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Eat-Sleep-Dive: Repeat!
Alumni Re-enrollment/Referral Program
Alumni Spotlight
Salary Negotiation 101


Volume 6  |  Issue 2

April 2016


Article & photos by Doug Gulleson

Two-time Western International University (West) alumnus (and current West student!) Doug Gulleson shares his passion for scuba diving.

Have you ever scuba dived? If not, you sure are missing out. You are not just missing the diving part of diving, but all that is part of the scuba diving experience. Go back in time about six months before you put on your wet suit, and that is when the diving journey really begins.


You may have poked your head into a local dive shop to see what trips they have, or you saw a dive magazine at your doctor’s office with a picture of divers on a remote island that piqued your interest. Let’s not forget the National Geographic and Travel Channels that whisked you away to those white sandy beaches for an hour, right from your own living room. Yes, the diving adventure starts there. You start sharing your excitement with friends, waiters, and waitresses and pretty soon you can’t wait for the moment you stand in the TSA line at the airport ready to board your plane to start your diving holiday. You are amazed how total strangers become instant friends when you start sharing about your diving trip. Scuba diving is a great way to break the ice with anyone, even those serious-looking immigration officers at the airports.

Diving is more than seeing the beautiful types of coral and species of fish underneath the blue oceans. It is a journey, a journey that start way before your fins connect with the salty waters of the ocean. Why is that? I think because we humans love to travel and experience new things. Diving forces us to do that, especially here in landlocked Arizona. I would have never gone to the Solomon Islands for a 10-day dive on a live-aboard, a dive boat made just for scuba divers, or walked the pristine beaches of Wakatobi. Scuba diving sure has opened my passport pages to many countries’ entrance stamps, and for that I am so grateful.

But it is more than going to different lands. It is about people! A phrase I learned a while ago in a weeklong scuba class here in Arizona is that “people are the destination!” Isn’t that awesome! It is all about people! It is about us! Not only are we divers talking to complete strangers about an exciting adventure, but we are also meeting amazing people on our scuba diving journey. I am so blessed to meet other scuba divers around the world who have a wealth of knowledge to share. Their stories and their adventures allow me to plan for my next dive trips, as well as see how others live in this wonderful world of ours.

Not only do you meet other divers, but also top-notch dive masters and underwater photographers in their own right. I am a novice underwater photographer, and that has opened a whole new world of divers and places to dive than ever before. I have been able to tag along on some dive trips with professional underwater photographers Andy & Allison. I’ve gained so much knowledge from them on underwater photography, and they have been great friends to boot. Steve is another superb friend and amazing underwater photographer I met on one of my Bahama shark dives a few years ago. Steve is a retired attorney. He and his wife are living his dream of sharing his underwater knowledge by writing e-books about superior diving spots throughout the world.

Oh, I am not done about people you meet on your dive trips—by far, the most thrilling part of the ‘above water’ part of the dive trip is learning about new cultures. I have been to many parts of the Caribbean, throughout Indonesia, The Great Barrier Reef, and other parts of Southeast Asia and have been enriched by each of those cultures. Don’t even get me started about the mouthwatering cuisine my taste buds have deliciously experienced. I was born and raised in Indonesia, so my stomach is at home with rice and noodles any day. Add a heavy dose of sambal, and you have me in heaven!

Splash! Here we go underneath the blue oceans with our right hand holding our underwater camera and our left hand holding our digital dive computer, making sure we descend just right. Your eyes are bombarded with fish darting left and right as you swim comfortably right above, making sure you don’t touch them, and wide coral fans in shades of orange and red. After about 40-60 minutes on this dive, you have used all your camera battery life and are ready to hop out of the water to see all the breathtaking pictures and videos you took. Now imagine doing this 20-30 times on a dive journey, and you can see those perfect dive pictures you share with friends, family, and for sure strangers you meet on your life’s journey.

All this talk about scuba diving has made me grab my passport and get my dive gear ready for my next amazing diving adventure. I am headed again to one of my most favorite places in the world, Bali. Bali is one of the amazing islands of Indonesia, and I visit there at least twice a year.

Thank you for allowing me to share my diving experiences with you! I hope this has made you hungry to put on some fins and a diving mask and see the wonder of this amazing creation we call home. Even if not for the diving, for sure to experience and learn about different cultures throughout the world we live in.

