Balancing Education and Career: As a MBA Student Kim Lessig had to Figure Out How to Do it All

November 2010

Kim Lessig pursued her MBA at Widener University while working full-time as a Product Marketing Manager at EducationDynamicsa. Gradel took some time to detail her experience as a graduate business student.

interview with MBA student Kim Lessig

GradSchools: What did you major in as an undergrad? Did it help your graduate studies?

As an undergrad, I majored in English and religion. While neither of these was directly applicable to my business studies, both majors taught me to think critically and to write well. These are certainly transferable skills for life and for my MBA

GradSchools: What is the most difficult aspect of the MBA program and of the business field in general? What do you find most rewarding?

Not coming in with any background in business, I needed to play catch up at the beginning of the program, taking all my fundamental courses in economics, finance, etc., in a relatively short period of time. This was a challenging way to start the program. Business is challenging because you can learn the principles, but the application changes widely based on your industry and the particular situation. That’s also what makes it fun.

I find the applicability of my studies the most rewarding aspect of the program. When I can turn around and use something from the classroom the next day at my job, it is immensely satisfying. For instance, our management team was having a meeting to discuss our company values and to try to redefine them in a way that was more meaningful for our overall direction. I was able to contribute an excellent article from my leadership class that provided a great framework for the discussion. I believe we ended up with a much better final product due to the information I shared from my MBA those are the days the work I’m putting into the program seem the most rewarding.

GradSchools: What advice would you give students considering the business field?

I definitely would recommend business management for students who enjoy problem solving and interacting with people. If students are considering an MBA, however, I would strongly recommend they get out and work for a few years before entering a program. I thought at first that it was excessive of programs to require work experience, and that I could handle the coursework without such a background. While that may be true, I wouldn’t be getting nearly as much out of it, and since MBA students are learning from their fellow students, I wouldn’t be able to contribute nearly as much either.

GradSchools: What do you expect to get out of the MBA program?

Mostly, I hope to learn information that will help me be a better manager on a day-to-day basis. I was promoted to management without that background and have been learning it as I go along, but it’s immensely helpful to get the theoretical background to decisions I was making solely on intuition before I entered the program. I also anticipate getting a raise and possibly a promotion, which while not my primary motivation will certainly be nice.

GradSchools: How do you view your future given your education choices? How will your MBA degree figure in?

I was lucky to get a chance to join the management team of my company without having previously earned a degree in business. However, I view the MBA degree as vital to my doing my job better and advancing in my career. I think it’s excellent knowledge to have, no matter what direction I choose to pursue in the future.

GradSchools: What interdisciplinary electives do you think enhance your MBA education?

Because I’m in a tightly focused program, I’m not taking many interdisciplinary electives. However, I am focusing my electives mostly toward marketing and business process, which are areas of business that really interest me and are relevant to my current job responsibilities.

GradSchools: What is your biggest regret regarding your MBA education, so far?

I’m generally sorry I don’t have more time to dedicate to my studies. Balancing work, school and the rest of my life is tricky, and while I put time into my coursework, I know I could put more time in and would get more out of the information if I did so. That said, I’d still rather be working as I think it gives me a better “laboratory” than just extra studying would provide.

GradSchools: What are you involved with, outside the classroom?

Widener University brings in a number of guest speakers to run special seminars on selected topics that are relevant to practicing business in the professional world, but aren’t necessarily going to fit into any of our classroom learning. Other than that, I’m working, which definitely enhances my understanding of the material. I can apply what I’m learning immediately, which I find is different from my undergrad experience and makes the learning very satisfying.

GradSchools: Does involvement outside the classroom enhance your learning?

The guest speakers are awesome and frequently provide insights into business that I couldn’t get just from my professors. They generally encourage interaction from the students and allow us to ask questions. However, one of the biggest enhancements to my learning is actually my fellow students. Because we come from many different industries and positions, insights from within the student body can be as interesting as those from the professors.

GradSchools: How much does geography figure into the study?

I definitely considered location when picking my program. While I wanted a high quality education, the fact that I can walk to school from where I work tipped the scales heavily in favor of Widener. Another big factor, though, was how supportive the Widener staff was in helping me with the application process and being accommodating to me as a working adult.

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