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Student Sandy Joseph Explains How Howard's Online MBA Program Fosters Connection

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Sandy Joseph always aspired to attend graduate school. However, she was fortunate enough to step into a career she loved after graduating with her bachelor’s degree, so she put her goal of earning her master’s degree on hold. Joseph wanted to take advantage of valuable hands-on experiences in the workplace and decided to focus on her career.

After establishing herself as the global R&D Director of a color cosmetic company and starting a family, Joseph found herself thinking about how she could grow her career. She wanted to build her skills and develop her knowledge, and even briefly considered becoming an entrepreneur. However, she ultimately decided to revisit her goal of earning a master’s.

The distinguished reputation of Howard University and the flexibility and accessibility of the school’s online Master of Business Administration program made Howard an attractive option. Joseph took time out of her schedule to share insight into how Howard University’s online MBA fosters community and supports professional and personal growth through collaboration.

Why did you choose Howard?

Howard has a great reputation and is the mecca of historically black colleges. I wanted to be where the top candidates were and to understand exactly how Howard has maintained such a positive reputation. I wanted to experience their faculty personally. It has been such a great experience.

I have friends who completed their undergraduate educations at Howard University, and they had great things to say regarding the networking opportunities. Meeting my professors and understanding their experiences and their unique points of view regarding current events has been eye-opening.

I also have three children and want them to understand the importance of education and the possibility it brings. I feel like Howard University was the best place for me to pay it forward to my children and the people I mentor in my community.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?

I have a full-time job, I’m a full-time mom, and I have a full-time life. An online MBA program with quality services, resources, and a very clear and profound curriculum was important for me. Howard University’s classes for their online students are so impressive because they’re comparable to the on-campus program. I didn’t want to miss out just because I was pursuing a master’s degree online.

How have the other students enhanced your experience?

I came into this program with 15 years of professional experience, so connecting with people who are starting to explore their career paths and learning what they prioritize, such as work-life balance, compensation, vacation time, and flexibility, has been valuable. Those are all things I didn’t necessarily think about when I launched my career. Today, I understand their importance, and as a director, it helps put things into perspective when I interact with younger professionals. Understanding their priorities and how I can meet their needs within our organization’s culture has been helpful.

I’ve also been able to share how my experiences have shaped me, making it a mutual exchange, which has been great. Some of my classmates are fairly recent graduates. It has been interesting to hear about what they want, why they feel empowered, what is important to them, and what type of organizations they want to work for moving forward.

What professors or classes have stood out?

Organizational Behavior, which is taught by Dr. Holmes, stood out to me. His enthusiasm and authenticity were apparent, and he seemed very excited to teach. That was inspirational. I think his enthusiasm helped me integrate some of what I learned into the culture of my organization and helped me see where there were opportunities for upper management to shift priorities. That class helped put the diversity, equity, and inclusion programs organizations are implementing into perspective for me.

I was also a recipient of the grand prize in the Marriott Case Study Analysis. Having the opportunity to compete with people that I’ve met within the program was a great experience. The chance to showcase an argument, support it with data, and create a presentation was so valuable. I create presentations daily at my job, but this one was different because it was focused on a particular subject. I had to use my analytical thinking, critical thinking, and collaboration skills simultaneously. To win the grand prize was a badge of honor.

How does Howard promote collaborative work and help online classmates build community?

There is in-class collaboration, and there are group projects that involve meeting with your peers offline to work together, which has helped build relationships. Online MBA candidates at Howard create study groups to prepare for exams or just to have discussions about topics covered in classes. There are also events. I recently attended an MBA leadership event in D.C., where I had the opportunity to meet many of my peers in person.

In addition to meeting people from other organizations in the online MBA program, I also learned about different companies. I heard keynote speakers that I probably would never have had the opportunity to listen to if I was not at Howard University. Many of them were Howard alum who now dedicate their time to helping students pivot within their careers or education.

What has surprised you about the program so far?

One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t be able to manage studying while working, but I have been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA. I can tell my children that their mom is in school, working hard, and doing well. I am now that example for my children. They’ll remember when mommy was in school and was still taking care of us. I am very grateful that Howard has given me this opportunity to make my own dream come true while also being a role model to my children.

What advice do you have for students considering applying to Howard’s online MBA?

Just do it. I have learned that we spend a lot of time anticipating all the things that could go wrong. But I think, after enrolling in this program, I’m learning to focus on all the things that have gone right. I’m very happy with the support I have received in the program, and I’m glad I applied to Howard—despite everything that was going on in my life and people telling me I was already far enough in my career without a master’s. Here I am learning more about myself, the different opportunities surrounding me, and about other people’s experiences.

I want to stress that the opportunities I’ve enjoyed in the online MBA program, including being exposed to different employers and different industries, have been eye-opening. The soft skills training, the amount of support and encouragement Howard Business School gives students, and the chance to engage with other people in the program both before and after have been wonderful.

Howard stands behind what people know them for: uplifting the community and providing quality education.

Howard University School of Business ranks high among the nation’s business schools, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report. The first business school in Washington, D.C. to earn AACSB accreditation, Howard offers a high-touch experience on campus and online. Howard’s online MBA programs deliver top instruction and cutting-edge experiential learning in a flexible format adaptable to busy professional schedules. Howard graduates are highly sought out by recruiters from leading corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Financial aid and scholarships are available to students who need help meeting the program’s costs. Find out more about Howard’s online MBA program or start your application today.

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