Three simple words served as the champagne toast to one of the most exhilarating, demanding, and rewarding experiences of my life. These three words indicated that I officially completed my Master of Science in Management (MSM) degree from the University of Maryland University College, and joined the eight percent of Americans who hold a master’s degree.
As a firm believer in the nonprofit sector I chose to dedicate my higher education to nonprofit and association management. The part-time UMUC MSM program is valuable program that is designed specifically for working professionals. Students are required to complete the same major management courses on organizational theory, advanced statistics, finance, and strategic planning. In addition to these requirements students also chose a specialty (such as accounting, marketing, or nonprofit management).
As with all things in life, there were many aspects of my master’s journey which I adored, some that I tolerated, and even a few that I wish I had done differently.
My program’s class structures were designed to cater to working professionals. Consequently, classes were offered as a hybrid of in-person and online. I was initially skeptical of online classes. Would the value of attending a class be robbed from my experience? Would the classes be too easy? Would I have a “soft” experience? However, these concerns vanished once I started my first online class. My online classes required extensive reading, research, and LOTS of writing. I personally found them to be significantly more time-consuming . Since your only interaction with your peers and professors is through the written word it’s essential for you to produce the highest quality work possible. After all, what you write tends to stick around! While the convenience of having online only classes can’t be overlooked, I would have opted for more in-person courses to help nurture a more organic conversation on some topics.
In terms of things I wished I had done differently, I primarily wished I learned to budget my time better. Between commuting, family, friends, and work, I found myself occasionally studying during “off” hours. For example, I learned that while I can perform well at all hours, there are specific periods of the day which are best left for certain activities.
Secondly, as a professional fundraiser I can’t help but wish I had possessed the insight in how to tap in to the vast resources available (such as the YNPNdc UNC Chapel Hill MPA partnership!) to help fund my journey.
Lastly, I wish I had begun earlier in my career. While everyone’s path to a master’s degree is different, I wish that I possessed the skills I have now five years ago.
The value added to the program, and I imagine any program, is highly dependent on what the student dedicates to it. Hard work, an inquisitive mind, and steadfast dedication brought me a comprehensive skill set which I am happy to apply to the sector. However, as is said “no man is an island” and to that end I am grateful for the experience in organizing project teams, both in person and virtually, made wholly of other busy, dynamic, and otherwise fantastic professionals working to strengthen our sector.
YNPNdc has resources to help you start pursuing a graduate degree
MPA@UNC Fellowship for YNPNdc members
Apply to receive a $5,000 fellowship to pursue a Masters in Public Administration degree online through University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
QS World MBA Tour
September 24 at the Walter Reed Convention Center. Free admission for YNPNdc members.