Life is going fast for Megan Harding.
After moving from Pennsylvania to Florida for a job last year, she graduated from the Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Leadership online program at Youngstown State University in May 2020.
“It seemed like the right step in my career and allowed me to move forward with the end goals that I have of pursuing my Ph.D. down the line,” she said. “It also granted me great leadership skills, and I was able to work with some amazing classmates and staff along the way.”
Harding is the brand relations manager at flexEngage, a software company in Orlando. She was recently promoted after working as the marketing coordinator for her first nine months.
“I grew up right next door to Youngstown, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, so I was pretty familiar with YSU,” she said. “I chose it because the accreditations of the program are outstanding, along with the convenience and the cost. The quality of the education I was getting for the price that I paid at YSU could not be beat anywhere else.”
The flexibility of the online format helped Harding earn a degree while she moved to a new state and transitioned to two different roles. She didn’t miss a beat.
“The MBA in Leadership program was amazing,” she said. “It allowed me the freedom to work a demanding job and still pursue my degree online. The YSU staff was fantastic in supporting that transition from an in-person learning environment to an online one.”
Harding graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management, marketing and related support services from West Virginia University in 2017. She worked as a college tour guide and an admissions assistant as an undergraduate student.
“My dad, Shane, did sales growing up, so I was around business a lot,” she said. “Working in marketing allowed me to blend my communication skills with my creative nature.”
After completing an internship at Belmont Confections in Youngstown, Harding landed a full-time position as a marketing operations assistant. She was eager to return to college to build on and strengthen her higher education foundation. Adding studies to the mix when she was working full time and handling other responsibilities on the side went well for her.
“Everyone at Youngstown State made things so seamless and smooth, and the program fit right into what I had going on in my life.”
Harding especially enjoyed the marketing courses in the online MBA with a Specialization in Leadership online program curriculum, but one of the other courses stood out for its relevance to her new position.
“Managing Organizational Talent [OMBA 6941] translated very well to the job functions that I have,” she said. “It allowed me to have the confidence to step into my role a bit deeper and take more of a leadership role in the company.”
Earning an MBA while taking on new challenges couldn’t have worked out better for Harding, as she applies the information from the program to her booming career.
“I was learning in the classroom online and using it at work the next day,” she said. “It was incredible. The hands-on experience YSU was able to transfer to an online program was amazing. I was able to learn things that are going to greatly aid me with my future career goals.”
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Now that Harding has a master’s degree under her belt, she plans to continue to gain valuable real-world experience and return to higher education in the future.
“I would love to go back and get my Ph.D. and round out my career by becoming a marketing professor,” she said. “I also believe that having my MBA will help me in my career by building on the skills I currently have while pushing me to think outside of the box as I continue to gain more experience.”
Harding — who enjoys hiking, being outdoors with her dog, painting and volunteering — is the second person in her immediate family to earn a graduate degree. Her mom, Stacey, also has a master’s.
“My family and friends were excited for me to earn an MBA,” she said. “I 100% receive value out of the program at YSU.”
Even after completing the MBA program in 18 months and walking the graduation stage at the commencement ceremony, Harding has no intention of slowing down any time soon. She has some advice for anybody considering the same degree program.
“Buckle up,” she said. “It’s a quick program that packs a punch, but you get so much out of it. Be open and communicative with the staff and your classmates, who are a great resource. I would recommend the MBA in Leadership [online] program at YSU to anybody.”
Learn more about YSU’s MBA with a Specialization in Leadership online program.