Reflection on my MBA experience

May 22, 2013 was a hot, humid day that began with clouds and drizzles and ended with sun, smiles, and celebration as me and the rest of the Rutgers MBA class of 2013 walked across the stage at NJPAC in Newark, NJ to receive our diplomas.

“How do you feel!?” my classmate Julie asked a few of us as we lined up: https://vine.co/v/b90O9Vq5zJY

I remember when I realized that I wanted to earn my MBA. The idea started bubbling up in my head when I realized that, since I was a kid, I had been coming up with business ideas. By the end of my sophomore year of college, I had a folder on my computer that held  about 12 ideas – logos, business plan drafts, and (light) research included. After one semi-successful pitch, I learned I that I really, really, liked the idea of starting a business and creating a strategy to market it. The person who I pitched to was a successful CEO of a marketing agency who told me  that I was an “idea person.” This both flattered and fueled me to want to really become this  professional “idea person” he saw in me.  That summer, I bought a book called “The portable MBA in Marketing.”

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The idea of earning my MBA was cemented when I was in my senior year of college.  I was sitting in the student union working on a PR assignment between classes. My mind strayed to questions that weren’t part of the assignment: How much of a budget does PR get in the real world? How do you measure the ROI of a PR campaign in actual sales, not just in media hits?  What if there was an integrated campaign using social media?  I realized that as much as I liked PR, I loved the strategy of using it as a tool among a greater business objective even more. I went to class and asked these questions to my PR professor. She looked at me and said, “Hannah, I think you need to be a marketer.” She continued to answer my questions with examples from her experience as a corporate PR professional at a large pharma company. When I left class, I was committed to learning more about business – and I knew that getting my MBA was how I would do that.

“Be a leader that serves. When you care about others, they follow you. Be that kind of leader.” -Kevin Cummings, CEO, Investors Bank, Rutgers Business School MBA Commencement Speaker

When I first got accepted into the program, I was excited, but incredibly nervous. I was about to enter a program part-time having just turned 23 when the average age was 28. The students were much more experienced than I was. Having been a PR major focused on journalism, I hadn’t taken a real exam in years. In college I was tested on the quality of my news stories and if I was fluent in AP style. The thought of taking accounting and finance while sitting in a room full of business professionals was an intimidating one.

And sure, there were classes where between the buzzwords and math, I became overwhelmed. I spent a lot of time re-reading to catch up. These classes challenged me and pushed me out of my comfort zone, and as a result I learned a great deal. Supply Chain Management taught me the impact of efficiency not only on bottom line, but for the greater good. Accounting taught me to give a lot of credit to all my CPA friends (and also that I will always, always need to hire one). Finance taught me how to map out revenue projections and gave my entrepreneurial projects some real meat.

Then there were those classes that I naturally loved. Equally, I learned a lot in these. Strategy tied all aspects of business together by showing me what drives each part of business and how to align those goals, and how important planning is in both business – and in life. Business Law taught me how much business and law is tied together. Organizational Behavior taught me to be a leader, not a manager. Doing Green Business in Costa Rica taught me about how an entire country is completely aligned and committed to making their businesses carbon-neutral (truly amazing).

These are just some of the classes that inspired, but there were so many more. I always knew I was a curious person, but this program taught me to think analytically.  The MBA answered a lot of my questions about business specifically, but at the same time made me realize I will be a lifelong learner.

In the part-time MBA, there were long nights, lots of weekends spent reading long Harvard Business Cases and countless missed happy hours. There were weeknight classes after long days of work, and Saturday classes – even in the summer.  But, I wouldn’t trade my experience in the MBA program for the world. It was in the MBA program where I gave my first real pitch in front of investors. It’s where I created 3 full business plans and where I placed in two business plan competitions. It’s where I started my own business. It’s where I made some of my best friends and where I found amazing mentors. I learned so much about the world of business, and I feel completely ready to attack what’s next in my career and my life, learning and growing along the way.

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6 Resources for the Aspiring Entrepreneur

Originally posted here.

In my MBA classes at Rutgers Business School, I have learned that creativity, perseverance, solid business skills, and passionate determination make an entrepreneur. But, there are also additional resources that help entrepreneurs along the way. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Inventor sites
A professor and mentor of mine, dt ogilvie, told me about Edison Nation when she knew I had a product Idea. It’s great. People from around the world use Edison Nation to get their innovations in front of retailers and manufacturers, to store and perfect their ingenious ideas, keep up with inventive friends, and learn what it takes to create and introduce a successful product into the market. 

2. Pitches
An idea will go nowhere if you don’t know how to communicate it effectively. Every entrepreneur has to learn how to give a good pitch. Shark Tank on ABC offers both entertainment and an education in pitching. I have also been sure to enter every pitch competition available to me so I can practice my pitch and learn what types of questions VCs and Angels will ask me.

3. Meetup Groups
In business school, we are trained to network. Meetup.com provides groups of all kinds of people with similar interests that anyone can join. I highly recommend joining it. When I am looking for a programmer, I go to a tech meetup. When I am looking to find other entrepreneurs for advice and guidance, I go to a cofounder meetup. My current favorites in the NY/NJ area are: Tech Startup Pizza Night, Startup Newark, Scarlet Venture, and NJ Tech. At Tech Startup Pizza night, we fill up an Italian restaurant in NYC, enjoy Pizza, wine and discuss hot topics in the tech startup world. At Startup Newark and Scarlet Venture (both founded by RBS MBA Alumni) and NJ Tech, we give and watch real business pitches, collaborate on projects, hear from great speakers, and have great networking events.

