Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why the MSBA is right for me

By:  Tia Bent
MSBA Class of 2013

Deciding to join the MSBA program has been one of the best decisions I have made.  I stumbled across the program looking for graduate assistant-ships and I knew of Catholic University only through my years of running track in college.  I decided to look into the programs Catholic offered and found the MSBA program.  My undergraduate degree is in Exercise Science, and while I have an interest in how the body works, my true calling is working with veterans and homeland security.  I worked for a few years in my degree field, but I was constantly looking for ways to break into government.   My recent move to the DC area proved that it is all about who you know.  With that said, the two most important skills I have learned thus far in the program are networking and teamwork.

Tia and Prof Brach at first
networking event

 Networking is the first activity we engaged in coming to the program.  We had a meet and greet with professors and incoming classmates.  It was uneasy and awkward at first, especially for this introvert.  The small class size was appealing and it was less pressure.  Many of us had not spoken or communicated before this encounter, but we had a common goal, getting through this program with a graduate degree.  This was the first real taste of what I was getting into this upcoming year.

Learning to trust your teammates
is essential to a successful business
The program has many guest speakers intertwined through the classes.  This gives us the opportunity to talk with industry workers in relevant fields we are learning.  Business cards are given to us and we are constantly revamping our resume and cover letter in our Career Development class so we are ready to hand them out upon meeting these industry professionals.  Also, our Career Development class teaches us networking essentials and how to sell ourselves to prepare for unexpected encounters with professionals in prospective fields of interest.

Finally, the mentor program is the icing on the cake for networking.  We are strategically assigned to mentors that have similar backgrounds in fields we are interested.   Our first encounter with our mentors was at another meet and greet.  Again, it was awkward, stressful, and a lot of pressure to make a good impression of ourselves and the program.  I am the biggest introvert in the class it seems and I adapted quickly. This leads me to believe that anyone can and should participate in networking events or take advantage of meeting new people.  You never know who you will meet and what doors might open for you or the person you are talking to just with a simple conversation.

Tia and team at work on a case study
Teamwork is the other skill that is woven into each class we have in the MSBA program. I was skeptical at first, thinking of prior group work in my undergraduate program.  My fear of having to rely on others for my success is something I was not prepared to face.  We started off our teamwork and bonding at a ropes course in Maryland prior to the start of class (the day after our initial meet and greet).  This experience pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone, but it was okay, because everyone else was struggling with opening up to strangers.  More importantly, a few of our professors engaged in the activities with us, the experience was life changing.

Tia awaits her first turn in front
of an audience
(she did fine!)
Little did we know that was just the first of many teamwork activities.  Each class involves team projects, team assignments, and group presentations.   Even our Quantitative Analysis and Financial Accounting classes have group projects.   Again, coming from an introvert that dreads public speaking and has anxiety about relying on others, I am overcoming these insecurities.  I cannot think of any better skill to focus on to prepare for the business world.

I can go on about how I have benefited from the MSBA program thus far, but focusing on these two skills I am developing is the most important to me.   The content of the classes are relevant, practical, and apply to each class we are taking.  I learn so much in each class on business; it is fascinating to see it all come together.  I am strong in academics, but lack on the social necessities.  These two things alone are developing me into a professional that I can see differences in already; I will be forever grateful for this experience and opportunity.   

Stewart McHie
Director, MS in Business Analysis

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