Lexi Brown dug a little deeper when she returned to college.
The mine supervisor at Lhoist in Anderson, Tennessee, completed the online Master of Business Administration program at Emporia State University in March 2020.
Brown considered enrolling in a master's degree program in mining engineering, but she changed her mind after she consulted her company's human resources manager.
"I asked him, 'If I were to consider my master's degree, what would you recommend?' His advice was, 'A degree in mining engineering would give you more knowledge about the same thing. You need to expand your base and become more acquainted with finances and economics,'" she said. "That's why I chose the MBA."
Once Brown decided which direction to steer with the degree, she had to find the right destination.
"I did a lot of research trying to find online programs," she said. "Emporia State kept popping up. I liked the quick time to completion and the fact that it was affordable. I went with it. It was a very good program."
The online format helped Brown maintain a full-time job while she improved her business acumen and marketability.
"It's super flexible," she said. "Most of the courses are great about having everything due at the end of the week. I would not recommend saving everything until the end of the week, but it allowed me to use my free time on the weekends to take care of most of the required work for the courses."
Brown's parents suggested that she pursue a career in engineering after high school because math and science were her strongest subjects. So, she enrolled at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
"I chose geological engineering for my undergraduate major, but I was excited when I got into a mining engineering course and discovered the world of mining," she said. "That's why I switched majors and chose that route."
Additionally, Brown gained valuable experience working in a co-op at Mississippi Lime Company and completing internships at Barrick Gold Corporation and Lhoist during her undergrad. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in mining engineering in 2016.
"I am the first in my immediate family to complete an undergraduate degree," Brown said. "Then, I went for my master's degree. They are rather proud that somebody from our family could do it."
Brown worked for 15 months as a mine engineer at Lhoist before being promoted to mine supervisor in April 2018. She believes earning an MBA gives her an advantage in her current role while setting her up for success later in her career.
"I have seen quite an increase in headhunters and contacts reaching out to me on LinkedIn to ask if I am interested in jobs," she said. "As far as my career progression, I would like to move into a regional management or headquarter management role."
Although Brown enjoyed all of the courses in the online MBA curriculum, IS 813: Information Technology Project Management was her favorite.
"That was the most applicable to what I am doing at the moment, so I took a lot away from it," she said. "I also get to see the company's financial reports.
"Prior to my time in the MBA program, a lot of the values, numbers and statistics in those reports meant absolutely nothing to me. I enjoyed actually learning what those values are and why it's important for the company to keep track of them."
In addition to learning more about the financial ins and outs of business, Brown increased her knowledge in areas like behavior and marketing. She continues to use what she learned at work.
"A lot of the courses covered the general aspects of business and economics, but I thought everything was definitely applicable to my job," she said. "I absolutely got good value out of the online MBA program."
Now that Brown has graduated, she is glad that she took a different route in graduate school and broadened her horizons.
"The program was informative but not too demanding, which helped with time management," she said. "It wasn't overwhelming, which made you appreciate it more. You wanted to retain and learn the information. I don't think you could find a better program for a working individual."
Brown believes Emporia State's online MBA program is ideal for anybody who wants to return to school without sacrificing time at work. She offers a tip for those who may feel intimidated by the prospect of earning a graduate degree while working full time.
"Going into it, prepare and make sure that you have good time management skills and manage your schedule well," she said.
"The program is hard work and effort, but it is worth it. Now, I am going to make myself a reading list and become a little bit of a better manager. Education never ends."
Learn more about Emporia State's online MBA program.
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