Steven Vincent didn't have to worry about landing a coveted job after graduating from the Master of Business Administration online program at USC Aiken in May 2019. He was already a chief operating officer when he started.
''I enrolled in the MBA program to enhance my skills and make myself better at my job — not to get a new one,'' Vincent said. ''When I became the chief operating officer, I never had any formalized training with strategy and things of that nature. I thought the degree would also enhance my position within the company.''
Vincent was director of information technology and billing for Gold Cross Emergency Medical Services in Augusta, Georgia, before being promoted two years ago. He now runs the ambulance services and billing agency for the same company, where he has worked since 2011.
''Online was the only way I could have possibly done the MBA program,'' Vincent said. ''I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There was absolutely no way I could have attended a formal class every day, even twice a week.''
Plus, Vincent and his wife, Shannon, welcomed their second son, Brooks, into the world four months before he started the online MBA program. Their elder son, Davis (4), plays T-ball and soccer.
''My wife thought I was crazy,'' Vincent said. ''She didn't understand how in the world I was going to find time to do school with a newborn. Plus, I coach our other son's sports teams and run two companies. We also teach Sunday school at our church.
''But they were completely supportive and gave me all of the time I needed. There were times when I was working on school at 3 a.m.''
Vincent grew up in Denver, where he developed a love of computers and writing. He served as editor of his high school newspaper.
''I used to do advertising for the paper and thought it was neat,'' he said. ''I enjoyed journalism and marketing, but I have always been a computer person.''
After heading east to the Carolinas, Vincent earned two bachelor's degrees — one in marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and one in computer information systems from Appalachian State University.
''I planned to go into marketing,'' he said. ''After I graduated in 2002, I wasn't getting the job offers I wanted. I bounced around and did some freelance programming because I have always known how to do computer work.
''When it came time to get a full-time job, everybody wanted that degree, which was why I went back and got my computer information systems degree.''
The move paid off. Vincent worked as a project manager at Appalachian State for nearly five years before moving on to a short stint as a network engineer and then to Gold Cross EMS. He chose the MBA program at USC Aiken for several reasons.
''One, the program was affordable,'' Vincent said. ''That was one of the key factors. Two, it is part of the University of South Carolina system. Having that name behind it meant a lot because it wasn't some college that I had never heard of. It was also in my backyard, which was helpful.''
Vincent liked that the entire online MBA program curriculum was detailed on the university's website.
''They tell you exactly what you've got to do,'' he said. ''They give you all of the information about the classes. Other programs I looked at told you that you can finish in a certain amount of time, but they did not give you the classes.
''I was able to look through that class list and say, 'Yeah, this is going to be beneficial to me.' USC Aiken was very transparent.''
Prior to enrolling in the online MBA program, Vincent had no experience with distance education.
''It was an easy adjustment,'' he said. ''There was a little bit of a learning curve with figuring out Blackboard and things like that, but it was pretty straightforward. They had a good orientation class.''
BADM A720: Legal and Ethical Environment of Business, taught by Dr. Linda Rodriguez, was Vincent's favorite course. He appreciated the instructor's engagement within the fully online format.
''Dr. Rodriguez was very interactive and gave us a lot of feedback," he said. "It was something that I think anybody in business could appreciate — especially if you do any kind of decision-making.''
Vincent believes his biggest takeaway from the program was seeing the big picture of how all of the elements of a business tie together.
''You are basically learning to run a business, from marketing and management to operations and financial decision-making,'' he said. ''I know that for a fact, because I run two businesses. I make these kinds of decisions every single day.''
However, Vincent also added that it is important to choose which courses to take together when doing more than one at a time in a semester.
''There were a couple of times when I took two classes that were extremely difficult because they were both intense and analytical, with a lot more reading and math than other classes,'' he said. ''If I had to do it all over again, I would take one math class separate from the other math class instead of doubling them up.
''I got special permission to take three classes in one semester, which was my easiest semester. It wasn't that they were easier classes — they were just different. It is important to research the classes and pair them together in a way that works well.''
Now that Vincent has an MBA, he is excited about applying what he learned to his position and leading his companies into the future.
''There were things I learned that, without thinking about it, I started using with employees,'' he said. ''If somebody came to me looking for a job with a degree from USC Aiken, I would definitely know that they got a quality education. I wouldn't think twice about hiring them.''
Learn more about the USC Aiken online MBA program.
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