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How a Project Manager Became More Marketable with Career Training


How one student added to her skills with career training

Before starting her career training journey, Terry Lynn Miller was faced with a decision many face: family or career? As an experienced project manager, she loved her career, but she was facing a time when going to work was not as satisfying as it once was. With an aging and ill father, Terry chose to transition out of the workforce to spend time as a caregiver for her father.

Remaining Competitive During Career Transition

When Terry began to look at her next career path, she was confronted with a younger, more tech-savvy workforce. Terry came to terms with the reality that, as an older professional, she needed to leverage her experience, but that was not enough.

“I was competing with millenials right out of college, with no experience but all the tech skills,” she said. “To matter, I needed to pair my experience with skills to play on the next level.”

As a working professional, Terry continued her development early in her career with a Project Management Certificate Program from the University of California, Irvine. She was able to successfully get by for her entire career without any actual certifications, until now.

One Stop, One School, One Program

While being a caregiver, Terry connected with an Orange County One-Stop Center, a place dedicated to helping job seekers get the resources they need to re-enter the workforce. With a background in aerospace and engineering, Terry qualified for career training through the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity (WIOA).

After being referred to New Horizons Career Development Solutions by her One-Stop counselor, she met with education adviser Lisa Newcomb.

“Meeting with Lisa was my greatest demise,” Terry said. “I knew instantly I had to work with her. She talked me through how to make my resume more competitive, what programs and courses would be best for my future goals, and I met the incredible support staff right away. It was a done deal.”

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In April, Terry began her career development program, Lean Six Sigma with Project Management Professional, which is designed to help seasoned professionals gain the certifications and IT skills they need to match their experience. Her training plan included:

Terry studied at home and in our Anaheim training location. She preferred studying at the training location because technology can be overwhelming. According to EdTech, completion rates for online classes are dropping each year, currently at 72 percent, and only half of educational professionals believe online courses provide the same value as classroom training.

“I’m a pen and paper type of person, so this was intimidating to me,” Terry said. “With the classroom environment, I had dual monitors. I was able to connect with the instructors, other students, and the support staff. You don’t get that at home. Getting help in real time, connecting with other students was a huge help.”

The ability to engage with other New Horizons students created an opportunity for passive learning through peer experiences as well.

Terry reflected on her Excel courses: “It was a great opportunity for me to touch on my skills and keep sharpening them. I was rusty, but now I’m an expert.”

Confidence and Certifications

Terry has completed her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and is currently working on her project for her Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification while studying for her Project Management Professional exam.

“The best thing I ever did was go to school right away,” she said. “It put me at a different advantage. I met people and built relationships with other students. When you talk about your struggles, you begin to relate to common older workforce challenges. We’re never too old to go back to school.”

Getting Back to a Fulfilling Career

Despite still studying for exams and certifications, Terry is also actively job searching, using LinkedIn and placement assistance as well as networking through her existing professional relationships. She’s taking the skills she has learned from New Horizons, applying them with her leadership and experience, and embracing the competitive market. With new certifications, Terry is looking to begin the next step of her career in a director or manager role in the growing industry of energy, aerospace, or engineering.

“I have a unique ability to both project, program, and people manage,” she said. “With a different view, I can continually grow, help an organization grow, and be a better employee mentor and coach.“

Take the Next Step

Whether you are an experienced professional like Terry or brand-new to the world of IT, New Horizons Career Development Solutions has a dedicated education adviser to help you determine which path is right for you. Contact us to schedule a free career readiness consultation.

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