Alyssa Harder admits finding an MBA program wasn’t easy. Both she and her husband Chris Glimco were University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering alumni, who took strikingly different career paths – yet they wanted to concurrently pursue an advanced degree. Harder took the lead researching programs that had concentrations to fit both of their careers.
“I work in technical sales and wanted to bolster that background with a stronger focus in marketing. At the time, my husband worked on operations and finance planning projects that are hundreds of millions of dollars and was looking for more leadership and finance skills. We graduated a year apart in undergrad, and so we wanted to have a ‘cap and gown moment’ together,” Harder said.
Harder said that although it made sense to return to the University of Illinois for graduate school, the decision was not made blindly. She said she evaluated how much time she traveled for work — 2 to 5 days a week – and their mutual desire to keep weekends sacred for being with each other.
“Quitting to do a full-time program would be counterproductive. An online program seemed to make the most sense,” Harder said, adding that she watched lectures almost exclusively downloaded for viewing on the 100+ planes she rode each year, making use of time that would previously have been wasted.
“The quality of the content was extraordinary. Pre-recording the lectures prompts professors to put a lot of effort into the way they present the material, and it was generally concise, clear, and well thought out. I also liked the ability to repeat lectures with more complex material or review the transcripts for added clarification,” she said.
Harder was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of her classmates worked as a manager at one of her large customers.
“Because iMBA candidates are generally still working their full-time position, the connections are strong and diverse. I work remotely for my job, and this was just an extension of that mentality,” Harder said.
Both Harder and Glimco are among the 53% of iMBA graduates who receive a promotion, job offer, or accept a new position during the program. Harder was promoted within her company to her current role. Glimco was also promoted and has since moved to a new position and company.
“I love my job but also wanted an MBA to remain competitive at my company. Everything from the MBA applies to my current position, but not always in the way you think it will,” said Harder. “It may mean better understanding why a client decides to rent versus buy equipment, why a past manager was less successful, or why a CEO restructures a firm. I would not say it has been a single lightbulb moment, but a continuous flow of information filling in the gaps.”
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