Featured Online Faculty Profile
Gwendolyn McCants-Allen, MA
Professor - Professor, Online
Teaching Field: Personal and Professional Development
Where I come from
I've always been interested in business. Starting out, I worked in a bank for nine years. I was working fulltime as a bank manager when I got my bachelor's degree in business administration and management. My main motivation throughout my career has been to make a difference in peoples' lives. As a banker, I could do that by offering customers the right banking products, but I wanted to make more of a difference. I went back to get a master's in Human Resource Management so that I could help people get jobs. Most people take their value in life from the job they hold; it is a great feeling to able to help someone attain their career goals.
By working now in human resources, specializing in leadership and diversity training, I can help people find opportunities to be the best they can be. Teaching Career Development courses for DeVry University Online gives me great satisfaction because I am preparing people to take advantage of the opportunities they have.
"Don't ever stop, keep going."
I identify with my DeVry University students. After getting my bachelor's degree, I never expected to go back to school, but I saw that other people were moving up because they had their degrees and I wanted to be competitive. It took me many years to complete my undergraduate program, so I never thought I would go back. I kept remembering what an instructor once told me, "Don't ever stop. Keep going." I had the opportunity to study online, which was the only way I could have done it. I had a 9-month-old and a 3-year-old at the time, and I was working.
The heart of service
I am a human resources manager, and I also do contract work that includes diversity training in school systems as a certified Anti-Defamation League trainer. I have done leadership training for Citibank and other clients, I also do contract recruiting, and give seminars and workshops for career development.
In addition, I have always done volunteer work because I feel it is so important to give back to the community. I am proud of the awards I've received - an achievement award from Bank of America and an Atlanta Hawks Foundation Award recognizing my community service in the Atlanta public schools, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and other organizations.
Meet my model teacher
My high school marketing teacher, Glenn Brainer, had high expectations of us and he brought out the best in us. He did more than most instructors did to make sure that we understood the subject. He was also inspiring. He told us his story - about working and going to school, and how it took six years to get his college degree. I used to think about that when I was trying to get my bachelor's degree and it inspired me to keep going. Now I try to follow his example by giving students more than they need or expect.
The online advantage
Online students are more open and easier to bring out than students in an onsite classroom. Online students aren't worrying about people looking at them. They have time to prepare their thoughts, so typically when they post, there is a lot more depth and detail to their thinking than when someone speaks up in class.
As an instructor, it doesn't bother me not to see my students, but I am very aware that because they can't see me, they have to hear from me more often to feel like they are part of the class. I feel I get to know them better because there is more one-on-one contact than in a traditional classroom. In addition, everything is in text form, so I can go back and read what they said again to get a feel for who they are and what they need.
What happens in Career Development
The course I teach, Career Development, is designed for graduating seniors. They need self-awareness in order to move forward with what they can and should be doing. I use a lot of self-assessment exercises, like the Myers-Briggs personality test, and I provide links to many tools I used in my Citibank leadership development courses. Many people never think about how to identify their talents and skills, but that is essential to find the career that fits you best.
Students learn how to write a resume in this class. It always amazes me - most people in all walks of life, not just students, do not know how to write a resume or sell themselves. I tell students, "When you go into an interview, be ready to give a 30-second commercial for yourself. Remember that as a recruiter, I have to read thousands of resumes and listen to hundreds of interviews, so you have to capture my attention right away." In highly technical fields, some employers hire people simply on the basis of phone interviews and tests to determine skill levels.
In addition, students also learn how to research potential employers, prepare for interviews and write thank-you notes afterwards, and follow up on leads. We also talk about how to network. It is the most important thing; finding a job is all about who you know and who knows you. A lot of employment markets are very competitive; just submitting your resume online is not the answer. Some students start networking with each other right in the class. They exchange contacts and information on job openings and hiring managers in their company.
Working alone and together
Online students have to be very self-motivated and organized, almost in a checklist kind of way. They have to really want their degree, and they have to know what's due when. If you read the syllabus carefully every week, if you know and fulfill the rubric requirements for the course, and if you check email every day, you will do well. It doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Lots of students buddy up and talk on the phone or take courses together, just like on-campus students.
Online students come from all over, including the military and other countries, and they have a lot of diverse experiences to share. It is collaborative learning - they learn from each other and not just from the instructor. I've had 19-year-olds and sixty-somethings, people fresh out of high school and people nearing retirement, in the same class - along with people in mid-career, working for a promotion or retraining for a new job. It creates a collaborative learning environment that is very rich.
Leading trends in technology
I love eCollege. I've taught at other schools that use eCollege in their online program, but they use it differently and did not configure it as well. DeVry University has the most organized and well thought-out technology. It makes sense, it's logical, and I love it. Also, there are many, many research and career development tools online in DeVry University's Hub. I use them for myself as well as with students.
A DeVry University education is invaluable. The DeVry University graduates I know in my community are doing very well, and the companies I work with consider it a quality degree. DeVry University provides everything - course offerings, knowledgeable and caring instructors, tools and resources, leading trends in technology - to help you achieve success in class and on the job. DeVry University is one of the top schools in the country for working professionals. People sometimes have the impression that online programs are easier, meaning less demanding. I find that DeVry University students do more work, meaning they cover more challenging material at a deeper level. As with anything else, you get out what you put into your education.