Talk about real-world application.
Jenna Jackson was learning about acquisitions in a Baylor University online MBA course when the subject matter hit extremely close to home.
“I originally worked for Verizon and we were acquired by Frontier Communications,” she said. “It was a really unique experience to transition to a new company through an acquisition and taking all of those courses. It was great.”
Jackson, who is a senior marketing specialist, graduated in December 2016. She started with Verizon as an intern in 2009. She decided to go back to school for an MBA because the timing was perfect for her to enhance her education and business acumen.
“I figured doing it now would be better than waiting 10 years from now when I have a family and have kids,” she said. “For my undergraduate degree, I studied philosophy and religious studies. It was a little bit different. I kind of fell into the business industry.
“I felt like I needed a little bit more education around business — even though I did minor in it — just to help me through my career and, hopefully, advance my career. I always knew I wanted to go back to school eventually.”
A New Road
Jackson was planning to either become a teacher or pursue a career in government when she was an undergraduate at Christopher Newport University in Virginia.
“I just decided that essentially what I studied is still fascinating to me,” she said. “I still love it and want to be a part of it. But as a career, I think falling into business — and that’s what I really had experience in and I did enjoy — was the path I went on and decided would be better for me.”
She also got to return home to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where she spent part of her childhood, after Verizon offered her a full-time job as a leadership excellence and development program analyst in 2012.
“I’ve been in Dallas for I guess it’s been almost five years now,” Jackson said. “The transition to Frontier happened almost a year ago. I didn’t have to relocate. I love Dallas.”
Once she decided to earn an MBA, Jackson did extensive research for two months before deciding on Baylor University.
“I know the Baylor name itself is huge — especially for this area,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to just any school that had an online program. I didn’t just want to find a random school and go with it. I wanted something that was going to be the best education for me, the best MBA that I could get, especially for an online program. I didn’t want to skimp out on my education. I wanted a really good school, and I knew Baylor was a great school.”
Jackson said Economics [ECO 5305], the course in which she learned about acquisitions, was her favorite.
“That kind of surprised me because I’m not an economics person,” she said. “I took economics in my undergraduate and absolutely hated it. I really liked it with this course, mainly because of the professor [Dr. Steven Green]. With all of the courses, it wasn’t necessarily just teaching the facts, but it was relating to your current industry or current events going on, so you’re really able to apply what you’re learning to the real world and your world.”
Jackson said the online format was also perfect for her to maintain a full-time job and attend school.
“I was concerned about online initially because Christopher Newport University is a small liberal arts school, so I was very used to going to classes in person with maybe 20 students and a good professor-to-student ratio,” she said. “But, it worked out well for me when it came to being able to work at the same time. I definitely had a routine going. I tried to start early. With online, you have to.”
Jackson is also excited about what a Baylor MBA will mean for her career in the future.
“It helped me understand business, in general, more,” she said. “It’s not just understanding marketing, but understanding all areas of the business and how they interact with each other. It’s probably already helping me now, even though I haven’t really changed jobs. I’ve changed responsibilities, but my job has stayed the same. I definitely see that helping me down the road.”
Jackson said she got plenty of support and encouragement from her family and co-workers.
“My family was super supportive,” she said. “They’re almost the reason I did it. That and, at the time, my manager was really pushing me to do it. They were very proud of me. They were great.”
Making Jackson’s achievement even more significant was the fact that she is the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree.
“Graduation was good,” she said. “My mom especially wanted me to participate in it. She was very proud. It was a big deal for the entire family. Definitely a very proud moment.”
Jackson believes the Baylor MBA was absolutely the right decision for her.
Based on her own experience, she has a bit of advice for those who think online programs will be much easier than their on-campus equivalents: “If anything, online programs take up more time and require more discipline. Just be prepared to devote your time and your energy and putting a lot into your school. You’ve got to constantly be doing it. You have to watch the lectures and probably read more. It’s a lot more intense.”
And while the program is challenging, Jackson said she would encourage anybody considering a Baylor MBA to go for it.
“It’s a great opportunity and something they should absolutely do,” she said. “The MBA is important to build someone’s resume and their experience, but also just to understand the self-discipline that’s going to be involved with it and the time it’s going to take.”
Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.