When Barrett Downs and Judy Rady enrolled in the Virginia Tech Evening MBA program, they had similar expectations but different end goals. They both knew an MBA would gain them valuable skills and be an important asset in their career path.

Barrett had a STEM undergraduate degree and a desire to take on more leadership and managerial responsibilities. Judy wanted to get her MBA as a stepping stone for continuing her education and gaining admittance to a Ph.D. program afterward.

One unexpected benefit of joining the Evening MBA program: meeting one another and falling in love.

The two met in 2017 when they were both taking the same course. Barrett asked Judy on a date within the first couple weeks of class. They got engaged in November 2018, and their wedding was in July 2019.

Although finding love within the program is an obvious perk, it's not the only part of the MBA experience that has had a long-term impact on the couple.

"It allowed me to connect with other highly motivated students, and I made friends I keep in touch with on both a personal and professional basis," Barrett said. "Furthermore, a fellow Hokie referred me to his company almost three years ago. Without his referral, I never would have known about the position." Barrett believes that the referral positively impacted the hiring process, and he ended up getting the job.

For Judy, the MBA opened doors for her when applying for professional and Ph.D. positions. She was able to leverage her business skills in the marketplace and even received a job offer in the midst of the tumultuous Covid crisis. Ultimately, she decided to continue her academic journey.

"I'm focused on continuing my education and pursuing a Ph.D. in management," she shared. "The Evening MBA program helped me determine what I wanted to study, and it helped me define my passion for management."

At the end of the capstone class, Strategic Management, with Dr. Donald Hatfield, she had what she described as an "aha moment."

"I realized the value I had gotten out of the program," she said. That course also helped confirm her decision to pursue a Ph.D. in strategic management.

For Barrett, his 2017 study abroad trip to Scandinavia was similarly impactful. He especially enjoyed touring companies like Lego and Volvo and learning about management firsthand.

"It was amazing to see classroom concepts in action throughout several companies in Scandinavia," he said. "And it was a great group. I'll always remember that trip."

Barrett and Judy now have a daughter, Lyla Mae, and they still keep in touch with many fellow Hokies from their Evening MBA program.

When asked if they had any advice for someone who is on the fence about joining the Evening MBA program at Virginia Tech, Barrett shared this advice:

“There are many factors to consider, and each person’s circumstance is different and unique. My advice is to think about the why. Why do you want an MBA? If you want to gain valuable leadership, analytical, and communication skills and develop your network, then my response is to go for it. It is challenging at times, but so is life. It’s also very rewarding.”

Judy added that her MBA experience improved not just her professional prospects but her social and communication skills as well.

"These are skills needed for work, but also daily life," she said. "The MBA at Virginia Tech provides a comprehensive environment that adds value to your business acumen, resume, and personal skills."

Learn more about the Virginia Tech Evening MBA.