An alumnae’s perspective
“That is a dumb idea. You should build your career now, and work your way up while you can. You’re probably gonna have kids in a few years, and then what will you do? Without a career on your resume you will never be able to go back. Get an MBA later when you have more experience or as a way to get back into the market.” Assumptions about my personal life aside, the gentleman who gave me this unsolicited advice was wrong.
There a myriad of reasons why I wanted to earn my MBA in my twenties. None of them had to do with a larger paycheck. I wanted to gain a better skillset, and be more marketable over the course of my career. Also, and more importantly, the timing felt right.
Going back for my MBA wasn’t an easy choice. I had many people question why I wanted it, why I wanted to earn it now, whether this decision was smart in the long run. I didn’t have a clear vision for how it helped in my current job or how it would help me in the immediate future.
I was a little different. I kept my full-time job while completing the degree. I was able to see in real-time how the classes were helping me improve.
I am so glad that I did earn my MBA. Not only did it give me a better skillset, but it made me a much more valuable member of the team at my full-time marketing job. I gained the ability to think much more strategically about marketing and business problems. This was very apparent at my job. I became a much more valuable member of both the marketing team and the overall business.
In the program they always gave students scenarios where we pretended to present to executives. I was actually presenting to the president of my company, and I was getting asked tough questions. Have you ever had a CEO ask you whether or not he should enter a new product market? Have you told a company President that his brand needed to be revamped? Have you been asked which marketing campaign will have the best return and then had to prove it? It can be intimidating, and you better have a good answer with data to back it up.
An MBA is not about the tools you learn (although those are useful), it’s about building your skills to ultimately make better business decisions. Work experience goes hand-in-hand with that, and the combination is what will make a difference in your career in the long-run.
When should you get an MBA? When the timing feels right for you, and when you have the opportunity to do it. No matter when you get the degree, it will help you. Defining the success of your degree by whether or not you got a huge pay raise afterwards is a mistake.
Recently, the timing felt right for me to start my own marketing consulting firm. If you want a laugh, ask me about the unsolicited advice I got when I decided to launch a business! In all seriousness though, my MBA was a big part of why I felt I could go out on my own. I use the skills I learned every day. From helping clients make tough decisions about their business to trying to market and run my own, each strategic choice I make is better because of the experiences and tools I gained while earning my degree.
I measure the value of my MBA in how it helped me grow as a decision maker, and where it’s helped lead my life. When I started the program, I had no idea I would be starting a business in 2016. Now that I am here and that’s what happened, I look back and see my investment in that degree as invaluable. When should you get your MBA? When you can. It will help you the rest of your life.
Maria Lusardi is the owner of Internet Marketing Consultants, a regular contributor to EPIC Modular Process, and the Chairperson of the Missouri Leadership Seminar. She graduated in 2014 from the Crosby M.B.A. program, and earned her undergraduate degree in 2010 from the Trulaske College of Business. She enjoys building websites, geeking out over Google rankings, and hanging out with friends and family. You can find her on Twitter @mlh2k3 and Linkedin /mariaholt.
Narisara “Noon” Chayamitr is a first-year graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia pursuing her Crosby MBA with emphasis in Marketing Analytics. Noon came straight from Bangkok, Thailand aiming to polish her global mindset in business and pursue her career in marketing and strategic.
Prior to my arrival at Mizzou, I learned that the Crosby MBA Program is best known for its affordability, flexibility and warm-hearted faculty and classmates.
To my surprise, over the course of one year in Crosby MBA program, I not only received an excellent education from the classroom, but the Crosby MBA also gave me valuable opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t be able to find in any classroom.
Venture Out Builds Confidence and Team
Right before the semester started, the school held Venture Out, a team building activity session which requires students to work as a team to overcome the obstacle course. There, I got to know my future classmates and teammates better for the first time.
For me, as an international student who barely knew anyone, I felt grateful for the opportunity to help make new friends and build up the confidence. It was very memorable and fun to be able to help each other work past all the obstacles and solve the problems.
Who would have expected rope climbing in a top MBA program?
You can see additional Venture Out photos here.
Professional Conference Provides Great Excuse to Travel
One of the good things about studying business in United States is that there are a lot of national career conferences offered year round. In these conferences, you could explore job opportunities as well as network with recruiters and peers. In some programs, the out-of-town travel may be a problem, but MU allows for conference reimbursement, so it’s more affordable to take these opportunities.
Since I’m interested in Analytics, I chose to participate in Analytics Conference 2015 (SAS) in Las Vegas. And because of the funding from the school I didn’t have to worry about my flight or hotel.
With a conference in Las Vegas, there’s no way I could miss the opportunity to travel! After the conference, my classmates and I took a road trip and spent time in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. It was a very nice get-away from school and work, allowing us to enjoy free time in a different atmosphere. We went to see the Cirque du Soleil, the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon.
Visiting Speakers Offer Business Insights
Being in the Crosby MBA Program, you will receive excellent education from top professors in the class, but you will also get to learn from the real world experiences through the stories of our guest speakers. Almost every week you will get to meet CEO, CFO, or executive member of many big companies in United States during the seminar program.
