Alex Turner, a Strategic Workflow Consultant at Roche and first-year Online MBA student, wanted to become a better people leader. Though still an early career professional, he saw pursuing an advanced business degree as the most straightforward pathway to professional growth. Butler University’s Online MBA program offered Turner the opportunity to achieve his goals while continuing to advance his career and travel for work.
Turner attributes the flexible nature of the Online MBA program to his success and acknowledges that it takes a village to earn a graduate degree. His advice? Let your network know that returning to school is your priority. Below, Turner shares more about what motivated him to return to school and how the Online MBA curriculum has added value to his career.
Knowing that you’re at an earlier stage of your career, what made this the right time to pursue your MBA?
I decided to pursue an MBA early in my career because life will only get crazier with more responsibilities. For ease of scheduling and balancing work, life, and school, I thought it would be simplest at this point in my life. That’s why I decided to tackle it now.
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How have you found a balance between work, school, life, and relationships?
For the most part, it’s been going well. I’m definitely a better student than I was in my undergraduate days. I don’t procrastinate as much, and I’m much more organized. The fact that I create a weekly plan for my studies and set aside scheduled time to do my homework is important. And the fact that my employer is comfortable with me dedicating company time to classwork has been really helpful.
Before you decided to return to school, did you have any reservations? What, if anything, held you back?
One of my main reservations was the financial investment. I have a lot of undergraduate loans, and I’m very fortunate that Roche helps to pay for my master’s education. Once I got my feet under me there, I felt like I had enough credibility to raise my hand and say, “Will you help me pay for my education?” I needed to wait until I felt established; that was the biggest thing holding me back.
Did you ever consider a residential program, or did you always know you wanted to pursue an MBA online?
I always knew it was going to be an online MBA for me because I travel so much for work. Some people will take breaks from work to go and complete a master’s program, but I really like where I am in my career currently and enjoy the job, so I didn’t want to give that up. I also travel 65 to 75 percent of the time, so it wouldn’t be feasible for me to be on campus.
Had you taken online classes before?
I took some online courses as an undergraduate and a few before starting in my master’s degree program. For example, I took a few online courses to help sharpen my programming skills, but I didn’t enroll in an online degree program. Coming into this completely online program, I have found the experience has been great so far. Even with it being online, the Butler experience translates, and there’s a personal touch. It’s been really comforting to me.
Has it been challenging to attend live class sessions while traveling?
Everyone I work with knows my class schedule, and they’re very respectful of that. I think the biggest thing is letting the people around you know that you’re pursuing a degree, and they’ll be respectful of your time and help hold you accountable. That’s my relationship with my current manager, who always asks how the program is going. They’re very supportive of me putting time on the calendar during the workday to do coursework.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering earning an MBA online but worried about balancing work and school?
Two main things: First, stay organized–not only with the school portion but also in your work and personal lives. There are a million and one different things life will throw at you on a regular basis. You need to make sure that each of those cups in your life remains full and let the people around you know if you need to prioritize one of those buckets over others at any given time. Second, let people know what you’re doing. Let your employers, or significant others, know what you need to work on, and everyone will be supportive of that.