4. Skillshare
Join a Skillshare class, or connect with an industry leaders who are teaching the courses. Skillshare offers courses in entrepreneurship taught by experts, successful startup founders, and more. Some include “Startup Metrics for Founders,”  “Crash Course: Branding, PR, & Social Media,” and “TechCEO Bootcamp.” The last one I went to was at Union Square Ventures, and was pretty amazing.

5. Business Plan Competitions
Business Plan Competitions are a great way to get seed funding, become credible to future investors, and get some insightful feedback on your ideas. Best of all, they usually reward teams with money with no strings attached. Rutgers Business School has a competition each year, as do many other area schools. At Rutgers, both professors and investors judge the plans and pitches, and give valuable feedback that will help you improve your pitch tremendously. It is an amazing experience.Visit bizplancompetitions.com or business school websites to find a competition in your area.

6. Social Media
One of the great things about social media is that you can connect to other aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world and help each other grow. Find and follow mentors on Twitter. Subscribe to your favorite entrepreneurs on Facebook. Start conversations with them, comment on their blog posts, and ask lots of questions. I’ve learned that successful entrepreneurs are generally responsive to those of us just starting out, because they have been in your shoes before. Learn everything you can where people are spending their time and sharing their knowledge, opinions, and thoughts online.


10 Reasons why Public Relations Professionals should consider an MBA

I’m often asked from my friends in public relations, journalism, and communications “why did you decide to get your MBA? Is it worth it?” I 100% believe this was one of the best decisions I have ever made as a public relations professional. In this slideshow, I share 10 reasons why I think public relations pros should consider earning their MBA

MBA Student Perspective on Social Media as Rutgers Business School embraces the online conversation

Because I am very interested in Social Media and I see the need for it in marketing now more than ever, I have worked to launch a social media strategy and presence in my department (Communications and Marketing). Here is an article I just wrote about this online, hott off the press for you:

Student Perspective on Social Media as Rutgers Business School embraces the online conversation
December 15, 2010

Did you know Rutgers Business School (RBS) was ranked among the top 10 business schools on Twitter? We were also one of the first business schools on the microblogging site beating out some of our prestigious neighboring b-schools in NYC. How about that top companies use the RBS Twitter feed to post internship and job opportunities for RBS students? Or that you can watch videos of RBS activities on YouTube?

I work in the RBS Communications and Marketing Department and I am also a part-Time MBA student here at RBS. As a young professional, I find myself in two worlds: the world of traditional business and the world of new and social media. I don’t remember the last time I bought a printed newspaper. It’s not that I don’t read the news; it’s that the way I get my news is no longer the traditional way. I get my headlines in Tweets, Diggs, and real-time Facebook status updates.

I’m completely immersed in and obsessed with social media. I found out about Michael Jackson’s death on Twitter while on my BlackBerry. I found out about Flight 1549 landing in the Hudson River on Facebook. I learn about my college alumni events on LinkedIn. And it’s not only news and events that I learn about on social media. This morning, I was told via Facebook that I should wear a hat and gloves for my commute. Social media is a huge part of my life and I’m certain it’s becoming a huge part of yours. According to Socialnomics, Social Media is the #1 activity on the Web, Facebook tops Google in weekly traffic in the U.S., and YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.

Since RBS is a top school that is known for delivering the business, science, and technology credentials global companies demand, we recognized that it is important for the school to have a strong online presence as well. Not only do we have a brand new web site and interactive experience (virtual tour) on the way that will launch in time for the spring 2011 semester, but RBS is now on various social media sites for your advantage. As the person behind the keyboard and a student, I can tell you there is a lot to “like” and “follow” from Rutgers Business School. DegreeUs even ranked the RBS Twitter account among the best news feeds for all “business savvy students” in 2009.

We have a fan page on Facebook, a feed on Twitter, photos on Picasa, an MBA Student Blog and a channel on YouTube. We plan on adding a Foursquare and LinkedIn resource very soon. Now you can learn about all the great things going on in more ways than ever.

Many of our expert faculty members are also on Twitter. Professors Jeffrey Robinson, dt ogilvie , Judy Iskovitz and Wayne Eastman talk about current events and topics in business on their Twitter Feeds. The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development and The Institute for Ethical Leadership also have Twitter feeds.

We have a lot to be proud of, and a lot to communicate with family, alumni, students, friends, and employers: Our Undergraduate Program business major is ranked #3 by The Wall Street Journal, Our MBA Program was ranked #17 in job placement rate 3 months after graduation by U.S. News, our EMBA Program is ranked # 21 in “Top 25 EMBA Programs Worldwide” by The Wall Street Journal, and more. We have great speakers and events. We have great companies looking to hire RBS graduates. These social media platforms will integrate with our brand new web site and let people know in more ways than ever what great things go on here at Rutgers Business School.

Hannah Redmond is a part-time MBA student concentrating in Marketing and Editorial/Media Specialist & Webmaster in the Communications and Marketing department at RBS.