Eric Hamilton has worked at Google, Yahoo and a couple of startups, and he currently works in analytics for a top Wall Street firm. Building on an already impressive job history, Hamilton has set his career sights even further -- he is working on an online MBA with a Data Analytics specialization from LSU Shreveport.
The flexibility of the online program will facilitate his transition to management. "Where I see my career going, say in the next 10 to 15 years, it makes sense," Hamilton said. "I studied computer science as an undergrad, so I have a very technical background. My positions at Google and Yahoo were technical. What I need is something that's more along the lines of business and management, and I needed an MBA."
Hamilton started the online MBA program in July 2018 and hopes to finish in December 2019. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1996, but doesn't find the long break from education daunting. He expects the MBA program to equip him with the business and management know-how required to achieve his professional goals.
"It's definitely going to help not only me, but my current employer. I deal with a lot of data, having a computer science background. Even the coursework for the data analytics specialization, it's going to help the company."
He's based in North Carolina now, but lived in New York when he first enrolled. The online format allowed for a seamless learning experience through the move.
"The flexibility -- it just all made sense. The curriculum was spot on as far as what I wanted to do," Hamilton said. "There are other options for data analytics-related graduate-level coursework. But this one had the balance of data analytics and business I was looking for. It made sense."
Another factor that swayed Hamilton's choice was the affordability of an MBA program focused on his chosen specialization area of data analytics.
So far, Hamilton's favorite course is MKT 701: Marketing Strategy.
"I've been an entrepreneur over the years, and I wish I had taken this course before some of my ventures," Hamilton said. "Some were successful. Some were marginal. Even though that course was a ton of work, it would have been so beneficial to the success of those businesses had I had that marketing course before taking on those ventures."
He looks forward to taking ISDS 702: Quantitative Methods in Business and ISDS 702: Data Analytics for their direct relevance to his full-time job. "I probably will be implementing a lot of what I learn, literally, the same day or the next day," he said. "That's why I'm excited because it's applicable to the success of my current business and my current employer."
Onward With Technology
As a teenager in the early 1980s, Hamilton taught himself to program in BASIC. Learning technology means keeping up and having foresight: "It's on us technology graduates," he said. "We have to learn constantly."
Though he has toyed with the idea of owning his own business, he feels better suited to being "not the captain of the ship, but someone who's helping the ship get to where it needs to go.
"If I'm the number two guy, number three guy, number five guy, I think it works great because I do anything and everything to make it succeed," he said.
Work and Life on a Balance Beam
Balancing online courses while working full time and raising kids is a little difficult for Hamilton, but he's up for the challenge and sees the long term benefits.
"I have two little kids," he said. "I have an almost-one year old and a two-and-a-half-year old. So it's a little tough. You make do. I spend a lot of time at night or after work at the job when it's nice and quiet. Do my studying, turn in assignments -- things like that. You just have to stay at the office late, when it's quiet, to write papers. Just keep it moving. I'm up at 5 a.m. some days, still working on assignments. That's what you have to do."
His family's reaction to his higher education pursuits has been positive. "They think it's great," Hamilton said. "My grades are so much better than when I was an undergrad. I had way more time then. I have way more responsibilities now with a wife, two kids and a full-time job. I didn't have anything 25 years ago. I just had to show up for class. No job. No kids. Just the distraction of school."
His wife supports his decision to go back to school for a graduate business degree. "She's very encouraging," he said. "The time I don't spend with family, she's taking up that slack with the kids."
His parents are especially impressed that he's getting "really, really good grades" compared to when they were funding his education 25 years ago.
The tuition reimbursement from his current employer helps Hamilton focus on his personal investment in the online MBA program, which he finds worthwhile. While his company is helping him financially, they're benefiting as well through Hamilton's experience in the MBA program, including the Organizational Strategy and Practices course (MADM 760).
"I had a strategy class this summer where it allowed me to focus on any topic or any company that has a company profile," he said. "I profiled my current company in the financial industry. It had me thinking about some things that I had not thought about in the past. It forced me into doing some research and understanding my industry better. It's actually paid off already."
Hamilton's advice to students is to simply enjoy the MBA program. Having gained a surprising amount of insight from courses outside his primary interest area, he offers a valuable tip to current and prospective students: Be open to things that you may not necessarily be interested in learning about.
"Case in point is, I took an accounting class," he said. "Even though I wasn't necessarily that interested, there's some things about cost accounting and other accounting methodology that helps frame how I think about the company that I work for.
"Just be open to everything."Learn more about the LSUS online MBA program with a Data Analytics specialization.
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