Back to School! It’s Official

Photo credit: Wokandapix on pixaby.com
Photo credit: Wokandapix on pixaby.com

Thanks to everyone who wrote a letter of recommendation or helped edit my essay for grad school! Last week I was notified that I was accepted into the MBA program with a digital marketing specialty from Montclair State University! The classes are online so I won’t be moving to New Jersey, but coincidentally one of my friends and colleagues from my time in NYC went to Montclair for her undergraduate degree, so it is indeed a real and respected school! I start in January and have a few short prerequisite classes to complete first.

Rewatching the entire series of Gilmore Girls, getting ready for the new episodes November 25, has put me in a back to school mood as well!

If you’re interested in why I am seeking this degree, here’s the entrance essay explaining:

I have always been driven to succeed but my creative interests and artistic talent have pulled me away from the traditionally “smart” career paths. As someone with a lifelong passion for reading and art, I discovered my first dream career when I learned that magazines have an art department where people visually create the publication. I studied both graphic design and journalism to make myself eligible for a job in that field; a goal I achieved as an Assistant Art Director in New York City. While I was working with professional photographers on the magazine photo shoots I planned, I became very interested in photography and promptly bought a camera to conquer this new creative challenge.

When I was laid off during the recession it seemed an opportune time for another move, this time to sunny Southern California. San Diego does not publish many magazines so when I was recruited for an advertising design job at Petco corporate I jumped at the chance to learn about a new industry. At that point I had also started earning a photography certificate degree at UCSD on nights and weekends. Always looking to go above and beyond my job description, I started shooting for Petco and enrolled in an extensive pet photography seminar taught by industry experts. I was surprised to find the course was less about photography skills and more about starting a photography business. This was a turning point in my career. Inspired by my first glimpse of the entrepreneurial life, I left my full-time job at Petco and created Fetchlight, a pet photography and art business, while supporting myself financially with a part-time magazine design job. My past success at mastering new challenges, such as moving across the country without networking contacts or jobs lined up, gave me the confidence to take this risk.

Now, five years into my solopreneur experience, I realize the part of my business I love most is not the photography but creating the email campaigns, social media, blogging, improving my website and other digital marketing tasks. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about the strategy behind marketing and business to be successful yet, despite what I’ve learned from books, webinars and business coaching. There are gaps in my knowledge that feel just out of reach but could be fulfilled by this particular MBA. To create time for classes, I will be making major changes to my business and look forward to applying the teachings I learn in class in a practical way. I am ready to improve my strategy and analytics knowledge through an MBA to help my business, as well as gaining the credentials to teach other pet businesses about successful marketing, adding a new revenue stream to Fetchlight.

While I work on my MBA, I will also find a part-time role at a marketing firm, ideally one with clients related to my interests in beauty, fashion, food or publishing. An agency or firm would give me more variety and experience with different clients, learning at a faster pace and from more mentors than if I worked as the only marketing manager for a small company. After I complete my MBA I plan to work full-time at a firm or agency, achieving the roles of Marketing Director, Creative Director or Chief Marketing Officer. After several years I will seek flexibility with my work hours and days, possibly as an independent digital marketing consultant. This career change would allow me the freedom and financial security to achieve my dreams of a life of travel while utilizing my creativity and digital marketing skills every day.

With my love of learning and past honors in education, I have always envisioned myself earning a master’s degree, but a higher degree in my previous studies will not help advance my career. After much research, I believe Montclair State University’s Online MBA in Digital Marketing is the best choice for advancing my career. The prestige and accreditation of the Feliciano School of Business gives me confidence that the degree will be well worth the effort and expense. The rare specialization of digital marketing is the business topic I am most interested in, a topic that is growing in demand and valued by employers in many industries, which should lead to many job opportunities. I am an excellent candidate for online learning because I have eight years of experience of working remotely for a magazine with strict deadlines, which I have always met. I need to complete the foundation modules so I can succeed in graduate level business courses, which is why I am applying early to start classes in January.

I am excited about the possibility of joining this MBA program and improving my business, my career and my life.

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