Meet Rachel Iwanonkiw, operations manager and accounting student Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Meet Rachel Iwanonkiw
Pursuing: Bachelor of Science degree in accounting
Degrees earned: Associate of Science in accounting, Community College of Allegheny County
Job title: Operations Manager
Employer: Workscape, Inc.
Expected graduation: Dec. 2013
Hobbies/interests: Softball, writing, running, polar bear advocacy
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.
High School: Brentwood High School
As a non-traditional student, how do you effectively balance working full time and going to school?
The most important thing about managing a career and an education simultaneously is staying organized. I establish a schedule for myself and try to abide by it as closely as possible. I try to be realistic about how many hours there are in a single day and how much can be accomplished in those hours. Even on days that I do not have in-class time, I make sure that I dedicate some time to school work. Heading straight to school from work throughout the week can become tiresome, but eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising helps me to optimize my levels of energy and concentration.
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Also, I always make sure my employer knows my schedule up front. I am fortunate that Workscape understands that there may be times that I have to leave a few minutes early to speak to a professor before class or review before an exam. By design, my work and school schedules rarely intersect, but my employer, like many, is supportive of my academic goals. I put a healthy amount of pressure on myself to succeed both professionally and academically and make the most of my free time.
What factors made you choose Point Park's accounting program?
Before coming to Point Park, I already had established an interest in the field of accounting. I was working as an accounting specialist and needed a university that could accommodate my full-time work schedule. I narrowed my search down to four options in the Pittsburgh area but found that Point Park could best fulfill my needs. I wanted small to mid-sized classes, a well-rounded curriculum, a convenient location, and affordable tuition. Most importantly, I needed to be able to continue working full time while attending school. Point Park offered a great combination of evening and online courses to accommodate my schedule. In addition, I know Point Park alumni (including accounting majors) who graduated and gained employment easily and even had multiple offers from which to choose. I also liked that Point Park has so many connections to accounting internships and that the program's course work encourages obtaining a C.P.A. license.
How did you land your current position?
During my junior year at Point Park, I received an assignment in a business course to develop a professional resume and cover letter. I had to locate a local job opening that I might be interested in pursuing after graduation. Since I had already completed the footwork of a job hunt, I decided I should just send in my completed resume. I ended up getting a call a few weeks later and a request for an interview. The employer was impressed with my 4.0 GPA and the skills that I was able to develop at Point Park while concurrently gaining professional experience as an accounting specialist.
In what ways is Point Park helping you to reach your career goals?
Point Park is helping me to earn a bachelor's degree while working in my field. I would have never pursued this particular job were it not for the assignment that I received from Point Park. I enjoy the diverse skill set that I am able to apply in my current position. My advisors, along with several of Point Park's sophisticated online planning and scheduling tools, allowed me to plan my schooling in conjunction with my career and have set me up to succeed in both.
What advice do you have for working adults who are considering a college education?
Try not to look at the thought of enrolling in school as an adult as a "late start." Instead, think about all of the knowledge you have gained on the job that you can bring to the classroom. Any amount of business experience will benefit you in Point Park's diverse curriculum. Look at yourself as being ahead of the curve in terms of knowledge and experience instead of being behind in terms of time or age.