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Career Center Proves to be a Valuable Resource to MBA Students

Brandon Frederick expected a great return on investment from the Jenkins MBA program, but so soon? Only four months after he started classes in 2020, he accepted employment as a manufacturing process engineer on the corporate team with Pella Corp., which makes windows and doors.

And in the first Pella project he managed, he tapped skills he learned at Jenkins related to lean manufacturing to increase efficiency on a window manufacturing line — incentivizing workers without having to hire new employees. He increased productivity by 20 percent in about three months. 

“It really was about gaining trust, developing a personal connection…and being sure about what the employees really needed to succeed,” says Brandon, an online MBA student who works full-time at Pella in Reidsville, North Carolina.

“Being in the MBA program has helped me understand that you can’t do what you need to do production-wise unless you develop a bond with each person…People respect you a lot more.” 

Brandon credits the Poole College of Management Career Center with helping him land the Pella job in the first place. MBA career coaches advise Brandon and others in the Working Professional program, which is for students who are employed while pursuing their MBA.      

Career coach Lisa Batts guided Brandon on revising his resume, interviewing, explaining his potential value to the company, and negotiating a salary. “She was a tremendous resource,” he says. “I went in the door at Pella making the number I was looking for. And everyone knew what I was trying to accomplish in my career when I walked in.” 

Alexa Gentile also received valuable help from Jenkins’ career services team during her interview process for the client success position she accepted with Gartner. That’s a research and advisory company for businesses. 

Alexa Gentile, Jenkins MBA student

In August, Alexa finished the MBA program just as she joined Gartner. As a candidate for the job, she had to make a presentation to Gartner. MBA career coach Ed Kato helped her polish what she’d prepared, to reinforce both how the MBA will help her succeed in the position and her career achievements.           

“Ed was excellent,” Alexa says. “He provided me constructive feedback on how I could move forward in my career.” 

Her MBA degree gave her an edge with Gartner. The person who interviewed her “was totally impressed by that. I don’t think they would have looked at me if I didn’t have my MBA,” Alexa says. She works remotely from her Raeford, North Carolina, home, but will relocate to Gartner’s Dallas office when her husband is transferred to the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. 

The hands-on experience Alexa gained in the MBA program also gave her an edge in her Gartner interview. For example, she talked about consulting she’d done in a digital marketing class for software company Sureify, highlighting her skills in teamwork and building client relationships. 

“The program is so capstone-based,” she says. “

“Capstones are really beneficial when you’re looking for experience…There’s a focus on how they can be utilized in the real world because that’s what employers want to see, how you can take what you learned in the classroom and apply it in your job.” 

At Pella, Brandon, too, applies his MBA classroom knowledge at his workplace.

“I can take what I learned the previous week at Jenkins and apply it on Monday at Pella,” says Brandon, who expects to finish the MBA program in 2023. 

With a finance course he took, “I was able to bring that knowledge from the classroom into work because I was on a team at Pella that dealt with a lot of things I learned about in the class,” he says.  

As a former Army National Guard member, Brandon chose Jenkins partly because it’s veteran-friendly. He shares his career and graduate school experiences with a wide range of active-duty military members and vets. “I can’t say enough about that,” he notes. 

Along with those connections, Brandon’s relationships with the career coaching staff are the highlights of the MBA program for him. His coach keeps in touch with him about his Pella job. 

The career center is the most impactful thing for me so far because it’s an ongoing relationship. It’s not people you have just a professional relationship with. It’s personal. It’s a family.

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