Here are some of our past guest speakers:
- Michael O’Brien, Vice President of Corporate and Product Planning at Hyundai
- Rachel Tobin, MU MBA Alum and Senior Vice President, Bank of America
- Andrew S. Fastow, Former CFO of Enron
- Richard Maltsbarger, Chief Development Officer & President, International – Lowe’s
- Heath Roberts, Director at Children’s Mercy Hospital
- Roy Norton, Canadian Consul
- Kerry Goyette, Aperio Consulting
- Jaymin Patel – Author and Speaker
Case Competition Tests You Under Pressure
There’s no better way to test what you have learned during the year than applying them in the Annual Trulaske Case Competition. This past year, I had the opportunity to work on a Toyota case, introducing an idea to raise sales.
My team consisted of Aola from Inner Mongolia, Thao Hoang from Vietnam, Estefania Guillen Pascacio from Panama, and Daniel Senn from Missouri. The amazing thing about our team is that we all came from different countries and represented different cultures. This is something you would experience a lot during the MBA program, because our administration sees the importance of diversity and a global mindset.
Tragedy Shows Character of Program
This past year, we all learned that Zach Heath, our classmate, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. With the help and dedication of Krissy Tripp, MBA Association Vice President of Philanthropy, we were able to hold a fundraising event for Zach, raising more than $5,000 to go toward Zach’s medical bills. To me it was so heartwarming to see our family of MBA students come to the event and make everything happen. Zach is in recovery.
Dominic Vollmar is earning a dual Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Missouri. He serves as a teaching assistant for Engineering Economics and completed an internship at Textron Aviation in the Production Control and Logistics Department.
Every new graduate learns a hard lesson early in their new career: what you learn in the classroom does not always translate to the exact skills you need to be successful in your new job. The data isn’t as clean, the problems aren’t as cut and dry, and resources are tighter than textbooks portray. The Crosby MBA curriculum aims to simulate real-world experiences in every class.
For instance, my group members and I had a chance to apply some of the analysis methods that we had learned in an accounting class to a real company’s financial statements and provide our input on their current stability and future prospects. Not only was this fun and interesting, but it also allowed us to see what it is really like to try and make decisions using our accounting knowledge, as opposed to only being able to analyze simple problems from the book designed to be relatively easy to solve. We had to deal with issues like the numbers not coming out as cleanly as we expected, or rather hoped, different companies having different reporting methods which made it harder to compare, and even sometimes having to find other sources when trying to pinpoint the exact cause of something instead of being handed the solution.
Another class, Advanced Marketing Management, included a series of business cases that we had to analyze. We formulated marketing plans for different products using our class lessons. My group’s business case was about the launch of Sony PlayStation 3. Using data that was provided from the actual launch, we had to come up with a way to make the gaming system more desirable in the future. It was not always easy to see what needed to be done, and we often had to try things that we did not expect initially. We even had to find ways to deal with disagreements about how to move forward with the product.
These and other opportunities have provided me with valuable experiences. In addition to understanding that sometimes what we learn in the classroom is not as easily applicable as we think, it was also important for me to figure out if I actually enjoyed doing that kind of work. These opportunities have also given me multiple chances to work in groups with a variety of different people. Since you will normally be working with other people in your career, many of whom you will not get to choose, it is important to learn how to be an effective group member as early as you can. I look forward to other opportunities in the Crosby MBA Program for practical application of my skills such as internships, the consulting course and case competitions over the next year.
Elise Watson is a first-year graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia pursuing her Crosby MBA and Masters of Journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communications. She aims to utilize her background in theatre in combination with these degrees to pursue a career in marketing, brand management, public relations, media relations/communications, and other related fields. Elise spent her first year in the Crosby MBA Program as the Director of Digital Marketing for the MBA Association. She was recently elected to be the Vice President of Communications for the upcoming academic year.
When I tell people that I am a first-year graduate student pursuing an MBA and Master of Journalism, and that my undergraduate degree was musical theatre with a minor in Spanish, the reaction is usually one of confusion or amusement. This is fair, as I admit that I sometimes think the same of my oddly diverse educational history. However, that is the beauty in these programs—people come from diverse experiences and cultures, all with the desire to learn and achieve.
From the moment I became a student at Missouri State University, my life was immersed in the theatre program. While many saw musical theatre as an easy degree with students who were able to simply sing and dance all day, I knew differently. This degree taught me about being a part of a team, following my passion, getting up in front of a group of people to present in challenging ways, organizing when the day had been booked from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed, having discipline when I was expected to have pages upon pages of text memorized the next day and, perhaps most importantly, knowing my values and ethical boundaries. My degree taught me the life-skills that have prepared me for my future.
Perhaps one of the most influential components of my undergraduate experiences was working for Tent Theatre, a professional summer theatre company in Springfield, Mo. While working for Tent, I had the privilege of both performing and marketing for this company. After my first summer as a member of the Tent marketing team, I was invited to join as a marketer for the Theatre and Dance Department throughout the school year. I grew to really enjoy this form of communication, and was fascinated by determining how to best reach the audiences for which our students were performing. My passion for the art of marketing was developing. (more…)