Going back to school is easier than you think, even in your 40s

Just one diploma offers the skills one needs to navigate the digital media landscape.

| Sulaiman Daud | Sponsored | January 07, 2021, 06:28 PM

There’s a famous scene in Martin Scorsese’s critically-acclaimed film, The Wolf of Wall Street, where the roguish anti-hero Jordan Belfort conducts a training seminar and asks the participants, one-by-one, to “sell me this pen.”

The attendees, those who paid to learn his secrets, step up to try. All of them fail. None possess the ability to persuade others like Belfort did, whose skills made him a multi-millionaire and whose greed led to a stint in prison.

Underneath the glamour and the sleaze, one message from that film rings true -- no matter what you’re doing in life or career, the ability to persuade others is invaluable.

What's the most marketable skill?

Even if you have a job that doesn’t involve interacting with clients or members of the public, improving your marketing skills will give you a leg up when working with colleagues or negotiating with your boss for that raise.

But no one sells pens face-to-face any longer. We are on the cusp of the next Industrial Revolution and those who master the new forms of technology will be able to have a leg-up over their competitors.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old -- to borrow a phrase from Pixar’s Ratatouille, anyone can learn.

That’s the reason why Lena Kwa, 48 and Adrian Gair, 46 went “back to school” and decided to enrol in a digital marketing diploma course.

The couple held different jobs in the past. He was working in M1’s customer service department, while also serving as a leader in the Singapore Industrial & Services Employees’ Union (SISEU). She previously worked in Event Management.

They met in 1998, during the course of their work. That was the time of the Asian Financial Crisis, a demonstration that economic growth is not always a given and workers can be vulnerable at any moment.

However, Adrian felt that he could do more than what he was doing at the time. He felt that he could only go “so far” in customer service, and that while he gained essential knowledge and experience over the years, he felt the need to go further.

No travel? Study instead.

Living through that and the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 made them no stranger to unprecedented situations.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Lena and Adrian saw their plans derailed. Travelling overseas? That would have to wait.

Said Lena, “With (the arrival of) covid, working from home and (reduction in) outings have provided more spare time. And with the increase in government (course fee support), I decided to head back to school.”

Adrian agreed. To him, the Covid-19 pandemic was a crisis, but it was also an opportunity.

“Every year, I usually make a few trips overseas but because of Covid, we are stuck in Singapore. Since the government topped up my Skills Future (Credit) and I can apply for a sponsorship with the SISEU, this is the best opportunity for me to upgrade myself and perhaps, (make a) a mid-career change.”

That was when Lena and Adrian chose to dive into something new and take up the digital marketing diploma at PSB Academy. But they had similar reasons.

For Lena, the digital movement represents the “wave of the future.”

“To increase knowledge, why not?” she said, of her decision to go back to school. As she was formerly a student at PSB Academy, she has fond memories of her learning experience there.

Her familiarity with the school, plus its convenient location, led her to choose PSB Academy once more.

Keeping up

For Adrian, he believes that Singapore’s Smart Nation push means that those who don’t keep up will be left behind.

He explained that he was more interested in the comprehensive knowledge associated with Digital Marketing instead of a specific discipline.

The digital marketing diploma at PSB Academy allows students to learn a variety of skills, such as paid search and display advertising, email marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing on various platforms. These digital skills help equip students to handle new mediums of communication, on which modern businesses rely.

Adrian also appreciated the chance to potentially offset 50 per cent of the costs through his association with the SISEU, which partnered with PSB Academy to help support workers interested in upgrading their skills.

He said that through his role as an executive committee member in the union, he has seen many cases of employees feeling “left behind” by their companies. Adrian added:

“Since learning is never ending, yes, we should go back to school if and when possible. Always think about upgrading and upskilling oneself so that you will not become "stale" and unwanted by companies.”

This sponsored article by PSB Academy made the writer want to plan ahead for his retirement.

Top image from PSB Academy.