Student Spotlight: Olga Polyakova
As coordinator for the Masters in Training & Development program, I’m able to talk with every student as he or she completes the degree. I consider getting to know students and their “stories” the best part of my job. So I thought I might share them with you through a “Student Spotlight” post that will run periodically throughout the year. We’ll kick things off talking with Olga. She started the program in fall 2015 and will be graduating in fall 2017.
How and why did you decide on the MATD program?
I was going through the Master Instructional Designer certificate program at ATD in spring 2015, and it brought back all the memories of the joy of being a student (seriously, I love learning!). When I got my certificate, I immediately started looking into graduate programs in the subject. MATD at Roosevelt was a perfect match in terms of the content, application focus, alignment with ATD competency map, and cost. It was meant to be!
What is your current job title?
It is “North America Learning & Development Lead, Planning & Analytics” at a global consulting company. In practice, my job is a combination of ID projects, organization development work for the L&D function, and experimentation on a wide range of training related topics. It definitely keeps me busy and motivated!
Are you able to apply what you learn in the classroom to your current professions? If so, are there any specifics you would like to share?
It’s my fourth semester, and I am constantly surprised by the fact how applicable I find what I learn in the classroom to my “day job.” There is almost some serendipity in it. For example, I was taking Instructional Methods and Delivery last spring right when I had to complete a major redesign effort for our largest regional training. I was able to apply a lot of what I learned in pretty much real-time. Then Managing Organizational Change came right at the perfect time during the restructuring of our function across the region, as a result of which I landed in my current role with responsibility for building many aspects of our new organization with a very different operating model. It was change management both in school and at work 24/7! Evaluation Research course pretty much inspired me to create a new function within our team, and as a result, I have a new team member – L&D Analyst. Little does he know that Professor Iverson is somewhat responsible for the fact that his position was created in the first place! And lastly, I am currently developing training on both complex and complicated subject, acting as an expert Instructional Designer on a cross-functional team. I use this project in Instructional Systems Design 1 and 2 this spring as the timing works out perfectly. I cannot imagine having so much credibility on such a high-profile project before. The program gave me both knowledge and confidence to use it.
Can you identify a favorite project, class, or teacher?
Hands down Professor Maria Di-Prima Anderson. I wish I could take all her classes all over again. Her “Adult Learning Theory and Application” is the reason why I decided that MATD was the right choice for me. It happened to be the first class I took, and it still holds the status of the most challenging, stimulating, and inspiring course of the program for me.
Any words of advice for new students?
1) No one succeeds alone. The MATD is a lot of work, but it is much easier and way more enjoyable if you make the most of the collaboration and partnership that the program provides. It also means contributing a lot, but it is worth it. I can’t wait to finally meet my classmates at the graduation ceremony, as they truly feel like friends by now!
2) Everyone needs a purpose. Be honest with yourself and know deep inside your real reason for pursuing this degree. Once you have a clear purpose, the road does not seem so long and hard anymore. It actually gets more exciting and rewarding with every assignment, every test, and every module.
What do you enjoy doing your free time?
Exploring new places around the world! And when life gets busy, and travel becomes spaced out, I explore the City of Chicago. Taking long walks on the weekends is my favorite thing to do when I am home.