Five Year Recap: A Look Back

Joe Street

By Joe Street, Professional MBA '09
I’m now coming up on the five years post-graduation mark and realized that it was time to reevaluate where I have come since starting and completing the PMBA program.

When I started the PMBA program in August 2007 I was working as a Senior Programmer Analyst for the Virginia Department of Forestry. During the two-year program I was promoted twice, first to Information Systems Manager and then to Director of Information Systems. One year after graduating, I changed jobs and became the Director of Information Systems for the Institute for Shipboard Education, the nonprofit that runs the Semester at Sea study abroad program. I worked there for three years before moving on to work for Ellucian, a leader in higher education software and services, as a Senior Solutions Consultant for their Cloud Services group.

The total I invested in the program, including travel, books, and tuition, came to a little over $50,000. Through the promotions I received while in the program I picked up an additional $18,000 in income over the two year program and the year following. My position with the Institute for Shipboard Education was $22,000 more per year than the position I held prior to starting the program. I basically recovered the cost of the program through salary increases that were a direct result of participating in and graduating from the PMBA program within four and a half years of starting the program. I would imagine that not too many MBA programs can boast that level of cost recovery.

Now, because of the Virginia Tech Professional MBA, the skills that I acquired in the program, and how I made use of them over the last five years, I am now looking at a base salary that is twice what I was making at the start of the program seven years ago with a bonus capability that takes me to over three times what I was earning.

None of these career advancements could have occurred without advancing my education beyond the bachelor’s degree level. The ability to remain active in my career without taking two years off to return to school was also paramount to my continued advancement as I was able to immediately put into use the concepts and ideals being presented to us during the program. An added benefit was that potential employers all noticed that there was no gap in my employment when I obtained my MBA and several commented on how it showed an ability to organize and multitask beyond the norm to be able to finish an MBA in two years while working full time.

The PMBA program helped me in many ways, but the most direct way was allowing me to continue to grow professionally while pursuing the degree. I received my promotions in large part because of the program and applying what I was learning each month to my work. The degree helped me land my Institute for Shipboard Education position within a year of graduating and I would not have gotten it at my age without the combination of work experience, advancement and the MBA degree.

Outside of the above reasons, the faculty are the programs best asset. The faculty of Pamplin are incredible and truly know how to engage the students and help them learn. Typically the mix of professions also allow for a real world simulation on projects since you have a mix of people with different full time jobs and backgrounds. I actively recommend the program to anyone I know that brings up going back to get an MBA for the same reason that I did it instead of a different program. The schedule lets you continue to work and advance while applying the lessons immediately in real world situations. You also are working with other professionals instead of being in a mix of full time students who may or may not understand family and work needs.

Originally posted April 2014