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Can Your Employer Help You Finish Your Degree? Finding Inspiration and Support in the Workplace

Bank of New Hampshire Team

When Bank of New Hampshire underwent a massive computer upgrade in 2013, their leadership knew there would be an impact across the organization. Their employees would need guidance and support; however, there was no formal training division at the time.

Senior management pulled together a team of Bank Service Representatives to help make a game plan. Jenn Schaffner, a long-time employee, was appointed to this group. Through this project, she uncovered skills and talents that helped guide her career in a new, exciting direction.

Training has always come naturally to Jenn. Creating manuals and documenting procedures was a practice that she had already incorporated into her role as a Bank Service Representative. Her manager came to depend on these skills. When new employees started at the bank, she helped orient them to their new positions. When a new policy was adopted, Jenn would put it in writing so her colleagues had a go-to resource.

When the computer upgrade project came along, Jenn was able to demonstrate the value in these practices. Working together, the group rolled out the new software to the company and provided training for all bank employees. The project was so successful that the bank added a training division to the company.

After getting the opportunity to contribute at a higher level, Jenn knew she wanted to get more out of her career. She decided it was time to go back to college and finally get a degree.

Working full-time, I didn’t want to worry about having to attend classes in-person from week to week. I knew I needed a program available 100% online.

Jenn got started at her local community college, NHTI. Working in banking, Jenn could take her career in a number of directions. She started with a business administration associate program and was open to new possibilities that would help expand her career.

It had been 10 years since I had been in college classes and I was really nervous. Having homework, studying for tests, and taking online classes took some getting used to. I wasn’t floundering, but I had to ‘learn’ how to be a student again and after that first semester, it got so much easier.

As Jenn got settled in her classes, doors began to open: a promotion opportunity at the bank in their recently created training department became available.

After I went back to school, everything began to fall into place. I was prepared to take on new challenges. A position in the bank’s training department opened up and I became the new bank trainer. It was perfect timing!

Jenn worked her way through her associate degree at NHTI and even though she was compelled to take some time off from school, she persisted and applied to Granite State to finish her bachelor’s degree.

What I’ve learned is that you can get pretty far without a degree, but if you want to take that extra step and get more opportunities, or even just more knowledge about what you currently do, you need a bachelor’s degree.

As a Business Management major with a Human Resources minor, Jenn finds that her coursework is helping her gain confidence as she grows her career at Bank of New Hampshire.

I am constantly using what I learn in class at work—it’s just so relevant. Working full-time while being a full-time student is tough so when I get to apply what I learn, it just reinforces that going back to school as an adult student was 100% the right decision.

Jenn describes that returning to school has helped her grow personally and professionally. Outside of the classroom, Jenn is surrounded by a strong support team. She expresses deep appreciation for the encouragement she receives from her husband and her supervisor. The support from her employer proved to be valuable in more ways than one.

Halfway through my first semester at Granite State, my employer introduced a new tuition reimbursement policy. Now, I can worry less about paying my tuition and student loan debt because my tuition is covered. The amount of money that I’m going to save by using this education assistance is absolutely incredible.

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