I Already Have a Job …

I look at my watch. It’s 5 o’clock and I still have a mountain of work to do this week. My mind is furiously sorting through what needs to be done to complete our project plan, the performance reviews I owe my direct reports and the various requests for information which pour in from my management and peers. I push all of these thoughts aside and start packing up my stuff to head out.

I pass by the cubicles full of people who will be working well into the night at VMware, and I make my way to the elevator. On my way down I shift gears and start to consider everything I need to do in preparation for my weekend at Fuqua. There are still last minute pieces of my decision analysis which need to be completed, and I really should take one last look at the cost accounting case before it gets submitted—the amount of work is daunting. Why am I doing this? Don’t I already have a job? Why am I taking on what often seems like a second job?

So Why an MBA?

As a development manager, I can see that there is much more to an organization than just the technical side of the business. The need to know more about that other side of the business drove me to pursue an MBA. When I started evaluating programs, my goal was to maximize the value the program created for me while minimizing the cost. Value for me was defined by quality content, the network the program provided, and the credibility of the program. Although I initially looked at full-time MBAs, I quickly realized that the opportunity cost and the disruption of a full-time program to my life would make it difficult to justify as a personal investment. As a result, I quickly shifted my focus to executive MBA programs.

To pursue an executive MBA, I wanted to stay put at work and in the Boston area. This meant that the program would have to be no more than one flight away. If I wanted the program to provide the business credentials I lacked, it would have to be a top 10 program. If school was going to help me build up my contacts, the program would have to have a strong alumni network willing to help if I extended myself.

I ultimately found all those things at Fuqua, and I’ve been especially impressed by the curriculum.

Fuqua Meets my Criteria

The content at Fuqua has been incredibly enlightening. For example, I recently had a marketing case about how social media is transforming the way organizations promote themselves. Before I got here, I thought social media was just another way to waste time, and it never occurred to me that divisions within a company might charge each other anything for their goods and services. Although I have only been in the Weekend Executive program for a short time, it is as though somebody has lifted a curtain and allowed me to glimpse into a completely different yet exciting world.

The people I study with are also impressive. When I go to class, the room is literally filled with PhDs, doctors and other successful professionals. More importantly, Fuqua stresses a team based approach to work which makes it hard not to identify with the school, your classmates and the alumni. Although I have two degrees from a school in Boston, I have had more opportunities to network with Fuqua and Duke alumni in Boston than with alumni from my undergraduate institution.

The Weekend Executive MBA program at Fuqua met all of my criteria for a business school like no other program could, and I feel more confident in my initial decision to apply and enroll at Duke than I ever have.