Jenna Deisher was rapidly approaching the finish line, but she was just getting started.
In her final year of the Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and Advertising degree program at the University of Southern Indiana, Deisher opted to stick around to earn a Master of Business Administration.
“I worked on campus in Outreach and Engagement,” she said. “I met a couple of people — one was in the MBA program, one had already finished the program — who encouraged me to be a scholar, to keep going. They felt it would be a good fit for me.”
Deisher is glad she heeded that advice. She is on track to graduate with an MBA in December 2017. Deisher now works for USI as a graduate assistant in undergraduate admissions, and she might remain an employee of the university after graduation.
“I’m pretty open,” she said. “I intend to see if there’s anything available on campus. Having worked here, I like the environment. I’m also interested in something maybe a little more corporate where I could balance those business skills and some of my communications skills. I don’t have a specific job in mind.”
The option to take courses online has proved convenient for Deisher because it allows her to set her own pace.
“The online format is basically seven-week courses, which allows you to take two back-to-back courses per semester,” she said.
“It’s kind of a nice thing where you can get through a class quicker, but you can also focus on one class at a time, if you choose.
She also likes the consistency of the online format that allows her to maintain a routine.
“The program continues through the summer, so that doesn’t mess you up,” she said. “Our regular undergraduate courses, and even some of the other graduate courses, have a slightly different time frame during the summer. In the MBA program, they’re all the same amount of time so it doesn’t mess up your schedule when you’re planning it out.”
In the Beginning
Deisher earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences from Wabash Valley College with a 4.0 GPA. She was also a marketing intern at BrushFire Creative for four months as she moved on to USI.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to study when I first started college,” she said. “I took several business courses during my one year at Wabash Valley. I thought, ‘I’m not sure about these. I don’t know,’ so I decided public relations was a little more on the creative side of business and a good balance for me, so that’s what I went with.”
Deisher applied her skills when she served as a public relations specialist for a USI symposium, “Social Media: Your Crisis Lifeline,” for seven months. She coordinated events, communicated with guest speakers and worked with media relations, while also working as a communications specialist in Outreach and Engagement.
“Working on campus has helped me as a student,” she said. “It’s also helped me make a lot of connections.”
She started her job as a graduate assistant 16 months later.
“A lot of my responsibilities as a GA are centered on creating as positive of a campus experience as possible when prospective students come and visit,” Deisher said. “I have worked a lot with transfer students having had that experience myself. I do everything from inputting data from transcripts and applications to speaking with prospective students about what they’re looking for and what USI has to offer. There are quite a variety of skills I have been able to keep on top of and hone through this position.”
Deisher said two of the courses — MKTG 601: Marketing Strategies and MNGT 611: Leadership Skills and Innovation — were her favorites in the MBA program.
“The instructor in the marketing course was very engaging and really allowed us to look at our own careers and what we were doing and relate that to what he was teaching,” she said. “It was the same situation in Dr. [Jack] Smothers‘ leadership course, which allowed us to look at our own experience or what we wanted to do in the future and see how to use the material we were learning. Regardless of whether students were fresh out of college or had a lot of work experience under their belts, it worked for both groups.”
Deisher was also immediately able to apply some of the knowledge from the program to her job at USI.
“I learned a lot about management and effectively working in groups,” she said. “There are a couple of my coworkers in the program as well, so we bounce ideas off each other and relate what we are learning to our work.”
Deisher will be the first of four children to graduate with a master’s degree, although one of her brothers earned a bachelor’s degree at USI. Her other two brothers have also earned bachelor’s degrees.
“Growing up, I always looked to my brothers to see what they had done,” she said. “None of them had this experience, so it was something I got to do on my own, which is exciting. My family has been very supportive, as has my boyfriend, Fletcher, who is also a USI grad.”
Deisher, who enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, is excited about the different options she will have at her disposal as an MBA graduate, even though she is not sure which direction her career will take.
“I would encourage anybody to look at what USI has to offer,” she said. “There are different MBA tracks that have more specific concentrations, like accounting, human resources and data analytics. Look at your schedule and see what works best for you. Chances are you will be able to find a path that will be smooth-sailing.”
Learn more about the USI online MBA program.