Jacob Burgin makes a living solving logistical problems. That experience came in handy when he wanted to return to college for a graduate degree.
"Let's just say for the first couple of years that I wasn't doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing while I was in school for my bachelor's degree," he said. "That resulted in below-average grades. I took a year off to work full time.'"
Nearly 10 years later, including 13 months working in Afghanistan, Burgin is enrolled in the LSU Shreveport online Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization program. His work experience demonstrated the initiative and follow-through that wasn't necessarily reflected in his undergraduate GPA.
"When I was accepted, I was excited," he said.
Burgin, who will graduate in 2019, is regional logistics and transportation manager for Fastenal in Denton, Texas. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in sociology from the University of North Texas in 2009.
"With the positions I was looking for, I wanted something that brought me a little bit closer to the top of the field and at least gave me the opportunity to set myself apart," he said. "I'm looking for, at minimum, a director-type job and some vice president-type jobs in the future. If I didn't have the MBA, I wouldn't have the opportunity to be set apart."
Change of Plans
Burgin, who grew up in Flower Mound, Texas, originally planned for a career in real estate. He worked for a mortgage company after he graduated from UNT. While the economy was in crisis, he spent most of his time talking to people whose houses were being foreclosed upon.
"I met a guy who was the CEO of a company called Onsite Occupational Health and Safety," Burgin explained. "He said, 'I've got something you can do if you're interested in going and doing it.' I said, 'I'm interested because the mortgage industry is killing me.' He said, 'It's in Afghanistan. You might be shot at.' I said, 'Sounds like fun. Let's go for it.'"
That was how Burgin started his logistics career. He quickly became deputy project manager while moving medical supplies across the war-torn country. Later, he signed a second contract with the company to do the same job in a slightly safer environment -- the Fort Worth office.
"I was running medical logistics, moving specimens across the United States," Burgin said. "I was enjoying it. Then, they said, 'We'd like to close the Fort Worth office. We want to promote you to vice president, but you have to move to Princeton, Indiana.'"
Burgin decided the relocation was not right for him. Four months later, he landed a job at Fastenal.
"Fastenal is one of those companies that likes to promote from within," he said. "In this case, they did not. They brought me in, and I was the only outsider who was a manager. Everybody else was promoted from a position within Fastenal."
Burgin applied to the LSUS online MBA program because of its affordable tuition and the fact that the university considers work experience during the application process.
"That doesn't necessarily exempt your grades, but when I saw LSUS took work experience, I knew I had an opportunity to do it," he said. "It would have been tough if I were to have taken this exact program 10 years ago. I didn't have the drive then that I do now -- I have developed this over the years. If I want it and my own money is at stake, I'm going to go do it."
The online format was essential for Burgin to succeed.
"I envy most people who work 40-50 hours a week, because I am pretty much on call 24/7," he said. "It's taken some doing but [the online program] works with my schedule. I find the time, whether it's the beginning of the day or the end of the day."
Burgin is in the early stages of taking his fourth course in the online MBA curriculum. To date, ECON 705: Economic Analysis for Management is his favorite one.
"I've always enjoyed economics," he said. "The teacher, Dr. Tim Shaughnessy, is great. I like the way that he teaches, the way that he helps people and the way he forces people to learn. That particular class -- the subject, the actual teaching, the flow of the class and what you have to do -- was the hardest class, but it was also one of the most enjoyable for me."
Burgin is relying on the support system of his family while he completes the online MBA program.
Most evenings, Burgin comes home from work and starts preparing dinner. When his wife, Elizabeth, gets home, she cooks dinner while he starts schoolwork. After eating, Burgin is right back online.
"My wife already has her master's in athletic training," he said. "She's completely okay with me going after this and doing it. She knows it's a process. The difference is she went more full-time and did it right after her bachelor's degree."
Burgin's family is also happy he is making the most of his second opportunity in higher education.
"My dad was proud," he said. "After my first bachelor's experience, we didn't think that a master's degree was in the cards. They've been very supportive."
Now that he is in the midst of a master's program, Burgin is glad his college experience didn't end with a bachelor's degree.
"There is no easy button, no easy way up," he said. "You have to do the work and dedicate the time to get the job done. If you're not going to be dedicated to it, don't waste your money or time. It is attainable, but it is not easy."
Learn more about the LSUS online MBA with a General Business Specialization program.
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