Some of the classes I have taken have been a reinforcement of knowledge I had gained through previous training; some of them have taken me a long way out of my comfort zone. To me, the latter are the most rewarding.
The sense of accomplishment I feel when I understand something I had never seen before and had no practical experience to draw from is worth all the hard work. These are also the classes I feel I really get my money’s worth out of as they are contributing to my growth, which is why I started the program in the first place. As with everything: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.
At the same time the administration is taking steps to ensure the program continually grows and improves as well. With the program having achieved national recognition, the administration is not only working to maintain it but also to ensure the students receive the best education possible. To do this they are constantly requesting feedback from the students.
Suggestions are taken into consideration as the plans are made for future elective class offerings and to the supplemental services they provide. The most recent examples of these have been the new analytical statistics elective and the improvements in career development services I have seen since I started. This helps create a culture of collaborative learning and development for the school and the students.
As I approach the end of the program I hope to continue my learning, taking what the program has provided and using it as a foundation. The formal portion may be ending but the practical development is just starting. The focus is probably not what it would have been before I started, and it is likely to change again in the future. With a little luck the next stage will just be another step in the process of continuous improvement.
This is the question our consulting professor posed to each of us after presenting the results of our consulting engagement. While not asked as directly I think this question is representative of the entire MBA experience. At almost every step through the program I have either learned something new or affirmed something about myself.
It is as if we are working on a personal SWOT analysis.
I started the program with the goal of moving my career to the next level. While that is still the objective, I am now exploring different paths than I had expected based on what I have learned academically and about myself.
The most obvious self-examination come through the TAIS personality assessment we took before our first class and the Myers Briggs test we took during the consulting class. These however are theoretical assessments, which may be accurate in general terms; seldom do we live our lives in general terms.
Joining the Elon MBA program offers the opportunity to learn many more things about one’s self than these tests reveal. At some point a class is going to require stepping out of your comfort zone, and with a bit of luck and practice, expanding that comfort zone. It does not take long to figure out how you handle the pressure, set priorities and manage your time, all traits that translate directly into the work world.
One of the highlights of the MBA program for me has been the International Business class trip to Ireland. Elon subsidizes one trip for each student to help make the class more affordable and is definitely an opportunity not to be missed. On the trip to Ireland we spent time in Dublin and Galway. The organization throughout the trip was great and the faculty out of this world.
Visiting a foreign country and spending time with representatives of the business community seem like the only true way to experience international business. Each country offers a different perspective on how they have developed, succeeded, failed and adapted. Exploring the international business market gives the chance to extract valuable lessons for our own implementation as well as offering a glimpse at the cultural, social, geographic, technological, political and economic factors that play a contributing role.
My professional career has been limited to a single industry in the Triangle area. The class was an opportunity to explore a variety of industries I would probably never have had without a trip of this sort. Education should be fun and interactive; what better way to do that then to spend time at the companies and learn from the people who are actually involved in the work. It allowed me to look inside completely different institutions, from companies such as Siemens to State Street Bank. I was hoping this trip would give me broader perspective of the business world. I was not disappointed.
After the first day, it struck me how nice it was to enjoy such an intellectually stimulating time. I had the chance to absorb information and learn as much as possible without worrying about what was going on anywhere else. It turned out that this held true through the entire trip. Whether meeting with company executives or listening to a tour guide, I was learning all the time. The trip freed me of my everyday responsibilities and allowed me to focus only on the activity at hand.
The trip in January 2011 is to Saigon and Singapore. While it is too late to sign up for this one, mark you calendars for the June 2011 trip which is slated to visit Spain. I am confident this will be to be an outstanding trip, and highly recommend taking it.
It is exciting to be back in class after the summer break. It was a break I relished for the time it gave me to spend with my family. For me the hardest part of the MBA program is juggling the responsibilities of family, work and school. After a year and a half in the program this is still a challenge – there is always something more I could do in at least one of these areas.
I am fortunate to have the support of colleagues and bosses at work. They understand when I can’t stay late to finish that last-minute project because I have to go to class. When school activities fall during the workday they are more than accommodating working around my schedule. They do everything they can to help me get the most out of this MBA program.
During the program the majority of the classes I have taken so far involved some form of group work. The classmates I have worked with have been second to none. Almost without exception everyone has been encouraging, open to suggestions from others and willing to do what it takes to get the best result possible. Having the opportunity to learn from one another along with the expertise and approachability of the professors is invaluable.
My family however has made the biggest sacrifice. They have made as much of a commitment to this degree as I have. Not only do I miss dinner while at class I also spend a lot of my free time working for school. Whether it is reading chapters to prepare for next week’s class, muddling through problems with equations I haven’t used in 15 years, researching a paper or working with classmates on a group project, my family always gives me as much time and space as I need. They are truly remarkable. On a side note, when my son tells me he will never use high school math later in life I can say with authority, never say never.
Needless to say I would not be doing this if not for the all the support I receive from those around me. When it comes time to graduate it will be thanks in large part to the people who have supported me whole-heartedly throughout this journey.