Minds We Meet—Interviewing Amy Brown

Amy Brown lives in Edmonton, Alberta and is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Management in Marketing program at AU.  She works full-time and provides some advice for other students in a similar situation.  This is her story.

Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself? Who are you? Where do you live, where do you come from?

My name is Amy Brown (Kennaway) I am a Parts Service Manager for Baker Hughes General Electric.  I grew up in Sherwood Park and moved in to the “big city” Edmonton after I was done high school.  I originally started my career in the Information Technology (IT) industry, going to school to get my A+ and Microsoft Professional certificates.  I worked at a couple of different help desk positions, working my way up into a management position.  When the IT Industry dropped out of Edmonton, I moved into project management, still in the IT field but instead I was working within a corporation to improve and create business applications.  I then made my way into oil & gas with General Electric and have been with this company since.

Describe the path that led you to AU.  What was it that made you realize you wanted to go back to school, and what pushed you into the program you have signed up for?

My manager last year mentioned to me that the company has a program that will pay for school.  Since I do not have a degree and have been relying on my experience and skill set to move forward.  In discussing advancement opportunities, she suggested that I look into getting a degree.  I took her suggestion seriously and, knowing that I did not want to take night classes, I looked into Athabasca University to see what was offered, finally coming to the decision to take a Bachelor of Management in Marketing.

Do you like Bachelor of Management in Marketing program at AU? Is there anything you dislike?

So far, I am enjoying the program.  There isn’t really anything I would say I dislike.  It does get a bit lonely, though.  It would be nice to have a list of other people in your specific program, to help each other through assignments and study with.

What do you do like to do when you’re not studying?

When I am not studying or working, I am either playing with my dogs, reading, or spending time with family and friends.  Working full time and taking an almost full course load tends to take up most of my time.

Any tips or advice you would give to other students who are working full-time and trying to get through university? Finding time must be so challenging!

What works for me is to balance your time.  I work through the day, my break is after work through supper and then the evening I am doing school.  I find it easier having a laptop since I am at a desk all day, it is nice being able to sit on the couch with the laptop doing school.   I take a day off on the weekend, and the other day I spend most of the afternoon working through school.  You have to break up your time, if you don’t you will burn out and fall behind.

What are your plans for this education once you finish? How does it fit in with where you want to go?

I want to advance my career and advancing my education is pivotal in that.  Already, I have seen examples of what I deal with in my day job in the chapters of my school text, so I know this is the right course to give me that step I need to move up.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?

I would have to say both of my parents.  They were avid readers.  It was never out of place to see someone in the living room with their nose in a book.  When we would go on vacations, they would always take the time to read the plaques where bits of interesting facts would be displayed.

Describe your experience with online learning so far.  What do you like?

I like the flexibility associated with online learning.  I work Monday to Friday, forty hours a week.  I am able read the texts or do the quizzes form the comfort of my couch or in the home office, or even go to Starbucks.  I can take a night off if I need to.

And what do you dislike?

There is not much that I dislike about online learning.  I would say that most difficult part is that it takes discipline to read the texts and do the needed work to learn the material and pass with a good grade.  Since it is done on your own time, life can easily take over and poof two weeks have gone by and you have not looked at your studies.

At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?

The amount of work it takes.  At the end of the day I am mentally tired, and then to switch from work to school it does take a bit out of you.  I find that if I stick to a routine, like working until 4pm, taking a couple of hours for supper and unwinding, give the dogs attention, visit with my partner.  then around six I start going through my texts, reading, doing the homework, etc.  Then, I can power through even the toughest days.

What’s your most memorable AU course so far, and why?

I have just started my courses, so I don`t have much to go on.  The accounting course I am taking has covered material that I am familiar with from my current job.

What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?

I have given up my free time and upfront cost.  Though, I would have to say that it is completely worth it.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?

I have had my assignments marked in a timely manner and the feedback given has been constructive.

What is your biggest pet peeve, if you have one?

My biggest pet peeve, and this is going to sound a bit snooty, is when people ask for an answer instead of finding it themselves.  Ask all the questions, but do the leg work first before you ask, don`t rely on others to do the research for you.  If you can`t find what you need, then ask and ask how to find the information the next time.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?

Judy Garland.  I have loved Wizard of Oz since the movie came out.  So much that it took my parents until I was moving out to give me the movie as a present, because I would just watch it on repeat.

Carrie Fischer would be another one.  I grew up on Star Wars and adored Princess Leia.  She was beautiful and fierce and powerful.  I saw her once when she came to the Edmonton Comic Expo and I am still blown away by her accomplishments.

Describe the proudest moment in your life.

I have had many.  I have worked hard to get to where I am without a degree.  Getting a job in GE was a big moment for me.  I interviewed with them in 2009 and was second in line for the position.  5 years later, gaining more experience and keeping in touch with the recruiter, I got hired.  6 months after that I was the point of contact when we implemented our current Enterprise resource planning system, 2 years after that I was the application owner, business support and finance support.

Describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people.

I am awkward to the point where I have anxiety.  It is so bad that, for example, I must think of conversation topics and how I should answer general questions when I am meeting someone new.  I then will go over those conversations and worry if I have offended the other person, or if I should have answered in another way.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?

Hard work.  If you don’t work for it then it is not fulfilling.

Have you traveled? Where has life taken you so far?

I have done some traveling.  The farthest I have been was to Italy for a friend’s wedding.  I have also gone to Houston and New York for work.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?

I just finished the Alimoenti Saga, it is a series of seven books.  I originally got the first three books for free through my Kobo app and ended up buying the remaining books because I could not put it down.