Craig L. Williams

Dr. James H. Cook

GEN 480

November 11, 2003

The Past, Present, and Future of Craig Langley Williams

Where does one begin when they are reflecting upon their life?  Any part of your life, over time, could change.  Your thinking, your values, your ethics all might change in some way as you evolve from what was into what is and on into what will be.  A major change in your life might be that your job has changed or your living arrangements.  All influence where we have been to where we are today.

All of these appear to have changed for me.  I first started the University of Phoenix at the Portland, Oregon campus in 1999.  I had a nice job in the local Information Systems department as supervisor.  I had advanced about as far as I was going to be able to go at this small business unit.  My career views were to try and move into one of only two higher I.S. positions at that business unit.  But to do that, I would need a bachelor’s degree.  Having completed my Associates of Arts degree from a Community College in 1981, I had all of my lower division credits.  But any upper division would have staled more than 15 years later.  My job called upon me to deal with all aspects of an I.S. organization (data networking, system maintenance, LAN configuration, PC management, etc.) I had little formal training.  Thus, I decided that it would be in my best interest to return to school.

            It also made sense financially since the company announced that employee’s with greater than 7 years of employment, qualified for 100% reimbursement up to the IRS maximums per year.  I had been employed over almost 15 years at that point. 

            Personally I had been on the Board of Directors for two non-profit organizations by this time.  Having recently finished serving as the Acting President of one board, my term was over and I was unable to continue due to term limits.  So I was looking for something else to do with my time as well.  I continued to produce various television programs for the public access community during this time which allowed me to exercise my critical thinking and interpersonal skills on various projects. 

            Professionally I was regarded as the “go to” person in the group.  I was the right arm of the Director and routinely worked on new corporate initiatives.  I interacted freely with ranking corporate I.S. personnel to accomplish various upgrades or standardization projects.  In July 1999, I was flown to our corporate headquarters in Teterboro, New Jersey as a subject matter expert on the new Quest Lab (Laboratory Information System) application that was being installed at the largest laboratory in our network.  I marveled at how they had not completed routine tasks that were second nature to me.  I pointed out various flaws in their reasoning and corrected many of their operating procedures as well as conducted multiple training sessions with their staff.  Later, I was offered a position as the Help Desk Supervisor in Teterboro.

            It had never been in my goals to sell my house and move to the east coast.  At first I thought they were crazy to think I would take the job.  Later, after much discussion with my inner self, my father, my mother, a few of my close friends and the hiring manager who kept raising the salary offer on me; I accepted the position and was headed for New Jersey.

            My entire life took a turn that I could not have foreseen.  My career views were totally changing with this move to New Jersey.  Going from one of the smallest laboratories in our network to the largest was a huge step for my career.  One of the most important items I learned was about diversity.  I had to quickly increase my knowledge base on sensitivity and tolerance of different ethnic backgrounds that were very strong here.  In Oregon everyone was generally came from the same backgrounds.  People belonged to different ethnic groups and different religions, but they had been Americans.  Here, people relate directly back to their native country.  More people are from Columbia or Cuba or Puerto Rico.  They are natives of those countries and have not really become American’s yet.  They had not lost that national pride because they were born outside of the United States.  In Oregon, almost everyone was 2nd or 3rd generation American’s.  Thus making the cultural background issues must less.  I needed to use my communication skills to sort out interpersonal problems that I would never have imagined in Oregon. 

            But I survived and eventually found the University of Phoenix Online after a 2 year break in my studies.  UofPhx still does not have a physical campus here in New Jersey.  They are opening one soon, but they still currently do not.  So I found out more about their online program and decided to give it a try.  Again the company was paying for it so why not?

            I was apprehensive of the online school but took my first class in 2001.  I was soon sold on the process.  I was able to get the assignments done and get a good grade in the class with lots of solid study ethics.  Who I am today is reflected by the classes that I took.  I have more current I.T. knowledge of telecommunication, programming, database concepts and data structures than I would have without the program.  My work skills have increased and improved as a direct result of my online classes.  I changed from Supervisor to Project Manager and was able to put my new skills to work by taking on different projects that I would not have normally worked on.  My professional position excelled due to my knowledge obtained through my classes online. 

