Twenty twenty-one is shaping up to be quite a year for Patricia Mayes.
In April, she and her fiancé, Neil White, are getting married. She is on track to complete the online Master of Business Administration in General Business at Longwood University two months later. She had toyed with the idea of earning an associate degree in business.
“But I saw how affordable the Longwood MBA program was and also knew some people who had gone there,” she said.
“It was enticing that I could finish in a year. Why spend two years getting an associate degree and paying more for it when I could get a master’s degree that would fill out my resume more?”
Mayes works full time as an executive support specialist for First National Bank in Lynchburg, Virginia. She started as a teller for the company more than four years ago and worked her way up.
“I wanted to further my career and do something in the industry I am in now,” she said. “Plus, it was all online, which is perfect for me. The flexibility is great.
“My fiancé has two kids, and we like to go camping a lot. I did some of my coursework while I was camping. It’s nice being able to set your own schedule and do it from anywhere.”
Striking a Balance
Mayes grew up in Lynchburg and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in studio and digital art and graphic design from Liberty University in 2015. She also attended Central Virginia Community College.
Before landing a position at First National Bank, she was an associate manager of a movie theater for Regal Entertainment Group for more than five years.
“I wanted to further my career path after I finished my undergraduate degree,” she said. “I would like to be in senior management someday.”
Mayes took a few online courses during her undergraduate years, so she had some experience with distance learning before she enrolled in the MBA program.
“At first, I was a little concerned,” she said. “Some people told me that Canvas was hard to navigate, but I find that it is easier to navigate than what I used previously when I was in school.”
So far, Mayes has completed two courses in the MBA program — ISCS 570: Information Technology and ECON 509: Managerial Economics.
“I am not very adept with math, but the Managerial Economics teacher, Dr. David Lehr, was accommodating with explaining things I didn’t understand,” she said. “It’s been 10 years since I had a math class. I learned a lot from it, and it will help me with what I do on a daily basis at work.
“I deal with financial information and how our company is performing compared to our peer banks. A lot of the things I learned in the course help me see how those forecasts come together and rate us among our competition.”
The Information Technology course, taught by Dr. Darrell Carpenter, provided Mayes with a broader scope than she expected when she started it.
“I was expecting it to be mostly about computers, but a lot of it was theory and asking ‘Why is this business performing better than another one, and how is the system helping [it] perform better?'” she said. “There were a lot of case studies I found interesting. The business professors are outstanding.”
Mayes is already impressed with the information she has learned in the online MBA program. She is eager to continue to increase her knowledge base to build on her real-world experience.
“The information is completely applicable to my career,” she said. “I work under the CEO and in human resources. Policy is applicable to what I do. I also do a lot of work with our board members and put board packages together and financial reports.”
With the encouragement of her family and friends, Mayes knows she will stay the course and hopes to attend the commencement ceremony to receive her degree in person.
“I definitely want to walk [the graduation stage],” she said. “It’s going to be more exciting for me than my bachelor’s degree graduation. Longwood is also not far from where I live. My fiancé is very supportive. When I say, ‘I have so much to do,’ he always tells me, ‘You got it.'”
Although Mayes is still in the early stages of the program, she is thriving in the accelerated pace of the fully online format. She also has some advice for potential online MBA students at Longwood University.
“You should make sure that you have a good support system and know what you’re getting into and be passionate about what you’re getting into,” she said. “Those are important things to think about before you dive into something.
“I can’t believe I am done with those first two courses after seven weeks. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also very rewarding. You will learn a lot in a short amount of time.”
Learn more about Longwood University’s online MBA in General Business.