Benefits of higher education

The business world is more competitive than ever today. Companies compete for market share, and people compete for jobs. It’s not as easy as it used
to be, and often a higher education degree
can be the difference between you and
another person vying for the same job.

Jennifer Garrabrant knows that all too
well. That’s why she’s currently enrolled in
the Master of Business Administration
(MBA) program offered by Mount Vernon
Nazarene University (MVNU) at several
Ohio campuses, including Cincinnati. So
far, she’s seen her pursuit of higher education result in numerous promotions at
work, and she’s not stopping there.

Smart Business spoke with Garrabrant
on how she’s been able to juggle a job with
school and what skills she expects to have
once she completes her degree.

How has pursuing a higher education degree
helped your career?

I received my bachelor’s degree in business administration from MVNU in July
2006. In October 2006, I started the MBA
program with an expected completion date
of July 2008. My education is definitely
going to help me reach my career goal,
which is to become a college professor.
With that in mind, I’ll go straight into a
Ph.D. program after I complete my MBA.

Achieving that does not happen
overnight. I’ve still got a long way to go
before I get there. In the meantime, I’m
working full-time in the banking industry. I
started out as a teller and, within nine
months, was promoted to customer service representative (personal banker). Two
years after that, I was promoted to assistant branch manager. One of the requirements for that position was a business
degree in finance, business administration
or a related field. So my degree had a lot to
do with helping me get promoted at my
current place of employment.

What are the skills you’ve attained that you
can now use to attract an employer?

I have gained many skills throughout my
educational experience, including research skills, which are gained through working
on many research projects; written communication skills, which are gained by
using practical, real-world applications
through case studies, short and long
essays, etc.; oral communication skills,
which are gained through giving multiple
presentations in each class; organizational
skills; management skills; computer skills;
and interpersonal skills, which are gained
by working on group projects and presentations.

Other skills I’ve attained include communicating effectively, coaching skills, leading
by example, project planning, analytical
and problem solving skills, motivating people toward a common goal and team building skills.

Would you recommend higher education to
other adults?

I would strongly recommend higher education to other adults. Having a bachelor’s
or master’s degree will make a person
much more marketable to employers.
Many of the positions I came across
throughout many job searches required a
bachelor’s degree. I’m also beginning to see
that many companies are looking for people with a master’s degree. Higher education is very important, and you’re never too
old to go back to school. There was one
gentleman in my Bachelor of Business
Administration program whose goal, after
completing his degree, was to retire!

How have you been able to juggle school
with work or other responsibilities?

Working full time and going to school full
time has been very challenging as it
requires a great deal of time and commitment. Were it not for the Adult and
Graduate Studies program offered by
MVNU, I don’t know that I would have
been able to continue my education. The
Adult and Graduate Studies BBA and MBA
programs are designed specifically for
working adults. I only attend class one
night a week for four hours — usually from
6 p.m. to 10 p.m. — and only have to worry
about one class at a time. Depending on the
program, it can take from 19 to 21 months
to complete. There’s a heavy workload —
some classes more than others — and a lot
of on-your-own study time. There’s also a
low student-to-professor ratio, which
allows for more individual attention.

How would you compare yourself now to
when you entered the program?

I’m much more confident now than when
I started my BBA program. Most people
have a fear of speaking in front of others,
and I did too. I used to be terrified to talk in
front of a crowd of people. But because I
had to make several presentations in my
classes, I’ve become a lot better, and that’s
just one more skill I attribute to higher education. I’ve also learned what it means to
lead by example, to solve problems by
thinking creatively, to motivate people
toward a common goal and to build a team
that works efficiently and effectively
together. I’ve grown not only in business
knowledge but as an individual as well.

JENNIFER GARRABRANT is a student in the Master of
Business Administration program offered by Mount Vernon
Nazarene University. For more information contact MVNU in
Cincinnati at (513) 722-2085.