Ada Carrillo was an online MBA student at Florida International University (FIU) with a passion for project management. A Cuban immigrant, Ada came to Miami when she was 6 years old. Just as her parents had done, Ada, a single mother, wanted to create a better life for herself and her adult daughters. FIU's online MBA program seemed like the right fit.
"I've already had a very successful career with many Fortune 500 companies, and I asked myself, 'Why pursue an MBA now?'" she says. "I'm so far along and so successful, but the current market demands it. I've learned so much as far as what's new in technology, what's new in behavioral sciences, dealing with people and groups, and right now it's all about project management."
Juggling work and family commitments
Her company's relocation to Seattle was another factor in Ada's decision. During that transition, which also included the restructuring of an office in the United Kingdom (UK), Ada had to balance many commitments: traveling extensively to and from Seattle and the UK, spending time with her grown daughters and taking care of her retired parents, who live with her. The flexibility of FIU's online program enabled Ada to get an advanced degree without sacrificing work and family commitments.
"Pursuing an MBA in a traditional classroom would be impossible for me," Ada says. "I needed the flexibility of the [Corporate MBA] online program, particularly because of the extent of my travel to Seattle and the UK."
As for a typical day in the online program, Ada says: "You can study before you even start your day, so before you even start working you can complete assignments, you can do some reading online, you can listen to your professors' lectures and then go off to work. And then when you come back, you can study during your lunch break, you can study in the evenings after work. It's very, very flexible."
Enjoyed the people
Flexibility is just one of the things that Ada enjoyed with the online MBA program. The people she met also made a big impact.
"We worked in many groups and I met people from all over the world – people from Greece, from Portugal, the UK – all over the world," Ada says. "International business is a given [in an MBA program], and here I had students living in those countries."
Her professors were another draw.
"My professors had wonderful credentials," Ada says. "They had real-life experiences. They had their own careers. They were successful. So they could talk to me [about] how I could apply what I was learning to my everyday life, my work life."
She continues: "I have to say that the FIU program offered a lot because I was able to work in groups and meet people from all over the world in a very interesting environment, online. I thought I wouldn't be able to work interactively with others, being in an online program, but I was pleasantly surprised that you can bond via an online environment with others."
Fears about online program eased
Ada initially had a few reservations about an online degree program, but they were quickly dispelled.
"Some of the challenges my first semester were taking online exams," she says. "I wasn't accustomed to taking it online. I was apprehensive about the technology. Was it going to work when I needed it to? And I did run into a hiccup the first semester where the internet went down, but the professors are very flexible: If they can verify that there was an interruption [with the technology], they will work with you to make sure that you can complete your assignments on time."
FIU a natural choice
As for why she chose FIU, Ada says: "I chose FIU because it's a school I'm familiar with, and I've gone to school for my undergraduate [degree] there before, so it was an easy decision."
The decision was made even easier when she received a scholarship from her employer, which is one of FIU's corporate partners.
Now, with a Corporate MBA in hand, Ada's career shows no signs of slowing down.
"I am so excited to be able to put that MBA behind my name," she says. "Having my MBA makes me feel more confident to pursue not only a career in corporate America, but also to run my own business, which is what I'm doing now," Ada says. "It's been quite a ride, but I stayed positive because the CMBA program gave me confidence that I would get a job. I never doubted that for a minute."
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