March 3, 2016
Earning a master’s degree demonstrates a strong commitment to a field of study, positioning graduates for career roles with more responsibilities and higher pay. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) continues to be one of the most sought-after master’s degrees for those with management aspirations, and it allows graduates to work across a broad range of industries.
The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) 2015 year-end survey found that 96 percent of responding employers said MBA degree holders are given top preference because of the value they provide to organizations. If you’re considering the pursuit of your MBA, read on to learn more about what two women experienced in Southern New Hampshire University's online MBA programs – and see if your career ambitions could intersect with an online MBA to put you on the road to success, too.
Meghan Kelly’s career is on the upswing and she knows earning her online MBA is going to positively impact her success. “I am looking forward to taking the knowledge I gain from obtaining my master’s and applying it to my career,” she said.
As a project manager for three years prior to landing the role she’s in presently, Kelly was able to gain knowledge in estimating, purchasing and other aspects of project management. “I am now involved in a three-year operations leadership development program for a defense contractor. This program will help me prepare for becoming a future leader of the company,” she said. “Obtaining my MBA is important to my success in the program and being able to do so online allows me to work and complete my degree in a timely fashion.”
It was through her SNHU Career advisor – one of the most helpful people she’s ever met – that Kelly learned of the leadership program at a global defense, aerospace and security company. “This program is highly competitive and the interview process was rigorous,” she said. “My career advisor – Kim Coffey – helped me prepare for the multiple panel interviews and presentations. She was there through the entire process and played a huge role in my success of ultimately landing the job.”
Kelly’s goals upon completion of her online MBA involve focusing on her career and applying what she’s learned to add to her continuing success. She looks forward to bringing new ideas to the company and having the knowledge to do so.
SNHU has been central to Kelly’s academic journey, with the start of her bachelor’s degree in business administration. She began as a student on the main campus, then transitioned to the university’s College of Online and Continuing Education bachelor’s program, taking courses at SNHU’s Salem and Manchester, NH, centers after work and finally, moving totally online. Regardless of where she’s completed coursework with SNHU, the experience has been positive.
“I was nervous at first to start taking classes online, but SNHU does a great job at making the transition smooth,” Kelly said. “My instructors were helpful when I had questions on assignments and would answer me in a timely manner.” Having enjoyed the communication she had on campus with other students, she wondered if she would lose this type of interaction taking online courses. She quickly learned that she’d have similar experiences online, with the ability to ask questions and interact with other students via the discussion board.
Her experience with her academic advisors has been equally as positive – as an undergraduate and graduate student. “They check in with me to make sure I am navigating through my course(s) successfully,” said Kelly.
While she’s excited to complete her online MBA, it saddens her, too. “I have a hard time thinking about not going to SNHU any more because I have had such a positive experience,” said Kelly. “I definitely plan to stay involved with SNHU in some way.” She’ll be able to, whether it’s through SNHU’s active alumni community or through SNHU Career.
With a bachelor’s degree in communication arts and sciences with an emphasis in interpersonal communication and intercultural studies, Kira Morehouse ’13 was positioned for a role within the marketing world. She landed her first job as an account director at a marketing agency, working on a variety of projects for many different clients. She was happy.
“It was an exciting time for me, because I felt like I was putting my college degree to good use,” said Morehouse. She remained in this role for about four years, during which time she was promoted to being the main executive overseeing the agency’s largest accounts. After a year, she was asked to shift roles from traditional marketing and media to focus more on digital media strategy, placements and day-to-day management on a number of client accounts.
In short time, two things happened: Morehouse realized she missed the variety of the different types of marketing communications that she had been involved with previously – “and it became apparent to me that I needed to position myself for the next steps in my career that would allow me to be more in control of the direction and growth,” she said. “This is when I decided that I wanted to take my career to a new level and began to seriously look into graduate studies that would fit with the trajectory I had already been on until that point.”
It was time to consider the next step in her career and what role education would play in that.
Given Morehouse’s upbringing, it’s no surprise that a graduate degree was her approach to moving forward in her career goals. Having spent most of her childhood on campus and around the area of a state university in Michigan, witnessing her mother attend classes there and go on to work there, she felt as though it made “a strong early impression upon me about the importance of advancing one’s education.”
She also grew up with many childhood friends, whose parents had either immigrated to the United States from other countries and became part of the university’s large community of international students. “It stood out to me then – and continues to mean a lot to me now – when I reflect back on how much those families, and my own mother, had sacrificed in order to earn their graduate degrees, which would have a greater return for them as they moved on to professional careers later in life,” said Morehouse. “So, maybe it was somewhat predetermined for me that I would go back to school one day and earn a graduate degree, simply because I grew up seeing this modeled before my eyes during my most formative years.”
Having relocated from her home state of Michigan to Massachusetts and then, southern New Hampshire, Morehouse began to notice a trend that many people she knew in managerial or director-level roles – whom she had met through her professional circles and networking – were also graduates of Southern New Hampshire University’s MBA program. “Those folks, including my own former boss, seemed satisfied with their outcomes after graduation and proud of their degrees,” she said. “That made a strong, positive impression on me to look at SNHU over other programs, because it became more of a familiar place to me through my encounters with these former students.”
This was also during a time when SNHU was becoming more visible through its television commercials and sponsorships. “As a marketer, I guess I couldn’t help but notice this, that everywhere I looked, I was seeing signs which seemed to say to me, ‘You need to apply to SNHU,’” said Morehouse. So she did.
