Reflections from the Class of 2015

Everyone thinks about what their future holds when they walk across that stage and receive a diploma. But graduation is also a perfect time to ask what you got out of the experience. What will you take with you into your new life and career?

Those same thoughts came to mind for the W. P. Carey class of 2015. For Seth Fleming, a Full-time MBA graduate, the time he spent honing his skills for a post-graduation career at Amazon was just the tip of the iceberg. “I made it a point to get everything I could out of the W. P. Carey program,” Seth remembers. “That means fully investing yourself — engaged in the classroom, supportive to my classmates outside the classroom, involved in social events like happy hour or tailgates. The more that you invest yourself into the program, the more you can reap the benefits of everything W. P. Carey has to offer.”

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Taking that approach, Seth says, helped build an immediate camaraderie with his classmates. “You feel like you have friendships that have lasted years, but you’ve only been on campus for a few weeks.”

Build relationships that last a lifetime

Tess Cianfrocco, a Master of Taxation graduate, agrees. “There’s more a sense of community graduating with my master’s. I’ve created this network that I feel I’m a part of. The single biggest takeaway from my time at W. P. Carey is the relationships that I’ve built, both in the MTax program and other programs.”

“I was successful academically,” says Tess of her undergraduate days. “But with grad school, I feel more involved, both through W. P. Carey and the people I was able to work with. I’ve made connections that will help me moving forward and I’ve made friends I’ll probably stay in touch with for the rest of my life.”

A master’s degree is worth the time and effort

Returning to graduate school is a big commitment and a big decision. And, as it turns out, earning a master’s degree in business is a popular decision, as well. According to the Council of Graduate Schools/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees, nearly 17 percent of all master’s students enrolled in the U.S. for fall 2013 — nearly a quarter-million in all — were pursuing business degrees.

For many of these students, a graduate degree in business unlocks new skills and expertise, allowing them to transition to new leadership opportunities or new industries altogether. “I’ve been in the military for 10 years so I really didn’t know how corporate America worked or how it was structured, because I hadn’t been around it,” says Rob Monk, a major in the U.S. Army and 2015 alumnus of the Online Master of Science in Information program. “I learned a lot about how the civilian world works through the MSIM program, and that was a really valuable takeaway.”

“I feel like I now can speak the language of business,” he adds of his transition to a post-military career. “Before the program, if I had tried to explain my military experience to a potential employer, I don’t think I would have been able to convey the right message.”

New skills that open new doors

Developing the toolkit that potential employers want most is a common theme among graduates. Malalay Sherzada earned bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and justice studies before realizing working in those fields didn’t fuel her passion. “Before I joined W. P. Carey, I had worked in non-profit. I also went abroad and taught English in China. But I just didn’t see myself in the non-profit world,” she admits. So, she enrolled in the W. P. Carey Master of Science in Management program, which she now calls her “golden ticket” to a more rewarding career.

“One of the main things I got out of the MiM degree that I didn’t innately have before was confidence,” she says, adding that all the new know-how she has acquired over the course of the nine-month program — from critical thinking skills, to marketing to project management — will give her an edge with future employers over candidates with no business school experience. Malalay is already putting her new strengths to work, focusing on fundraising positions that work with philanthropists and organizations to spur awareness of and investment in STEM programs for underserved populations, like women of color and elementary school-aged girls.

The skills that W. P. Carey students acquire certainly do pay dividends on the job. According to the 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index Report, “Great Jobs, Great Lives,” the majority of ASU alumni are thriving in their careers. Among the findings:

  • Two-thirds of ASU graduates surveyed are employed full time, compared to 59 percent nationally
  • Nearly half of fully employed ASU graduates (47 percent) say they are engaged at work versus the national average of 39 percent
  • ASU alumni are more likely to be engaged in their work than graduates of other large public universities
Full-time MBA graduate Seth Fleming MTax graduate Tess Cianfrocco Online MSIM graduate Rob Monk MiM graduate Malalay Sherzada
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Full-time MBA graduate Seth Fleming

Happiness is the truth

ASU graduates indicate that they are more interested in the work they do than their counterparts from other schools and nearly one-third claim that they don’t just go to work every day; they go to their ideal job. Among the key factors driving those results are student support and experiential learning, both hallmarks of the W. P. Carey experience.

The Gallup-Purdue Index Report also gives Sun Devils high marks for happiness outside of work. In a word, they’re thriving. Surveyed on five critical elements of well-being — purpose, social, financial, community, and physical — ASU alumni are ahead of the national average in three categories and are significantly more likely than their peers to overachieve in all five areas.

For Seth Fleming, there is an extra reason to be happy after graduation. “I never in a million years thought that I would meet my girlfriend in business school,” he beams. “There are a lot of demands that come with being a Full-time MBA student and I don’t know if anyone could have appreciated or understood those demands if they weren’t in the program with me. It’s been a great foundation for our relationship going forward.”

Whether it’s new skills, new confidence and knowledge or new relationships, building great foundations is what we’re all about at the W. P. Carey School of Business.