Career ‘Plan B’ Leads to MBA Program for New Jersey Native Laurette Rodriguez

Growing up in a family full of attorneys, Laurette Rodriguez figured she would keep the tradition going. But she overruled that decision after 13 months as a paralegal.

“I decided that it wasn’t a good fit for me,” she said. “I wanted to further pursue business like I did during my undergraduate career. I started as a project coordinator for an IT company and used everything I learned, but I wanted to dive more into the technical side. Now, I am a quality assurance analyst, and I love my current role.”

Rodriguez is also on track to graduate from the online Master of Business Administration program at the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) in December 2021.

“I wanted to get some work experience before going back for my MBA,” she said. “I felt obtaining an MBA would also be the best way to stand out and become stronger in my field.”

Rodriguez works remotely for a New York-based tech company. She recently moved from Florida to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but she didn’t miss a beat in the program thanks to the flexibility of the online format.

“The fact that it’s 100% online caught my eye when I was looking at different schools,” she said. “They let you choose your schedule; you can go part time or skip a semester.

“You do it on your own terms, which I liked. I was determined to do the accelerated route. I wanted to start and finish. I work full-time, 40-plus hours a week, so it was nice to do it the way I wanted to do it.

“I liked the online structure. The tuition cost was also great — you can’t beat it. Plus, USC Aiken advertises its ranking of No. 1 in public schools. That said a lot to me.”

Sound Judgment

Rodriguez graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Montclair State University in her home state in 2017.

After enrolling at USC Aiken, Rodriguez knew she made the right call when she started her first course, Legal and Ethical Environment in Business, taught by Dr. Linda Rodriguez.

“Dr. Rod’s class was very well-structured and informative,” Rodriguez said. “She was engaged and provided strong feedback on our assignments. With her interactive class structure, sometimes I forgot I was even taking an online class.”

With so much going on outside of school, Rodriguez was pleased that the faculty and staff at USC Aiken are there to help any time she needs it.

“I appreciate that,” she said. “We all work full time and are busy. Most of my professors offered a virtual lesson once a week. Every semester I have had a group project. The discussion boards are also another great way for students to interact with one another. USC Aiken is very strong in engaging students for this type of online structure.

“The professors did a great job giving us material we needed in order to succeed. They were also available for any questions we may have had. Dr. Rod posted every Sunday, which was very helpful to me and my classmates.”

The information that Rodriguez learned in the program applies to her current job which she started in November 2019.

“The program isn’t quality assurance-related, but I have learned writing, communication skills, leadership and management — the MBA covers it all,” she said. “That’s been great. It’s brought out the best in me.”

Holding Court

Graduating with a master’s degree isn’t the only major event in Rodriguez’s life. She and her fiancé, James, are getting married in March 2022.

“My family and friends are very supportive,” she said.

Now that Rodriguez is in the home stretch of the program, she believes that earning an MBA is manageable for most anybody.

“Before applying to USC Aiken, I was hesitant to go back to school full time while I was working 40 hours a week,” Rodriguez said. “But the student coordinator I was in contact with was outstanding. She was so supportive of my schedule and was confident I could manage both, and she was right. Offering students flexibility is something USC Aiken takes pride in.”

Rodriguez offers these tips for success as an online student.

“Time management and organization are key to completing this program,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

“The main reason I wanted the degree was to better my career and better myself as a person. Now, I want to pursue a management role and successfully lead a team.”

Another element of the program that Rodriguez especially enjoys is the camaraderie with her online classmates.

“We had everybody from Baby Boomers to people who recently graduated with their undergraduate degree,” she said.

In addition to enhancing her knowledge through program coursework, Rodriguez has expanded opportunities for herself as well.

“I have had some networking come out of this program,” she said. “I have friends I started with in the program, and we are now about to walk across that stage together. We still talk about our current job roles, ask each other for career advice and job openings, whatever it may be. I am confident that this program at USC Aiken will open doors for me in the future.

“I would not hesitate to recommend the MBA program at USC Aiken for anyone looking to further their career.”

Learn more about USC Aiken’s online MBA program.

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