Written by Stephanie Keydel, career services director
Once he was swiftly promoted after graduating with his Bachelor of Science in Business Management, John Lauer knew going back to school was the right decision.
After working at the local office of an industrial machinery company for 27 years, the recent Minnesota School of Business-Elk River graduate,felt stuck. Even though he had obtained an associate degree in his 20s, his current boss told him that there were no advancement opportunities for him without a higher degree.
With two children and a wife at home to consider, John decided to make the leap and go back to school in his 40s. Apprehensive about the time commitment and endurance he would have to summon to complete his degree while still maintaining a full-time job, John took the plunge in 2008. He said he felt he needed an education to compete with younger professionals.
John plugged along at his courses one at a time and eventually saw how beneficial they would be to him in the workplace, especially once he started studying closely with Brian Stewart, business and accounting program chair. Brian and John quickly forged a mutually beneficial relationship; John learned extensively from Brian, and Brian appreciated having a working professional eager to contribute in class.
When asked what made Brian such an outstanding instructor, John explained, “His knowledge of investments is amazing. The stock market is a complex beast that a lot of people don’t understand and Brian made it easier for us to [comprehend]. His real world knowledge is so important. Brian was also very motivating. I truly liked working with Brian. [Even though he is] a father and full-time worker, he was always available and encouraging.”
Focusing on current and applicable tools and skills is an area in which the instructors at MSB excel and John definitely noticed. He explains the small class sizes were a huge draw for him and says Brian’s method of ’discover, develop, deploy’ helped him tremendously to put lessons into practice immediately.
“I enjoyed a good combination of technical skills, like Microsoft Office, that are used every day in corporations, and project management – how these corporations manage big projects.” John said. “Forms we used in class are exactly what I use in my new job.”
He also notes how the rest of the staff at MSB were always helpful and supportive on his educational journey.
“Meghan Paulson was a champion helping me with my schedule. She made sure she gave me the right schedule. I never had a bad experience here,” he reflects.
Armed with the skills and tools he learned from Brian and other instructors, John has delved into his new Program Manager role with vigor. According to John, his Project Management class was difficult but useful, and was made worthwhile because Brian “knew why and how these tools were used”.
John now takes large end user customer accounts upwards of $300,000 and “using worldwide facilities gets a good understanding of the product they need, and develop a team to build that product in the most efficient way possible. It’s a lot more responsibility, but I get to know more about how companies work,” he explains.
The education John received at MSB has drastically changed his quality of life. He says he is able to relate to upper management and has a better understanding of how the world works that he says he wouldn’t have learn unless he went to college.
With a note of incredulity in his voice, John said, “I’m treated differently now; I get phone calls from higher-ups asking for my opinion.”
Now that John is enjoying his promotion and subsequent raise, he is settling into the idea of having free time again and enjoying the little things in life, like fixing up his house. He and his family have discussed traveling and he is excited about spending more quality time together with his wife and children.
When asked if he had any advice to current students, John quickly chimed in with “Be patient!” He also stressed the importance of actually attending class and says that students can’t afford to miss many classes when the learning is so applicable to the real world of work. He encourages current students, saying “Hang in there. The reward is so tremendous. Don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal. It is a battle, but so important. The long-term impact on your life is worth the sacrifices and commitment.”