Advice from a recent night school graduate Jared Dodge

Sometimes Taking a Step Backward is the Best Way to Move Forward: Advice from a Recent Night School Grad

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Two years ago Jared Dodge ‘16SCE was a hotel manager in Washington, D.C. At just 33, he’d already been in the restaurant and hospitality industry for 12 years and had worked his way up in the ranks. It was a good job. It paid well. But it was a life that he says just didn’t fit him anymore. Like many other adults in his situation, he was faced with a crossroads – continue on the path of security, or take a chance at something more fulfilling. Today, Jared has some advice for others in the same situation: get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I thought about opening a restaurant, or working in a corporate office in the restaurant field, but that’s hard to do without a degree. So I started looking at options for returning to school.”

Jared had attended Providence College right out of high school, but left at the start of his junior year. “I wasn’t the best student back then. I wasn’t the worst either, but I had other things going on and was just generally immature.”

That immaturity now well behind him, he decided to return to PC in 2015, this time to the School of Continuing Education, where the credits he already earned would count toward his degree and he could graduate with just half his schooling left to go.

Jared moved back to Providence and got an apartment near the college. He dipped his toe in the water, so to speak, by starting out with just two classes during the summer session. It was a scary transition.

When You Have That Discomfort, That’s When You’re Growing the Most

“When you start something new you have so much anxiety. You’re nervous, you’re uncomfortable, but what I’ve come to learn is that when you have that discomfort that’s when you’re growing the most,” Jared says. “That was my biggest challenge, worrying did I have enough time, enough money, am I going to do well. But I’ve learned to use that feeling of being uncomfortable and just do what it takes to conquer all the smaller challenges one by one.”

That method has worked for Jared. He finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies in December, 2016, six months ahead of schedule.

“I took classes in the fall and spring, as well as five classes the next summer, so I was able to finish earlier than expected. I’m thankful for that now because it has allowed me to focus my time since December on taking my graduate admissions exams, taking pre-requisite courses for my master’s degree and applying for internships,” he says.

“When I first started back at PC, grad school wasn’t even on my mind but now I’m looking for that uncomfortable feeling again.”

He’s pursuing a master’s in finance and considering earning an MBA as well. And, he says he’s glad that he’s starting his grad school journey with a bachelor’s in Liberal Studies as his background.

“Originally I would have chosen business or finance as my major at SCE but the college doesn’t offer those degree, even though they offer almost every course you’d need to earn them. So instead I chose Liberal Studies, and took the business and finances courses that were offered. I also did a professor-led study with the chair of the finance department, Vivian Okere, who was just great,” Jared says.

“My appreciation for a well rounded course of study really took off the second that I re-enrolled in Providence College. When you’re out in the real world, obviously knowing what you’re doing in your chosen field is important, but when you’re speaking to people, it’s important to be well rounded and be able to have meaningful conversations. That’s what the Liberal Studies program offered me. It educates you in things you didn’t know you liked and also things that come up on a daily basis…It was a very pleasant surprise. I was blindsided in a good way.”

So what is Jared’s advice to those who recognize their own situation in his story?

“I see so many people that just live too comfortably and they wonder why they’re not happy. When I was working in the restaurant and hotel industry some people said the same thing to me. Everybody just moves at their own pace and eventually everything comes to point where you just have to make the big decisions. I had made excuses – money, other opportunities – but everything culminated to the point where I knew I’d have to give something up. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take a step forward.”​