While her primary goals were to increase her ability to have more control over her career and the type of work she’d be doing day in and day out, Morehouse also wanted to accelerate an overall increase in her earning potential. “For one thing, my communications degree is considered a soft skill set, so I knew that earning a degree in business would be a smart thing to do if I wanted to become a more well-rounded candidate in search of new employment opportunities,” she said. “I knew that getting my MBA would accelerate that track and allow me to sustain that earning power for many more years, over the course of my career, if I were to get the MBA during my peak years as opposed to later on down the road.”
The other motivating factor for Morehouse had to do with her appreciation for higher education and learning. Growing up in a household where education was so highly valued, she also learned another important lesson. “My mother was a single parent, who was the sole breadwinner,” she said. “She impressed upon me that no matter what happens to you in life, once you have your education, then no one can take that away from you.” Because of her mother’s struggles, Morehouse understood early on that having a degree, whether it was a bachelor’s- or graduate-level degree, was the first step in leveling the playing field in corporate America.
While SNHU’s more than 50 online MBA programs are a vital component of the university’s online degree programs, Morehouse found that the flexibility allowed her to pursue her degree in a number of different ways – online and on campus – at both the Manchester, NH, center on the main campus and in Portsmouth, NH, where she engaged in hybrid courses that were comprised of in-person and online work.
Morehouse began her online MBA program as the mother of one child, then she and her husband decided to grow their family, and she soon became pregnant with their second child halfway through her degree. “It was also around that midway point that job opportunities came calling, one of which was too good for me to turn down,” she said. “I had not been actively looking, but it was awesome that employers came looking for me while I was still focused on earning my degree.” She decided to juggle family life, school and her career, and she credits SNHU’s flexible options with the success of her finishing her program.
“By the end of my MBA, not only was I mom to a 5-year-old, plus a newborn, but I was working full time as a marketing manager and digital media strategist,” said Morehouse. “I should add that the role of digital media strategist was the role I had wanted in the first place. It’s not likely I would have been able to get the job I wanted had I not taken a leap of faith and focused on my education along with personal growth as an SNHU graduate student.” While she had a lot more on her plate throughout her online MBA program, she feels the passion she had for each area of her life made it all worthwhile.
“Through the program, I met all kinds of students who did not always fit into the traditional model, which was a good thing for me to see,” said Morehouse. Some were working full time while pursuing their degrees, others were fresh out of undergraduate school, while others were working professionals, whom she could identify easily with since she had been working in industry for some time by this point.
For Morehouse, earning her online MBA was essential to continuing a successful career. She speaks of its importance, saying, “You get a job. You might be smart and have great ideas right out of the gate, but at some point in your life it might make a difference if you have the credentials and do everything you can to make sure you present yourself to potential employers as a well-rounded candidate. That is how I see myself today, thanks to me having gone back to school and completing my MBA.”
Morehouse tells of the doors that open immediately when she meets other SNHU graduates and the sense of camaraderie in meeting new people in professional circles and beyond. “This, in turn, helped me to network my way into certain job interviews,” she said. “My current employer, the one I report to at the bank where I work, is also an SNHU MBA graduate. Our mutual employer supported him to earn his degree while he was working full time. He and I can relate to what it is like to have a full-time job, but still find the motivation from within to work and continue gaining more knowledge that ultimately makes you a better, well-rounded person. I like that.”
In more measurable terms, while in the online MBA program, Morehouse was able to negotiate a salary that was nearly double of what she had been making in her previous role – and received a raise within three months. “Then, after I finished my MBA, another company made me an offer that was nearly three times what I had been making at the first job that I had started in, prior to enrolling in the MBA program,” she said. “It put my family’s household income into a new bracket, which is what we needed.”
Just as Morehouse’s mother influenced her, she hopes to impart the importance of education to her daughters too. She thinks also of the other young women she met through SNHU’s online MBA program, who were pregnant or had newborns and/or were working mothers, which inspired her even more, allowing her to feel that she was doing the right thing, not only for herself, but also for the welfare of her family. “Having the ability to grow my career meant that I would ultimately be setting an example for my own daughters to let them know that if they want something bad enough, the sacrifice is worth it in the end,” she said. “Ultimately, I would make sure to tell my daughters that it’s okay for them to want more for themselves, no matter what point they are in their lives.”
Most of all, Morehouse wants her daughters to know that it will always be up to them to go after their own personal goals. “As long as they stay motivated, they can reach the goals in the life they desire,” she said. “Based on everything I know, a good education is the foundation for any of this to happen.” As their mom, she feels her job is to present them with as many opportunities to learn and grow as she possibly can before they leave the nest.
Morehouse’s advice to her daughters is what she would tell others who are considering furthering their education. When it comes to SNHU, “If you are at a point in your life where you are considering an MBA, SNHU is a great place to consider for the quality of the program that is being offered by an institution that continues to invest so much back into the community and its student programs,” she said. “It is a school that has traditional roots, but has done an excellent job at staying ahead of the curve and being innovative in all it does. All of this makes me feel secure about the programs and the money/time investment I put into earning my MBA from SNHU.”
She really appreciates SNHU for the opportunities it has created for many people, like her, so that education is more attainable to more people who might not otherwise have the chance to accomplish more in life. “Being part of SNHU’s community has definitely helped me go farther in life than I ever could have done alone,” Morehouse said.
Whether like Meghan Kelly, you’re in the early days of your career or like Kira Morehouse, well on your way on your career path, an online MBA may be the right choice for you. With more than 50 possibilities in SNHU’s online MBA programs, just imagine where your Master of Business Administration can take you.
Benjamin Nugent is the director of the Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction Program at Southern New Hampshire University and the critically acclaimed author of "Good Kids" and "American Nerd."
Hermanisha Neptune '16 said her degree from Southern New Hampshire University has shown her just how much she's capable of.
A degree can give you a leg up on the competition but to truly stand out among your competitors in the job marketplace, consider these top business degrees in demand.