Doug Gulleson, MBA, RHU is Vice President and co-owner of Good Neighbor Insurance, Inc. in Gilbert, AZ. He earned both his BS in Management and MBA in International Business at Western International University.* A lifelong learner, Doug is also a current West student taking advantage of our alumni re-enrollment offer (see below) to pursue a Master of Arts in Human Dynamics.* Doug was born and raised in Indonesia, graduated from the Jakarta International School, and settled in Arizona after serving in the U.S. Army. He also serves on the board of directors for an overseas non-profit. Images were provided by Doug; visit douggulleson.com to read all about Doug and his adventures and view more amazing photos.

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://www.west.edu/online-degree-programs


Rewarding Lifelong Learning

Many of our West graduates—like those profiled in this issue—are lifelong learners. West is now pleased to be able to offer our graduates who enroll for a new West degree program—and new West students referred by a West grad—a tuition reduction of $250 per course, upon successful completion of each of your first eight courses ($2,000 maximum).**


Whether you hold an associate, bachelor, or master degree from West, you are eligible for the re-enrollment program simply by working toward a new West degree program. What’s more, many West grads likely know a few other lifelong learners who are also interested in pursuing a new academic or career goal. Whether or not you re-enroll, you can still send your referrals our way through the West Alumni Referral Program. Your referrals will also receive the benefit of a $250 tuition reduction upon successful completion of each of their first 8 courses ($2,000 maximum)**—simply because you referred them! Just make your introduction, and we'll take care of the rest.

Whether your friends are far or near, you could even attend West right along with them through our online classroom. How cool would it be to have someone near and dear taking classes with you, sharing your learning experiences and applications of your newly-gained knowledge!

For complete details on our alumni re-enrollment and alumni referral programs, contact a West Student Advisor at (866) 948-4636 or email inquiries@west.edu.

** New students who have not attended a Western International University (West) course in the past 365 days and are referred by a West graduate, and West graduates enrolling for a new West degree. Western International University is unable to enroll residents of Massachusetts. Certain programs are not available in all locations. Please verify program availability with a University representative.


Community Liaison,
Public Affairs (Retired)
Southwest Gas
Phoenix, AZ

A 2013 West graduate who earned her Master of Arts in Innovative Leadership,* Adrienne shares her experiences as a lifelong learner, including how she is putting the global elements of her West degree to work on the next stage of her life adventure—destination: Da Nang, Vietnam.


Why did you decide to pursue your degree at West?
Having earned an undergraduate business degree in 1987, I had long wanted to pursue a master’s degree in order to update my knowledge and skills, but found the costs to be out of my budget. In 2008, when the company for which I worked, Southwest Gas, increased the annual tuition reimbursement in its employee education assistance program, it became the right time to pursue a graduate degree. I attended my first class in early 2009. I am extremely grateful to Southwest Gas for its commitment to higher education for its employees. After looking at a number of the state’s colleges and universities, I chose West because of its focus on individual, rather than group, work. While I am not at all opposed to group work, because my undergraduate program and significant parts of my job were group-focused, I wanted an individual-work focused graduate educational experience.

What did you find most valuable about your West experience?
There are many things that I value highly about my educational experience at West, chief among them the gifted, engaging professors who significantly broadened my knowledge in important areas and the confidence I gained as a researcher, writer, and presenter.

What were the benefits to you of earning your degree?
What I learned in the Master of Arts in Innovative Leadership (MAIL) program made me a better leader, both in my workplace and in my service to the nonprofit organizations with which my company was engaged. It gave me the confidence to raise my hand and agree to be nominated—and ultimately elected—to lead a nonprofit board of directors. What I learned about leadership in the MAIL program gave me the confidence to “lean in” when future leadership opportunities present themselves.

What are your plans for the future?
I actually retired from Southwest last year, deciding that it was time to pursue new life experiences. Realizing how short and unpredictable life can be, my spouse Brian and I will spend the next few years seeing more of the world and learning about other cultures. Vietnam will be our first stop. We leave for Da Nang, Vietnam in May and may spend up to a year there. Brian, a teacher by education, plans to teach English. I intend to take the time to become familiar with the Vietnamese culture, understand how things are done there, and then determine if there are local nonprofit volunteer opportunities in which I can use my leadership skills. Until I find a suitable volunteer opportunity, I plan to pursue writing and editing assignments as a freelancer.

