Establishing Meaningful Connections in the MBA program
Justin Cambria, MBA/MSW '17
Hometown: Milton, MA
Undergraduate Institution: Middlebury College
Previous Work Experience (Industry): Human Services & Tech start-ups
Area(s) of Interest: Human Resources and Non-Profit Leadership
During the summer before I started my MSW at the Boston College School of Social Work, I reached out to an MBA/MSW student who I had never met to inquire about the dual degree program with the Carroll School of Management. She met me that very same day and spent an hour with me talking about the program and her experiences.
This story illustrates the kind of person you will meet at BC – students are not short on meaningful relationships with their peers and the faculty and staff. In Professor Bob Radin’s Managing People and Organizations class this fall, I identified connection as my principle core value. I absolutely thrive on meaningful relationships with individuals and communities, and have found that value to be in harmony with daily life at Carroll. In addition to the young woman who met me during my decision process for coffee, I also sent an email to a group of graduate MSW/MBAs who had offered to talk to prospective students. Their intelligence and kindness made my decision to choose BC an easy one.
It may help people who are pondering whether to pursue an MBA at BC to hear a bit about my background. At 35, I am one of the older members of my class (though, I learned recently that I am NOT the oldest). I graduated from Middlebury with an English degree in 2002. I moved to New York for 6 years after graduating and worked in corporate and antitrust litigation as a paralegal and litigation support technologist. I also DJ’d and organized and promoted nightlife events from 2002 – 2007, working with artists and agencies from around the world. Through this experience, I discovered how much I enjoy connecting with vibrant cultures filled with diverse and interesting people, and cut my teeth in marketing though producing and promoting events with my partners.
In 2008, I returned to Boston, wanting to connect to the tech startup world and turn some of those promotional and marketing skills into a day job. I held sales, marketing, and community management roles at some very early stage companies. I sold website and marketing services to SMBs, and worked to develop the initial coach community at CoachUp.com. While this was fun and exciting, I wanted to do something that was more person-to-person focused and involved less of my daily time spent on the computer. I spent from 2011 – 2014 doing case management and recovery coaching at O’Connor Professional Group, working directly with clients struggling with addiction and mental health crises. I enjoyed this work, and decided to go back to school for my MSW to get formal licensure and training to do counseling work. I always wanted to get my MBA, and decided to pursue the dual degree with the Carroll School. Since then, I have connected with some peers and mentors and decided to focus my career in HR and/or consulting. I am drawn to the energy of recruiting, retaining, and coaching employees in a fast paced, innovative industry. Talent is so mission critical to business success today. I plan to pursue counseling and coaching work as a secondary business in private practice.
I am not alone in changing careers during my MBA – most of my classmates are career switchers. I think it’s a good place and environment for that. Professors, career services, and peers are all very helpful to each other. I am leveraging my own LinkedIn network (it’s big since I am one of the old guys around here) to work to make an introduction for each of my classmates. I also started a mindfulness group for graduate students with two other students – one from the Ph.D. program in organizational behavior, and one from the social work school – which is a pleasure. It’s great to be with other students from around the campus each week, pause, and recognize what a glorious opportunity we all have around us.
Academically, I’m being challenged in new ways. The pace is fast, and the material is dense, but I am learning. From Data Analytics, to Accounting, to Marketing, we are covering a lot of interesting topics, acquiring some solid hard skills, and engaging in good dialogue with great professors. While there is some stress to contend with due to the busy schedule, it’s an enjoyable experience due to the great people I’ve met. We are a community that helps each other, and that’s what I wanted and needed in my graduate school life. If you are thinking about checking us out, please do, and let us know how we can help you. We will be so glad to do so!