John Kowalczik had no plans of going to graduate school. After completing his business degree at Northeastern in 2015, he began working in fund administration at one of the more reputable investment management firms in Boston.

“I always want to keep learning and keep advancing,” John Kowalczik, new part-time MBA student.

It wasn't until after he started working that Kowalczik began to consider going back to school. “I always want to keep learning and keep advancing,” he said.

Kowalczik recently joined his fellow new students at an orientation in Dodge Hall for new Part-Time MBA students. The half-day event welcomed students to the program, introduced them to their new cohort, and reviewed academic expectations. Professor Bruce Clark led a session on case study analysis, and professor Leonard J. Glick discussed how to manage effective groups and facilitated activities throughout the afternoon.

The pursuit of an MBA degree around the world is hardly unique. According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, MBA programs are exclusively considered by half (52%) of prospective students around the world. The difference with students like Kowalczik, however, is his commitment to pursue his MBA part-time while also keeping a full-time job.

Wanting to become more by pursuing an MBA while working

“The reason why I chose Northeastern was because of the flexibility,” new Part-Time MBA student, Elayne Gordonov said. She works at a technical equipment manufacturing company in Norwood, Mass., where she ensures the company's biomedical products meet industry standards and regulations.

“(My company) has a good relationship with Northeastern. We hire co-ops, and there are people that I respect who have received their degrees from there.” Gordonov added it was her main school of choice when seeking out a Part-Time MBA program. “It has a really good reputation,” she said.

“I'm looking to be in a role that is challenging and stimulating,” Elayne Gordonov, new part-time MBA student.

Both Kowalczik and Gordonov wanted the flexibility of staying at their jobs while also growing into their roles with the added credibility of the MBA degree. With a deepening interest in mutual fund management, Kowalczik was surprised to find only one school in the country that offered a specialization that fit his interest. He was even more surprised that it was his undergraduate alma mater.

“In undergrad, we were all very similar. A lot of people came from similar backgrounds, and we'd all just graduated high school,” Kowalczik said. At orientation, he was excited to learn that his new classmates brought with them a varying range of experiences. “My table had seven years between us, but another group had more than 60 years.”

With the support of both of their employers, Gordonov and Kowalczik were eager to begin class the following week. Kowalczik anticipated new opportunities to apply what he's learning at work, and Gordonov hoped to gain formal marketing and business training which will directly support her role at her company.

“I'm looking to be in a role that is challenging and stimulating,” she said. “The company I'm at now is awesome. I could see myself staying here for a while, and I think the business degree will give me credibility.”

How Northeastern's MBA program builds a network that lasts

Throughout the afternoon orientation, Professor Glick led activities introducing the students to their new classmates. The group shared commonalities from being parents to making life changing decisions this year; a few even realized they all worked for the same insurance company.  Though most represented a range of backgrounds and industry expertise from medical case management, broadcast television, to biotech in geographies that spanned across Albania, Iraq, and Nigeria.

Many of the students that attended orientation planned to complete the degree in three years, averaging two courses per semester, which, for Gordonov, was comforting to know since her new acquaintances will likely grow into a close professional network during her time at D'Amore-McKim.

Pursuing a MBA degree can be a deep, and often life-changing experience. It will not only be years of commitment from students, their families, and employers, but one where skills are developed and a network is built to last throughout students' careers. With the first few classes underway, Gordonov feels ready.