While most students stayed away from their classroom buildings during fall break – the weekend of October 6 through October 9 – one group of graduate students in the North Carolina State University Poole College of Management’s Jenkins MBA program were meeting on campus for the first time.
The 30 students in first cohort of the program’s new Online MBA have been working individually and in teams since their orientation program began in late summer. This past weekend, they were able to meet in person the individuals behind their class roster during their fall onsite residency.
“It was nice to be face-to-face” with the classmates they met during their online classroom forum discussions, “to get the gist of the personality,” said one of the students, James ‘Jem’ Wheeler, of Raleigh, N.C.
Like many of his classmates, working in the online environment has been part of his routine at work. “I did a lot of virtual work,” he said, noting that he had worked with 22 managers in eight states. It still was nice to meet his new classmates face to face.
“We had sort of gotten to know one another through posts and the one little picture (on the class forum web page), said Jeff Smith, of Fuqua Varina, N.C., but it was nice to meet the person behind those posts.
“It helps you to understand the individuals better, so you can see where they are coming from,” said Ashley Hagwood of Charlotte, N.C.
Despite the differences in ‘where they are coming from,’ the students have a fairly common goal and reason for selecting the NC State Jenkins MBA program’s new online option.
Wheeler said he has wanted to work toward an MBA degree for a while, to update his business skills, but a heavy workload prevented that. When he learned that he would lose his job following his company’s merger with another, he decided this was the time to go back to school.
The NC State Jenkins MBA program is “a perfect fit” for his situation, he said, as he is continuing to look for a new position while beginning his studies. The online format will allow him to continue the academic program even if he gets a new position that requires travel.
Emily Dubis will be putting that flexibility to the test fairly soon. During her first week of classes, her company asked if she would accept an assignment in Denmark. She accepted, and is leaving for her new assignment soon. Her family will join her later this fall.
Charlotte Green also appreciates the flexibility, as her third child was born the day after classes started. She’s back at work now and is “juggling very carefully” her job, three hours of coursework each evening, parenting and other responsibilities, noting that she has “a very supportive husband.”
Like many of her classmates, Green said she selected the Jenkins Online MBA because of Poole College’s focus on the management of technology, something she sought in her MBA program because of its direct application to her work in distribution at Target corporation, where new technologies are being used.
Smith also selected the Jenkins online MBA because of its focus on technology. An electrical engineer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose job brought him to the Raleigh area, said he enrolled in the Jenkins MBA program to increase options for career advancement.
NC State’s strong reputation and the combination of technology and business brought Dante Thomas, of Raleigh, N.C., to the program. Also an engineer, he said he wants to better understand the business side of engineering projects so that he can advance to project management.
For Ashley Hagwood of Charlotte, N.C., enrolling in the Jenkins Online MBA is a bit of a homecoming. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting at the college in 2009. “I was familiar with the program and the quality of the teachers,” she said. She appreciated the opportunity the residency weekend provided to network in person with her classmates.
The students’ onsite residency included a number of mini-courses:
- Guidelines for Case Analysis and Discussion, led by Dr. Jonathan Bohlmann, associate professor of marketing
- Team Development, led by Dr. Tony O’Driscoll, adjunct lecturer
- Critical Thinking, led by Dr. Cecil Bozarth, professor of operations and supply chain management
- Business Communications, led by Barry Mitsch, adjunct instructor; and
- Career Development, led by Linda Taylor, Poole College director of career development, and John Hutchings, assistant director of career development and career coach.
In the photo are, left to right: Charlotte Green, Emily Dubis, Jeff Smith, Dante Thomas, Ashley Hagwood, and Jem Wheeler