by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
On-the-job certifications create pathways to career success and can add significantly to earning potential. What if young Dickinsonians in any major could access high-quality, impactful certifications before they begin their first jobs—before, even, their job searches begin? A recent professional-certification course at Dickinson provided students with skills and credentials that set them apart from the crowd.
Presented with help from an alumnus and in collaboration with Dickinson faculty and staff, the Scrum Master Certification empowers participants to learn to work together in a team optimally, test results, and show progress and value quickly. The December session was the first in a series of planned professional-certification offerings now under discussion at the college.
The idea to offer the course through Dickinson was spearheaded by Zach Wahl ’98, president and CEO of Enterprise Knowledge, who regularly makes professional certification opportunities available to his own employees, especially those at the beginning of their careers. “Certifications like these are well-regarded in any number of industries, because they give new employees a wonderful perspective on their work and fast-forward them in their careers,” says Wahl, who worked with Dickinson staff to help make the December certification course a reality. “It’s also another distinguishing factor for Dickinson, adding on to what the college already does so well.”
Zach Wahl '98, president and CEO of Enterprise Knowledge, made a gift to the college to realize last December's Scrum Master Certification course at Dickinson. Photo by Dan Loh.
The course was led by an outside instructor—a professional contact of Wahl’s—in collaboration with Emily Marshall, associate professor of economics and data analytics, who organized discussion groups and assigned reflection papers while simultaneously taking the course.
Twenty students and five staff members completed the December course, and the students earned a half-credit along with their certification. As a capstone to the certification, five Enterprise Knowledge employees—alumni Logan Cort '22 and the class of '21’s Nina Spoelker, Will Brock and Kate Erfle; and Madeleine Powell—came to campus to present a practical session on how they’ve used the Certified Scrum Master learning in their own careers. While typically, the course can cost $700 per person, with a certification and testing fee of $50, Wahl arranged for students to take it for free, and he covered each participant’s fee as a donation to the college. Discussions are under way to offer more credentialing courses at the college in the months and years ahead.
“This is just about giving my fellow Dickinsonians the best opportunity to succeed in their careers, to get that first great job, and to flourish in their chosen careers thereafter,” says Wahl, who spearheaded the idea to get a credentialing course off the ground at Dickinson. “The idea that new employees could show up on their first day already having credentials like this is a win for them individually, as well as for the college.”
Published February 8, 2023