At Baylor, there are a variety of options and paths taken to earn an MBA. Many students come into the program with years of work experience while some don’t have any at all. Some pursue a dual degree option while most opt for a stand-alone MBA. And it would make sense to come into the program with a business undergraduate degree, but interestingly enough… most don’t.
And that’s just the way the Baylor MBA program likes it!
We have interviewed three current MBA students who don’t have a previous business background or degree, yet despite this have chosen to get their MBA here at Baylor. First, we have Kirk Amarh-Kwatreng, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in education. We also have Brittany Wetmore, a dual degree student who has recently finished her Master of Social Work in May of 2020. Before that, Brittany earned a Bachelor of Social Work in May of 2019. Finally, we have Lanie Williams. Lanie—after having recently earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering this past May—just began her journey towards earning conjoined MBA and MSIS degrees.
And because it’s 2020, we interviewed our students under socially distancing protocol. Let’s jump right in to see what they have to say about their MBA journey and program experiences thus far!
Coming from a non-business background, why did you decide on an MBA?
Kirk- You’ll learn once you’re here that it is important to diversify your portfolio. I have a master’s in education and the addition of an MBA would not only put more tools in my toolbox, but it will ensure I have a marketable skill set no matter the economic situation of the country. COVID has taught us that anything can happen at a moment’s notice and being prepared is the best way to stay ahead of the curve.
Brittany- While already pursuing a Master of Social Work, the options for a dual degree are limited. The options are Master of Divinity, Master of Theological Studies, or Master of Business Administration. At the end of the day, I would like to be an executive director or program director of a non-profit and to do that work, you need to have some business knowledge. After discussing this with several outside knowledgeable individuals, I decided that an MBA would be the best course for me to take.
I’ve also found the non-business majors are actually really valued in the MBA program, because we bring such a different perspective to every class and every problem.
– Lanie Williams
Lanie- I have a lot of varied interests. I thought about law, engineering, ministry, and even consulting. But when I thought about my future, I wanted to have a skill set that people needed, a way to add value to an organization. I also knew that I didn’t want to be a traditional engineer. So, getting my MBA is a way for me to add tools to my tool belt while also broadening my opportunities after school.
What is it like being a non-business major in the program?
Kirk- It’s like being a Martian on Earth for the first time. But in due time, you start to pick up on things. The first thing I had a hard time grappling with was the jargon used throughout the classroom. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because you’re most likely not the only one wondering what an M&A is in the middle of a class discussion. It was a relief when I finally raised my hand to ask what it meant, and several other students were in the same boat as I was. The professor lightheartedly explained it and we had a good laugh about it in class. The professors and your peers will make sure you do feel welcome. So, don’t be afraid.
Brittany- While Baylor, at its heart, is one university, there is a distinct difference between the different disciplines. While being in the business school has allowed me to learn a great deal about subjects that I had previously not explored, it has also challenged me to a great extent. Some of the challenges are adjusting to the different culture, accepting where your knowledge is appreciated, and adjusting to new material. In the face of these challenges, though, the business school has offered a unique opportunity to utilize social work skills in a new setting.
Lanie- It was a little intimidating at first. I didn’t know anything about accounting or finance and it appeared that a lot of people did. But, the reality is a lot of people don’t. I’ve also found the non-business majors are actually really valued in the MBA program because we bring such a different perspective to every class and every problem.
What do you plan to do with your Baylor MBA?
Kirk- The ultimate goal is to own my own real estate business. An MBA would give me the know-how of running the day-to-day operational mechanism of a business. In the next few years, my goal is to work within the real estate industry to learn from the best.
Brittany- Before pursuing an MBA, I was unsure what direction I wanted to take with my MSW. Now, I hope to pursue human resources, academic admissions, or academic recruitment. These opportunities will allow me to bridge the gap between social work and business.
Lanie- I plan to either work on the business side of an engineering company or go into tech-consulting. I’d love to pursue the tech industry in some way whether that’s with a company that specializes in a specific technology or working for a firm that helps businesses improve their technology.
Collin Wood ’20, previously a mechanical engineering undergrad at the University of Texas, takes a moment to describe Business Frameworks—one of the cornerstones of the program that prepares non-business students as they enter the program.
