After completing a week-long Arbitration class at the NLC’s George Meany Campus, something clicked with John Bourne, International Representative for IBEW District 11, and he knew he had to finish his bachelor’s.
“That was it,” says Bourne, “That was the trigger; I was sold.”
Bourne enrolled in the Business Administration program and started out taking just one class to see if he could make it fit into his busy life.
On the Road But Always Near A Virtual Classroom
“Being on the road is a great job, but it’s hard being away from home. Like the rest of the IBEW reps, I’m in the top 5% with the Holiday Inn,” says Bourne, a third generation electrician from Omaha, Nebraska.
But he found that he was able to be productive. After his meetings end and he grabs dinner, Bourne makes his way back to his hotel room at 7 or 8 at night and starts his schoolwork.
I wanted to be an electrician, so I didn’t put a huge effort into my studies in high school—now I’m making sure that I don’t get behind. I have fellow IBEW people in my class. It’s great; we check in with each other.
First Classes Re-Teaches Students How to Learn
Although he was an avid reader, Bourne did have his concerns that at 56 perhaps he’d been out of the classroom too long. Fortunately, Bourne found that the first class, Digital Learning in the 21st Century, helped get him up to speed, showing him how to learn online and manage his time.
“I think the motivation is more the older you get because you know that you don’t want to waste your time—once you make up your mind it’s easier,” says Bourne, but he admits that it’s difficult to learn when you have so many other responsibilities. “Motivation is 2/3 of the issue.”
NLC Helps Students “Get to the Core of It”
So why did Bourne want to go back to school with a successful career and two children out of college with their own Master’s degrees in hand? It’s because Bourne loves his union. He’s worked his way up the ranks of his local having finished his apprenticeship in 1976. He’s held almost every local office and started working for the international six years ago, which he loves.
Bourne believes that every class he takes at the NLC will helping him to do his job better and to help his locals even more:
We need a different kind of labor leader than in the 40s and 50s – one who’s smarter and more engaged because the opposition is smarter than ever. You have to understand what you’re doing to be successful. In my accounting class, I’m learning things that I understood before, but now I’m getting down to the core of it.
Thinking of applying? Get started. Learn more about the Bachelor’s in Business Administration.
If you’d like to speak with John, email him at john_bourne[at]ibew.org