What would you tell a friend who is thinking of going back to school?
I would advise a friend considering the pursuit of a degree to DO IT NOW—and include West on their short list! In my personal experience, education has always been a career door opener. And in today’s rapidly changing world of work, education has never been more important. An undergraduate or graduate degree is, for many jobs, the minimum expectation for interview consideration and career advancement. I would also advise that friend to take a pragmatic approach financially by pursuing appropriate financial assistance and scheduling classes in a way that allow him/her to graduate as close as possible to debt-free.

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://www.west.edu/online-degree-programs


Salary Negotiation 101

You are faced with an epic moment when receiving a job offer. It is validation of your search efforts and dedication to your career plan. It feels great to finally get an offer and you are thrilled about the prospect of starting a new job. However, you are also faced with the next hurdle of carefully negotiating your compensation package to ensure the offer will meet your needs. Salary negotiations can be a challenge; professional career coach Kathryn Scahill, NCC, DCC offers this two-step process to set you up for a positive outcome that will allow you to celebrate your career success. Read on for her tips, and to find out which Milestones in the new West Career Guidance System can help.


Step 1
Research as much as you can to get a sense of what average salaries are in your occupations of interest. Begin with Milestone 1 of the West Career Guidance System, where you can review careers based on your interests, location and other relevant information. To get started, log in to west.edu/alumni and click on Fast Track Career Tools, then Career Guidance System. You can also search by specific occupations to see sample salaries. You may have to hunt around to find job titles that correlate, but try to determine a range to give you some idea of potential salary.

In addition, you can use Glassdoor.com (in Milestone 8 of the West Career Guidance System) to view salary information posted anonymously by current and former employees at your target companies.

Step 2
Know what you want to earn. Think about your past salaries, the cost of your education, value of your skills, and come up with a desired salary range. Ask yourself what you are willing to compromise, if anything. Remember that the job offer may include benefits, vacation time, sick time, retirement plans, and more, so think about what is most important for you in terms of total compensation. Would you take a lower salary for more time off? Are you willing to start at a lower salary if there is a clear path for growth?

Keep in mind that you should always wait for the employer to discuss salary; it is not recommended for you to ask for the pay in an interview. An interviewer may ask you what you would like to make, and your answer should be based on your research of the industry, taking into consideration your individual values. It is best not to give a number if you can avoid it; always ask first if they can provide a range, and if you are pressed, respond with a range as well.

You Have the Offer–Now What?
Once you get an offer, you need to decide if it is right for you. If not, the first question to ask: “Is the salary negotiable?” If the response is no, your options are limited. Perhaps benefits are negotiable, or future pay raises. If the employer responds that the salary is negotiable, they are going to want you to tell them what you want. You’ll need to give out another number, and it should be within reason. An increase of about 20% more than the initial offer is a good rule, but only you know what you want to make! Asking for too little is not recommended, and asking for too much can be risky.

Next, you have to be prepared to sell yourself on why you are worth more (further emphasizing skills, education, commitment to the company, etc.). Remember that you do have the option of asking how soon the employer wants a decision. Generally, they will give you a day or longer to consider. Don’t feel pressured into accepting or declining on the spot if you are not ready.

Taking a bit of time during your job search process to prepare for salary negotiations will always pay off. Remember to use the tools in West Career Guidance System to help with your job search, including access to professional career coaches for questions you may have.


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Do you have a hobby or special talent you would like to share with your fellow West grads? Do you have ideas about what types of information and articles you'd like to see here in your West Alumni Connection newsletter? Please contact hue.haslim@west.edu if you'd like to write an article, present a webinar, or suggest a story idea.

Right Here At Home

West Professor Mike Casper describes a program offered by Global Ties Arizona that allows citizen diplomats to help build foreign relations, literally from your own backyard. He also offers suggestions on locating similar programs in other parts of the United States.
Video: Be A Diplomat

Personal Branding &
Everyone is a Leader

Did you miss our recent career events? Not to worry! You can still gain and apply the many helpful insights shared by our presenters. Just click the links below to view the recorded sessions.
Video: Develop Your Personal Brand
Video: Yes, You Can Lead!

Hue Haslim
Alumni/Career Resources &
Senior Director, University Engagement

602-429-1078 or hue.haslim@west.edu

Alumni Reenrollment
866-948-4636 or inquiries@west.edu




* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://www.west.edu/online-degree-programs

** New students who have not attended a Western International University (West) course in the past 365 days and are referred by a West graduate, and West graduates enrolling for a new West degree. Western International University is unable to enroll residents of Massachusetts. Certain programs are not available in all locations. Please verify program availability with a University representative.

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