Now that Jessica Cardia has found her niche working in supply chain, she plans on staying for the long haul and climbing the leadership ladder.
"I went to school for finance and ended up in supply chain," she said. "I valued my experience in finance, but for the long term I wanted to explore other areas. I had heard more and more about supply chain from family and friends. After doing some research, I took the leap. I loved it and knew right away I wanted to stay in the field."
Cardia, a display project manager for Johnson & Johnson, enrolled in the Master of Business Administration, Business Systems & Analytics Specialization online program at La Salle University in Spring 2018. She is on track to graduate in Fall 2020.
"I feel like I need a master's degree to enhance my skills and help elevate me to the next level," she said. "That's the vibe and the culture -- especially in this industry."
The online format was essential for Cardia to add school to her busy life. She commutes a little more than an hour from Pennsylvania to New Jersey each day for work. Cardia does the majority of her schoolwork on weekends to work ahead for the following week.
"It's worked out great," Cardia said. "When I decided I was going to pursue an MBA, online was my only option. Due to my schedule and commute, going to class in person would have been an additional burden.
"It also worked out really well because the work is on me. As long as the classes are up and available, it's how I manage my time. It's like, 'Here's what you have to do.' Then, you manage your time and make priorities. I like it, and I'd rather do it that way. It's been working out well, so far."
One of the primary reasons Cardia chose La Salle was the availability of the business systems and analytics specialization.
"I was having a very hard time finding an MBA program that worked for me," she said. "Then, La Salle popped up with the analytics specialization. A lot of online programs are straightforward MBAs. I like the analytics specialization, but there are other options, too. So, if I ever decide to pursue something else, I have that range and flexibility."
La Salle's quality reputation and affordable tuition were also attractive selling points.
"I live in Bucks County, and I am not too far from Philadelphia," she said. "I knew all about La Salle. I like the fact that it's a reputable school. The application process was easy, which is always a plus, but the cost really solidified it. A lot of companies only pay a certain amount for tuition each year."
Cardia thoroughly enjoyed the first course she took in the online MBA program, MBA 820: Information Technology for Decision Making, and her instructor, Dr. Madjid Tavana.
"Dr. Tavana was extremely knowledgeable, but he was also very approachable," she said. "I learned a lot in that class. I learned different methods and tools I can use both in and out of Microsoft Excel that were applicable. I felt I wasn't just doing busy work. I was learning things on the weekend that I could apply to my job on Monday."
Cardia also appreciates the rapid responsiveness of the La Salle faculty when she has questions about the work.
"Dr. Tavana was so responsive and respectful of people's time," she said. "In one instance, I went back and forth on email with him. I emailed him with a question on an assignment on a Sunday night. He answered me in two minutes and said, 'If you want to talk live, we can.' It was awesome. I thought, for sure, I was going to have to sit and wait a few days to get my work done. He was awesome."
Eagles Fan, Nevermore
Cardia, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in finance with a fraud and business forensics concentration from Rider University in 2013, has plenty of support from her friends and family for her return to higher education.
"They think it's a positive thing," she said. "They knew it was going to come eventually. I graduated five years ago, so it was something I was putting off for a little bit."
However, they are likely not as supportive of her National Football League allegiance to the Baltimore Ravens, rather than the defending Super Bowl champion, the Philadelphia Eagles. She grew up in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, 18 miles outside of Philadelphia.
"I revolted against the Eagles fan base in 2008," she said. "I wanted a new team. [Baltimore quarterback] Joe Flacco was a local guy who grew up in the area, so I said, 'All right, Baltimore.' I've been a diehard fan ever since. I try to go to a game in Baltimore each year. It's about a two-hour drive."
With the flexibility of the online MBA, Business Systems & Analytics Specialization program, Cardia can set aside three hours to root for the Ravens and make time for her other hobbies, which include cooking, working out and running. She is entered to run in the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2018.
"You get out of the MBA program as much as you put into it," she said. "It's networking, too. If you're active with your classmates and your professors, you're going to learn a lot about the coursework and what else is out there.
"I have people in my classes who are in a wide range of fields from government to the medical industry, and you learn more about their fields and industries depending on how engaged you are. Be open-minded, and if you're going to do it, make sure you're putting the work into it and interact with your classmates and professors. I know having a degree will help me with the soft skills, technical skills and people management down the line."
Learn more about the La Salle online MBA, Business Systems & Analytics Specialization program.
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