A recent immigrant from Kenya, Veronicah Munyao worked as a project architect at the Seattle-based Perkins & Will. Then COVID hit. And Veronicah found herself without a job.
As she started looking for her next opportunity, Veronicah realized she needed something to link her three degrees in architecture from the University of Nairobi and offer her a better understanding of the local market. While searching for what to do next, she found UW Professional & Continuing Education’s certificate programs. However, Veronicah wasn’t sure the certificates alone would solve all her problems.
“I felt I had found a missing link, but since I was between jobs, a little help would go a long way,” she says. During the certificate application process, she read about the
UW Certificate Scholarship, applied and was offered an 80% scholarship for the UW Certificate in Project Management.
“Getting the scholarship eased the burden on me,” says Veronicah. “Because of the scholarship, I could pay for my other certificate program, the
UW Certificate in Commercial Real Estate, and successfully pursue both certificate programs.” SETTING HERSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Enrolling in two certificates might sound challenging, but Veronicah realized she could study both programs at the same time while pursuing job opportunities. “I decided to go for two programs based on how I could best utilize my time,” she explains. “Both certificates appealed to me because they would add value to my existing training and tech experience.” (Since 2022, students are no longer allowed to be enrolled in more than one certificate at a time, as we’ve found students are generally more successful when they complete one certificate at a time.)
Veronicah notes she gained new knowledge in the
UW Certificate in Commercial Real Estate program. “The certificate gave me a more in-depth understanding of what to expect in a broader way, the history of this area and why we see some different trends in the market,” she says. “We also had guest speakers every other class, which was very helpful for networking, asking questions and walking through hundreds of projects.”
She adds being in a learning environment with other colleagues and professionals from various industries also opened her eyes to different ways of looking at things, an opportunity she wouldn’t have gotten from a work environment.
In Her Own Words
Alum Veronicah Munyao explains how the UW Certificates in Project Management and Commercial Real Estate helped her gain the skills she needed to find her dream job.
Play A FRESH START
The experience that proved to be the most valuable – and immediately impactful on her job search – was one of Veronicah’s first assignments for the
UW Certificate in Project Management. The task was to explore the requirements and qualifications for an appealing job posting, identify any skills gaps and explore how to fill the holes so she could apply for the position.
“Spending more time seeing what was available made me realize there were jobs I hadn’t considered that I could easily fit in. And for the first time, I started focusing on applying for project management positions more than project architect positions,” Veronicah says. “After that assignment, I conducted the same exercise, applied to my current position and got it.”
MAKING AN IMPACT
She was offered a job at the City of Tacoma in January 2022 and is still in the same role. “I love my current position. I'm working on the city's capital projects as a project manager for the engineering division of public works,” says Veronicah. “What I'm doing taps into my technical skills as an architect, my understanding of engineering and civil engineering and my desires for leadership, community development and giving back.”
“The work we do is quite impactful on the community. We’re working on infrastructure every day, from providing safer schools for our children to ensuring our buildings, roads, railways and bridges are sustainable,” she says.
Veronicah credits her certificate programs with giving her the skills to grow her career. “It's through continuous learning that we gain new industry knowledge. That's how we connect the dots. That's how we learn and provide more efficient solutions to problems,” she says. “If you’re looking for a bridge to your next big opportunity, I would strongly recommend all of the UW programs because they’re specialized to meet professional needs and you can complete them within six to nine months.”
She also plans to continue to pay forward the opportunities she received from
UW Certificate Scholarship. “It's not the dollar amount attached to the opportunity, but the doors it opens and the ripple effect it creates,” says Veronicah. “You can't quantify that because one recipient will probably multiply it in several years and touch many other people, so the value is immense; it's priceless.”