How I Fit an Online MBA Into My Life: Career Switching

We demand a lot from our careers. Paying the bills is often priority one, but usually, that alone isn’t enough. Most of us want to be engaged emotionally and intellectually by what we do day to day. Some lucky people go straight into a career role that does that, others find perfect jobs through a series of circuitous paths and unexpected connections. Sometimes the best route is to go back to school.

For Kenyauda LaNai, getting an online Master’s of Business Administration from National University was a straight shot into a new career. A few months before she finished her 18-month online MBA Kenyauda started applying for jobs. She began her new job the same week she graduated. She is now the Director of Development for TERI, an organization that provides services and support to children and adults with special needs.

Balancing Work and an Online Master’s of Business Administration

When she graduated in 2009 from California State University, San Bernadino with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Kenyauda never guessed she would land in a career requiring a business degree. Following her graduation from Cal State, she worked as a social work intern but soon decided to explore other areas. She pursued an acting career for a few years, and to support herself, she worked at a credit union, which is where she discovered her own interest in marketing. After being hired as a teller, she quickly moved up to a role in marketing and development. “I loved the marketing side and really thought maybe I wanted to become a marketing director. But I was finding it very difficult to see how I could pursue an MBA and continue working.”

When she happened to see a university recruiter who asked if she’d ever thought about going back to school she said no. “It still wasn’t even on my radar to be thinking about school,” says Kenyauda. “A year later I was talking to someone about getting an MBA and the different opportunities it opens. But I knew as a working adult I couldn’t go back to traditional study, where you’re sitting in class and driving to school every day.”

She was somewhat skeptical about the potential quality of online degrees, but after researching NU she decided to give the online MBA program a try.

National University’s Unique Online MBA Format

NU’s format differs from traditional universities, and Kenyauda relates that “Initially I found it odd to take only one class at a time.” She soon understood that the reason the classes are scheduled one at a time is the depth and rigor involved in each. She was working 33–40 hours per week while pursuing her online MBA, so focusing on only one class at a time ended up being an advantage. “Time wasn’t always on my side but I made it work,” she says. “But there would have been no way to do it in a traditional setting, where you’re spending time driving to and from school and sitting in lectures.” She found that attending lectures from home was just as effective. “The classes require a microphone and camera, so it was really like being in class and being able to dialog with people and listen to the professor. We even presented our final project online, and it worked.”

Kenyauda’s cohort included students from all over the country and the online MBA program required intensive group work. This collaboration with other students via internet connection turned out to be an asset, not an obstacle. Kenyauda, once suspicious of online degrees, now sees them as a viable means of changing careers. “I was sort of led to believe that if you weren’t going to Harvard Business School or MIT or something like that, you might as well not even get an MBA. But I found that that is not true, especially in 2018. I’ve found the degree I got is very respectable.”

As for whether she would ever consider another degree, Kenyauda takes a never-say-never approach. “I actually have a friend who graduated from Cal State with me who has now graduated from National three times with three different degrees,” she says. “So you never know. I always said before that I would never go back to school, but I did.”

For now, Kenyauda is eager to see where the skills she hones in her development directorship role may eventually take her.

For more information about the National University Master of Business Administration degree, available online, please visit the program page on our website.