Choosing an MBA program can be a challenge. Brittany Figlow, an MBA alumna of Mercer University's Stetson School of Business, explains the factors she considered when selecting a a b-school. She also advises future applicants on how an MBA can help advance your career path.
Name: Brittany Figlow
School: MBA, Stetson School of Business, Mercer University
Profession: Supply Chain Management Associate, Mohawk Industries, Atlanta Georgia
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice for students on how to make a decision?
When choosing an MBA program, I focused on a few items that were most important to me: location, length of the program, cost, and class size. I did not want to venture too far from home, but I definitely wanted to move out of Florida. Georgia was my first choice, but I also considered many programs in the southeast. I also wanted to choose a program that was located in a city with a growing job market. I thought Atlanta was great because it is the home to many large corporations.
I considered the length of the program to be the second most important requirement. I knew I wanted to be in a full-time program; I did not want to prolong getting my MBA more that I had to. I then found Mercer’s one year, full-time MBA program. This program jumped out at me due to the shortened time frame compared to other schools in the area. Cost is always an important factor when deciding on programs. I would be paying out-of-state tuition; thus, I wanted more bang for my buck. The idea of getting my MBA in just one year became even more appealing. When looking more into Mercer’s MBA program, I saw they promoted small cohorts. Coming from a public university where I had classes of 300 students or more, I was looking forward to getting to know professors and classmates on a more intimate level.
When choosing an MBA program, my advice would be to make of list of all of the important requirements. Compare and contrast programs; this helped me figure out what I was looking for, and what I liked most about each school. Think about what city you would like to work in after graduating and which program can help get you there. When considering cost, the cost of the program is important but also look at the cost of living in that area or city. Look for programs that cater to your previous work experiences, or in my case, lack of previous work experience.
What has been your favorite classroom experience?
My favorite classroom experiences were really getting to know my classmates and professors. Being in full time program, my cohort attended every class together which helped us get to know each other on a personal level. This also aided in our learning experiences. Work experience was not a requirement for this program; however, some classmates did have significant work and military experience. I did not have much prior work experience; thus being exposed to those who have and learning how they applied the lessons and projects to their prior work experience was tremendously helpful.
How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you? Do you have advice for students considering an MBA on how to make that decision?
Leaving my undergraduate program, I felt like I had not a clue on what was going on much less what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I felt like I was extremely unprepared to begin working for a large company with such little work experience. I knew when I graduated that I wanted to take the next step. I started working for a large private home builder in purchasing; however, I knew there wasn’t much growth. During this time I researched and applied to graduate programs.
My advice is do not be afraid of the unknown. I was petrified of taking this huge step and leaving my home and my friends for this program. If you feel like you’re stuck in a job or career you aren’t happy with or you are not confident in your skills then an MBA is the perfect way to change career paths or perfect your various skills. I quickly learned getting my MBA was probably the best decision of my life; I feel so much more prepared, experienced and knowledgeable today than I did a year ago.
When it came time to look for jobs, did you find yourself interested in a new career that you hadn’t considered before doing your MBA?
Prior to Mercer’s MBA program, my future career path was unclear. I had worked in various jobs and internships during undergrad such as; accounting, event planning, and purchasing finished goods. I felt like I was all over the place. Upon entering the MBA program, I decided I could use my event planning experience and pursue a career in marketing. I loved my marketing professor at Mercer and that only solidified my decision to pursue marketing. During the second semester at Mercer, I had a supply chain and operations class. I then realized my love of processes and everything supply chain. I realized that my many years of working in purchasing was a supply chain function and I could really use my previous experience, along with the knowledge I gained during the operations class, to help me land a good job. It was at this point that I finally knew exactly what I wanted to do and I felt confident moving forward in my career.
Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?
I completed an internship at a corporate event planning company in Atlanta. This was a great experience as well as extremely fun. I was able to make great contacts and surround myself with motivated career women. I had decided corporate planning was not the route I wanted to take in my career path but I learned everything I could and related it to my previous experiences. This internship, although fabulous, helped me solidify that my potential was not in event planning but a more process oriented career.
How did you highlight your personal and career achievements on your resume?
I did not have much work experience prior to applying to graduate programs. I was a student athlete in my undergraduate program and I did not have much time for various internships and co-op opportunities. I learned to promote my extracurricular activities as if they were job experiences. It is important to show how committed you are to projects and activities in which you participate in to demonstrate dedication. When applying to graduate schools, I liked to highlight my leadership skills by pointing out any leadership roles I took in my sorority or in my college dance team. You can also do this with your work experiences; if you’ve ever lead an initiative or project, it shows you have management capabilities that are beneficial to your future.
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