Au courant purple ombré and #girlboss attitude in tow, we’ve always looked up to our dear friend Chandler Nunez as a perfect example of maintaining a rad sense of style and honest personality post-undergrad. However, she recently decided to go back to university to get her masters in Marketing from the McCombs School of Business in Austin, Texas. Graduate school is something most young professionals consider, yet it can easily become overwhelming as we debate MBA vs. other business and non-business routes. Chandler kicks ass at everything she does, so we were thrilled to get her take on this big decision. Hear about how Chandler chose her program, advice for people considering similar paths, and her future plans post-grad.
What did you study in undergrad?
“I studied Marketing.”
What career path did you choose coming out of undergrad and why?
“I went into event planning because like most, I thought it was really cool and glamorous. It helped that I had internship experience in event planning. I honestly thought I was going to do marketing in events, but when I started working full time I moved more into a client/project management role based on the needs for the team.”
What made you want to go back to school? How did you know it was time?
“After a year of working in events I realized that I didn’t like the majority of what I was doing for work and that the parts I did like involved data and analytics. I was doing something online for work and I saw a banner ad (marketing) for UT’s MBA program. Up until that point I had been unsuccessful in my job search for analyst positions and I thought that going back to school for an analytics/data science focused degree would be a viable option for me to change my career path. I explored trying to grow an analytics skill set at my current role, but ultimately I realized that the best and quickest way to gain the skills I desired was to go back to school.”
What was the application process like?
“The first step is a lot of research, figuring out what is your ideal program choice, some good alternatives, and the prestige of the program. You also learn a lot about what you truly value, especially as someone that’s been out of work for a while. Yeah I would’ve loved to move to Paris and paid half the price for a Masters in Marketing, but with a house and a serious boyfriend, its hard to commit to living abroad for two years.
You’ve got to decide between the GRE and the GMAT. I initially decided to start studying for the GRE because I wasn’t sure if I would be applying to just business programs, and a lot of business school accept both formats. Someone also told me that its easier to rank in a higher quartile on the GRE because the population of those who take it is so diverse. For the GMAT, you get a lot of quant focused people, so its harder to score well in the quantitative section, but for the GRE there are a lot of people applying to liberal arts programs who don’t need a high quant score and so they help normalize the curve of scores.
If you have the time, I highly recommend studying and taking the GRE well in advance of any application deadlines. Trying to juggle both in the fall really sucks.
You end up writing a lot of the same variations of essays for applications and its less about how special you are (like you had to write for undergrad) and more about proving how dedicated you are. Admissions committees are really trying to assess why you want your masters so you should have that reason solidified before applying.”
What are your opinions on an MBA vs. a business master’s program? Additionally, what are your thoughts on quitting your job vs. an executive program where you take classes at night?
“I think an MBA is very valuable to a lot of people, but it wasn’t right for me. I’d been told by a lot of professors that MBAs were redundant for undergrad business majors unless your company really wants you to have one in order to move up, or you want to completely change your career trajectory (i.e marketing to finance). I considered some MBA programs, but I wasn’t digging the cost and time of a two-year program and I really just wanted to focus on analytics and there wasn’t an opportunity to specialize in an MBA program.
I also debated some non-traditional education outlets like General Assembly and Galvanize, which were pretty attractive. The skillsets and starting salaries for a business masters and a certificate program were pretty comparable and I could’ve finished in 6-8 weeks or over a longer time frame while still working. I honestly wasn’t digging my current job and wanted to throw myself into learning so I quit. I’m lucky I have parents that are willing to support me and a boyfriend who offers to treat me to Chipotle, but I realize that’s not everyone’s situation.
I currently haven’t found a part time business analytics or marketing analytics degree. They’re so short, they just make them full time and knock it out in a year.”
Some advice you wish you’d gotten before deciding to quit work and go back to school?
“Start saving a year before you plan to go back to school. Financial Aid will totally take care of you, but its nice to have a reserve of money to fall on in case you stumble upon a really sweet travel deal.
Its really sad. When we’re students we have the time to travel, but not the money and when we’re working, we have the money, but not the time.”
Who’s on your study playlist right now?
“Its like a mix of late 70’s disco and rock and really chill music. I pull a lot of singles from the Chillville radio show and “Dope: The Playlist” on Spotify.”
What are you looking to do after your master’s?
“First, travel to southeast Asia. Then, I’m hoping to become an analyst in marketing or business intelligence at a tech company. I love data and insights so any role that will keep me running regressions and making predictions about consumers is just fine with me.”
Thank you for your insight, Chandler! We’re cheering you on! What are your thoughts on going back to school? Are you thinking of changing career paths with a totally new field of study, or are you looking for a seat in the MBA lounge? Let us know in the comments!
#1: “I explored trying to grow an analytics skill set at my current role, but ultimately I realized that the best and quickest way to gain the skills I desired was to go back to school.”
#2: “If you have the time, I highly recommend studying and taking the GRE well in advance of any application deadlines. Trying to juggle both in the fall really sucks.”
#3: “Start saving a year before you plan to go back to school. Financial Aid will totally take care of you, but its nice to have a reserve of money to fall on in case you stumble upon a really sweet travel deal.”