Weekend - MBA Candidate 2015
Concentration(s): Marketing and Management Information Systems
Industry: Entertainment and Digital Marketing
Undergraduate Degree: Advertising, Broadcast and Electronic Communications, and Marketing
Undergraduate School: Marquette University
Career Goal: Continued growth in leadership, digital marketing and consulting.
Organizations Involved With: Marquette Alumni Association, GMARK, MBAA
Interests/Hobbies: Entertainment, comedy, improv, digital media, digital marketing, cooking, traveling, movies, white wine, FRIENDS TV show (very guilty pleasure)
Favorite Chicago Activities/ Places: Comedy shows, BYOB restaurants and reasonably priced drinks. The Second City, iO, The Public House Theatre, my apartment, Guthrie’s.
Favorite Chicago Restaurants: Filippos, Taste of Asia, Azteca de Oro, Nori Sushi. (Truth is, I have a favorite dish at all of these places and I pretty much get the same thing every time I go there.)
Favorite Part of the Day: Between 10pm and midnight. It’s the only time I ever really have to myself, which is mostly spent working...but I get to light candles and wear pajamas, so that’s a bonus.
Hometown: Menomonee Falls, WI
Tell us about your personal and professional background.
I grew up in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. I graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a dual Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Broadcast and Electronic Communications, and a minor in Marketing. Upon graduation, I traveled to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand for a few months and then moved out to San Diego, California to escape the brutal winters of the Midwest. After working for about a year and a half in San Diego, I decided to move back to the Midwest in pursuit of digital marketing. In the almost six years since I’ve been in Chicago, I’ve worked for a search marketing agency, an advertising technology company, fell in love with Chicago comedy and I am currently employed as the Online Marketing Manager at The Second City. All the while I’ve maintained my focus on digital marketing through branding, content creation, online advertising and web analytics.
What prompted you to return to school to achieve your master’s degree?
My father has worked in higher education his entire life, so education has always been important to me. I realized that I didn’t have much of a business background and wanted to ensure my credibility in an advisory and leadership role by obtaining my MBA. I also felt that earning this degree would open up more opportunities for me in the long run and I wanted to do it sooner than later.
What factor(s) did you consider when choosing a master’s program and why did you choose UIC Liautaud for your graduate study?
For me, it was pricing, flexibility, and reputation. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t digging a financial hole that was too deep to dig myself out of. Flexibility was important as my schedule is already fairly unforgiving, so I needed something that would allow me to do everything I wanted. Lastly, I didn’t want to invest in an institution I wouldn’t be proud to have on my resume. There’s no point in enrolling in classes if you won’t be challenged and learn something new.
We all know that people pursue graduate school to increase their business knowledge, but since you have started the program, what has been the most unexpected gain the program has given you?
A greater perspective of accounting, economics, finance and corporate business strategy. I have never taken any of those classes before, so it’s been tough, to say the least. However, I’ve noticed that even in my daily life, the way I see business now is different and it’s apparent in my regular vocabulary. I say and think about things in ways that I never did before and I’ve found it really useful in both my personal life as well as my career.
Which class/professor has been your favorite thus far and why?
Introduction to Corporate Strategy with Professor Lou Coco. Why? For so many reasons. The class is amazing and I got so excited learning about the overarching strategy of creating, building and bending a business. I only wish the class had been longer, so I would have had more time to soak it all up. Lou is my hands down favorite professor thus far. He has real in-depth experience across a variety of platforms and provides an engaging environment that facilitates lively discussion as opposed to boring lectures you struggle to stay awake in. I would recommend him for any class and I hope I get the opportunity to take another class with him before I graduate.
UIC Liautaud professors are continuously involved in researching new business trends and innovations. How have you felt the professors have been able to integrate their theoretical knowledge into practical applications? Do you have any examples?
Lou Coco has really been the stand-out in terms of discussing business trends. To be fair, there hasn’t been a great deal of opportunity for other professors, given the topics of class. I just started a small business (and by started - I mean legally filed paperwork) and have previous run a Chicago comedy blog, so what I learned in his corporate strategy class, coupled with my knowledge of digital media, really played a large role in developing strategies for both of these entities and my career as a whole.
What is your favorite aspect of the UIC campus and why?
It’s right off the Halsted bus. (I’m only half kidding.) Honestly, being a Weekend MBA student doesn’t allow for a lot of opportunity to explore the campus. The first year I was only taking Saturday classes, so there’s not much to explore but the last few months I’ve been taking weeknight classes and it’s nice arriving to campus early and just soaking in the calmness of the quad. It’s so quiet and peaceful. I love walking onto campus from the corner of Harrison and Halsted, through the tree-lined sidewalk. It’s beautiful - both during early mornings and right before dusk.
What advice would you provide to incoming UIC Liautaud students?
Understand the value of time. This isn’t easy. It’s hard and time consuming. I didn’t realize how little time I would have to do anything else. I’ve been taking two classes a semester, which has meant that I’m in class on Saturdays for about eight hours and most of my weekday evenings are spent doing homework. Now I’m in three night classes, so it’s a full-student class load. It kind of takes over your life. Cherish the moments you have with friends and family and I hope they are as kind and patient with you while you go through this process as mine have been with me. And don’t give up. It’ll be worth it. At least that’s what people keep telling me...
Is there anything you wish we would have asked you, that we did not and you wish to share with students?
Not that you need to ask, but I’ll share anyway: create your own opportunities. If you’re looking into grad school, chances are you aren’t the type of person satisfied by the status quo anyway, but either way, don’t be afraid to go get what you want. Figure out what it is that you want and then work really hard to get it. I can say from experience, it’s absolutely worth it.
What is the best part about your UIC Liautaud experience?
The people I’ve met. I’m constantly amazed at the diversity of students in my class. I would most likely never have encountered these people in my daily life, but I’m fascinated by all of them. I have so much respect for everyone I’ve gone through the Weekend MBA program with. They’re such a smart, eclectic group of people and I feel very privileged to be learning side by side with them. I enjoyed being a part of the cohort program because we all started to get to know each other and helped each other out. We kind of looked out for one another. That kind of trust and knowing that other people have your back, that meant a lot to me. I’m a people person. Since I’m not in weekend classes anymore, I really miss everyone!