We love hearing from our alumni. So it was exciting when Delburt Alfred, who graduated magna cum laude in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, reconnected with a past professor to update her on his blossoming professional life. Reading the things he had to say about where his degree and time at Peirce has taken him, we thought it was a great opportunity to get his story on record.
And knowing how quickly he’d changed his life and career after graduating, we felt his story embodied one of the messages of our Whole Story campaign: Stop complaining about your boss. Del was frustrated with his professional life because without a degree in IT, he’d never be able to be his own boss. But his commitment to continuing education has opened up more doors than he ever imagined.
We got Del on the phone and recorded a Q and A. He told us why he chose to go back to school, what made Peirce the right place for him, and how his education is quickly changing his life. Read on for the transcript of the interview. And we’d love to hear from other graduates who have a great story to tell, so feel free to get in touch with us in a comment on this post!
Peirce: I’d like to start out by hearing what inspired you to return to school in the first place?
Del: Well, I had gotten to a point in my career where things were a bit, I would say, rocky, and I felt like I needed something to validate all the experiences that I’ve had in the past and also to prevent employers from asking too many questions. I have been faced with a lot of questions in terms of mobility and things like that. So in order to overcome those challenges I had to look at going back to school and finishing my degree and pretty much just validating my experience through that degree process.
Peirce: So what were some of the challenges you faced in making the decision to go back? Were there things that you really felt were holding you back that you had to figure out before you could decide on Peirce?
Del: Yeah, I think paramount to me making the decision was figuring out what was what kind of work/school balance I’d be able to sustain in the long term, because I knew that such a commitment would take some time and a matter of years most likely, so I needed to figure out in the long term what was sustainable for me and balance in life and also school at the same time.
Peirce gave me the opportunity to afford that kind of balance, and it was affordable. I like the structure of the classes and everything else. So I just thought the advisors actually have a really good feel for what it was like or what it would be like as a student or a prospective student to attend Peirce.
Peirce: So what was the process like when you first became introduced to Peirce College, what was the first step you’d taken? Where did it go from there?
Del: Basically I think that when I spoke to advisors I got their feedback, it was all a matter of all of my classes, doing all the transfers and things and Peirce was always there supporting me because there’s a process where they walked me through all the classes that I needed to get, and a schedule of classes that I really need to take.
Peirce: And what drew you to their IT program?
Del: I chose the IT program because that’s my core competence. That’s what I did for a living and therefore that was really what I was trying to validate through the degree program. Also to step back a little bit, I had a lot of experience in IT but that foundational knowledge of like where does IT actually come from? How is that derived? How did that come about? That’s what Peirce really gave to me. It gave me that hindsight and forward-looking and now I understand what IT is.
Peirce: So you got into IT and got pretty far into your career without ever having studied it?
Del: Right. I mean, yeah, I actually, years ago without having to, I took information technology in a sense in high school. That was computer science or something to that effect. But I did do some IT work and it was something I was very passionate about, so I continued, I created a career, then you get to a certain point. You have no degree but experience will take you so far and then you need degrees which will give you foundational knowledge that you can apply.
Well I had technical knowledge but I didn’t know how to make that into something a little more dynamic. This allows me to create that and make that look something a little more dynamic and have more options or there was more variety once I got my degree in that I could not only just do IT, but I can manage it. Not only could I just I manage the technology, but I can also manage processes, people, things like that.
Peirce: So since you’ve gotten your degree, how has your career changed?
Del: Quite a bit, actually. Obviously around my compensation. There’s a dramatic boost in my compensation levels, close to 30 percent. And I have since been able to do a lot of other things. I definitely got up to a more advanced level, some of the things that I really wanted to achieve, like I said, getting up to that strategic level and leaving that operational level was paramount to me doing this.
And that happened. Additionally, I was able to venture out a little bit and start looking at the business aspect of IT and that’s how I landed in, right now, which is running my own company and I’m in the process of building that right now and I’m building out a full end-to-end quality of service IT shop.
Peirce: That’s incredible. So in just a year since you’ve graduated, less than that, you already own your own business?
Peirce: That’s very impressive.
Del: Thank you.
Peirce: So where do you want to go next? You’ve obviously made a lot of progress, but what do you see in your future? What do you see in another five years from now?
Del: There are a couple of things I want to do five years from now. Obviously I want to continue growing my business and other things like that. Right now my focus in the short term is really to focus on business development, getting the name out there and trying to build business relationships and fully establish the business. That’s the short term. In the long term, the long term is really business and more business. That’s pretty much what I’d like over the next five years.
However, one of those things that have to happen, and I’ve actually talked to one of my professors about that at Peirce, actually, and I told her I wanted to start a sponsor program for Peirce somehow and do that, but that’s something that will probably happen in the next five years.
Peirce: So what advice would you give someone who is in the same position you were a few years ago, unsure about the future of their career and not sure what to do, thinking about maybe going back to school, what would you say to them to really give them that kick in the pants to get them to go back to school?
Del: I would say, I have a favorite quote and it’s, not a lot of people believe this, but I think “chance favors the prepared mind.” I think Peirce gives you that chance, prepares you for that chance. And I think that’s what Peirce did for me. I wasn’t prepared and I would never have these chances or opportunities that I have now, and so I stayed steadfast and stayed focused and definitely there’s time, there’s dedication, there’s all these different things that you have to put into it, but at the end of the day you reap a lot of rewards from it, education is just the key-knowledge.
Peirce: I think that’s great advice. And I want to thank you for taking this time to share your experience. I think it would really motivate anyone who wasn’t sure if school really was going to make a difference. Obviously for you, it’s changed your life completely.
Del: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Peirce: Thanks so much, Del. I hope you’ll stay in touch.
Del: Thank you.