Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
amongst human resource professionals, there’s a designation called certified employee benefit specialist (CEBS). it consists of three different sections: retirement plans, employee group benefits (like health insurance), and compensation. for each section, you need to pass two of the three exams, and then you have to take two elective exams, for a total of eight exams.
they aren’t the most difficult things to take, but they certainly aren’t easy. each exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions, and you get a textbook, study guide, and a practice exam for each. to register for the exam is around $300.00, and the materials cost another $150.00 to $200.00. add it all together over eight exams…well, that’s a whole hell of a lot of money.
when my year-end review rolled around last year, i came up with the lofty goal of passing the remaining exams (i had already taken 2). that left me with 12 months to study for and pass 6 exams. i could do it. just spend two months on each exam and i’d be good. or, well, 2 1/2 months. but i could do it.
yeah. not so much. i sped right through the first three. the first compensation exam? super easy. like, hands down the easiest one i’d taken so far. then comp 2 came along and knocked me back on my ass. it was the first time i’d failed an exam on the first try, which meant another month of studying and a retake fee of $145.00. somewhere, some IFEPB executive is gettin’ rich off me.
i did manage to pass the exam the second time around. i’ve since moved on to the first of my two “elective” exams and am torturing myself trying to learn about executive compensation. i’d better learn it quick, because my exam is scheduled for the monday after christmas.
i’m not sure that challenging myself to take, and pass, six different exams in a 12 month period was the smartest decision i ever made. i’m worn out, and after work, the thought of having to come home and study after i’ve spent the whole day being nice to people is sometimes just too much. the studying has taken away from what little free time i have in the evenings for reading, working on my manuscript or one of the myriad craft projects i’ve been trying to finish, or even watch TV or a DVD. my free hours have become regimented in the same manner i have to regiment the rest of my day.
yes, i like structure. but this might be too much. and i’ve been doing all of this on the basis that it will most likely help land me a job in HR. but i have no guarantee it will help. it reminds me of the time i spent pursuing a chemical dependency specialist certificate: i thought the classes would improve my chance of getting into graduate school to pursue a masters in counseling, but it didn’t. what if, after all this studying, i still end up with, well, not what i was aiming for? it’s not going to improve my current position.
i realize with the current crap-tastic economy, i could be looking for a new job for quite some time, and i’m prepared for that (after all, i spent about 2 years looking for the job i have now). thank GOD i’m not the one paying for the exams though…that would be the company.
but. the potential upside of this is that i do, eventually, want to go to graduate school. and i had wondered about how i would do working full time and going to school at the same time. my answer? i might be able to pull it off. whether i’ll still be coherent at the end of it is another matter.