Lucas Canning knew that he could not realize his career dreams without an MBA – and he couldn't earn an MBA without an online program. That made him a great candidate for the Corporate MBA online program at FIU.
"I wanted to pursue my MBA because I knew that it was the best way for me to further my career and to reach the goals that I'd always dreamed about," Lucas says. "I had been in my career for about four years when... I realized that I wasn't going to make the ultimate progress that I wanted to make [in my career] until I enrolled in an MBA program and added that to my resume."
Lucas says when he envisioned his dream career in management in the technology industry, many of the jobs or companies he might pursue required an MBA.
"It became a natural progression for me to want to choose to take that path in my education," Lucas says. "So I moved to [Miami], where I knew there would be plenty of opportunity, and found a reputable school in FIU, where all the faculty are mostly tenured."
Lucas said he values the opportunity to gain professional development experience and further his education at his own pace at the same time.
"Having an online MBA program like the one offered here at FIU really makes that happen," he says. "You are able to log in when you see fit at any time during the week, be it morning, noon or night. If you have kids, you can work around your schedule, taking care of your family. It's really been a wonderful thing for me. My online MBA has been the reason why I'm here today."
As for why Lucas chose FIU: "There are a lot of reasons why I chose FIU to do my Corporate MBA online. The main reason is convenience. That's not to say that the courses are easy, but they're definitely more convenient because my office is wherever my laptop is and my Internet connection is available. So a lot of the personal obligations that I have in my daily life are more easily met because I chose to go to school online as opposed to on campus."
In addition, Lucas says he was impressed with the FIU faculty.
"Ninety-seven percent of the FIU faculty hold the highest possible degree in their field, so there was certainly a level of trust right from the beginning when I chose FIU to pursue my online MBA as opposed to another college," he says.
Availability and flexibility of professors
"My online professors were extremely professional," Lucas says. "Every single one of them was always available to me, even on the weekends. They were always willing to answer my emails, even my personal phone calls about course content or even career advice."
The flexibility that online coursework provides was an added benefit.
"I was able to attend family vacations and even a wedding because I was doing my school online as opposed to having an on-site obligation."
"The online MBA program allowed me to work with my professor to open my online quizzes at a different time so that I could be a part of [my brother's] wedding," Lucas says. "Because it was an online environment, they were able to do that for me so that I could still have my personal life and meet my obligations while not falling behind in the course."
"I remember being extremely stressed out about that and feeling a lot more at ease because I knew that I had that support being that I was an online student," he says.
Additional benefits of an online program
Flexibility and convenience aren't the only benefits of an online program, Lucas says.
"I think that one of the inherent advantages to taking a course online or taking a program online is that you are forced to work with people who aren't necessarily on your time schedule," he says. "They're in a different time zone, which is just like [being in] the real world and any corporate environment. I had people that lived in Colorado, lived in California, in the Caribbean, so I was always having to coordinate my schedule with theirs."
"It became a challenge at times, but we used things like Skype to keep in touch, and it really prepared all of us, I think [for real-world business settings]," he says. "One of the inherent advantages to working with people in different time zones was that it prepared me to work in a global environment before being in a corporate environment that is inherently global."
"One of the students I worked with more closely was from Columbia," Lucas says. "I worked with her extensively on all kinds of projects, mock project management, even a corporate simulation class where we pretended that we were different executives in a mock corporate company. Working with her was great because she was dedicated and professional and it gave me the idea that this was exactly what it was going to be like for me when I got out into the corporate world."
Adjusting to an online environment
"Getting used to an online environment may seem challenging at first," Lucas says, "but once you get the hang of it, it's very, very convenient. You learn to set your own schedule, which I think is also an important secondary skill."
"The secondary challenge was working with people in different time zones, having to make sure that you were available when they could meet with you and vice versa and just making sure that everybody felt like they were having ample time to contribute to group projects because of those geographic limitations, time limitations. So I really learned to manage my time and my resources more efficiently because I had to do it on my own in the online environment."
With his MBA in hand, Lucas has high hopes for the future.
"Where I'm hoping to be is in a role that allows me to lead people," he says. "People have always been my passion, and in order to successfully manage people, you have to be able to manage projects, you have to be able to manage time, you have to be able to manage budgets, and to be able to do those things without an MBA is very difficult because those are all of the skills, the essential competencies that an online MBA teaches you."
Lucas adds: "I really think that being able to synergize all the things I've learned in my MBA program along with what I've been doing the last four years is a really natural transition for me, so I'm looking forward to doing that."
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