Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Navigating the Business World with a Music Degree: A Journey of Discovery

Kayleigh Johnson, MSBA '18, is a Music Education major from Penn State University. Kayleigh joined the program after taking some business courses and developing an interest in furthering her understanding of the field:

When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to be like Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants. At the time, I thought he played the clarinet beautifully, and it was my hope to one day play the clarinet just like him. Luckily, I accomplished this goal pretty early on in my musical career, as Squidward was not particularly good at the clarinet. However, it did ignite a musical passion in me. From the time I was in fourth grade through college, I was heavily involved in music by participating in marching band, concert band, fife and drum corp., quintets, and many other ensembles.                                                                                                     
By the time I reached my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to pursue Music Education at Penn State University. I spent the next four years of college studying Music Theory, Music History, Sight-singing, various methodology courses, and teaching practicums.

After I graduated with my Bachelors of Music Education, I decided to not seek a career in music. Instead, I became a Solutions Specialist at Verizon Wireless. While I was employed at Verizon I took a few business courses, which prompted me to apply to, and ultimately attend, the Catholic University of America’s Masters of Business Analysis program.

There are many parallels that can be drawn between the music world and the business world. One of the main, and most important, lessons that I learned is how to effectively manage my time. In both my undergraduate and professional work experience, I have had to meet strict deadlines, plan large scale projects, and shuffle between many tasks. I’ve learned to efficiently and effectively prioritize my tasks, coordinate schedules, and plan ahead.

Another important skill that I acquired from my undergraduate degree is strong leadership. Overseeing a large group of ten year olds all playing loud instruments is no small feat. I have learned to employ a strong and commanding presence when needed, and present with confidence.

Even though I decided not to pursue a position as a music educator, the skills that I gained in my undergraduate career will be invaluable to me as I embark on my business journey.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

Julio Herrera, MSBA '18, is a Politics major from The Catholic University of America. Julio joined the MSBA Program to complement his undergraduate degree with some business skills and figure out what career path he wants to take:

My favorite course in the MSBA program is Accounting and Financial Analysis. It is not because I love numbers and crunching math equations, but because it has been the most useful method of thinking to use. The ability to calculate whether something is worth an investment is critical throughout life. The material I am learning and will learn would've been helpful to me 10 years ago when I was helping my family with property management. Being able to find out expenses and what the return on investment for something is essential. Learning how to dissect a financial statements from Fortune 500 companies shows how much wasteful spending there is. If these large companies can afford to waste millions of dollars and still have successful operations, imagine the possibilities of being fiscally conservative with personal finances at a young age would do?

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Being able to make critical choices is crucial and it molds us into the people we aspire to become. I have personally struggled with finances throughout my life. Growing up in a small industrial city, nothing was ever handed to me or my family. Both my parents were working over-time just to get by. They moved to this country with nothing in their pockets yet made the choices in which they knew investments were going to pay off. What Accounting and Financial Analysis is teaching me is how to make sure I make the proper investments and so I am reassured to make it profitable and worthwhile. It has given me the insight to take a step back and analyze my situation and what I can do to improve myself.
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Monday, November 27, 2017

Teaching the Philosophy of Business

Dennis Treanor, MSBA '18, is an Education Studies major from The Catholic University of America. Dennis joined because of his love of learning and desire to find his career path:

Being an Education Studies, major at Catholic University, gave me the freedom to take classes in different subjects, more than a regular teaching major would. I was able to explore business, psychology, sociology, and many more. Diversifying my curriculum allowed me to apply certain ideas from these courses and adapt them to my “teaching philosophy.” This philosophy is my personal beliefs about teaching, learning, and the motivation of students. We are all students of some type, whether that is teaching someone to write a paragraph or teaching someone how to analyze a task analysis process.

As we continue to grow as students, we grow as teachers because it is our duty to pass down what we have learned to younger generations to help them come up with their own new ideas and thoughts. Learning is a concept that is constantly in motion because we are living in a world that is changing every day. That is why it is so important to teach others about finding their own teaching philosophy and what they believe is important to them when it comes to learning. This will lead to people motivating others to learn.

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My favorite teacher always had this quote in his classroom, “The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.”
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Business Needs Professional Problem Solvers

Wilfred Thomas, MSBA '18, is a Liberal Arts major from The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. Fred is a problem solver who wants to apply his skills in business:

What are you going to do with a liberal arts degree? This is the question I heard constantly post-undergrad. After a couple years out of school and working full-time, I realized my focus on philosophy was time well spent. The liberal arts provide a well-rounded education but most importantly taught me how to think. To study philosophy is to ask in-depth questions, critically think, and ultimately problem solve. Business is essentially problem-solving and so the two go hand-in-hand.

