How a CIPD qualification launched my HR career

Not sure if a CIPD qualification is right for you?

Aside from being Europe’s largest professional body dedicated to HR and training, CIPD offer qualifications which help you get ahead in your career – and make yourself instantly more employable.

But don’t take our word for it. We spoke to Deirdre Bowen-Cassie, who has almost completed a CIPD qualification with ICS Learn, to see how her studies opened the door for a career in Human Resources:


Hi Deidre. Why did you choose to study CIPD?

I part-qualified in Human Resources after leaving university, but went on to work for 10 years in international financial consulting, before returning to the UK to run my own coaching and learning business.

I took a career break to bring up my son, but always knew I wanted to move into Human Resources eventually. So I started looking for an up-to-date HR qualification, and CIPD are basically the industry benchmark when it comes to getting certified.


Which qualification are you studying?

I’m currently studying the CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Diploma in People Management – which is essentially the intermediate level of the qualification, focussing on management.


What stood out about studying with ICS Learn?

I chose ICS Learn because it offered weekend-based residential workshops. This was important for me as like many students, I am studying and working full-time, and wasn’t allowed time off work to attend weekday courses.

When I phoned for information, the course advisor took time to find out about me, my previous qualifications and experience and, most importantly, what I was looking for, rather than using a “hard sell” approach.


How much was it?

The course presented good value for money — not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive — and a straight-forward monthly payment plan, especially important because I am financing the course myself.


When did you start?

I started in November 2014, and it was four months before I submitted the first assignment. But I’ve now completed six of the eight modules.

Waiting for the result was nerve-wracking. I passed and got great feedback that really spurred me on. I also prepared draft assignments for modules 1 and 2 before attending the first CIPD workshop. Had I checked earlier with the tutor, I could have saved myself a lot of time – after the workshop, I ended up re-doing a lot of my drafts, but I passed both!


How often did you study?

Initially, I tried to study for 30 minutes or an hour every night, or every other night, but found that hard-going as it was too “bitty” for me to really get into.

I switched to working in three-to-four hour chunks of time at weekends and found that suited me much better. It increased the flow of my learning and helped me understand the concepts better. I could really delve into a topic and enjoyed the study much more.

My advice, if you find that the approach you are using isn’t working, try a different approach until you find something that works for you.


What’s your top study tip?

To be really organised in how you keep your notes and research. So, when a “quick study window” pops up, you don’t waste time trying to organise yourself, you can get stuck in straight away.

What would you have done differently?

Looking back, I wish I had made more use of the tutors right from the start. I was worried about contacting them with questions as I didn’t want to annoy them – but this couldn’t have been further from the truth; they’re really friendly, and always do their best to give prompt and helpful advice.

Many of them have also studied with ICS Learn and they totally understand what it’s like to be a distance-learning student.

How did you use the other ICS Learn online resources?

A few weeks ago, I managed to set aside some time at work and accessed the ICS Learn webinars for the first time.

I found it so easy to link up. I previously didn’t realise that I don’t have to listen in to the webinars in real time – I can access them at any time on the online Student Community, so now I’m going to use it regularly. It’s contemporary learning and development, after all…


Any final tips?

Keep going, and always remind yourself why you’re doing the course. My aim was to move into HR and I’ve achieved it. I moved into an HR role in September last year. One of the key deciding factors that the selection panel fed back, was that I got the job because I was doing the CIPD course.

When you attend the workshops you meet other students. Keep in touch with them. It builds your network and you can motivate each other.


ICS Learn is the world’s most experienced distance learning organisation. So whether you’re looking for career advancement, a promotion, a higher salary or a new direction, ICS Learn’s online learning courses are the perfect stepping stone for you.


Ready to get started with CIPD? View all available CIPD courses with ICS Learn now.