Zedrick Applin set the bar high for his career by landing a job at the United States Department of the Treasury straight out of college. Ten years later, he is still ascending to new heights.
Applin graduated with a Master of Business Administration from the Baylor online program in 2016. He is in the process of relocating from Dallas to Wilmington, North Carolina to start a new job at nCino, a banking software company.
"The MBA was about trying to get to that next level of my career," Applin said. "I began having discussions with my managers. The conversation was always, 'Your credentials need to match those at the level you're trying to reach.'"
Initially, Applin looked into the Baylor Executive MBA Program offered in Dallas. He sat in on a class one weekend and liked what he saw. However, the ability to earn an MBA online was the clincher.
"I wanted the credentials that could stand up against others," he said. "Baylor has always had the prestige behind its name. Once I found out about this online MBA program, I said, 'This is right up my alley.' It was exactly what I needed."
While in the program, Applin balanced a full-time job at Capital One and a family that includes his wife, Danielle, their daughter, Zoe (6), and then-newborn son, Zachary (3). Danielle took on more responsibilities at home with the kids to allow Applin to spend time on his studies. The ability to complete schoolwork any time of the day made earning a graduate degree manageable for the father and husband.
"The kids went to bed at night and I was up studying," Applin said. "Sometimes I was doing the discussion boards on my lunch break at work. I made it fit around my life plan and my family's time schedule. It didn't take away too much from them. I loved the flexibility of the program."
Applin enrolled in a Bachelor of Business Administration at Texas Tech University. He applied for several internships during his junior year and reeled in a big one at the Department of the Treasury.
"I took off the entire fall semester and did a paid internship," he said. "I got good reviews from my manager. Once I graduated, they said, 'If you want to come back and work for us, we'll have a job waiting for you.' I started working there the month after I graduated from Tech in December 2006."
The experience allowed Applin to peek behind the curtain of the banking industry as his career got off the ground.
"My whole perception of the banking field before doing that internship was totally different," Applin said. "You always think of making loans and deposits, but you don't think about the other side of how a bank is run. It opened my eyes up to the banking field and all of the different careers available."
Since then, Applin has taken advantage of many of those options, working in different roles for companies like KPMG, Deloitte and USAA. He is excited about his new opportunity in North Carolina, which will include creating client-related software and working with the sales team.
"I want to become a subject matter expert in a particular area now that banking is going more tech," Applin said. "There are ways to simplify banking on the internal side through the use of technology.
"Many institutions, especially the small mom-and-pop ones, are more averse to using new technology. I want to help them change that perception about how going into a cloud-based service can benefit them as an institution rather than still housing everything they are using on in-house servers. It allows more flexibility in how you service your customers."
Applin said the information he learned in the online MBA program — especially in economics and management — was applicable to his financial career.
The biggest key to success in the program for Applin was getting back into the mode of being a student as an adult with a family and a full-time job.
"It can be done," he said. "It's a lot of work and a lot of reading. You're going to have to be self-disciplined to make it work for yourself, but it's definitely fulfilling. The information we got was very good. All of the reading was beneficial to what I was doing in my career. You're going to have to practice that self-discipline to make it work. It's not a cakewalk."
The reward is a master's degree and a graduation ceremony to celebrate the accomplishment. Applin had most of his family in Waco to watch him walk the stage in green.
"My wife, mom and dad, my sister and her husband, my nieces and nephews were all there," he said. "My brother wasn't there because he lives in Tampa. My son was 6 months old, so he stayed with my mother-in-law, but my daughter was there. I also met Dr. Hunter at the hooding ceremony."
Applin, who is also a musician and loves attending concerts with his wife, hopes his academic endeavors will steer his children toward higher education and provide him with even more ROI.
"My daughter is the studious one," he said. "She loves to read and loves math and science. They need to know that to get where you want in your career, it's important to have a good education. My wife has her Juris Doctorate degree. My mom and dad both have their bachelor's degrees. My mom got hers later in life. It's not a matter of when you get it — just get it."
The online MBA has already helped Applin reach the next level of his career. Outside of figuring out whether to root for Baylor or Texas Tech when they play each other, he treasured the experience.
"The MBA is a good value and has opened a lot of doors," he said. "People say, 'Oh, you got a master's from Baylor.' They know Baylor and that it is a good institution. It's definitely rings in their ear."
Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.
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