Completing his New Zealand Diploma in Business has not only motivated Hamilton based graduate Joseph Cockroft to study further, but has also inspired him to grow his family-owned business.
“Doing the New Zealand Diploma in Business gave me insight as to how larger organisations operate and a desire to grow our business,” explains Joseph, adding that the self- paced and flexible learning offered by Open Polytechnic was what drew him to study with New Zealand’s leading provider of online and distance learning.
A boost in confidence
While studying with the Open Polytechnic, Joseph says he began to understand how he learnt best and realised why traditional lectures had not worked for him in the past.
“In traditional learning institutes you listen to a lecture, however I would find myself losing concentration, or missing something the lecturer said and I would not be able to catch up – This made me feel dumb and I never had the confidence to stop the teacher and ask questions in fear of looking stupid,” he explains.
“Once I started with the Open Polytechnic I discovered I prefer to read over the learning material provided with each paper until the information or task sinks in. I didn’t feel any pressure and if I didn’t understand the material I could leave it and take a break and come back later or email the tutors in private.”
Despite some speed bumps at the beginning of his studies, Joseph says once he worked out a study system and routine that worked for him, he was able to manage his studies efficiently. This year he graduated with his Diploma in Small Business and New Zealand Diploma in Business.
“I always felt growing up that I wasn’t smart. So what I am most proud about are my grades, I achieved 6 ‘A’s’, 5 ‘B’s’ and 1 ‘C’ and I was top of the class in one of my courses which was pretty special,” he says, adding that it felt surreal once he had completed his qualification.
“During the process it felt like it would never end, after graduating it felt like such a short amount of time. But ultimately it feels great, the sense of personal achievement was well worth the hard work.”
Now that he has completed his diplomas, Joseph says he wants to learn more about business and is considering working towards a Bachelor of Business.
Impact on work
“I work for a small family business, we specialise in 3D Scanning Hardware, 3D Software and Support Services. I personally look after the 3D Scanning sales, support and training. My role also involves advertising, demonstrations, quoting and invoicing, basically a jack of all trades,” says Joseph, explaining how his qualification has not only given him more practical skills, but has also helped him see the bigger picture of where the company is heading and how it can grow further.
“My studies helped me in relation to accounting practices, including how to do GST in the Taxation course, but my favourite course was Strategic Planning for Small Business . Previously we did not plan for anything or set any goals. This course taught me invaluable lessons and at the end of the course I had created a usable strategic plan for our company.”
Balance is Key
While studying, Joseph and his wife built a house, along with full time work and usual home- commitments. Also he made a point of taking some time out to look after himself.
“To cope with the study, I exercised every day after work, just to feel like I had a break from sitting at the computer and for my health. Then I’d help with dinner and the dishes and by 7pm I’d jump onto the computer and do two to three hours a night, regardless of whether I wanted to or not,” he explains.
“Making study a routine made it easier to avoid procrastinating. I would also allow myself to have days off, I would tell myself if I work hard on my assignment now and hand it in early I would give myself a few days off as a reward, which helped.”
Joseph says support from his wife and Open Polytechnic made all the difference.
“My wife Kara was fantastic, she had just finished studying and helped me understand how to study and do things like APA referencing. She also picked up the slack when I was bogged down with study. I owe her at least a year’s worth of breakfast in bed,” he says, adding that Open Polytechnic systems “were fantastic”.
“There is plenty of help from the tutors and online resources. One other thing that sets the Open Polytechnic apart from the rest is that during my studies I got multiple calls to see how I was going and if I needed additional help. Even though I did not take up the offers it was reassuring to know Open Polytechnic had my back.”
Slow and steady wins the race
For anyone considering study, Joseph says that with realistic expectations, it can be done.
“I would firstly assess your current work load, figure out how much time you can realistically dedicate to study and if the amount of time you can afford will be manageable. Think about when you work best, morning or nights. Since I’m bit of a night owl, nights work well for me. Thinking about this prior to getting into study will help you decide things like whether to take on two courses per trimester or one course. I found with my workload I could only do one course per trimester,” he explains.
“I think the key to my success was chipping away at the assignments. I would always tell myself do something even if it was as small as setting up a word file for an assignment I was working on. Everything counts, anything you can do to ease the workload the next time you sit down motivates you to do more and more and of course reward yourself, take breaks.”
He also says that it is important to remember you are not on your own during your study journey and that flexibility makes it possible.
“With Open Polytechnic, you get to choose when to study, you get to choose how to study and you get to make it work for you. Anyone can manage work and family commitments with flexible study like Open Polytechnic provides.”