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"EdX courses gave me the knowledge I needed to advance my career, as well as the confidence boost I needed to get back into formal education."
Posted in: Learner Stories

Just two edX courses can jump-start a career.

James Peacock, age 34, recently contacted us via our Student Support channel to thank edX for providing the courses that would not only round out his industry knowledge, but also prompt him to go back to school for his MBA.

I’m from the United Kingdom, where I’m currently working whilst studying for an MBA part-time. I work for a local water company in the sustainability department, helping to minimize the environmental impact of delivering drinking water and treating wastewater.

I have a chemistry degree from the University of Sheffield which I finished over 10 years ago, but I’ve been out of formal education since then. The first time around I was a bit too busy on the social side of things, so didn’t really appreciate opportunities I had for learning. I have gradually rediscovered my love of learning, and my discovery of edX came along at just the right time.

I’d been looking to return to education for some time, but didn’t have the money to sign up for a formal Masters course. I generally keep abreast of technology news, which was how I heard about MOOCs, and in particular edX. The electrical engineering course first piqued my curiosity, but when edX expanded their course offerings, I took the opportunity to really get into it with my first two courses, HarvardX Human Health and Global Environmental Health and MITx Challenges in Global Poverty.

I was also keen just to get back into education and prove to myself that I could do it again.

I work in sustainability, but specialize in water and resource management – I didn’t know a great deal about other areas such as social development and biodiversity. This was why I chose these above two courses, but I was also keen just to get back into education and prove to myself that I could do it again. The fact that the courses were being offered by two of the most prestigious universities in the world was also a big draw, and I think this was reflected in the quality of the material offered. Another draw was the fact that the courses were being offered for free, as I didn’t have access to funding for learning.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the learning from these two courses will stay with me forever.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the learning from these two courses will stay with me forever. The Challenges in Global Poverty course really changed my view about approaches to tackling poverty in the developing world, and the human health course opened my eyes to the financial, environment and human cost of climate change.

I wanted to develop my knowledge in these areas so I could become a more well-rounded sustainability professional, and talk knowledgeably with others in the field about subjects outside my immediate specialization. Also, I’d just started a new job with a long train commute, so I wanted something to help pass the time on the train journeys!

EdX courses gave me knowledge I needed to advance my career, as well as the confidence boost I needed to get back into formal education.

EdX courses gave me knowledge I needed to advance my career, as well as the confidence boost I needed to get back into formal education. In addition to the courses I took, I began applying for scholarships at various universities to further my formal education. I was lucky enough to win a $25,000 scholarship at the University of Bradford to study for an MBA. This was on the basis of an essay competition on the subject of sustainable business, and I was able to apply what I’d learned from my edX courses in writing this essay.

James Peacock accepting his award for MBA Student of the YearSince then I have been named one of the five rising stars in resource management in the UK for 2015, won the Institute of Business Ethics essay of the year competition, and was named as a finalist in The Independent newspaper’s MBA student of the year, which is a global competition to find the best six MBA students in current study. It is no exaggeration to say that none of this would have happened without the knowledge and confidence I took from completing the edX courses.

Between starting my MBA and having a baby last year I haven’t had a chance for much else, but since I enjoyed my edX courses so much I still consider myself a bit of an addict. Once the MBA is over next year, I plan to make it a habit to take edX courses whenever I can, to expand my knowledge for work and for general interest. I’d really like to undertake one of the XSeries programmes. Also on my list of things I’d like to do is to learn to code, once I have the time!

Since doing the edX courses I’ve become a vociferous advocate of MOOCs, and I’ve been telling everyone (whether they like it or not!) that they should try it. I got my sister to try one last year and she has since signed up to undertake a Master’s degree, I like to think partly due to me and edX!

My advice to other prospective students is to give it a go and stick with the programme until the end. It will give you a real sense of achievement in finishing the course, and you will definitely learn a lot. And the more you put in the more you will get out. Give it a go and you never know where it will take you.

I am very happy to share my story, as I really do owe my future career to edX. Thank you to everyone involved.

Share your edX story! Email stories@edx.org.


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