Olivia Sanchez didn't choose marketing. Marketing chose her.
Sanchez earned her bachelor's degree in psychology and political science, but when she took a marketing job right after graduation, she knew she had found her calling.
"There's a lot of reasons why I went back to earn my MBA, but one of them is that I wanted to learn more," she said. "Another one is that my husband, Adrian, and I started a business."
LSU Shreveport's Master of Business Administration with a Marketing Specialization online program has given Sanchez what she was looking for to advance in her career and in her small business.
"Currently I work for Teladoc, Inc., as a project manager specializing in direct mail and print production," she said. "The real goal of the MBA is to give myself more of a business background. Right now, my background is mostly in doing marketing as opposed to building the strategy behind it or developing products for business."
Sanchez is also building up her family business, 8Bit Education, a STEM program in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Her work involves creating new curriculum, seeking new partners and developing marketing materials for the program, which has seen steady growth in the last four years.
"8Bit Education offers afterschool classes and summer camps for kids," she explained. "We partner up with a lot of the private schools here to provide curriculum during the school year — specifically robotics, game design, web design, graphic design. We've expanded from three locations to 13, and now we have 30 different types of camps."
With her attention split between two jobs, Sanchez sought a master's program that allowed her the flexibility to keep up with her life at a price she could afford.
"I can set aside time out of my day where it's going to work for me," she said. "I wanted to have a program that was 100% online because I just could not afford to go back to school and switch down to working part time."
With good planning, Sanchez has found a way to make her education work full time for her and her split career.
Asking the Right Questions
Sanchez will graduate in December 2020, and when she does, she will have a plethora of new skills to lend to her jobs thanks to the rigorous coursework at LSUS.
"I enjoyed Small Business and Family Enterprise [MADM 752] because it showed how family businesses are different from a corporate enterprise," she explained with her dual career in mind. "It also illustrated some of the pitfalls that I should be looking out for as somebody who owns a family business that is growing pretty rapidly."
The outside perspective Sanchez received from the course gave her a lot to think about as she considers staffing up for her business.
"As we grow, we are going to need to hire people who are outside of the family, so we have to ask ourselves how that is going to change our dynamic," she said. "What makes us different is that we are not a franchise. We are 100% minority-owned and operated locally and that makes a big difference to our clients. How do we make sure that we're still able to say that and grow at the rate that we need to?"
Though Sanchez does not have an answer just yet, she is certain that the tools she has received will allow her to make informed decisions in the future.
Sanchez is also happy to be applying her enhanced marketing knowledge to her work at Teladoc.
"I took the International Marketing class [MKT 710] because Teladoc has actually expanded into Canada recently," she said. "I did my end thesis project on Canada, and some of the key considerations that our team is having to make, especially as we're moving into new markets and taking up different business practices that don't really apply here in America. That class offered a lot of useful insight."
Between the insights and inspirations, there have also been times when Sanchez has had to reach out for help when some material from her classes left her stumped.
Finding the Right Answers
Graduate school is not easy. There are no two ways about it. Whether one is attending school in a brick-and-mortar building or in the digital sphere, the struggle is real.
"I shy away from trying to sugarcoat this," Sanchez said. "I know that's marketing's way. We want to make sure everything is rainbows and sunshine, but this can be quite difficult especially if you're going to work full time and you have a family business."
When one of her finance classes was giving her trouble, Sanchez turned to an important tool LSUS offers its online students: tutoring.
"I have reached out to the tutoring center several times in the past, and I found that to be really helpful, especially for economics or any kind of math-related class that I was struggling with," she said. "It's online, and it's available 24/7. If you're stuck on something, they will show you how to work through the problem and then you'll work through one by yourself. That's the best way for me to learn."
Unlike her night-owl husband, Sanchez is an early bird and appreciates being able to get tutoring help at any time.
"It's really, really a great service to use because for me, I like to study early in the morning and then I take a break in the middle of the day," she said.
She also follows a routine that gives her the stability she needs to be successful.
"I make sure that I have a dedicated place to study and a dedicated time to study," she said. "It's about consistency and finding what is going to work best for you. I also log in every day. Even if you don't have an assignment, there's a good chance that somebody posted something on the message board or the professor has said something that you will want to pay attention to."
Though it is quite the balancing act for Sanchez, she's confident in the ROI of her MBA.
"Earning an MBA 100% online is going to be hard," she said. "There are some days where it's tough, but it's ultimately worth it."Learn more about the LSUS online MBA with a Marketing Concentration or Specialization.
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