Employer support key while getting an MBA

As I approach the halfway point of my time as a MEMBA student, I could not have not made it this far without the support of my boss, coworkers and organization. I am lucky enough to work for Emory, and it wasn’t long after starting my job at the university that I was bitten by the academic bug. Being surrounded by brilliant and talented colleagues who have distinguished academic careers soon motivated me to begin exploring how to develop my own professional credentials.

As you consider the possibility of going to graduate school, people will tell you how important it is to have a supportive network. I agree that friends and family are critical, but be sure you have invested time in talking with your supervisor (and coworkers, if appropriate). Discuss why you want to take on the commitment of graduate school, how you think it will impact your time away from work, and how it will ultimately help you be a better employee.

I am incredibly thankful to have a boss who is exceedingly supportive and has been one of my most enthusiastic champions throughout this process. I am also lucky to work with a close-knit team of colleagues who are encouraging and understanding.

I try to make the process as seamless as possible for everyone in my office, and that requires being upfront and honest about the time I will be away. I remember my first week of school when it really hit me that I wouldn’t be able to maintain a normal work schedule while being in class. At the end of my first week, I called my boss and said “I need to re-evaluate my time commitment away from work and accept the fact that I will need to step back more.” It was difficult for me to admit that this was going to require more time away from work than I originally anticipated and could place an increased burden on our team. But I am so glad that I was upfront as it has made the process much easier moving forward.

If you are like me, letting go can be challenging. Be open to the possibility that this experience will teach you how to delegate, manage your workload away from the office and communicate more directly.

Over-communicate with your boss and team members leading up to your school week or if you have a heavy school schedule. Also communicate afterwards, even if it’s a simple check-in to see if there’s anything you missed or can help with. I think it’s important to show your boss and other team members that you recognize the burden and, at times, inconvenience it places on them. A simple thank you goes a long way.

Develop a system to take care of emergencies or unexpected situations. Having a backup plan will put your mind at ease and allow you to be present for the experience at Goizueta, one that is incredibly valuable but goes by quickly. Be sure you can take full advantage of it.

Kallarin Mackey

Kallarin Mackey

Kallarin Mackey 19MEMBA is the Director of State Affairs for Emory University, where she leads advocacy efforts on behalf of the University and healthcare system before state legislative, executive and regulatory officials. Before joining Emory, she worked at the Georgia Hospital Association in government relations as Director of Public Policy. Prior to moving to the private sector, Kallarin spent three years as a liaison between state government health agencies and the legislature. Kallarin graduated from Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia with a B.A. in Public Relations and is currently pursuing her M.B.A at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. She lives in Brookhaven with her husband, Josh.

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