Interview with Sean Ullman - Georgia Tech Evening MBA

Georgia Tech Evening MBAF1GMAT: Tell us a little bit about yourself

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): I am in the evening program at Georgia Tech and taking between 2 and 4 classes at night a semester.  During the day I work with Fortune 1000 companies to maximize their Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropic giving for an International non-profit based in Atlanta.  I am responsible for resource development for new partnerships.  I married the woman of my dreams in June 2011, during the program.

F1GMAT: What motivated you to do an MBA?

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): My father in Law did his MBA at night also.  His experience was a major precursor to my decision to pursue the MBA.  I wanted the opportunity to take my career to the next level.  A bachelor’s degree is necessary to obtain an entry level job these days, without an MBA it is difficult to advance further in this economy. The pursuit of an MBA is necessary for mid-level professionals to advance in the work force. 

F1GMAT: Why did you select Georgia Tech College of Management?

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): I have a full time career and am looking to take the next step.  Relocating out of the Atlanta area wasn’t really an option, and I needed to continue to bring income into our lives to help pay the mortgage.  I was left with three real choices: Georgia State University, Emory University, and Georgia Institute of Technology.  I don’t know where my career will take me and I wanted the power and prestige of my MBA to extend beyond the region where the University is located.  For my efforts these three schools were my only real options for an evening or part time program.  Georgia State’s Evening MBA is a lock step option, so if I needed to take a semester off (to get married) this wasn’t an option.  Honestly, Emory is a wonderful education, but I am paying out of pocket for the degree, it was too expensive.  Georgia Tech doesn’t differentiate between Evening and Full Time in the curriculum, nor in the degree designation, and it is flexible. 

F1GMAT: How different is the evening MBA program compared to a full-time MBA program?

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): My wife and I own a home, got married, I have been advancing my education, and we both work full time.  We can cover our mortgage, save money, and pay for the program at Georgia Tech.  All of the above things differentiate the Evening from the Full Time program.  The curriculum is the same as the Full Time; when I speak to the Full Time students, we have had the same professors, the same curriculum, and ultimately the same experience.  The Full Time have an internship portion and the Evening has a full time work load.  One of the hallmarks of successful MBA programs is the need to work in a team environment on projects and case studies.  Honestly, this is the largest challenge.   All of the evening students have their own schedules, families, personal needs and these additional challenges really require us to work in a different way to achieve the same goals.

F1GMAT: Does the Evening MBA program provide networking opportunities?

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): Wow, this is a great question.  IF the question is, are there settings where the evening students go to structured events designed to meet professionals in their desired industry, then the answer is no.  IF the question is are there opportunities to network with your peers, then YES.  One of the distinct advantages of the Evening program is that all of my class mates and peers are employed at the very companies that the Full Time students wish to get placed.  I have met and am now very good friends with classmates that are successful at companies like, Turner, UPS, Lockheed Martin, Delta, Newell Rubbermaid, WorldPay, KPMG, Home Depot, SunTrust, Chick-fil-A, Norfolk Southern, and many others.  On a daily basis I have the opportunity to grow and build a network of like-minded similarly aged professionals that are willing to slip a resume onto decision maker’s desks.  In that regard, I think the network I have created is quite impressive.  With that in mind, like anything in life, it is your personal effort that makes the Evening program worthwhile.

F1GMAT: What has been your biggest takeaway from your MBA program?

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): I believe that Georgia Tech should have a large Technology focus, but that aspect went away when the program switched from a Master of Science in Management program to an MBA program.  I have had the opportunity to not only be taught by successful published professors that genuinely care about our successes, but have been able to challenge their thoughts with real world applicable information.  MBA programs are successful when experienced professionals bring real life stories to share.  Everyone in the program has great experiences and we can learn from all of them.  My biggest take away is the experiences in Excel and statistics.  I was pleased with the book choices and the examples and projects used to instil the knowledge.  I have very little quantitative background though, as most of my professional history is in Sales and Marketing.

F1GMAT: Is there any myths about MBA programs that you want to break?

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): I thought that MBA Programs would be like undergrad, with a sit and learn approach.  I was mistaken; the classes are interactive with projects, discussions, case studies and the like.   The other myth from my experience in the Evening MBA is that the students would be cut throat and concerned about class rankings.  The every person for themselves approach was non-existent.  We shared information openly and were preparing ourselves with the knowledge to succeed in the real world.

F1GMAT: What advice would you give to aspiring MBAs?

Sean(GA Tech Evening MBA): Funny, my wife is now an aspiring MBA.  When I finish the program in May she will hopefully already know where she will be getting her MBA.  Advice would be: work hard, have an open mind, try classes you wouldn’t have taken, learn things you didn’t think you wanted to know, prepare before the classes, trust your abilities and your class mates, and meet as many peers as possible.  As much knowledge as you obtain, if someone else knows the right person, they will be a step closer to the goal than you are.  No matter which program you are in, network with everyone.

Georgia Tech Evening MBAAbout Sean Ullman

Sean Ullman
works in Resource Development at Habitat for Humanity International in Atlanta focused on fund raising for International and Domestic Housing projects.  His blog, www.onetallsean.com, archives his Georgia Tech specific thoughts and experiences as a reference to other Evening MBA Candidates.

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