Professional growth, part 3 - Tuition assistance program & bonuses

Posted by Human Resources on 01.20.2016
Human Resources

Whether you need to complete continuing education credits to maintain a license, begin coursework to help you achieve a license, or would like to pursue another professional designation in, say, project management, Arrowhead offers tuition assistance.

Last year, 20 Arrowhead employees participated in the tuition assistance program, taking classes ranging from CE credits to courses in HR, IT security, project management, leadership organization and presentation skills. Still others took CPCU classes towards obtaining their designation for underwriting; assistant underwriters followed coursework for an AINS designation (Associate in General Insurance). The number of participating employees has doubled since 2013, when just 10 took advantage of the program.

Classes for CE credits are the most often-used for tuition assistance. Carolyn Marshall, licensing and compliance coordinator, oversees our online CE program and can help you locate the courses you need. You can also view programs here.

“Several employees have earned their AU (Associate Underwriter) or CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) designations through our tuition assistance program,” said Tish Masucci, Arrowhead’s HR manager. “They take classes via The Institutes (American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters). Of course, they must first submit the completed tuition assistance form with their manager’s signature approval ahead of time.”

Work with your manager to identify your career path and then set your goals

iii When Cheryl Haas, underwriter 1 in Workers' Compensation, started at Arrowhead, she had zero knowledge of insurance, except for her own personal coverage. She jumpstarted her insurance education with the Insurance 123 class and moved from a personal lines data processor to a commercial lines CSR (customer service representative). Then she took two AU classes, received her AU designation and was promoted first to the submissions team and then to the auxiliary team, working in compliance and classification assignments. Now Cheryl is an underwriter 1.

When asked to describe the Arrowhead tuition assistance program, she said, “It’s a very easy process – I just completed the forms, and management took care of everything else. The books were mailed to me; classes were online lasting anywhere from six weeks to three months."

“Honestly, my on-the-job training taught me just as much or more as the classes – and that made studying for and passing them a lot easier,” she added. “Arrowhead has given me so many great opportunities, not only by being able to take classes, but also with such great mentors.”

Rob Baker, assistant vice president, commercial business systems, has utilized Arrowhead’s tuition assistance program for 11 years, taking and passing at least one course per year, sometimes two. “I once took three classes in one year, but it was a huge struggle between my professional and personal life – and I don’t even have kids,” Rob noted.

What motivated Rob all those years to continue his education? Two words: personal growth. “Yes, the material is dry. Yes, continuing ed is difficult. But if you want to advance and grow, you have to keep learning, staying on top of what’s changing, what rules are different. You have to be a continuous learner. It’s a given in this industry today.”

Rob started at Arrowhead in 1999 processing endorsement transactions for Personal Lines Auto. Thanks to his growing list of designations, he’s risen to a commercial business systems manager and was recently named assistant vice president, commercial business systems.

He suggests first identifying what kind of student you are: are you a highly motivated self-starter? Are you better off with online classes that you can fit in whenever, or with a highly structured classroom setting? Find what works best for you – and sign up for those classes.

Over the years, Rob has received his INS certification, then AIS and AINS designations, a project management certification and lastly his AU (Associate Underwriter) designation. With the exception of the project management certificate, Rob termed the other designations easier to accomplish because they’re just three or four classes.

Online or in the classroom: sign up for the courses that best suit your learning style. iii How easy was Arrowhead’s tuition assistance program? “Very straightforward,” Rob said. “I talked with my manager and once we decided on a course of action, I enrolled in the class, paid the tuition fees, filled out the tuition reimbursement form and the cost was reimbursed within the next reimbursement cycle.”

Both Cheryl and Rob agreed: Be sure you take classes during a slow time at work, because you’ll need to set aside study time each evening. Next, be sure to take advantage of the practice quizzes, which are invaluable in preparing for finals.

“It’s important to work with your team leader to identify your career path, and then set your goals,” Rob summed up. “Identify your goals and then work to achieve them. Advancement comes to those who create goals and work toward them, classes or no.”

Get an education bonus with that new designation

Need more incentive than just free classes to study for that designation? Here’s another reason: an employee bonus.

“The same rules apply for the bonus as for the tuition assistance: an employee must be full-time, have been here at least six months, have their manager’s and HR’s approval for the classes and the classes must be from an approved institution,” explained Vanessa McGonis, Arrowhead’s HR/payroll specialist. “Of course, employees must continue to perform well in their jobs while taking classes.” Finally, she said, be sure to notify HR in writing within three months of completing the certification to be eligible for the bonus.

Bonuses are based on the average preparation time to successfully complete the certification, and can range from a $75 bonus for a general title such as Notary, up to $2,000 for completing a CPCU designation.

For two and a half years, Kevin Croy, underwriter for Special Risk Division, studied for the CPCU on his own time. Using Arrowhead’s tuition assistance program, he received all the study books for free, then dug in and began preparing to take the CPCU’s eight exams. “Every time I passed a test I sent the certificate to HR,” Kevin recalled. “And when I had passed them all, I received a bonus. The bonus was a nice way to cap off all that study time and test-taking. It was an immediate reward for a major accomplishment.”

Ready to grow in your career? You can view the details and eligibility qualifications for tuition assistance here; then talk with your manager and complete the tuition assistance form.

Topics: Education and Training