SIT2LRN graduate, Karena Miller, describes her approach to education during her school years as “very relaxed”. Despite this, it didn’t hold her back from achieving her goals. “I have been lucky to travel the world and secure respectable positions,” she says. However, as she entered her late thirties, Karena recognised her knowledge and subsequently, her confidence in advancing her career to the next level were reaching a plateau. “I felt I needed a qualification that would give me a deeper understanding of business management; a skill set that I could apply in any industry.”
Hearing about SIT2LRN by word of mouth - a friend in Melbourne had completed a Diploma of Photography via distance learning - Karena recalls being impressed by not only her friend pursuing a qualification, but it was offered with minimal fees, and she achieved it via distance learning in Australia. It was the impetus Karena needed; she enrolled in the New Zealand Diploma in Business (Level 5) (Administration and Technology) through SIT2LRN.
“I really had no idea what to expect. It was daunting to commit to the 4-year duration, as I completed the studies whilst working 50-hour weeks.” However, Karena made it work for her. “Completing it over 4 years ... I studied during the colder months and enjoyed summer and Christmas off, making it very achievable.”
The business qualification delved into the fundamentals of marketing, accounting, human resource management, administration systems, and business management.
“Each paper was so different in the way it was presented and assessed. I really enjoyed the variety and the practical application of the skills learned through the assignments.” Karena adds she’s even referred to her papers in her current managerial role.
Remembering a stand-out moment on her second or third paper, Karena says “I had a tutor who pulled me up on every little detail and I only just passed that assignment. Due to her detailed feedback, I really lifted my game, and from then on, presented far superior work.”
Acknowledging she learns best through discussion and collaboration, Karena found distance learning challenging. Being a collaborator, “not being able to check my understanding easily ... when writing assignments, I wanted to make sure I was on the right path and found not talking to anyone was very hard.” Still, through perseverance and learning to trust the process, Karena overcame those early doubts. “ ... if you invest the necessary hours, do the reading, and follow the tutor’s instructions, you will be rewarded with good grades, which I was.” SIT’s Blackboard online facility allowed collaboration with fellow students, which helped to bridge the gap, she explains. The flexibility of distance learning was also rewarding, which certainly helped to off-set the challenges, as Karena was able to study around work and life obligations.
“Studying has had a profound effect on my understanding of people management ... conflict management was very insightful, and even helped me understand my own behaviour, and my personal relationships.”
Following the completion of her studies, Karena graduated in December 2022 and was head-hunted to work as the Marketing Manager for Canterbury based funds management firm, Chance Voight Investment Corporation. “Chance Voight has big ambitions and I want to ensure I am equipped with the knowledge and skills to help them achieve their goals,” says Karena.
Whilst she only completed one paper specifically associated with Marketing, Karena explains the overall skills learnt within the qualification have helped her to become a more effective manager. With her increased learning, she can also see her career evolving, and has not dismissed the idea of completing a bachelor's degree.
Describing herself as a “huge advocate” for adult learning and the significant benefits it brings, Karena highly recommends SIT2LRN because studies can be undertaken without the burden of a student loan. “Regardless of background or financial status, SIT2LRN provides all New Zealanders with an opportunity to invest in themselves and their future prospects by offering education at a minimal cost.”
“You are not limited by your location or your financial means, so just give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose,” she advises.