Lindsay McDonald had no aspirations of a career in business, but now she’s a lifer.
McDonald started an entry level job at Prudential Financial in 2009 and has steadily worked her way up in the company. Now a business analyst, McDonald has recently completed her final course in the Master of Business Administration in Management program at La Salle University.
“I thought it was great and, at the time, I thought it was good money,” she said of her first job at Prudential. “I went into the financial world really green; I had no formal training or anything like that. Once I was able to see that I like this kind of work and I happened upon a good thing, I started building my career. The culmination of that was me enrolling at La Salle.”
McDonald, who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology from Albright College in 2008, also held positions in workforce management, specialized analysis and project management before she assumed her current role with Prudential in 2016.
“I think where I’m headed is more toward strategic leadership,” she said. “At Prudential, in particular, it’s really leading toward a path of business intelligence. The company continues to grow in that way. I think the MBA will help me get there.”
Even before she completed the hybrid MBA in Management program, McDonald had already benefited from the curriculum in relation to her career.
“I realized I was able to apply what I was learning to what I was learning at work, too,” McDonald said. “I started to see more overlap with every class and every semester that would go by. I always thought it was cool when I was being taught by professors who were adjunct or had a significant tenure in the workforce, too.
“One professor was a chief financial officer at a credit union that has a huge presence in the [Philadelphia] area. Another worked for the Federal Reserve Bank. These were people who were working while they were teaching, which I thought was remarkable and unique. That’s really valuable.”
“I was looking a couple of steps down the line and saw that most people in the position I see myself being in have MBAs.”
One of the primary reasons McDonald chose La Salle was because her husband, Mike, earned an undergraduate degree (2009) and an MBA (2012) from the university. He works as a compliance examiner for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
“I thought it was important for taking the next step in my career,” McDonald said. “It wasn’t required to take the next step in my career, but I was looking a couple of steps down the line and saw that most people in the position I see myself being in have MBAs.”
McDonald was looking into another university because it had a business intelligence and analytics program, but she decided on La Salle because she could keep the MBA broad but still take an analytics concentration.
“The way I thought of it was, ‘Let me go for MBA, keep my prospects more broad, and I’ll still be able to focus on this specific field I’m interested in,’” she said.
McDonald has been taking mostly hybrid courses, which she says make attending school and working a full-time job significantly more manageable.
“I went in fully intending to take in-person classes, but it would have taken three full years to finish, so I guess the program itself has evolved since I started,” she said. “I’m really thankful most of my classes have been hybrid. It was a degree of convenience that I didn’t even know I had the option for. The flexibility was nice.”
As is often the case when going back to school, time management was critical for McDonald to successfully balance classes and her career.
“Different courses required varying degrees of time and work outside of the class,” she said. “I found some of the online ones were more work than the ones where we were meeting more often in person. It was still manageable. I usually spent about three to four hours per class, per week.”
McDonald said her favorite course was MBA 840: Frameworks for Socially Responsible Decision Making.
“The reason I liked it so much was because the professor was a lawyer, so she had a wealth of real-life legal and ethical dilemmas to share,” she said. “I think I probably took it at the right time, too. I took it at the end when I had already learned everything that I could from other classes. It was kind of an all-encompassing class that was really interesting.”
McDonald said she has already seen some tremendous benefits to working toward an MBA, including networking and being able to relate to other MBA grads.
“It’s a cool way to connect with people who have gone through or are going through an MBA program,” she said. “People who haven’t but have thought about it always have a lot of questions. Generally, whether they’re in the field or not, people are impressed by it.”
McDonald, the first person in her immediate family to earn a bachelor’s degree, said she is trying to take up golf in her free time. She and her husband recently visited seven European countries in 11 days. Now, she’s excited to wrap up the MBA program, continue to make strides in her career, and write that next chapter in her life.
“If I were redoing the application process, I probably would have wanted to be told it’s more interesting than I think it’s going to be and more manageable than I thought it was going to be,” she said.
Learn more about the La Salle online MBA in Management program.