Former PDC student Laurie Miller shares how obtaining a professional certificate from UW Tacoma nearly a decade ago helped her grow her career and remain up to date with her skills while working full-time.
It has been almost a decade since Laurie Miller completed her professional development certificate with UW Tacoma. Since then she has continued to embrace being a lifelong learner and has gone on to gain additional certifications and training to grow her career and remain up-to-date with technology. As the pandemic continues and the skills gap widens, a top concern for many employees like Laurie is to be left behind in the workplace. Finding ways to “earn while you learn” can be one way to stay competitive in the job market.
“Technology is changing almost everything— almost daily. My father was a computer programmer for Weyerhaeuser in the 60s/70s and a bank in the 80s so I had early access to DOS matrix and had an all-in-one Mac that I could carry around on my back for work. It was a real steep learning curve then, but as you age and if you don’t continue to remain relevant with your skills, it becomes harder and harder to acclimate. So, I just decided that it was important to continue to push the envelope. I am 58 and I am now getting to a point where people will see me as obsolete in the workplace. I don’t want to be obsolete in any workplace.”
She credits her time a UW Tacoma as a significant milestone in her life. “It was a real stepping stone for me because it was the first certification and course completion that I ever had. I am really proud of that. It was a big deal and people in my life knew that and they even threw me a graduation party.”
Laurie appreciated the way coursework at the PDC was focused on applied learning. “It’s not just sitting down and reading books and writing a thesis. To me, university classes teach you why you do something. But the PDC classes were the how. They were hands-on and we had to do work that was tied directly to our jobs. It was very helpful.”
“[The classes] gave me the confidence to know my value and my worth. I want to be relevant both personally and professionally. [Completing the certificate] got me involved in trade groups that I might not have otherwise participated in like Rotary and Seattle Women on the Move where I hope I can be a better role model for young women entering the workforce now. I think that for women in general it is still tough to be treated equally at a job. Working in HR I’ve learned very quickly the discrepancy between male and female pay in the workplace. And I’ve battled it myself.”
“I would do it (the UW Tacoma certificate) again without a second thought. I hope that when I apply for a job that I look just as good as a 20-some-year-old with a degree— but I have 40 years of earn while you learn experience and two certifications.”
Over the past 19 years, the UW Tacoma Professional Development Center has welcomed thousands of students from throughout the Puget Sound and beyond. We wanted to catch up with a few alumni to see where they are now and how continuing education has impacted their lives and careers.