2022 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Matthew Hamman, Auburn University (Harbert)

Matthew Hamman

Auburn University, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business Online MBA Program

“Hard-working, analytically minded individual with a passion for learning, travel, and spending time with family.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Fairview Park, OH

Fun fact about yourself: I have driven from Cleveland, OH to San Diego, CA in less than 3 days, with my wife and our two dogs, all crammed inside a small 2-door car.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • S. Mechanical Engineering, Cleveland State University
  • S. Mechanical Engineering, Cleveland State University

Where are you currently working? Mechanical Engineer II at Collins Aerospace

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? On several occasions, I have delivered technical presentations in front of dozens of people, including officials from NASA and the EU. I am especially proud of this achievement because, before I started doing these types of presentations, I had a great fear of public speaking.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? There were several reasons why I chose Auburn University for my online MBA. First, both the University and the online MBA program are highly regarded yet are still affordable to students. Next, while I was researching different MBA programs, I found that some schools require non-business majors to take several business courses before beginning the MBA program. Auburn did not have this requirement. Instead, they provided a series of lectures to communicate the key business concepts to non-business undergraduates like myself, ensuring that I was well-prepared. Finally, Auburn offers the opportunity to focus your studies on several different disciplines and you can even earn a graduate certificate concurrently with the MBA. I am interested in analytics and was fortunate enough to earn a graduate certificate in business analytics along with my MBA.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part of being in an online MBA is the flexibility it offers over a traditional MBA program. That flexibility makes it possible for working professionals to meet their obligations at school, at work, and at home.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The most surprising thing was just how easy I found the transition to 100% online learning. During my undergraduate studies, I took only one online course, and I did not enjoy the experience. I felt very disconnected from the instructor, and it seemed as though I was teaching myself the material. This was not the case at Auburn. While watching the lectures at home (which were typically recorded earlier that day), I felt like I was receiving the same quality of instruction as I would have if I had been there in-person.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Overall, my experience as an online student at Auburn was very comparable to my previous experience as an in-the-classroom student. The main difference between the two was the ability to ask the instructor questions in real time. Although Auburn does provide their online-MBA students with the ability to watch a live stream of the lectures (and ask questions in real time), they occurred during the middle of the day while I was at work. Therefore, if I needed to ask a question, it had to be done after the fact via email.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? The best piece of advice I can offer an online MBA applicant is to fight the urge to wait until the last minute to start your schoolwork. Speaking from experience, procrastinating makes it very difficult to get your work done at the end of the semester, while you are also working a full-time job. Juggling the responsibilities of school, work, and home life is made much easier by being proactive with your schoolwork.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? A big part of an MBA program is networking with your classmates. Almost every course at Auburn has at least one group project and I have been fortunate enough to expand my network to include the classmates I worked on these projects with. However, outside of these group projects, it is difficult to find opportunities to network with the greater MBA cohort. Therefore, creating more networking opportunities for online MBA students is one change that I would make.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I have an engineering background and I came into the program with very little knowledge of how my company operates from a business standpoint. The concepts that I learned during the program have helped to fill this knowledge gap and they have made me better at financial forecasting and project costing. In addition, the analytics courses that I took as electives provided me with new analytics tools that I have applied to some of my engineering projects.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? Yes, I was promoted to the next level of engineer during the program.

Did you earn a raise during the online MBA program? I did not receive a raise pertaining to the MBA program, although I did receive annual merit increases.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 10-20 hours per week

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate career goal is to enter engineering management and eventually rise to the level of director of engineering.

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