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What is it like to be a student again?

Our Associate Director , Saima Arfeen, shares her experience of what it is like to return to studying after 12 years in the workplace.

By Saima Arfeen

Saima is Oakwood's Associate Learning Consultant and works in our Associate Team
More from Saima >>

Life is a constant learning process, whether it is formal or informal learning that we are exposed to. Being a student in your adolescence and early adult life is the tip of the ice-berg for some while for others it is a means to an end; getting a degree in order to seem employable and eventually getting a job that pays well.

I for one, fall into the former category. It was around 12 years ago, armed with an undergraduate degree, I was bright eyed and brimming with enthusiasm about applying what I had learnt in the classroom and transferring the knowledge into the workplace. This routine of working and then ambition taking over to look for greener pastures took me to different roles in different organizations over a period of over a decade. It was then that I decided that I need to up-skill myself and go ‘back to school’.

I got in touch with Oakwood and thanks to some expert advice from the Programme Managers I found exactly the right qualification for me and my needs. I subsequently enrolled for the Oakwood CIPD Level 3 in Human Resource Practice, gained an Associate CIPD professional qualification and then decided to pursue my Postgraduate Degree in Strategic Human Resource Management.

Having resumed formal education after a gap of over a decade, I had mixed feelings about walking into the classroom; it was a combination of not knowing what to expect after being out of University for so long and trying to re-integrate as a student. On the flip side, there was a sense of excitement of investing and up-skilling myself and gaining further knowledge. Being a student again gave me a renewed appreciation of my work experience, an enthusiasm and excitement of attending classes, doing group and individual assignments and applying my practical work experience to the theory and content that I would learn in class.

The Oakwood delivery team were superb, experienced and knowledgeable facilitators and I received a huge amount of support and guidance from the Student Support Team. I achieved my CIPD qualification and decided that I now wanted to continue my studies and enrolled in a post graduate qualification.

I am enjoying my Master’s thoroughly, more so as it balances very well with part-time study and my role as an associate where I get to share my knowledge of what I learn in class and apply it to my workplace and vice versa. I realize that I now enjoy being a student far more as compared to when I HAD to be one during my Undergraduate days. There is a maturity and a renewed sensibility that comes after taking a break from school and then coming back with the experience of the real world.

During the course of a year and a few months, I absolutely relished my time being a student, making new friends, and have a sense of pride and joy that I took the decision of studying further.  With another six months left to finish, I once again have a mixed bag of feelings. On the one hand, it is having a sense of accomplishment of gaining a postgraduate degree and on the other hand, a sense of ‘what now?’ when it comes to no longer having a set routine of books, classes and assignments.

One thing is for certain; I will always remember my time as a student going back to formal study after a gap where I gained professional work experience far more and with fonder memories compared to my time as an undergraduate student. It has been the best decision of my life.


As a result of Saima's studies with Oakwood and subsequently her continued learning journey, Saima is now a much valued member of the Oakwood Associate CIPD Delivery Team.

Find out more about Oakwood's CIPD qualifications here or contact us on info@oakwooddubai.ae