Do you feel that it is more challenging as a student without an undergraduate business degree?
Kirk- I definitely think the MBA is more challenging for a student without a business background. The MBA program requires a whole different set of skills I was not trained in. Coming with a background in political science and education, I’ve been taught to think of and solve problems in a completely different manner. The MBA requires in-depth analytical thinking to solve problems. However, I believe my background enables me to see problems from a unique perspective that a traditional business student may not think about. This has been evident during a number of classroom interactions and group work.
Brittany- It is always a challenge to enter a new environment where others have the experience and you do not, because it creates a dynamic difference. In this situation, though, each person who has undergraduate business experience has used it to help others who do not. So, the difference is not as stark as it could be. However, there are some instances in courses where the professors expect you to have
prior knowledge that you do not have. Overall, though, I have not found my lack of knowledge to be too much of a challenge.
Lanie- I honestly don’t think so. I think it can sometimes be easier when professors are pushing us to think critically and we already have a unique perspective that we bring to the table. I also think it makes us better learners. By coming into an MBA program as a non-business major, we’re showing employers that we can learn things outside of our comfort zone and still succeed.
Looking back, what would you like to have known before coming into the program?
Kirk- The weather in Texas is no joke!! If you’re coming as a northern like I did, the summer heat is utterly oppressive. On the bright side, you eventually get used to it. Back home in New York, we would get heat wave advisories if the temperature went slightly above 90 on any given day. That’s a regular occurrence by 11:00 AM in Waco.
Brittany- As I transitioned from one Baylor degree to another, there was less of a transition than others have. Still, there could have been readings on managing the business school culture or even just readings on the business school itself.
Lanie- I think I would have wanted to read about all the different paths you can take with a Baylor MBA inside the program. Some people are doing joint degrees, some people are doing a mix of concentrations; there really is a lot of flexibility. I would have loved to hear students’ backgrounds paired with the track they chose in their MBA.
Check out this brief video from Konner Moisson ’20 discussing how she came into the Baylor MBA program with a psychology background.
What are you most nervous about as you look ahead at the rest of your Baylor MBA experience?
Kirk- The one thing that keeps me up at night is the thought of having to take QBA (our business analytics course). I also look forward to the challenge of taking a course that differs vastly from my previous coursework.
Brittany- I am most nervous about the math-heavy courses—such as finance and economics—due to my lack of familiarity with the material.
Lanie- I’m most nervous about Focus Firm for Core 3 and for more of my coding classes.
Is there any other advice you would give or anything you would like to have known before coming to this program?
Kirk- The program is challenging, but ask for help when you need it! The professors are very practical and understanding people who are very talented in their respective fields. If you’re not from the South, people are a lot nicer down here and are willing to lend a helping hand so don’t be afraid to ask. Secondly, constantly check to make sure you are in the right courses because there are one-credit courses that are required in the first semester. Take responsibility for your academic plan and don’t just sit around hoping you’re in the right courses. Lastly, GET A PARKING PASS!! It is worth it. Just trust me on that.
Brittany- If you are a dual degree entering this program, do not judge the program by orientation. While orientation gave us time to meet one another as students, it was also one of the more difficult weeks for me personally, in most part due to the extreme culture shock. My advice would be to enter your classes and give the program time, because once you understand the culture and how to navigate it, you will feel more comfortable in the business school. Overall, though, do not hesitate to reach out to those who came before you because they have experience with how the program works and how to utilize your skills best.
Lanie- My advice would just be to not compare yourself to other people. You have your own experience, your own story, and your own skill sets. Comparing to your peers will only hurt you.
Click here to read about the author’s own experience as a dual degree MBA/MSW here at Baylor.
About Baylor’s MBA Programs
Baylor’s MBA Programs are designed strategically for professionals looking to take their careers to the next level in leadership. Rigorous MBA classes taught by dedicated faculty and industry experts offer both theoretical knowledge and the practical skills required to succeed in modern global business. Wherever you are in your career today, Baylor has an MBA program to fit your lifestyle and move you toward your professional goals: Full-Time MBA, Executive MBA in Dallas, Executive MBA in Austin, and an Online MBA. Visit our website to learn more about all Baylor MBA programs.