After almost a decade in wedding photography, Carina Bethea wanted more business exposure to broaden her frame of reference.
So, Bethea enrolled in the Master of Business Administration in General Business online program at Longwood University. She is on track to complete the program in February 2021.
“Entrepreneurship is a big part of my life,” she said. “I wanted to add a master’s program that focuses on business and has a large range of entrepreneurship, finance management, and marketing. I thought this would be a nice addition. While wedding photography is a creative job, it’s also about 90% business.
“I also wanted to make the best use of the time that the pandemic has created. I didn’t want to sit around, so I thought this was a great opportunity to make the most of it and earn a master’s degree in the 10 months that I’m hoping the pandemic will last, at the most. I like being productive.”
Bethea and her husband opened their business, Michael and Carina Photography, in Richmond, Virginia in August 2011. The flexibility of the online format makes earning an MBA while working more than 40 hours a week manageable.
“I got my undergraduate degree in an online program,” she said. “I was a little concerned about how the program at Longwood would be different at first. However, the adjustment was easy.
“I also found the advisers helpful. I like that I frequently get actual people on the phone quickly. I like that I can set my own schedule. I work some during the week right now to make a little extra cash, so the online program enables me to do that, too.”
Depth of Field
Bethea was born and raised in Munich, Germany, where she and her husband lived before moving to the United States and opening their business. The couple met as pen pals eight years earlier.
“My family is supportive of this journey,” she said. “I wanted to give living in the United States a try, too. There are many great opportunities here — especially when it comes to business and entrepreneurship. I am excited to take advantage of those opportunities.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication from Old Dominion University in 2016, Bethea was eager to return to college to build on her real-world entrepreneurial experience.
“I run the business side of Michael and Carina Photographers,” she said. “Michael is the creative mind behind it, which works out well. It also works out that I am doing the MBA. I figured I would do the 10-month program and come out feeling better about myself.”
Although Bethea is in the early stages of earning a master’s degree, she has already been able to use the information she has learned.
“I just finished the second semester and took Information Technology [ISCS 570] and Managerial Economics [ECON 509],” she said. “I was a little scared of them at the beginning because math isn’t my strength.
“The professors were so helpful, and it was so applicable to my business. It forced me to do something I wouldn’t naturally seek out myself. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me think from a different perspective, which was super helpful.”
So far, MANG 564: Leadership, Group Dynamics, and Team Building is Bethea’s favorite in the MBA in General Business track curriculum.
“I have discovered my love for management,” she said. “I might consider going into a management position at some point in my life because of this class.”
Bethea hopes to participate in commencement next year.
“I have never walked in any graduation,” she said. “A master’s degree is a pretty big achievement, so I would love to do it. My family all still lives in Germany. They are excited for me to go back to school and earn an MBA. I will be the second person in my immediate family to earn a master’s degree.”
Even though Bethea had a limited business background in higher education prior to enrolling in the online MBA program at Longwood University, she believes in working hard and meeting new challenges head on.
“You should not be intimidated by the business aspect or the mathematics aspect of the MBA program as long as you are determined, ambitious and industrious,” she said.
Now that Bethea is back in full swing with an online program, she looks forward to completing the degree.
“It takes discipline to spread out your learning throughout the week,” she said. “If you can be disciplined throughout a semester, you can do it.
“I would encourage anybody who thinks they can make it happen with their schedule to choose the fully online format at Longwood University. I am a huge fan.”
For Bethea, this program was picture perfect.
Learn more about Longwood University’s online MBA program in General Business.