurance firm. “If I had taken a year off, I believe it would have been harder to get focused on studying, writing papers and reading once more. It is not easy getting your mind in that state of being when you are a working adult student.” Plus, he adds, “I love a good challenge.”
Already employed in the IT field, Bernard decided to go for a Master of Science Information Systems degree. “On the bachelor’s level, you take a lot of classes and you get the know-how,” he says. “When you go into a master’s program, it shows you the other side—how management has to work with the levels underneath. That’s what I was missing.”
He consulted the employee development department at his company for a list of recommended schools, and learned that one of his colleagues was enrolled at American Sentinel. Upon researching the university, he decided it was a great match. “At that time, I was doing a lot of travel,” he says. “I thought American Sentinel would fit because I could go to school anywhere.”
With a demanding job, he knew that pacing himself would be important, and spread his coursework over four years. Because he lives alone, save for alternate weekends when his son is with him, he was able to devote large chunks of time each week to studying. “I used the weekends to relax or spend time with my son,” he says. “I made it a practice to stay one week ahead of class.” However, that meant sacrificing much of his leisure time: “I made the choice to cut down on my personal activities (gym, karate class, etc.) while I was in school.”
Making Strides in Leadership
Those personal sacrifices have paid off. Having just graduated with his M.S. Information Systems this past December, Bernard has already seen positive effects within his workplace. “My being in the position that I currently am in has added to the leadership/management corps in my department,” he says. “I have [assisted] my manager, who is the AVP of my department, to make key technology decisions in respect to network issues, network security policies, database issues, application server issues…The list goes on.” He hopes to be promoted before the year is up and, eventually, to advance to a senior management position.
Bernard plans to encourage his peers to continue with their own education—not only for the sake of their careers, but also for the sake of his industry. “Any form of education or training is good for an individual, and will enhance a company’s knowledge base,” Bernard says. “In today’s cyber-world, education and specialized training is a must in order to be able to compete in national and global markets. An educated society is a strong and healthy society.”