The COVID-19 pandemic meant a sudden shift to remote work for many, with newfound spare time for baking and bingeing on TV shows. But Elizabeth Hansen saw the restrictions as a golden opportunity to accelerate her progress in the online MBA program with a Concentration in Marketing at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She took one class in 2018 and restarted in the spring of 2020.
"Honestly, this is the perfect time. The online program gave me something to fill the extra time that comes with quarantine," Hansen said. She is the director of business development and an account manager for ProviderScience, a healthcare software startup.
The MBA's online format made her return to higher education easier since she could work the classes into her schedule and still have time for her own interests, like her new puppy.
"Her name's Lolli, like lollipop," Hansen said of her mini goldendoodle.
A New Career Goal, A New Degree
Undertaking the online MBA was a major change for Hansen. She majored in chemical biosciences with an economics minor as an undergrad, but she decided against medical school so she could start working sooner.
She did graduate with her science degree, but her first job fresh out of college was in a sales position where she discovered her aptitude for business, and she started to think about ways to bring her passion for healthcare into the mix.
"The online MBA program was able to make both of those goals fit together," she said.
Hansen is a fan of the online format as well as the seven-week duration for classes.
"I love it," she said. "It's really effective for people with full-time jobs and those who don't have the opportunity or the privilege of being able to stop working full time. I am able to do two classes at once because I just have a dog to take care of, but if I needed to spread it out over two years, I could."
In addition, she found the cost of Southeastern's online MBA program reasonable.
Hansen likes fostering the relationship between her MBA program and her current job and values the career advantage that her classes provide.
For example, the MKT 5243: Marketing Management course helped her create a usable resource for ProviderScience.
"The class lined up perfectly with me putting together a marketing plan for my company," she said.
Taking the management and leadership courses helped prepare her for the administrative side of business, and with ECON 5133: Management Economics, she could hone her financial skills.
"My favorite class so far has actually been Behavioral Management [MNGT 5223]," Hansen said. "It's almost like a psychology course on how to interact better with people and in teams and how those teams interact on an organizational level. It was probably the most applicable class for real-life situations."
Because she wears many different hats at the startup, she is enjoying the opportunity to apply what she learns in the online program to various aspects of her job.
"In almost every class, I'm able to bring something from the MBA program to what I do in the real world," she said.
Coming Full Circle
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with her bachelor's in 2018, Hansen took some time off to start her career. She plans to continue her fast pace through the online MBA program and is on track to finish in February 2021.
She credits her mother with steering her to Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Hansen especially loves that it is in the Sooner State, just like her undergraduate alma mater.
"My mom is thankful that I went back, and all my friends are super supportive," she said.
When she isn't working or studying, Hansen loves reading, relaxing on the patio, and traveling. Her family continues to support her through the program, and they understand that sometimes she needs to focus on coursework for school.
She wants to ultimately use her MBA in a healthcare setting and believes that her business career will allow her to contribute to medicine, just not in the same manner she initially thought she would. She's aspiring to director-level roles in operations management.
"Ultimately, I would love to be over operations at a healthcare Fortune 500," she said.Hansen has some advice for students considering the MBA with a Concentration in Marketing online program.
"You definitely do have to be a self-motivator, but you also can work around your schedule," she said. "I can do schoolwork at 5:00 a.m., because I'm a morning person. Maybe someone's a night owl, so they can do their assignments later in the evening. That makes this program really accessible to everyone."
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