Colleen Eakins, Chief Creative Officer of Colleen Eakins Design, American Intercontinental University (Dunwoody Campus) in Atlanta, 2006.
Madame Noire: What impact has your MBA degree had on your career?
Colleen Eakins: The skills I developed from juggling a full-time job and going to school are now being applied to my business to juggle the many hats I have to wear as owner and operator. I have also been able to apply the business and marketing principles I learned in the classroom to help ensure my success.
MN: What made you want to pursue an advanced degree?
CE: I initially decided to go back to school for two reasons: it seemed everyone I met my age had a MBA degree and I felt that I was not being taken seriously at work. As a creative, I felt that I was dismissed a lot because my coworkers did not view a designer as being an intellectual. Oftentimes in meetings, when introductions were being given, marketing and business expertise was always a qualification added to everyone, except for me. When I was introduced, it was simply as “the designer.” I realized, as a designer, that no matter where I worked, I would probably be a part of someone’s marketing department and I felt that an MBA with a concentration in marketing would be complimentary to my Bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
MN: Given today’s economic climate, would you recommend this path to other African American women?
CE: I think it really depends on the individual and their current circumstances. It is an added financial burden to pursue higher education, and one has to evaluate whether or not it will be an investment that will pay off. You have to decide what it is that you really want to do from a career perspective and where your career goals are. If your dream is to be a high-ranking executive, an MBA might be a good career move. If you are looking to start your own business but do not have any business management experience, a MBA may also be a good career move. You have to research your industry and look to see if people with MBAs are moving further in that field than people without. You also have to take into consideration whether or not having a MBA as an African-American woman will help to give you an edge in a field that may not be very diverse. In these cases, yes, I would recommend pursuing a MBA.
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