One reason why I am changing careers

I am changing careers.  After 25 years as a technologist, I am going into instruction and training.  I resigned my position as a business analyst in early August and stepped out in faith.  Originally, it was because my former employer could not place me in a business analyst position.  As I began to look for business analyst positions, I found that the fact I had been working in a different aspect of Information Technology for over one year severely impacted my ability to get a business or systems analyst position.  Instead of lamenting that, I have chosen to make a change.  Those who know me know that my passion is for education, particularly adult education.  I am devoting myself to changing to a career that involves instruction, training, and instructional design.

I have an application for a full time instructor position at a college that offers online instruction.  In a discussion with the recruiter for that position, I explained that one of my burdens for going into education is the plight of the combat veteran, who after leaving the service, finds that combat skills are not highly prized in the civilian workforce.  I wrote the following to her:

Sadly, the greatest danger to combat veterans these days is not the battlefield; it is coming home.  By Labor Day, more veterans will have killed themselves in 2013 than died in the entire Iraqi conflict.  When I was in seminary, I volunteered to serve in the first conflict as a chaplain.  The law does not allow seminarians to deploy overseas, but I was allowed to serve as a chaplain at Ft. Hood as part of the recovery effort in 1991.  I was on the ground for 18 hours when I was called to the Psychiatric ward of Darnell Army Medical Center.  One of our soldiers tried to kill himself by taking 400 Tylenol because he couldn’t cope with life after war.  One in four homeless people are veterans.  Remote education is a weapon to combat those problems.  Veterans can start to learn before they leave the service.  Veterans that have returned but are facing unemployment or underemployment can go to school after business hours.  Not having a meaningful job can lead to despondency.  Despondency is dispelled by hope.  Hope comes from a knowledge that something better is possible.  Career-focused education can provide hope.

There are three types of occupations: jobs, professions, and callings.  A job is something you take to put food on the table, regardless of what the duties are or if there is room for advancement.  You have obligations and are committed to meeting them.  Having a job is a fine and noble thing.  A profession is an occupation that your are committed to for the long haul.  You work extra hours, go to school for it, attend seminars and workshops to improve your skills, and take risks to demonstrate just how good you are.  Professions are also fine and noble.  A calling is a profession that is so all-encompassing that you cannot be satisfied with anything else.  A calling drives you to sacrifice.  A calling keeps you up at night and makes you excited for the next opportunity to operate within it.  My calling is in education.

I have made many applications and have some solid leads, but as with any career change, especially when you are older, finding positions is challenging.  If you know of an opportunity, please let me know or pass along my résumé (the link is below).

Andrew Knaster – Resume

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My First Teaching Job

I just secured my first online teaching job. I’m partnering with TutorUniverse (http:/www.tutoruniverse.com) to provide tutoring at primary, secondary, college, and adult education levels. The areas I’m providing service in are a broad spectrum of disciplines to include information technology, writing, academic paper preparation, Bible, and Theology. TutorUniverse’s interactive virtual classroom is state of the art. The fee is hourly and the prices are very reasonable. Once you sign up, you can specify me by searching for my full name.

tutoruniverse2

These are the specific areas I am working in:

Academic Writing, Agile Methodology, APA formatting, Bible, Blogging, Business Analysis, Computer Applications – Microsoft Access, Computer Applications – Microsoft Excel, Computer Applications – Microsoft Word, Database, English Composition and Academic Writing Skills, Information Systems, Introduction To Computer Science, Proofreading, Rational Quality Manager, Rational Requirements Composer, SDLC, Software Quality Assurance, Systems Analysis, Theology, Visual Basic for Applications

This approach to teaching is in concert with my post-grad research in Competency-Based Training.  Instead of conducting time-boxed classes where the goal is to finish and get a grade, I’ll be working one-on-one with distance learners that desire to develop competency in areas where they are lacking.  We will be done when they have developed the competency needed to do their jobs or succeed in school.  I am looking forward to working with a broad spectrum of students including home-schoolers.

Are you willing to sacrifice a night at the movies?

I’m going to break out my Jewish guilt for just a moment here. Do you go to the movies? I do. My wife and I enjoy about two hours of freedom from the insanity of the world by paying about $24 to see a movie. What if that same $24 could buy a night of freedom for a young girl that is forced to the live the life of a prostitute in Thailand? By sacrificing one night of comfortable entertainment, you are giving a girl or young woman a night free from being a sex-slave. We talk about how much we need our days off from work. How about giving someone a well-needed day off from the disgusting occupation they are forced to be in.

While we are talking about the movies, check out this 4 minute video (http://youtu.be/21vyrOfNgag) from Freedom 4/24, the non-profit that is working to help stem the tide of human trafficking and the sex-trade.

Are you willing to give up a night at the movies yet?

On October 20, 2012, I’m participating in the Run for Their Lives 5k run (I’ll be walking, I’m dedicated but I don’t have a death wish). The purpose is to raise awareness for Freedom 4/24’s mission and raise funds to support it. You can donate very easily. Go to http://www.freedom424.org/donate/ for instructions.

Are you convinced yet? If you aren’t sure, just think of a poor young girl being used by a disgusting pervert while you are waiting for your movie tickets. Enjoy the show.

Still not convinced? If you have $24 of discretionary money and you aren’t willing to sacrifice it, I have one last request. UNFRIEND ME/UNLIKE ME/UNFOLLOW ME/DON’T VISIT MY BLOG AGAIN!

A Second Open Letter to Sen. Tom Harkin

On September 24, 2012, I posted the following letter to Senator Tom Harkin’s Senate Web page.

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Senator Harkin:

As a veteran and taxpayer, I appreciate your desire to have the money used to educate our veterans be used effectively and efficiently. However, the presentation that you authored has issues. I’m trained in statistics and because of that, I could make a laundry list of issues. You are a very busy man so instead of going item for item, please allow me to point out one blatantly wrong slide. You have a slide entitled “For-Profit Colleges Employ Many Recruiters But Few Placement Staff.” From a subjective perspective, to have a slide with a title that indicates an issue with For-Profit Colleges as a group but then indicts a single one is disingenuous and ineffective because your case is that many schools have this problem, yet you showcase only one. It also smacks of a lack of objectivity and personal bias. Even if your chart is accurate, it does not make the point that this is a systemic problem.

Objectively, the slide in incorrect. University of Phoenix, the largest school under the Apollo Group umbrella, has an extremely robust Career Services site that covers the gamut of services from resume writing to career research to interview preparation. The site also lists major employers that Phoenix partners with to help find jobs for its graduates.

Your data was gathered from 2007 to 2010. I started at Phoenix in 2010 and I don’t know what its career placement services were like then. It could be that in 2010, your statement was accurate. However, it is nearly 2013 and it definitely is not accurate.

If I had the 20-30 hours free to write it, I would write a report that shows slide for slide, just how bad this report is. I don’t have the time to write it and anyone as busy as you doesn’t have the time to read it. Please consider making this “update” to your report as a show of good will. I’ll be the first person to thank you for that by making a post to that effect on my blog, andyknaster.com.

Since your Senate Web site has a link to that report on its home page, it appears that this is a report you are proud of and feel the people need to read. Don’t you owe it to your constituents and all of America to be accurate and up-to-date?

This is my second letter to you. I requested a response to the first one and I have not received it. I posted to your Facebook page and got no response. Please respond to this message. This is a very non-partisan issue. In this highly contentious and partisan time, taking action on a non-partisan issue is something I think would resonate well with many Americans.

Respectfully yours,
Andrew Knaster, BA, MA, MCP
University of Phoenix Master of Information Systems student, class of 2013