On the sixth floor of the Greenville ONE Building lies the most important room of Clemson University’s MBA program – the kitchen. There live the coffee pots and vending machines, a haven for overtired working professionals getting another degree at night. Present company included.
Just a short year and a half ago I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t get my master’s degree as a young professional I never would. I entered Clemson University’s MBA program bright eyed and ready to attack the new endeavor at hand.
I should have said survive. Attack was too ambitious.
Like many others around me, I have been working all day and attending school two or three nights a week. As I’ve migrated my way through the program I have learned a great deal about equally managing these two commitments. With that said, I have come to understand and appreciate the mutually beneficially relationship taking place between my job and my education.
As a public relations professional, planning is most of my day. I plan for the anticipated and equally the unanticipated. I vow to be proactive instead of reactive. Somewhere between my second and third week of leaving work and eating dinner on my drive to class, I knew I needed to transfer my professional skills over to my education. I needed to diffuse the stress of my current situation before it overtook me.
Without much thought I entered into my natural habitat, my planning mode.
My nights of the week soon became dubbed: homework night, study night, group project night or event night. I began to preplan my meals and anticipate the events of my week that would need special attention. I made to do lists for my to-do lists. I found that little slipped through the cracks if I was manipulating the cracks.
When we sit down with a new client at work the question “what is your end goal?” is always brought to the table. After the contracts are signed and my day to day work begins, I revisit that goal often to ensure I am doing everything I can to support the objective and foster client expectations.
As I trek through my post graduate degree, I continually bring myself back to the end goal. On days when all I want is a nap and a break, I think about my personal and professional goals. My future self becomes the fictitious client and I mentally revisit the goals often to stay motivated.
While my job skills and career aspirations have aided my educational journey, my schooling has returned many skills as well. My education quickly became a serious contributor to my career.
Pre-post graduate education I thought that the gap between a communications degree and a business degree was big. I was trained to write, to communicate and to execute. I didn’t speak management, finance or supply chain processes. Little did I know, the gap between business and communications is mostly complimentary. Learning business skills has allowed me to look at a client or project with big picture eyes and implement a communication plan accordingly. My communication skills continue to refine as my understanding of the business world grows.
When people tell me they are interested in getting an MBA while working full time, I find that there is one universal question that encompasses all of the pros and cons – are you ready for the commitment? Truth is, for me, the mutually beneficial relationship has outweighed the sacrifices that come along with it.