I have just completed the CIPD Level 3 Diploma with ICS in little over 6 months around working a full time Store Managers role, working 48 hours a week and studying in my spare time and days off. I know, that’s pretty quick right!? I’ll go through my process later but first a little about my background.
I’ve worked in retail management for national and global brands for the last 12 years, and throughout this I had conducted a lot of the HR function in a line manager capacity. There came I time when I sat down and thought ‘What am I doing? Do I want to be doing this in 5 years time? What excites me about work?’
The answer to these questions ended on working in HR in some capacity. Working with people and all the aspects of HR and training play to my strengths so it’s a career ideally suited to my personality and motivations. So I hit the internet and spoke with recruitment agencies who gave some mixed advice about qualifications; so onto Google again and I came across about 3 or 4 companies offering an online self study qualification in HR, all at various prices (some rather expensive).
I did contact all of these companies and shockingly one didn’t reply for 6 weeks, one sent a brochure, one emailed and ICS Learn sent both quick reply emails and a phone call. Now the gentleman who I spoke to was SO GOOD!!! We went through my background, what I already knew about HR, where did I want to go, what kind of roles I wanted, how I could pay for it (INTEREST FREE PAYMENTS!) and what qualification would suit me best, specifically diploma vs certificate.
I will also say that ICS Learn was the most competitive by a long shot. He was fantastic. So I signed up there and then, later that day I was sent all the information, logins etc and off I went: Signed up and started my first module the same day!
Now I’ll be honest and say I did some study and got a little, lost I suppose on how best to approach the study, however I contacted my tutors and my mentor and together we came up with a study plan around my timetable and pace I wanted to work to. Did I always stick to it? Not really but not far off, there are some modules that I whipped through and some that took a lot of reading and hard work, especially on the assignments. BUT this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I committed most of my days off, free time and holidays to studying however I have met some amazing students along the way who take a more laid back approach and do one module every 4-6 weeks. It’s literally down to you when and how you want to study.
The material provided on the course was informative without being lengthy, it would give you enough information to understand the topic and suggest further reading if you wanted to learn more about something specific. This is where a lot of my time went being honest.
So about half way through the course I started applying for HR roles and I wasn’t getting any interviews or calls AT ALL! This was a little disheartening, however I spoke to one of my FANTASTIC tutors, Julie Heslington, who offered to take a look at my CV and gave me advice on how to adapt it to the roles I was applying for. This was well above and beyond the service I was expecting and I have since secured a job as a HR Manager for a national retail brand, based in the city, with a very promising future ahead. I would not have been able to do this without the support from ICS Learn and the amazing tutors they have.
My plans for the future? Settle into my new job for a good 6 months and then come back to ICS Learn to start my CIPD Level 5 Diploma in HR Management. I would highly recommend ICS Learn to anyone considering distance learning, the support and materials I have received not only enabled me to complete an 18 month qualification in 6 months but has given me the credentials and knowledge to become a strong HR practitioner and I will be using ICS Learn for all of my CIPD qualifications in the future.
As an older learner I was concerned that having done little academic work since I left college all those years ago I would struggle, to start with it was a bit of a shock to the system, but the course has so much information and guidelines for completing assignments its a lot less daunting than you’d think. There were a couple of times I got stuck, but there are student forums that allow you to talk to the other students and get help from each other which helped no end.
Last bit of advice, if you are considering signing up or have ANY questions at all about anything, JUST ASK! Call or email and someone will help, they aren’t there to sell you something; they are there to help you get to where you want to go. Take a leap of faith and do it, you might even surprise yourself like I did.
If Ashley's story has inspired you, take a look at our range of CIPD Diplomas, Certificates and Awards, then get in touch. You can chat online with our CIPD course advisors via webchat, phone or email using the details at the top of the page. We’re happy to help!