            Today my critical thinking skills have been improved because of the general overview of I.T. topics covered in these classes.  I am able to speak one on one with the programmers or other corporate professions on projects that are underway.  Previously I did not understand much about new web based applications.  Now I understand what it is to loose focus on a screen or mouse over a screen location to cause different actions to occur.  And I can communicate better in my bug reports by pointing out focus issues from page to page of an application that I was performing an acceptance test plan on. 

            I am not sure how my schooling has affected my personal life.  However, it has curtailed what it might have been.  This summer I was relaxing at my summer place reading books and tending to school work instead of frolicking in the sand on the beach.  But that is a small price to pay for finally having my bachelor’s degree.  But where is this all taking me?  What are my future plans?

            Over the next 5 years my personal goals are to continue my educational pursuits on multiple levels.  The traditional academic goal would be to obtain a Masters degree in Computer Science so that I might join the faculty of a University like the University of Phoenix Online.  My earlier classes were very easy for me since I have had many years of experience personally in the field.  I have always enjoyed teaching, my parents were both teachers, and I feel that I would be good at it.

But I have also recently joined the fire department of Cherry Grove, NY where my summer home is and I am an applicant in my new home town of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.  So some of my academic goals will be to start and complete my Firefighter I certification over the next 18 months.  I am looking forward to participating in a few firefighter seminars and conferences to gain the experience and knowledge to keep myself safe.  I have also always been interested in safety and might look into a safety office certification after completion of my Firefighter I certification.  There are many other certifications available to me after I have completed my basic training.  The most important will be to learn the Hook & Ladder truck’s operations if I am approved to join the company.  Also, over the next few summers, I will be learning the other beach fire department’s procedures and different ways of doing things there.  It should be very interesting.

I can also see me on the Board of Director’s of another non-profit organization that I belong to and eventually being elected as their “president” of that organization.  I would serve a one year term but the process (if done correctly) would take about 3 years to complete.  The organization is located in NYC and I would need to learn more about the other organizations that we provide fund raising for within NYC since I would be representing that group.

My professional goals over the next 5 years are dependent upon what positions might open up.  If the Director of Diversity position was to open, I would apply for it.  This would hopefully get me an interview with our COO and possibly CEO (our COO will become the CEO in May 2004).  He is also the chairman on our Diversity Council and very active in diversity matters.  I feel that I would be qualifies to interview for the position because of my new BSIT degree and possibly having my Masters degree and/or my Firefighters certification by that time.   Another position that I would be interested in is the I.T. Director position at our Long Island, NY office.  This would take me away from the Hasbrouck Height Fire Department (HHFD) position, but would provide me with the opportunity to work closer with the Cherry Grove Fire Department (CGFD) over the summer because I would live on Long Island instead of in New Jersey.  Also, because of NY state law, I would then be a resident of New York and could complete my officers certification and be elected as an Assistant Chief and eventual Chief of the department.   I do not see this as an option in HHFD because there are too many people who have lived in the community for many years.  Cherry Grove is much more welcoming of new blood into the community.  But either will just have to wait and see.

My firefighter skills I will obviously continue to improve as well as my problem solving skills and interpersonal skills.  Both are valuable to you in any professional or personal situation.

Where does one end when you are reflecting upon what might become of your life?  I have no crystal ball, but the future is always clouded by should of, would of and could of’s.  It will be interesting to review this paper, in a few years, and see what goals I have obtained and which never came to be.  But one thing is for sure.  My entire life has changed since I found the University of Phoenix.  I have moved from coast to coast and have continued to evolve my personal and professional skills.  All thanks to the University of Phoenix Online program.  I would strongly recommend the program to any adult individual who would like to continue their education and complete their degree.