Standing out with a second degree

Standing out with a second degree

Louise Brewster
  • Accountant, The University of Auckland

Completing one degree is hard work, but completing two takes extra commitment and discipline. 

Louise Brewster decided to tackle her second degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Psychology with Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s distance learning specialist while looking after her sick mum.

Coupled with her first degree, a Bachelor of Business, Louise has since gone on to find her dream job, and is now an accountant for the Faculty of Arts at The University of Auckland.

“I initially decided to do my psychology degree, because it was an area of interest. My mother was not well and I was unable to commit to a job or client so I thought I would take the time to learn something outside accounting/business,” Louise explains.

“I had enjoyed my management papers in the Bachelor of Business with the Open Polytechnic and thought I’d like to learn more along those lines.  After Mum died I realised that it could be something really valuable for my future career, so I continued on and completed the degree.”

Study helps career

Returning to the workforce, Louise says she believes having a psychology qualification gave her a point-of-difference in her CV.

“Also a commitment to successful full-time study demonstrated that I was ready for a full time role.  More often now employers are looking for staff with a balance of technical and soft skills – completing a business degree in accounting with a psychology degree was a formal way of showing that this was important to me as an employee,” she explains.

“Additionally, I wanted to work in tertiary education; quality research and understanding learning and development is an important part of the function of a tertiary education provider.  I believe an applied science degree focused on applied research principles and an understanding of the research principles will continue to be of benefit in my roles now and in the tertiary sector in the future.”

Personal benefits

Beyond the benefits to her professional life, Louise says her qualification has benefitted her personally too.

“It has changed me enormously. Professionally I’ve learnt to research and write well, I’ve learnt so much about cultural values and an appreciation of people and the struggles we all go through in our lives, and how we think – our biases, creative thinking and problem solving along with an understanding of stress, achievement, learning and what is really important for someone to have a healthy and balanced life, this has changed how I work at every level,” she explains.

“At a personal level I have become more humble and appreciative of others, I am more patient and empathetic, and I understand the real value to myself and family of balancing work and home life and doing all I can to be happy and healthy and support the same in family, friends and colleagues.”

Distance study worked well

Distance learning was the best option for Louise, who says that she found it effective and efficient for her.

“The learning materials and lecturers were so informative -  this allowed me to spend time getting to grips with areas I found a bit harder, while moving quickly through subjects that I understood.  All the time I spent on study achieved maximum results. It was also flexible as to when I studied and I could go at my own pace,” she explains.

Although it was difficult at times, Louise says she believes her decision to study has had a positive influence on her children.

“My children are now studying at school in a more serious way and I think it was important to show them that although I was tired and had a lot on, it was always important to go to my desk and do some study, even a few hours. I would come upstairs and say ‘I’m so pleased I did that – I’m up-to-date now’.  It teaches them that study is not always convenient or easy, but it is always great to get it done.”

Study advice

Louise’s advice for those who are considering study is not to wait.

“Don’t wait; there will never be a perfect time.  Starting is always hardest, but taking each step brings you closer to your goal and the journey itself is enjoyable.  Study is a personal achievement and asset that is uniquely yours, no one can take it away, and it will always change you for the better,” she says.

“Learning does make you a smarter and more interesting person; it also makes you more resilient; studies have shown that those with tertiary education have better decision making capabilities which contribute to a better quality of life. The obvious outcome is that you are more knowledgeable and more employable, you become increasingly better at your job and will be seen more favourably for promotion because you are interested and engaged with work.”

I’ve learnt so much about cultural values and an appreciation of people and the struggles we all go through in our lives.