Jeff Staker, student of William & Mary Mason School of Business, describes transitioning back to student life after gaining ten years of consulting experience and starting a family.
Name: Jeff Staker
School: MBA, William & Mary Mason School of Business
Hometown: Denver, CO
Profession: Worked at Booz Allen Hamilton before MBA; pursuing a career in Human Resource Strategy
What are some activities you are involved with outside of class? How do you balance your time?
William & Mary has a long-standing relationship with NASA Langley and I’ve had the opportunity over the last couple years to mentor high school students competing in the national OPSPARC competition. I helped my team plan and present their final product to NASA engineers and physicists and I’m happy to report they made it to the final round! I’ve since taken on a leadership role in the NASA mentor program and look forward to helping another team this year. It honestly hasn’t been too hard to manage my time on this, as it has been one of the highlights of my MBA experience.
What do you think is your program's greatest asset?
The professors at W&M are phenomenal. They are not only great teachers, but I’ve always felt they genuinely care about their students.
How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you? What advice do you have for students considering an MBA on how to make that decision?
I had a wonderful career in consulting, but I felt like I was too comfortable. The famous TS Elliot quote says it best, “If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” I knew I had to take a risk in order to grow. My advice is to take the chance and invest in your future, even if you have little kids.
What do you think makes your MBA program and experience unique?
Not many people can say they attended a university with a royal charter dating back to 1693. The campus is gorgeous and it’s pretty cool George Washington himself roamed these grounds.
What is it like to transition back to school after being out for a few years? What advice can you offer students returning for their MBA?
I decided to get my MBA a little later than most. I have kids and over a decade of consulting experience. It was not an easy decision to jump back into school, but I knew I’d always regret passing on an opportunity to attend the fulltime MBA program at William & Mary. I also knew that I needed to treat my education like a job, so I could balance my family life with the academic rigor of getting an MBA. The transition back into school was difficult, but manageable. While I wasn’t confident in my quantitative skills going in, having a decade of hard-earned consulting experience helped me add value in other ways. My advice to anyone contemplating an MBA program, whether experienced or not, is to be your authentic self. You will add value to your classmates and they will add value to you in ways you may not expect.
Do you have an internship during your MBA? How does that experience influence your education and career?
I was an HR Leadership Development Program (HRLDP) intern at Johnson & Johnson this summer. I had the opportunity to create a comprehensive strategy on how to find and engage top scientists and physicians to help cure immunological diseases within J&J’s pharmaceutical company, Janssen. This experience is a direct result of my decision to get an MBA at W&M and it will have immeasurable impact on my career. I have accepted a fulltime offer with J&J and will begin their two-year rotational HR Leadership Development Program upon graduation.