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Certificate Spotlight: Administrative Assistant

Returning to school after 20 years, Jennifer is increasing her marketability through BYU-Pathway

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“When I got my first certificate, I wanted to cry. I was so proud of myself,” said Jennifer Ausmus, a mother and BYU-Pathway Worldwide student from Texas, USA. Twenty years before enrolling in BYU-Pathway, Jennifer had taken classes at a community college. After she got married and started raising children, her university education took a back seat — but not forever.

PathwayConnect and beyond

Jennifer Ausmus with her family
Jennifer with her family

It all started when Jennifer applied for a job as an office assistant. The employer selected another applicant, so Jennifer took matters into her own hands by starting her foundational online courses at BYU-Pathway.

Jennifer was anxious about returning to school after 20 years. “I felt like I’d be out of place going back to college in my 40s,” she said. But she found comfort in the PathwayConnect gatherings , in which students of all ages participate.

Two terms later — during which Jennifer learned key skills like business math and writing — the company reached out and asked her to re-apply. She did, this time with a stronger resume and greater confidence.

“When I interviewed a second time and I had these extra skills on my resume, I got the job right away,” she said.

Professional growth

Encouraged by her success with PathwayConnect, Jennifer decided to continue on to complete an administrative assistant certificate as the first step toward a bachelor's degree in applied business management .

Before becoming a BYU-Pathway student, Jennifer wasn’t well-versed with computer technology. In her certificate courses, though, she got plenty of practice using Microsoft applications, like Excel and PowerPoint. Not only that, but she became comfortable using business vocabulary. “I felt more articulate in my responses to people, especially to executives within the company,” she said.

"I cannot think of any other experience in learning that equals this."

The skills Jennifer gained through her certificate make her more marketable. As she continues with a degree, she sees a future of working up the chain at her current company or moving to a new job.

“I’m just getting as many skills as I can,” Jennifer said, “so even once I get my [associate] degree, I still want to continue with BYU-Idaho.” The relevance and immediate applicability of her skills encourage job growth.

Small bites of the elephant

Jennifer loved the certificate-first approach of BYU-Pathway because, in her words, “Certificates are a nice way to take small bites out of the elephant.” Instead of tackling her entire degree in one sitting, certificates allow her to approach it in a step-by-step way. The program becomes less intimidating and more doable.

Jennifer is a wholehearted believer in BYU-Pathway. “You get the gospel, and you get your secular learning,” she said. “I cannot think of any other experience in learning that equals this.”

How has completing certificates increased your knowledge? Comment below!