At Baylor, there are a variety of options and paths taken to earn an MBA. Some pursue a dual degree option while most opt for a stand-alone MBA. Some students come into the program with no business experience or education whatsoever, while others come in with business undergrad degrees. Many students come into the program with years of work experience while some don’t have any at all. This is all a part of the beauty that is the Baylor MBA program!
We have interviewed two current MBA students who have decided to come back to school after spending some time in the workforce. First, we have Rasheeda Daugherty, who left her job and moved to Waco from Beaumont, TX to pursue her MBA/MHA. We also have Caleb Smith, an MBA/MSIS candidate from right here in Waco who decided to switch career paths by coming back to Baylor.
What were you doing before coming to Baylor to earn your MBA?
Caleb- I was working at a local community bank here in Waco as a loan officer.
Rasheeda- I worked as a fundraising professional and nonprofit director for about seven years. In my last position before coming to Baylor, I worked as the Community Relations Manager for an assisted living community in Beaumont, TX.
What made you want to come back to school after spending some time in the workforce?
Caleb- Because of the nature of my job, I knew that I would not stay long in this position. I loved helping people to make personal and business loans, but I disliked the solicitation aspect of my job. Throughout my various jobs, there is one thread that connects all of them and that’s what I found to be most enjoyable: data analytics. I enjoyed building databases that enabled me to dig into the data and decide the best courses of action for various problems. At some point, two paths opened up: either go to school or get another job in finance. Going back to school to pursue dual MBA/MSIS degrees to help me launch into my new career path was a no-brainer.
Rasheeda- I spent nine years in the workforce before returning to school. COVID-19 was truly the driving force behind me finally making the decision to come back. With so much uncertainty during the first few months of the pandemic, I knew I wanted to equip myself with new skills to be continue being relevant and competitive in a changing workforce. This pandemic seemed to be the perfect catalyst for me to pivot in my career, as well as the perfect chance to expand my skill set.
What are your goals for when you earn your MBA?
Caleb- I currently work part-time with the City of Waco in the Economic Development office, which has driven my passion for data analysis and public policy. There is so much data out there that is ripe for data analysts to use to improve the lives of those in our communities. The use of data is really just beginning to take hold in the municipal arena, and it is an exciting thing to be a part of.
Rasheeda- I’m a part of the Healthcare Administration track at Baylor, which means I am pursuing an MBA and an MHA. After graduating, I’m looking to work within healthcare specifically within a large healthcare system in a finance or operations role. My most recent position at an assisted living community has driven me to learn more about healthcare, and to develop skills that could make a positive impact in people’s lives through the system.
What has been the most challenging part of coming back?
Caleb- The most challenging part has been studying at night and earning less money. I had become so used to getting off at five or a little after and going home and being done. I had to relearn how to study and relearn how to stay motivated throughout the semester when things get hard. Even though I decided that the MBA/MSIS program was the best thing for me, I still have to study and put effort into assignments and projects that I don’t necessarily want to do. The “free time” I so enjoyed was no longer a part of my routine. The second half of that is earning well less than half of what I was earning before while working at the bank. I had become quite good at spending money, so I didn’t save up as much as I probably should have before moving from full-time work at the bank to part-time work for the City of Waco. Once I finally sat down and figured out my finances, I had to get a second job to cover basic living. There isn’t a lot of free time or me time in my week, which has surely been an adjustment. It’s tough and challenging but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Caleb and some of his coworkers dressing up for Halloween.
Rasheeda- First semester back in school was very much an adjustment for me. The most challenging part about coming back has been getting back into the mindset and routine of being a full-time student. After spending nine years in the workforce, turning off the employee switch was much more difficult than expected. I wasn’t used to having my weeks look the same anymore. I wasn’t used to having designated times to be in class, and then go home and spend even more time studying, doing assignments, and working on projects. It was also a challenge to learn how to study again. In my career, the things I learned on the job became so routine that it was second nature. Becoming a student again forced me to have to retain large amounts of information in a short time frame. It was certainly one of the biggest struggles I faced within my first semester, but I am thankful for now having gotten the hang of it in order to be even more successful this semester.
What additional advice would you give to individuals who are considering putting careers on pause to come back for an MBA at Baylor?
Caleb- Save up! Working even part-time and doing school is hard and takes a lot out of you, not to mention working 35 hours over two jobs and doing 16 hours of school. Saving up before going into school so you can get by on just one part-time gig that doesn’t pay too well would be incredibly beneficial. Looking back, I wish this was something that I was told to prepare for when I was starting school again. Other than that, going back to school was the best decision I could have ever made. My experience in the workforce has enabled me to grow and learn what I actually like doing and has helped me narrow down what I want to do. Getting my MBA/MSIS degree will get me to where I want to be. There have been zero regrets over leaving my old job and taking on a good amount of student debt. I am having the most fun I have had in life and have been challenged in ways I never thought I would be (or have been since college). I know that at the end of these two years, I will be in a much better position in a job that I will enjoy so much more.
Rasheeda- The biggest advice I would give to anyone considering putting their career on hold to return to school full time is to remember that your journey/path back to school is different from everyone else’s. While there will never be a perfect time to make a life change, you must weigh the pros and cons based on your life and where you are in that moment. I originally was going to return to school in 2015 but was diagnosed with a life-changing health condition that forced me to put school on hold. While going back to school in a pandemic wasn’t ideal, I knew that I had the mental and financial bandwidth to do so. Besides the mental and financial means, you must consider the impact this decision could have especially if you are married or have children. As an adult returning, your life looks completely different compared to going to college immediately after high school. I had to consider my elderly father’s care and additional family obligations. The decision to return was made with input from my family. Returning to school has proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in the last few years. Consider your life and what type of impact this will have on your family not just in the short term but long term as well.
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.
Prospective candidates can learn more about all Baylor MBA programs by visiting the Baylor MBA website: https://www.baylor.edu/business/mba/.