Student Voices: Why Get an MBA Now?

(Editor's Note: Like last week's student contributor, Kristen Fanarakis, Ana-Laura Diaz is also a UNC Chapel Hill alum. After many different career paths taken and conquered, Ana-Laura shares with us why now was the right time for her to get an MBA.)

Like many returning students, I have tried different roles and career paths in order to find one that best suits me – my interests, my goals and my passions. I have held positions as varied as leading a string quartet to teaching online to practicing law. Though these different roles are seemingly unrelated, I came to realize that underlying majority of these pursuits (and, indeed, most ventures) there is a related theme: business.

This realization was what initially prompted me to consider another degree: the MBA. To me, what is interesting is that the success of most ventures – no matter how un-business-like – ultimately rely upon the skills and abilities that underpin a business education.

Opportunity to Advance My Career

Further research showed me that an MBA is a uniquely versatile degree, which would allow me in to advance my career, develop business skills and even switch to another career path (if I so desire). I briefly flirted with the idea of returning as a full-time student in a traditional MBA program, but hefty graduate school loans already incurred made me reevaluate that option. The more I learned about non-traditional media, like online and distance learning MBA programs, the more I felt that one of these programs would ultimately allow me to continue with my current career without interruption while attending class on “my time” and gaining valuable knowledge and skills, as well as earning an MBA in the process. The search for an online or part-time program began!

But Which Program is Right for Me?

A simple Google search for “online MBA program” yields over 4 million hits. With such a glut of information available – as well as the abundance of programs varying from small for-profit schools to the smattering of traditional brick–and-mortar schools offering online programs – making a decision would be no easy task. One of my primary focuses was getting a quality education regardless of the medium through which classes were delivered.

Returning to UNC

After considerable research, I decided that MBA@UNC would be the best fit for my current situation. (Full disclosure: As a proud UNC graduate, continuing my education at my alma mater was a no-brainer.) Quarter 1 is now drawing to a close and my impressions of the program – and the choice I made in being part of this inaugural class – are high.

The technology we use is innovative, fun and does not leave me feel like I am lacking by not being in a traditional classroom. In fact, many of my initial reservations with online learning (specifically, not feeling like a “part” of a class) have proved groundless: I meet virtually with my marketing group once a week and I find it as effective as if we were meeting in person; I can text/email/call classmates, just as I would in a traditional program; and professors are available to meet with students in private chats during their office hours. Perhaps the only palpable difference with MBA@UNC and a traditional MBA program is the challenge of juggling a full-time job with a graduate school program!  

About Ana-Laura: Ana-Laura Diaz is currently a practicing attorney living in the South Florida area. After attending UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate, she received her J.D. from the University of Miami. Her love for all things Carolina and the desire to expand her horizons led her to the new MBA@UNC program, where she looks forward to continuing to be "Tar Heel bred."