With two kids, a husband and a full schedule of hockey and soccer games, graduate student Colleen Shannon says her family is her No. 1 priority. But with a full-time job—and 15 years of experience—as a manager of information research in the Hershey Company’s research and development, Shannon wanted to add even more expertise to her career.
“My director had suggested I get an MBA. But I really didn’t want to limit myself to schools that were within driving distance,” Shannon said from her home in central Pennsylvania.
Shannon was accepted to three different schools, and of them, she chose Drexel for its MBA Anywhere program, concentrating on entrepreneurship and innovation management.
“Some of the programs [from other universities] that are online still require you to be at your laptop at a certain time,” Shannon said. “This program is flexible, and I can listen to the recorded lecture whenever I want and manage my time the way it works best for me.”
For Shannon, part of the appeal was the program’s rigid structure.
“It’s two years straight through,” Shannon said. “Other than some electives, the whole curriculum is laid out for you in advance. I can’t really skip a term, so it builds discipline.”
But it’s not all homework behind a computer. The program kicks off with four days at Drexel, where students get to know a cohort of fellow students with whom they’ll take classes for the remainder of the program.
“It’s a great experience, and you get to know your classmates very well. I think sometimes when you think of working online, you don’t have the sense of there being thousands of people out there, or just you,” Shannon said. “But I’m with the same people I started with—the same 30 people. You’re tapping into Drexel’s vast resources, but also with a smaller, cozier feel.”
Soon, Shannon will be venturing even further than Philadelphia to Istanbul for an international business course.
“We’ll have one day to acquaint ourselves with the culture and the rest of the time we’ll be visiting eight or nine different countries—some of them are multinational, some are domestic to Turkey,” Shannon said.
But despite all the travel, late nights and early mornings, Shannon said she can already see the value the program is contributing to her professional life.
“It’s a juggling act, and I really have to prioritize well,” Shannon said. “I make sure my kids are situated first, and I make sure their homework is done before I do mine. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s going to open a lot of doors for me and my career here at Hershey.”