Kim Dube-Sena listened to plenty of advice after graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in communications from Northern Kentucky University in 2004. Most counseled her to stay in school and get her master's in communications before jumping into a job.
There was only one dissenting opinion, she says.
"My advisor was the only one telling me to go out and work right away," she says." He said 'Go ahead and work for two years. I guarantee that if you go back to school, it won't be for the degree you think it will be.' It didn't make sense at first, but I'm glad I took his advice."
Now, Dube-Sena has six years' experience working with local Fortune 500 companies. She did return to school, getting a master's degree from Thomas More College in 2008. And, like her advisor predicted, it wasn't in communications -- it was a master's of business administration, a degree that has helped propel her career forward to her current role as a district recruiter for Insight Communications.
"It's a total 180-degree change from what I thought I wanted to do," she says. "If someone had told the 21-year-old me that I'd have a MBA and be working in human resources, I would have called them crazy. But I'm an HR-lifer."
After graduating from NKU, Dube-Sena, a Quebec native, worked for a year as a business marketing coordinator with the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky before becoming a staffing consultant and office supervisor with the local offices of Adecco Employment Services. While working for TANK and Adecco, she also became involved with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's "HR Group 100" committee, taking an interest in human resources.
Working with the committee "really opened my eyes to the impact that a good HR professional can have on a company's employees. They can make people's employment experience so much more positive. That's what drew me to human resources," she says.
At the same time, she also noticed that most listings for the human resources jobs that interested her also required a master's degree, so she headed back to the classroom to work towards a master's in business administration -- far from the life of the television career she once envisioned.
The return to campus coincided with a new job with Fifth Third Bank, which offered tuition reimbursement and other support while Dube-Sena worked for her degree. She enrolled in Thomas More's Accelerated Program (TAP), which facilitates working towards an advanced degree while still holding down a full-time job, and worked her way up through the bank's corporate ladder. Two years later, thanks in large part to support from Fifth Third, she says, she got her degree and became a corporate recruiter for the bank.
After another two years working for the bank, she parlayed her experience and qualifications into another step forward in her career, joining Insight this past February. She's now in position to help others as they consider returning to college for more training. She advises them to take advantage of the opportunities available, and to have clear-cut goals.
"My advice to them is to know exactly why they want the degree, know how it will affect their career goals and their future. There are times when going to school and still working 40 hours a week will be a bit trying, but if they know why they're doing it, how it will help them reach their goals, that'll get them through the tough times," she says.
She also tells them that all of that extra work will be worth it. Her career path is a great example, but Dube-Sena doesn't have to look far for other good examples -- she only needs to look to her father's life.
Richard Dube had worked for years as a microbiologist and brewmaster with Molson's and Labatt's breweries in Canada before moving his family to take a job with the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston and, eventually, to Cincinnati to work with Hudepohl. But by 2000, at 43 years old, he decided on a change in professions. He enrolled in courses at NKU with an eye on teaching, taking advantage of a program that allowed him to teach while finishing coursework for his teaching certificate.
He finished in 2002, and has spent the past nine years as a science teacher at Lloyd High School in Kenton County, a favorite of the school's students.
"It runs in the family, I guess," laughs Dube-Sena.
Meanwhile, her story may not be finished. Dube-Sena admits to toying with the idea of returning to college for even further degrees. This time, she says, it would likely be law school to study employment law.