By Nancy Antol
For Justan Campbell, getting his dream job in paradise could have been a case of two ships passing in the night. The Bahamian native was hired less than nine months after completing his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree with a concentration in project management at AIU. “My first day of work at the shipyard was July 8, 2013. The closing date for applications was May 30, 2013. Hence, had I played around and extended my graduation date, I would have missed the opportunity to apply and begin my career.”
Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS), where Justan now serves as a Junior Project Planner, is one of the biggest ship repair companies in the region, with three floating docks and all the necessary support services required to perform even the most complicated repairs, upgrades, conversions and fabrications. His day-to-day work includes building work lists for trade managers to use as a reference guide when repairing ships currently on dry dock. He is also responsible for creating a schedule for the duration of the repair work. Each day, Justan tours the vessels that are assigned to him and creates percentage completion reports for executive management.
“The ships that come in for repair include large oil tankers, various commercial vessels and large passenger cruise ships owned by both Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines,” he says. “The joy of having the opportunity to board these ships and view all parts of the vessel, learning what makes it operate and exactly how creative one must be in moving and replacing parts on the vessel, is breathtaking to me. … Knowing that large commercial companies depend on GBS to service and repair their vessels for operations, and that hundreds of thousands of passengers will then board the vessels over the years, gives me great pride in what I do.”
The second in his family to earn a degree, Justan gives thanks to his parents who worked hard so that he and his older brother might get their college educations. Their commitment and sacrifice inspired him to work hard himself, stay up late and excel in his classes. “I have definitely earned my degree, and now have a chance to see my education pay off with a salary, position and wonderful benefits.”
He did his share of searching before deciding that he meant business. “I attended school [in the past] because I felt like had to, but I was not serious about my work, and I did not know what I wanted for my future. I began to slack off, and my grade point average dropped for the first time in either high school or college, he said. “I knew that I had to get serious about school and change my environment.”
In the midst of searching for the right college program, Justan learned that he was going to be a father. “The disappointment of not being in school and knowing that a child was on the way was heart wrenching for me.”
Justan and his wife became the parents of a baby boy in November of 2008. With the love and support of both of their parents, he and his wife decided to continue to finish their degrees, but the distraction of family life proved too much, and Justan left school again. “The search for the right school led me to AIU. AIU meant business and wanted persons alike to study and earn their degrees within a shorter time frame than at traditional schools.”
Justan made the difficult decision to leave the Bahamas and study for his Bachelor of Business Administration on campus at AIU Atlanta. “To overcome being away from my son, I studied harder, took the maximum load of classes for several terms and requested an overload of classes to accelerate the time that I would need to get my bachelor’s degree,” he says.
Once he arrived at AIU, Justin studied business with a specialization in project management. “I learned how to build Gantt charts, work breakdown structures and much more. We were tasked with building and monitoring projects from start to finish for some of the project management courses. Using Microsoft Project in a real-life scenario at school gave me the understanding I needed to answer the questions GBS asked me in my job interview.”
As for the advice he would give other students, Justan says, “For those wanting to go back to school, the time is now. Higher education isn’t a want anymore; it is a need. By settling down and taking schoolwork seriously, AIU students can gain a bank of knowledge from instructors who are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience in a classroom or online. AIU students must trust themselves, trust their professors and trust the text provided to them.”
Justan and two other co-workers beat out more than 100 applicants for their positions. When it comes to interviewing, he says, “In most cases, employers look for interviewees who can utilize their knowledge in the workforce. During my interview, I personally had to create a scenario of what my position should entail without having any experience in the ship repair industry.”
Today, Justan calls on advice his professors would share about their own day-to-day challenges in the project management field and how they overcame them. “Having these seasoned professionals as lecturers created a real-life scenario in the classroom for practices and exercises. Dr. Cash from AIU Atlanta, for example, would often speak about the importance of knowing financial terms in addition to project planning methodologies. By listening and paying attention to his teachings, I was able to express the thorough knowledge of project management methodologies that helped me gain the position I hold today.”
When Justan isn’t working at Grand Bahama Shipyard and spending time with his wife and son, he gives back to the community by serving as a role model for young men and boys. In 2009, he was named the Vice President of the Bahamas Youth Movement, whose mission is to inspire and uplift area youth while giving kids a voice among leaders in the Bahamas.
Justan also began coaching for the Little League baseball organization he used to play in when he was young. “It gives me great pride and admiration to work with the young men and teach them about the sport and also life lessons such as the importance of education.”
Interview conducted August 2013