Adonis Riley got more than a degree from the Master of Business Administration online program at the University of South Carolina Aiken. One of the courses he took, ECON A714: Economics for Decision Making, led him in a new career direction.
''We talked a lot about buyers and sellers in the economics course,'' he said. ''That really sparked my interest in working in real estate.''
While still enrolled in the online MBA program, Riley began working for Century 21 Properties Plus out of the Charleston office in West Ashley. He has also owned and operated a barber shop, A Touch From Above 2, in his hometown of Yemassee, South Carolina, for the last 10 years.
''I am now transitioning into real estate full time, but I also want to look to expand the barber shop and go more on the management side toward 2020,'' he said. ''I had several family members who cut hair while I was growing up, but none really in a barber shop like I have established. I just took to the business.''
Riley wanted to add more knowledge and business acumen to his decade of experience as an entrepreneur when he enrolled. Now, he is applying what he learned to two work fields.
''I had been planning to earn an MBA since my undergraduate days,'' he said. ''I felt that acquiring my MBA would make me more competitive and up my competency level to meet the current demands as a professional. That is what it has done for me.''
Setting the Pace
Education was always a high priority in Riley's family. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in management and human resources management from USC Beaufort in December 2014, he was excited to remain in the USC system while attending graduate school.
''While I was researching schools for the MBA program, I found out USC Aiken had an up-and-coming program, so I filled out a survey,'' Riley said. ''From there, I received a call and started to work on my application. Once they went online with the MBA program in January 2018, I was part of one of the first cohorts.''
Even before Riley added a second career in real estate to his already full plate, the online program helped him fit school into his busy schedule. In addition to working full time and part time, he also cuts hair for disabled people.
''I like having time to give back with community service,'' Riley said. ''The program allowed me to do so because it was extremely manageable and flexible. It is nice to work on your assignments whenever you have time. I usually spent between 6 and 12 hours per week on school.''
Although Riley enjoyed all of the courses in the online MBA curriculum, he found the capstone course, BADM A760: Business Vision, Innovation and Strategy the most intriguing.
''I liked that it basically talked about the core values and core purpose,'' he said. ''It helped you look at leadership culture and vision of an organization, and how those are generally what make organizations strong and successful. Those two things were absolutely the most important that I learned while in the program.''
ACCT A717: Accounting for Decision Making was another course that had a significant amount of real-world application for Riley — especially as a business owner.
''I found that the accounting course could really help me,'' he said. ''It allowed me to understand finance and how to take profits you gain through your business and invest them for the future.''
Off the Top
In addition to landing a job in real estate, Riley was able to walk in the Spring 2019 commencement ceremony while wrapping up his final two courses in the program. He completed the program in 20 months.
''Graduation was a great experience,'' he said. ''It was illuminating. I had a lot of family and friends there to watch me get my degree. They were all excited about me returning to school for a master's degree. They told me that it is a positive thing to show young people to continue to strive for education.''
Riley believes the online MBA program at USC Aiken thoroughly prepared him to balance making real estate his full-time job and managing his barber shop business as he goes forward.
''I feel like this degree will help create opportunities for me,'' he said. ''It makes me extremely marketable and competent with what is going on in the business world and helps me be analytical with all that I am doing.''
Even though the graduate degree program involved a lot of hard work, Riley thinks it is important to enjoy the time spent working toward a degree. Away from school and work, he enjoys going to the beach and also playing golf.
''I would tell anybody considering the MBA to have fun and to get as much as you can out of the program because it has a substantial amount of value,'' he said. ''I absolutely received good value from the program.''
Learn more about the USC Aiken online MBA program.
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