This year popular and outspoken billionaire, Mark Cuban, spoke highly of liberal arts degrees. In a recent interview about the labor market he said that there will be a greater demand “for liberal arts majors...because when the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data." Specifically, the study of philosophy in the Liberal arts involves the study of human nature. This requires deep reflection and invites students to think critically. This practice in critical thought has helped me become a more effective problem solver and allows me to think outside the box, freely, and without restraints. Liberal arts students are “free thinkers” and “are the students who have the active minds, who are asking the big questions.” An employee's ability to think well is vital to a thriving business. Technical skill is emboldened by critical thought and together helps make a more well-rounded business professional.

These critical thinking skills are used often. In tutoring kids, I find ways to make the academic materials come to life when the traditional methods fail, it could be something as simple as bringing in props that aid the student that make the difference. Even in grad school, I look for a broad range of solutions to problems that arise, this is done when figuring out ways to solve the "bottleneck", the hold up in a process, in the several case studies for my operation managements course. Both being able to tailor teaching methods to your audience and being able to make operations in a business run at its optimum level are invaluable. So now when someone asks a liberal arts student what he or she is going to do with his or her degree? They should answer “problem solve."

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Why a Food Scientist Chose Business

Edward Orzechowski joins the program as a Food Science major from the University of Delaware. Below, he shares his thoughts on why he chose to complement his degree with business skills:

"I am often asked why I didn’t pursue higher education more closely related to my field. Sure, getting a more advanced degree in Food Science or Public Health / Policy would have added specialization into a particular area of food science. I, however, wanted to broaden and diversify my skill set rather than refine and narrow my skills. Walking out of undergrad, I had the technical skills to work in a lab, but I didn’t know how to bring my skills into the boardroom where big decisions are made.

One simple fact changed my perspective on what next education I would pursue: anywhere I work, no matter if it is a large corporation, a non-profit, a government agency, or a start-up, will be run as a business at its core. Most scientists don’t know how to read an income statement or how to properly manage employees when entering the workforce. This means that when it comes time to use those skills, either, they don’t have them, or they don’t know how to use them successfully. Learning those skills now, in a controlled environment, allows for growth when risk is low. When is it better for the health of your career to fail? Just in an operations management simulation or group project, or when you first advise your management team to make decisions that have financial implications? In the time that peers will be learning business principles on the fly, you can then be focusing on solving the problem at hand.

Business skills are not only a means of personal growth and knowledge. In some parts of the industry, there are instances of disconnect between the sides of science and business. Take when a food company develops new products. Some companies will have their marketing team come up with what new products they think will do well and then task their food scientists to make it work. Other companies will have their new product development scientists come up with novel products, then task their marketing team to make it work. Now imagine having the skills to bridge that gap and the usefulness it lends.

Image taken from the Institute of Food Technologists website

When meeting someone I respect professionally, I always ask about the steps they took to get where they are because no two people have the same path to success. Looking at different perspectives and the lessons people learned along the way helps you take calculated risks on your own path. Be open to different paths and you will find success in the end. When I find myself doubting the path I chose, I remember the helpful advice I received from a mentor: 'an object in motion stays in motion.'"
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Monday, October 23, 2017

Measuring Success: The American Dream

Erin Cavalier, MSBA '18, joined the program as a Politics major with the understanding that "a degree in politics has a very important and permanent place in the business world." Below, she writes about how success and the American Dream are connected:

"Success. Most people strive to be successful, but few know what it looks like.

In the United States, success is measured by one’s ability to achieve the “American Dream.” The notion dates back to the country’s founding and the Declaration of Independence. Simply put, the American Dream is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the ability to build a successful life through hard work and individual initiative.

Every generation has a different perspective on how exactly to achieve success and now, and as a millennial, we are building our own version.

My parent’s version of the American Dream includes happiness, home ownership, debt-free living, and a comfortable retirement. While all of this plays a large part in what success means to me, I believe there is more to it. Success to me is the ability to travel and explore the world’s cultures. Success to me is the understanding and execution of a healthy work-life balance.

Satirical Social life comic; Less is more, Evolution of the American Dream, 60-90s

Success is unique to each person and it varies among and within generations.

Although the parameters of the American Dream change over time, the fact that is used as tool to measure success does not."
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Friday, October 13, 2017

½ Cup of Engineering and ½ Cup of Business: A Recipe for Success

Christine Awad, MSBA '18, joins our class as a Mechanical Engineering major from Purdue University.

"After all my undergraduate experiences, I have come to realize I have acquired numerous insights and skills that are extremely critical in the business world. First, I have learned how to problem solve using research methods and analytical tools. Knowing how to handle data and information will allow me to generate innovative ideas to produce goods and services for any organization. Second, I have learned how to communicate material effectively and efficiently. I will be able to add to an organization’s continued growth by appropriately communicating to all its stakeholders. Lastly, I have mastered the art of teamwork which is the epitome to solving business problems. I can work with individuals of all personalities to devise solutions that meet customer needs.

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Now, I am currently focused on becoming a well-rounded professional by continuing my studies in The Catholic University of America’s Master of Science in Business Analysis program. Having technical and business focused backgrounds will surely help me tackle any challenges the technical/business world throws at me!"
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