Management Degree Just One of Many New Endeavors for Jay Forst
October 18, 2007
Over the last two years, Jay Forst's schedule has been packed with life-altering transitions. From leaving his native Long Island and moving to Boston, to finding a new position within Verizon Partner Solutions, to introducing his firstborn daughter to the world or even reacquainting himself back into academic life, Forst's plate has certainly been filled with more than the average person could handle. Perhaps it says a great deal about the type of person he is that he has taken it all in stride.
Forst and his wife Jean originally decided to move to the Boston area in August 2003 after she was offered a post-doctoral fellowship through Harvard University to do research at Children's Hospital. A field technician with Verizon in New York at the time, Forst had already been looking to change roles in the company when his wife received the good news. He decided to explore supervisory openings in Boston, but unfortunately, transferring locations was easier said than done.
Over the next year and a half, Forst continued to work in Long Island, waiting for a position to open up in the organization while his wife began her research at Children's. Although forced to spend their weekdays apart, Forst was constantly trekking up to Boston during weekends, all the while anxiously awaiting news of available openings.
"That was the hardest part, trying to get up here every weekend or every other weekend, driving up Friday night and leaving Sunday," he said. "But since I got up here full-time things have really settled down a lot. We love it here. Boston is a great town."
After landing a position as an Operations Manager within Verizon in January 2005 and eventually moving to Charlestown, Forst barely had time to settle in before his next transition arrived just a few months later, his first child, Isabella.
"It's awesome," Forst said of fatherhood. "It's the best thing in life."
Not long after Isabella came along, Forst began contemplating his own educational goals and quickly found himself interested in Emmanuel's Graduate and Professional Programs. After gathering information from a fellow worker who was enrolled in the College's Master of Science in Management program, he too registered with the part-time accelerated program, despite the fact that he had a newborn baby occupying the majority of his thoughts and already limited free time.
With that said, it didn't take Forst long to recognize Emmanuel's program as a wonderful opportunity to advance his career. Beginning the program last month with the introductory course, "Personal & Professional Leadership," so far Forst has appreciated the challenge of getting back into the classroom and developing a clearer understanding of the concept of management. "I like going to class and listening to what other people have to say, I can always learn something," he said. "And I'm learning more about [management in terms of] people instead of just numbers. It takes some getting used to [coming back to school] but it's a good change."
One of the interesting advantages Forst has as a graduate management student is his daily work as a supervisor, as he directs a staff of 10 central office technicians at Verizon. Dealing strictly with some of the company's largest business customers, Forst and his crew are responsible for troubleshooting and repairing any issues involving companies' landlines. Over the span of the first few weeks of class, he has already seen how beneficial his knowledge can be to the rest of his classmates.
"I have noticed that some of them aren't at the point where they have management experience," he said. "My job allows me to bring my work-related experience to the class." Dean of Graduate and Professional Programs Dr. Judith Marley not only recognizes the benefits someone like Forst can bring to fellow classmates but to themselves as well, due to small class sizes and the distinct instructional model used in the program. "Students have the opportunity to learn from each other and not just the instructor," she said. "Most of our students bring tremendous work experience to the classroom, which is clearly a strength of our program. There is an opportunity for someone like Jay, who has a sense of where his company is going and what his needs are in his business, to dialog with other people from other environments as well as faculty members who have business experience along with terminal degrees. Students have the maximum opportunity to formalize their learning and apply theories in their businesses."
During Marley's visit to his class early in the course, Forst had an opportunity to share his ideas about future endeavors within the program and expressed an interest in the College offering on-site classes, which he felt would be of special interest to his fellow Verizon employees.
"Right now I definitely know I could get 10-12 people interested in [an on-site] program," he said. "It would be more of a convenience; our days are already long enough. It would be great to be able to cut out the commuting time and take classes in the same building [where I work]." For Marley, initiatives such as these have long played a significant role in her workforce development efforts as a dean. With the Emmanuel College nursing program having already pioneered the way with its on-site classes and partnership with many Boston-area hospitals, she sees great insight in Forst's thoughts.
"We do have the capacity for on-site courses," she said. "A more formalized relationship with [a company like] Verizon would make perfect sense. Many innovative employers select a partner like Emmanuel College for employee development efforts which tie to career paths and retain and develop their employees."
As Forst prepares to wrap up work for his first class and shift into the next course, "Organizational Behavior," he once again finds himself dealing with a challenging dilemma: The first day of class in Boston falls on Halloween. Currently he's debating whether or not to re-register for the course at Emmanuel's satellite campus in Quincy, which offers the class on a different day and would allow him and his daughter to spend their special night together. While the drive may be a little further, it's certainly a sacrifice Forst is willing to make for the sake of his family and his own educational pursuits. Just another adjustment he's taking in stride.
"Being a father, my time is limited," he said. "But to be able to get a master's in as little as two years, that's a great opportunity."