Legendary UNC-Chapel Hill basketball coach Dean Smith first coined the words “The Carolina Way” to reflect the spirit of the university. The Carolina Way means something slightly different to every Carolina student and alum, but underpinning every definition is a belief in excellence. This excellence drew me to Carolina as both an undergrad and graduate student, and it’s what attracts so many students from around the world.
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I decided to pursue an MBA because my responsibilities and oversight in the IT project management arena escalated, as did the necessity for integrating other functions across the business. I sought the managerial competence to ensure our technology priorities met the far-reaching needs of the organization as a whole. While I felt highly confident within the confines of my IT world, I lacked the business knowledge to advocate effectively at a broader, visionary level.
I chose an MBA from UNC over an M.S. in real estate because of (1) the attraction to a top-tier business school that is known for its real estate concentration; and (2) the ability to be a part of an innovative program that will likely shape the way education is delivered in the future. The MBA@UNC program has proven an integral solution to modern education and these particular courses are applicable to my career. Let me give you a few specific examples to put this into perspective.
As I began the MBA@UNC program, I received questions from colleagues, friends and mentors. They had a lot of interest in the online format, the integrity of the degree, and the time and financial commitment. When they asked why I picked MBA@UNC, my answer was, “I would have liked to quit my job and go to Stanford full time, but that just wasn’t a reality, so I picked the best school that had the accessibility I needed.”
With the MBA@UNC platform, global immersions and the interactivity of live, online classes, I can honestly say that MBA@UNC has provided me with maximum learning opportunities, maximum networking and maximum flexibility. The idea that an online program sacrifices socializing or networking, remains a myth when it comes to MBA@UNC.
I have been extremely fortunate in my career. I have worked in Canada, Africa and Southeast Asia; I have experience in multiple sectors; and I have had many wonderful mentors. I was freelancing part-time and seeking a full-time job when I realized that I needed an MBA to be more competitive in the workforce. I looked for a highly selective program that would allow me to continue to work as I earned my degree. That is how I discovered MBA@UNC.
My first year in the MBA@UNC program has been incredibly enlightening. In my last post, I reflected on some things I wish I had known going in to the program. Reevaluating my notions of time management, rallying the support of my friends and family and opening my mind to new learning experiences made this first year a positive one.
But what about learning in the online classroom? For many of us, this is the most significant change from how we’ve attended class in the past. Here are some things to keep in mind as you approach MBA@UNC’s online learning platform.
The other day it dawned on me that I am more than halfway through the MBA@UNC program. With this realization, I mostly felt relief that I have managed to make it this far, but I also felt a sense of nostalgia for the unfettered optimism and enthusiasm with which I began my studies. Though my optimism and enthusiasm remain, I can admit that the first year of MBA@UNC—as with any MBA program—is difficult. When I look back, I realize that I can offer a few tips that will make the first year in MBA@UNC just a little bit easier.
Not too long ago, UNC Kenan-Flagler ran a video competition called MTV@UNC. We asked full-time MBA students participating in a leadership immersion to create music videos that best represented their time at the school.
We posted final videos on our Facebook page, where our fans could vote for their favorites. After a week of voting, the video titled “The Kenan-Flagler Way” (seen below) won the competition.
MBA@UNC has made every effort to ensure that nothing is lost in the online format; the program requires students to meet with their professor and 10 to 15 of their classmates in a virtual classroom. Just as they do in a physical classroom, UNC professors lead a discussion of the problems or cases relating to the latest lecture. Though they are virtual rooms, classes feel more like sitting in a circle with your professor in the quad, where everyone is visible and expected to participate.