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Mom of Twins Juggles Career, Family and MBA

NaKeshia Melvin wears a lot of hats: career woman, mother, wife, and student.

She has a successful career in business operations and transformation, serving in a process improvement role over the last four years. Melvin and her husband are also parents to twins who are soon to turn two.

With a full-time career and two toddlers at home, Melvin could have said, “enough,” but she says going back to obtain her MBA has always been on her list. When she and her husband discussed it, they felt the time was right.

However, Melvin also knew it was important to find the right program.

“I wanted something that would give me the knowledge, education and experience that would apply to my career, but also flexibility to maintain stability in my family and work life,” she said. “I also wanted to feel engaged and supported in the program that I chose.”

During the interview process, Melvin said she learned about the ways NC State’s Poole College of Management works to ensure its online MBA students stay connected through group projects, virtual meetings and regular access to professors.

Professional evening and online MBA students must complete the Raleigh Residencies, which are two, credit-bearing 3-day courses done in-person on campus. That on-campus interaction and opportunity to network appealed to her as well.

Melvin is currently finishing up her first semester in the program. She said she’s enjoyed the group work so far, and the engagement with professors and classmates ensures an even stronger grasp on the materials.

And of course, her twins continue to be a top priority as she pursues her MBA.

“For me and my career, I’ve made the decision that I’m going to be very careful and limit the sacrifices that I impose on my family as I pursue my goals,” Melvin said.  “There’s no amount of money that would warrant me missing important moments.”

Another appeal to the online Jenkins MBA is the time she can take to complete it, Melvin said. If things become overwhelming, she can slow down and take fewer classes in a semester.

Time management is always a top priority and Melvin said she regularly thinks about her priorities as a mother, a wife and in her career, allocating her time accordingly from there.

“Someone said to me, ‘pick what you’re willing to give up, and go ahead and give it up now,’” Melvin said. “But I felt like I was already running a pretty lean operation – so now I’m ok with the fact that the house may not be as clean as I want it to be, or we may get takeout a little more often.

“It’s about being a little more flexible and changing my expectations, and focusing on what’s important.”

Melvin has the support of her husband, and regular communication is key – for example, if she needs a few hours to work on a project, they talk and she makes time. She and her husband share duties for the twins, and try to keep them on a schedule.

“We still spend a lot of time with them and I still feel very involved,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m missing anything with them.”

She also tries to find time to take care of herself.

“I love CrossFit and recently got into cycling – both of those help me to stay grounded,” Melvin said. “I think finding ways to still take care of yourself and prioritizing that is helpful.

“It’s hard to show up for others when you can’t show up for yourself.”

Melvin’s advice to others who are considering an MBA while also considering their work/life/family balance is to really think about their motivation behind getting their MBA and then look at what they have on their plate.

“Do some homework and think about what the impact is going to be and how you’re going to manage that,” she said. “Come up with a plan as far as what that might look like for you realistically – for me, that was through conversations with my husband.”

In addition, she spoke with a number of people who had pursued their MBA, both full-time and part-time, and gained insight through those conversations. That helped prepare her and her family for what was ahead.

Last, Melvin finds ways to blend her MBA and her family experiences. Her twins are home now due to COVID-19, where they used to be in daycare.

“It’s very likely that they wander into my office – I will let them sit with me if I’m watching a lecture or doing an assignment,” she said. “I try to look for those points where these two different pieces of my life can be integrated together.”

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