Data analyst by day, student by night
Data analyst Abiola explains why not “going away” to a brick university was one of the best decisions he made.
After choosing an apprenticeship right after his high school diploma, the ambitious Abiola, 27, says he was able to progress in his career while studying computer science and computer science at the Open University.
“I had a group of friends who were all going to college to study the same degree,” he says. “We had all done university together, we had all done GCSEs together and I thought if we all went to an interview there is nothing that would really make any of us stand out.
“I finished my bachelor’s degree and received an unconditional offer from a traditional university to study computer science. I decided not to rush and take a year off and try to gain more experience to stand out from other people applying for the same job.
Stand out from the crowd
Abiola got a sought-after apprenticeship at a company that makes electric vehicle chargers. After his freshman year, he was offered a full-time job and now works as a Senior Network Assurance Data Analyst.
To help her progress further, her employer recommended UO and offered to sponsor her degree, as Abiola explains:
“My proudest moment was being offered the opportunity to study part-time with OU by my employer.
“They said ‘Go away and do your own research. Pick a university and come back to us and we’ll support you, but you might want to watch The Open University’, and that’s when I did my own research on UO and found what was on offer and made my choice.
“It’s great to be able to study, as well as work in a company that helps the world travel carbon-free through the use of electric vehicles. Studying and working at the same time allows you to gain experience – whenever you apply for a job, the first thing employers are looking for is someone with experience.
Skills to move forward
Abiola says one of the benefits of studying OU is that he can apply the knowledge from his course directly to his daily work.
“I wanted the opportunity to study part-time while working and grow both professionally and academically. OU allows you to study at your own pace and find the right balance between working full-time and studying part time.
“I don’t have to sacrifice my education. I was able to progress each year towards my baccalaureate and progress at work.
Although life is busy, Abiola says he is able to get the best of both worlds by working and studying and would encourage others to do the same.
“There’s no reason to sacrifice your career goals or put your career on hold just to get a degree. The OU allows you to study at your own pace so you can choose how many courses you want to study per year and it allows you to find the right balance.
“It seems daunting at first to study and work at the same time because you want to see friends and family and have some free time, but it’s totally possible to combine the two.”
A supportive community
As Abiola progresses through his studies, he says he has the support of his employer, his family and the OU community.
“My family loves it and is very proud of me,” he says. “Every time I receive a result from one of my tutors, I let him know and I can tell that he is very happy with my progress. And my friends are very proud of what I do too.
He also stays in touch with his tutors and students every step of the way.
“The tutors and I stay in communication via email, Skype and telephone. I am able to call my tutor and spend five or 10 minutes on the phone explaining where I am stuck. It was very helpful.
“In the pre-Covid days, when things were normal, we had tutorials. I would have at least one a month, where you meet face to face with tutors and face to face with people in my tutor group. We build relationships, exchange phone numbers and email addresses, and stay in touch. With the other students, it’s not always related to studies, we talk about our personal life and everything interesting that happens there. We also have a WhatsApp group, so again it’s a very collaborative way of working together.
To look forward
As Abiola gets closer to graduating, he looks forward to advancing even further in his studies and career.
“I would like to do a master’s degree,” he says.
“Studying with OU allows me to get on with my life and pursue my career goals. I can study and evolve within the company as I have done for seven years.
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