MBA Student Finds Balance Between Career, Coursework

Aug 01, 2013

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MBA Student Finds Balance Between Career, Coursework

By Tara Hardy

Even with success at the undergraduate level and a steady full-time job at local branch of a national bank, Campbell Brown, now a first-year Professional Online MBA student, wanted more from his career after three years in the workforce.

“I was working at a bank in an entry-level role to the point where, with the things I was doing, I couldn’t really see the impact they made on the entire company,” Brown said of his career at the time.

While Brown, a 2009 Wofford College graduate, appreciated the people he encountered and the experience he gained at the bank, he wanted to move his career in a direction that was more fulfilling and rewarding.

“I wanted to make bigger picture decisions that affected the direction of a company,” Brown said. “I felt like going through an MBA program while working would give me an opportunity to take what I was learning and immediately apply it to what I was doing in the real world.”

The Raleigh native’s desire for a bigger impact in the workplace spurred him to make a decision that had a nearly instantaneous impact on his life. Brown applied to the North Carolina State University Jenkins Professional Online MBA program and, after being accepted, quickly saw its benefits.

A Flexible Pathway

Before starting the program, Brown knew he wanted to move his career forward somehow, but finding an option that offered the flexibility he needed wasn’t easy. As the former finance major researched the available options, the Jenkins Professional Online MBA seemed an ideal fit for his busy work life.

“I really felt like I needed the flexibility of an online program to work on my schedule,” Brown said about his graduate school search.

Because the Professional Online MBA gives students the chance to spread their education out along a timeline that works for them, Brown felt it would work best with his hectic calendar.

“I have a crazy schedule,” he said. “I was working full-time, and it was hard to know what my availability was going to be like. It’s nice knowing I can do the work when my schedule allows it.”

A New Direction

When Brown started the program, career advancement was his primary objective. He did not have to wait long for it to occur.

Exposure to real companies is a key benefit that the Jenkins MBA program offers its students. Within three months of starting his graduate studies, Brown learned about Greystone and Company, Inc, a top-ranked Fannie Mae multifamily affordable housing lender headquartered in New York, with a location just down the road from NC State.

Brown’s growing level of experience and connection with the Jenkins MBA program helped him take a position as a financial analyst at Greystone in November 2012. The change in job brought new challenges with it, which Brown gladly welcomed.

“Greystone has taught me a lot about lending standards,” Brown said of his new job. “[My old job] taught me a lot of basic black and white lending standards. Greystone’s [work] is a lot more complicated than I was ever doing before. I’m dealing with several different types of financing options now, so it’s definitely been a great learning experience.”

After securing a new position less than three months into the program, Brown was already seeing a dramatic change in his career path. Now, seven months after taking the Greystone job, the first-year MBA student feels his combined education and experience has him more prepared than ever for anything the business world throws at him.

“Going through the Online MBA program while working has given me the ability to apply what I’m learning more than I was ever able to do in undergrad,” Brown said. “I think that’s been the biggest thing. Just being out in a working environment, it just puts you in a different mindset.”

“Because of the Online MBA, I’ve met and gotten a job at a great company. Now I can apply what I’m learning directly to it.”

Finding the Balance

Working full-time and managing the Jenkins Online MBA Program course load can be challenging, but Brown said he has found a good balance between the two. Knowing how to manage his time has been a big asset for him.

“It’s definitely been a transition,” Brown said about his experience this year. “I try my best to prioritize what needs to be done to complete an assignment well and plan accordingly. If I don’t have time to get an assignment done well, I can set it aside and come back to it when I’m ready.”

Having collaborative teammates in the program has also been helpful with the change, Brown said. When the program started, he was placed in a group of Professional Online MBA students to work with through the first semester.

“As we’ve gotten into the program, the first semester was very group-oriented,” he explained. “We would have regular meetings. And any time we had trouble with an assignment, we could go to each other to try and figure out a solution.”

As the first semester came to an end and spring kicked into high gear, Brown said the collaboration the Professional Online MBA offered became even more apparent.

One key example of this came during spring break, when students traveled together to China to visit the country’s economic hubs, Shanghai and Hangzhou, and tour some of its largest companies. Although he did not interact much with students in person before the trip, Brown spoke highly of the effect the excursion had on him and the other students.

“The China trip was probably the best experience I had,” Brown said. “We got through the whole ‘get-to-know-you’ phase really quickly, and we felt like we knew each other really well by the time we got there. Seeing how the global economy worked like that as group really helped us grow together.”

Looking Ahead

With good planning and a collaborative group of passionate students and faculty to lean on, Brown finds himself in a good position as he works through his summer courses and prepares for the fall semester.

Now with a year of the program under his belt, Brown is looking forward to the continued growth the Professional Online MBA will offer him. Set to graduate in Spring 2014, he is excited to see what the future brings for his career as a financial analyst at Greystone.

“I came over to Greystone because of the growth opportunity,” he said. “I’m hoping I can use what I learn in the next few months and grow within the company. I think the opportunity to grow and make an impact is definitely there now, and I’m glad for it.”

Brown welcomes the new challenges the Jenkins Online MBA brings. With the flexibility the program offers, as well as the chance to apply his knowledge to his career, he said he could not have made a better choice to become a Professional Online MBA student.

“I don’t know if I could go back to the traditional way of doing things,” he explained. “The flexibility makes all the difference in the world.”

“With what I have going on in my life, this has been the absolute most ideal experience I could have asked for.”

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