Christal Desmarais is one of 40 students nominated from the class of 2018 at 28 leading online MBA programs. Each school was asked to select two nominees from their forthcoming graduating class based on “strong academic performance, critical and consistent contributions, striking personal narratives, and innate potential.”

Nineteen institutions submitted nominations, including the D'Amore-McKim School of Business.

Desmarais is 39-years-old from Hopkinton, MA. She currently works for Dell, Inc. as a program manager.

Read an excerpt of her interview below:

Q:Why did you choose this school's online MBA program?

The school's reputation was very important to me when considering an online MBA program. Northeastern not only has a wonderful reputation, but my company advocated the school's successful MBA program. Northeastern offered me the opportunity to sit in on one of their classes, which provided me insight into the online experience. Two other schools I was considering did not offer this and it definitely eased my worry to commit to Northeastern. I was a little unsure about an online setting, so being close to campus did provide me comfort as a possible safety net.

Q:What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program?

Of course, there are very obvious advantages for being in an online program such as: not having to take the time traveling back and forth to class, not dealing with traffic nor inclement weather, and not incurring travel and parking costs. The ability to juggle schooling with a full time job is much easier with an online program.

With respect to this online MBA program, I believe my favorite aspect was meeting people from all around the world! I also had an opportunity to study abroad in May of 2017 in China and it was a wonderful experience. We met with various companies and learned first-hand about international business opportunities in various industries. I walked away from that experience with a vast knowledge of different industries and a new appreciation outside of my direct field.

Q:How has your online education helped you in your current job?

On various occasions I shared case studies or articles with fellow co-workers while in the middle of a course. I often found that I ended a class with a different perspective that I was able to utilize in my professional life. The most interesting for me is that even the elective classes I selected that didn't apply to my industry also helped me in my current job. For instance, I took a Healthcare Finance class and walked away with the knowledge to have a better conversation with my HR department. It allowed me to understand insurance financing and be able to relate to someone else in my company. While it may not be directly related to my everyday job, it brought me closer to understanding other departments in the company. Building relationships in any business is important and bridging the divides between business units is often overlooked as part of our day-to-day jobs.

Q:If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why?

Absolutely! I may have selected a different timeline to achieve my MBA, but I would definitely complete NEU's online MBA program if I had a do-over. I started the program at the beginning of 2016, prior to the merger of Dell and EMC being announced. Shortly after entering the MBA program, I was selected as the program manager for the new family brand website I was working many hours, sometimes more than 70 hours a week, while completing my first year of the MBA program. It was intense, but with the professors clearly outlining their syllabus at the start of the five-week course, I was able to co-manage work, school and life. It was a wild year, but very thankful that the online program allowed me the flexibility. Otherwise, if I was in the in-classroom setting, I would have had to postpone my MBA due to my unexpected work schedule. Instead, I was able to complete my assignments and watch my professors' recorded sessions on my own time and in the middle of the night if it required.

Q:What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?

This is a deep thought provoking question. My long-term goal is to ensure I enjoy and learn throughout the rest of my career. I don't have a clear position or company that I desire. I would have never thought ten years ago that I would be managing a website development team, but I am and I love it. I feel as though I am still young in my career and there is so much I have yet to learn. There are so many more challenges awaiting me and new paths of which I have not yet dreamt. My goal is to never say an absolute “no” to any new opportunity and to keep my eyes and heart open as my most fulfilling jobs have been from unpaved roads. I am so pleased that I decided to enroll in Northeastern's online MBA program as I am confident that the knowledge and analytical skills acquired will enhance my abilities to continue to succeed in my future endeavors.

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