“It’s not just book learning—it’s real-world learning.”
For Linda Pollock, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration is a second chance at a new career.
Linda isn’t new to USM, having earned a degree in geology from the university straight out of high school. But soon after graduating, she married and started a family. “I kind of went into the mommy track,” she explained. “I wasn’t working in geology. I was staying home—and I stayed home longer than I planned.”
After her children started school, Linda returned to the workforce as a substitute teacher, and then as an education technician in the Old Orchard Beach School System. But when the system underwent budget-related lay-offs, she was forced to find new work in the manufacturing industry. That job, too, was downsized. As the economy shifted from bad to worse, Linda contemplated her next move—and made the decision to return to USM to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
“It was always in the back of my mind to come back and earn this degree. But it just never happened,” she said. “So I took the opportunity, with the economy the way it is, to finish a new degree and move on in my life.”
Now enrolled in the USM School of Business, Linda is a General Management major with a concentration in Risk Management and Insurance (RMI). Designed as an introduction to the tools used for managing business and personal risks, the RMI track prepares students for careers in a variety of fields, but is especially pertinent for careers in insurance underwriting, claims management, actuarial science, corporate risk management, insurance sales and brokering, and personal finance planning. Through the School’s flexible course delivery options, Linda is completing her two remaining courses in the evening, freeing her daytime schedule for the job search—and the opportunity to accept the offer of a fulltime job if the right one comes along.
“With the night classes and the flexible schedule that’s offered, USM has a long-standing tradition of being a community-based university,“ Linda explained. “And, as a career-minded person, one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about these classes is that you have a lot of people who are working in the field. They tend to be serious students, people who want to return to college, take what they’ve learned in class, and find applications for what they’re learning, what they’re experiencing.”
While flexible scheduling drew Linda to the program, the faculty expertise and classroom emphasis on teamwork give her confidence in her ability to adapt to the business world. “Being in business requires teamwork, and the ability to get along with people you work with is critical to the workplace. The School of Business requires teamwork in nearly every class. In some ways, this is really good preparation for resolving issues within teams in business—because you don’t need to like everyone on your team, but, as in the workplace, you need to be able to produce results as a team.”
As Linda begins her transition to a new career and new opportunities, she hopes to serve as an example to other working adults who may think it’s too late to return to college. In the end, she says, it all comes down to one phrase: You really can do it.
“Regardless of what career path you’re in, you always have to update your skills to remain competitive. I think anyone who has any industry experience will come back to USM and realize that the things you learn have very practical applications for the job you have—and the job you want. It’s not just book learning. It’s real-world learning.”