Melanie Garcia didn’t sugarcoat things. The hardest part of the Professional MBA program at FIU, she said, was balancing work, school and personal time.
“I would go to school all day Saturday, and I had a full-time job,” she recalled.
But that hard work paid off. Garcia, now senior manager of business development at the Latin Recording Academy (the Latin GRAMMYs), said the degree helped give her the confidence to apply for her current job after she graduated in 2013. “I remember reaching out,” she said, “saying I’m a strong candidate for this job, and I just finished my MBA.”
Garcia shared her experiences with a roomful of people at FIU at I75 in Miramar, who braved a stormy evening on May 7, 2015 to hear about the successful alumna’s PMBA experience and learn more about the College of Business graduate program. Also on hand: Mike Langley, recruiting manager for the MBA and MIB programs at FIU’s Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. Graduate School of Business, and several dozen prospective students. They ranged in age and experience from young professionals and entrepreneurs to experienced business owners and executives.
The session gave attendees information on three different FIU Professional MBA (PMBA) programs, which can be completed as quickly as 16 months offered in either Brickell or in Miramar.
Garcia previously worked in public relations for five years after receiving undergraduate degrees in public relations and Spanish language but began to feel that she needed more education. “I hated going into meetings (where) I didn’t understand spreadsheets,” she said.
Still, the math – necessary in MBA studies — scared her. The audience empathized. But, Garcia said, professors and other students helped her master the concepts. And in the end, stretching to grow was worth it.
“I feel I learned a lot in the intangibles,” she said. “I learned to stand my ground a little more. I feel a lot more comfortable going into a meeting and putting together a budget. You do come out significantly more confident when you leave the program.”
Attendees learn how MBA courses mirror the business world.
Attendees were hungry for details, especially about classes that involve being divvied up into small groups. They learned that PMBA students are expected to work collaboratively, and groups need to meet independently outside of class. Questions ranged from what happened when a member would underperform to how closely professors monitored group dynamics.
“This program mirrors the business world,” Langley said, helping the audience understand the rationale behind the group requirement. “You frequently have to depend on a team environment in the real world.”
Both Garcia and Langley said that with classes capped at 55, everyone gets to know their peers well, and networking turns out to be one of the best parts of the program.
Garcia said that those she met and worked with included the vice president of a finance company and a marketing executive from a top cosmetics firm. “It makes for a really interesting dynamic,” she said.
Both she and Langley were candid about the amount of work involved. “Most of the people who do this need to have discipline in order to match the intensity of the program,” Langley said.
The last semester involves running a mock business, complete with marketing, budgeting and a thorough business plan. “We’ve had people who took the plan and applied it to their own companies,” Langley said.
Garcia shared with the audience that in addition to her studies, she became a member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Miami, and authored a food blog.
“How do you do it,” asked one attendee.
“I don’t know,” Garcia replied, and everyone laughed.