During the last seven years as an ERP consultant, I have been traveling and relocating for work – sometimes to multiple locations in a single year. In this time span, I have lived in four countries (India, Malaysia, Singapore and USA), four states within the U.S. and two different states in India. I was based in California about two years ago when I decided to get an MBA, a degree that would help me progress in my field, but was immediately faced with a dilemma. I didn’t know if I should give up my thriving career for two years to pursue a full-time MBA.
Fortunately, I learned about Kelley’s online MBA while I was still weighing the facts, and it seemed to be the most appropriate option for me. The first thing that caught my attention when I was researching Kelley was that the online program’s faculty was the same faculty who teach in the full-time program. The next thing was the class profile. The average GMAT score was comparable to many of the top ranking MBA programs and higher than all but one local option. This was important to me because I knew much of my learning would come from peers, and they would be a large part of my future network.
When I started discussing my intentions about attending Kelley’s online MBA program to my inner circle, I had to answer many questions. A colleague asked if I would be able to manage both work and the MBA. I felt confident that the flexibility that Kelley Direct offered would enable me to succeed on both fronts and explained that to him. I knew that a little sacrifice in the form of studying during the weekends and missing some recreation time would be worth the value that I would earn from having an MBA. A family member also questioned the value and authenticity of an online degree. I had done my research and understood the value of a Kelley degree – whether it was online or in person – and saw that others did too. Still, I did not try to answer my family right away. I felt that the best answer I could give would be my career growth.
My desired response came sooner than I expected. Shortly after the first Kelley Connect Week, where we were tasked with updating our LinkedIn profile, I was taken aback by this message from a Microsoft recruiter on LinkedIn:
“Due to your educational background in CS and MBA along with your experience in Basis Administration, I wanted to see if a Senior IT Service Engineer role at Microsoft would be of interest to you. If you are open to new opportunities at Microsoft, please feel free to contact me”
Several interviews later, Microsoft offered me a job.
Interview tips from the Graduate Career Services Kelley Connect Week session and the communication skills feedback from professors at the end of the week were extremely helpful in landing this offer. They helped me to present myself better during the entire hiring process.
By pursuing my MBA, I did not miss anything in my life; rather, I gained a lot: I got a better job opportunity and made a lot of friends all while personally getting engaged and subsequently married last year.
When I saw Kelley Direct was ranked number 1 again by U.S. News & World Report I was both excited and grateful. These rankings are a reinforcement of my findings when I was researching the program – that Kelley Direct is one of the top online MBA programs. Since I started, I have witnessed our program get better day by day. The feedback loop is excellent, stemming from our faculty and staff’s responsive nature and culture of continuous innovation. With the new courses for consulting and entrepreneurship that were just announced this year, I am sure it gets only better from here.
Siddhartha R. Venkataraman is a seasoned IT professional with over 7 years of experience. He is currently pursuing a dual-degree MBA + MS in Business Analytics in the Kelley Direct Program while working for Microsoft as a senior service engineer in SAP ERP space.