On Receiving My Master’s

Well, I knew this week would come eventually.

I’ve been looking forward to it since exactly a year ago.

This is the one-year anniversary of me leaving my crummy retail job in pursuit of bigger and better things – namely, the MA in Integrated Marketing Communications Program at Marist College.  I left the store to go back to school full-time, which is what I’ve been doing since last August.  Most participants in the program do it for two years, but I wanted to knock it out in one.  You know, just to get it out of the way and get working.

When I first began the program, I really didn’t know what to expect from an online environment.  Some people prefer a real-time environment because they feed off the professor and other students, and they also have the ability to ask questions at the precise moment they don’t understand something.  With an online program, you don’t have those luxuries, but there are a few great advantages to it.

For one, you have the ability to truly broaden your network with a wide variety of people.  I graduated with at least fifty other people – coming from all corners of the USA – Massachusetts, South Carolina, Minnesota, California.  And, of course, all of these people bring their own unique experiences and perspectives to the arena, just as you do, so it really enriches the academic experience.

And you know what else enriches the academic experience?  The connection of the curriculum to real-world activities.  Between the class assignments, case studies, projects, blog posts, and everything else, I’ve researched so many companies including, but definitely not limited to, Lincoln Motor Company, Oscar Mayer, Nike, Red Bull, Chobani, Sears, Target, Pizza Hut, Tesla Motors, Dockers, IBM, Intel, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and most recently, Nintendo.

I even had the opportunity to meet Don Schultz, Professor Emeritus-in-Service at the Medill School at Northwestern University, and the man most commonly regarded as “founding” Integrated Marketing Communications.  It was incredibly enlightening to hear his perspectives on where IMC has been, where it’s going, and what we have to do if we want to stay along for the ride.  Luckily, I’m close enough to campus so that if they continue their speaker series, I’ll be able to come back for them.

I will admit, the road hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns.  It’s been very difficult at times.  Perhaps the biggest sacrifice I had to make when doing this program was my social life, and my ability to go out and do fun things.  However, I made the choice that I’d go back to school, and in the long run, the investment of time was well-worth it.

I say that because this program helped me land a wonderful new opportunity as the marketing director for a financial services firm located in beautiful, scenic Florida, New York.  Home of endless onion fields, Polish delis, and “Polka King” Jimmy Sturr.  I actually had the opportunity to hear him perform last weekend.  While eating kielbasa, pierogies and stuffed cabbage.  You really couldn’t get more Polish than I was that day.

I’ve worked through this summer (which seems like it’s flown by, hasn’t it?), and after I give my final course presentation Friday evening, I’m done.

School’s out forever.

While most of me won’t miss the work, part of me will miss it because it made me feel so connected with the world of marketing.  For someone who graduated from college with very little marketable job skills, this program has helped me discover qualities about myself that I didn’t really know were there.  It’s made me become more worldly and tech-savvy.  It’s helped shape me into a better businessperson.

And for those reasons, I would highly recommend the Marist IMC program to anyone.  I’m part of only the second cohort to finish the program, so the way I see it, it can only get better from here.

If you’d like more information about the program, visit http://www.marist.edu/admission/graduate/integratedmarketingcommunication/.  Any questions?  Drop me a line.  I’d be glad to share more experiences.

So…I guess I’ll see you next week.  You’ll see me trying to find my footing in a brand-new gravity.  But I think I’ll settle in just fine.

Take care!

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