I graduated from USC in 2010 and knew almost immediately that I wanted to go to graduate school. I spent a year working in Los Angeles, bouncing from a position with an entertainment agency working in business affairs, to working for a start-up non-profit and writing for an online current-affairs/social justice website. I knew that higher education was in my future and in trying to figure our what direction I wanted my professional life to go in, I started researching graduate programs.

My background is mostly in non-profit work. I studied sociology and international relations as an undergraduate and hoped to find a way to combine those interests into a productive and exciting career. Given the state of the economy and my limited experience in a formal business environment, I found it hard to break into certain industries and be taken seriously as a candidate for positions that were interesting to me. It was around this time that I realized I needed to build on my education and find a program that would open more doors for me and give me the business know-how I didn’t get as an undergrad.

I applied to a variety of degree programs, all of which, in one way or another, would lead me to new career opportunities. Duke’s MMS program, however, was unique in the comprehensive coursework and professional environment it provided. When I found out I was admitted, I couldn’t believe it. I was worried that my lack of quantitative skills, and unique resume would deter the admissions committee from accepting me, but I am the kind of student this program was designed for.

The MMS program was created with a number of things in mind. First, it realizes how difficult and competitive the job market has become, and believes that liberal arts backgrounds, combined with the curriculum the program provides, can compliment a student’s aptness and potential to succeed in business in an unparalleled way. Second, it acknowledges that a lot of students were never taught thorough, reliable job-hunting techniques – be that cover letter writing, resume formatting, or networking and alumni outreach strategies. Finally, the MMS program exposes students to career paths and opportunities that many people may never have though of or had the opportunity to apply to.

It was for these reasons that come decision time, I chose to get my graduate degree from Duke. I was nervous about the coursework, and worried that my lack of experience with math (I hadn’t taken a math class since senior year of high school) would be debilitating, but it is for all of those reasons that this program has been so valuable to me. I am learning more than I ever could have imagined, and am surrounded by some of the smartest people I have ever met. It’s a whirlwind experience and one I’m so happy I chose to have.