I graduated in August 2000 from the Education and Training Management Subspecialty, Instructional Technology program with a master's degree in Educational Leadership.
My decision to return to school resulted from a desire to do something different with my life. I had a teaching certificate but didn’t want to work in a classroom. I was very interested in applying technology to education and in pursuing a business-related profession but didn’t want to go back and take all the undergrad classes again, so I chose the most business-related, technology-related education specialty I could find at UWF: ETMS-IT. I chose UWF because it was close to home and offered some classes in my hometown, Ft. Walton Beach. Plus, I had finished my undergraduate work at UWF, so I knew a lot of the people and professors and felt comfortable there.
It was a good choice. I liked that the classes were small, so I really got to know other students and professors well. I also liked that some of the classes were online, thus sparing me the commute to Pensacola. Another aspect that I feel greatly benefited me was the opportunity to work on projects with other students. We learned a lot from each other!
My degree was definitely the career boost I needed! Immediately after getting my master’s degree, I was offered a position as an instructional designer at the corporate headquarters of Office Depot in Delray Beach, Florida. Basically, I doubled my teaching salary in one day by accepting that position. Since then, I’ve changed jobs and relocated back to Northwest Florida, where I am now a manager/instructional designer for Northrop Grumman Technical Services at Tyndall Air Force Base.
My advice to prospective students is to get as much experience as you can with the tools of the trade, such as Flash, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and HTML. Try building a project from storyboards you have written, so you can get a feel for how others might view your instructions for development. Participate in peer reviews—you will gain a lot of insights about your own work as well as help someone else make their work better. Try to find a mentor who is currently working in your field.