As I began the MBA@UNC program, I received questions from colleagues, friends and mentors. They had a lot of interest in the online format, the integrity of the degree, and the time and financial commitment. When they asked why I picked MBA@UNC, my answer was, “I would have liked to quit my job and go to Stanford full time, but that just wasn’t a reality, so I picked the best school that had the accessibility I needed.”
While I do think the privilege of attending Stanford’s full-time program is a great one, after just two quarters at MBA@UNC, I have come to sing a different tune. These are the three primary reasons why:
I use the knowledge I am gaining through my coursework on the job every day. I can’t tell you how many times I think to myself, “I had no idea (before MBA@UNC) how many great ideas were just waiting to be discovered!” I am in a sales and business development role that requires me to interact with all aspects of my organization, and the four MBA@UNC classes I have taken already have helped me become much more strategic in the way I manage my customers, my budget, my professional communication and more. The coursework has a nice balance of theory and practical application and the tactical elements are reinforced because I have the opportunity to use my skills the very next day in a real-world setting.
The opportunity costs are zero. If you don’t know what that means, then you’ll learn it in Managerial Economics, but it essentially means that I have given up nothing. (Well, I have given up my own free time, but it’s hard to accurately value that since there isn’t a large market trading in it.) Not only am I still working full time, but my sales numbers are the best they’ve ever been and, since my company is paying for part of my tuition, I am better off than I would be otherwise.
Keep moving forward
Anyone who has turned on a television or picked up a newspaper this election season is familiar with the unemployment statistics, but MBA@UNC allows me to keep my job while pursuing my degree so I do not need to worry about finding one after I graduate. Of course, many students enter the program hoping to advance their careers and take advantage of new opportunities as a result of getting an MBA, but the ability to keep your job during and after the program is an excellent hedge. Had I given up my job for a full-time MBA program, I would have the added risk of finding a new opportunity before graduation. With MBA@UNC, I don’t have to concern myself with that at all.
There is one final reason that I have come to believe the MBA@UNC experience is actually better for me than an on-campus experience — my mind is 100 percent engaged all day, every day. I produce all day for my company, and my studies challenge me throughout the evening. Not many of my friends or colleagues can say that. Research shows that one way to stave off Alzheimer’s is to live a life of continual learning so that synapses can build new pathways around plaque in the brain. I am only 28, but with a valuable asset like my mind, I’m glad to get an early start.
About the Author: Chelsea Diles is the national accounts west manager at Phonak US, an innovative hearing solutions company. Previously, she was key accounts manager for InSound Medical. She lives in San Francisco and agrees that everyone looks good in Carolina blue.