I Just Started My Own Company AND Enrolled in a Ross MBA Program -- Am I Insane?
By Sarah Kurtz McKinnon
When I started my own consulting company and enrolled in the Ross Evening MBA Program in the fall of 2015, I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d be able to balance it all.
A new, full-time commitment to a company I want to lead to success, dedication to family commitments, maintaining important friendships, AND a rigorous, elite MBA program — it’s a lot all at once.
However, I quickly discovered a few ways the program perfectly complements all my endeavors:
I Take Classes on My Own Schedule
We have a core set of classes that are offered on a rotating basis. I can take them when I want and don’t feel pinched about getting all of the requirements in before my target graduation date. I can take one quantitative and one qualitative course at a time, giving me a comfortable balance on my workload.
My business is such that it requires heavy travel in May and June, which means I can’t take spring semester classes — which isn’t a problem. The core class offered last spring will be offered this summer, fitting perfectly into my calendar and keeping me on track.
I Take Electives Directly Related to My Own Interests
I can take classes at Ross or elsewhere at the university. I tailor my choices to the coursework I want and need. Spots are set aside for evening students in Full-Time MBA classes, making the registration process stress-free. The professors I’ve had are the leading thinkers in their fields—they know the material and they know how to teach it.
I entered with a group of about 50 students, and I do not know of any two students in that group who have taken the exact same set of courses. It’s highly personalized—which is important to me, as I want to make sure I am getting the knowledge and experience that is most applicable to my career.
I am Part of a Community of Scholars and Friends
My classes have helped me become a better entrepreneur, but my extracurricular involvement has been even more impactful. I’m a +Lab fellow at the Center for Positive Organizations, so I get access to seminars, workshops and lectures from amazing guest companies and scholars doing big things with human capital and positive psychology. It is amazing to be around a community of people just as passionate about the research as I am. I even got the chance to write a case for the center with Professor Wayne Baker, which was published through the William Davidson Institute.
Sure, a lot of us in the evening program have a lot going on as we balance careers, families and school, but we support each other in the process. From joining each other for get-togethers, football games, or study groups to providing support in each other’s careers, we have each other’s backs. I know the friends I have made here will be my friends for life—both professionally and personally.
I know I’m getting a great education at Ross. But it works because it is at my own pace, about my own goals, and with people I care about and who care about me. It’s not always easy (especially during finals week!) but it’s definitely worth it. The investment is already paying off in more ways than I could have imagined.
Sarah Kurtz McKinnon is a student in the Michigan Ross Evening MBA Program.
Image: McKinnon (second from right), stands with her team during the Detroit Impact Project in 2016. Her group completed a consulting project for the Henry Ford Learning Institute to help them launch a youth entrepreneurship program.