Aaron & Olivia Lawson, MBA '13 Alumni
Aaron Lawson, MBA (’13), CPA and Olivia Lawson, MBA (’13) maximized their Seidman network to open the doors for their career success.
Now that both of you are established in your careers, looking back, how did the Seidman MBA program assist you in achieving your career goals?
Olivia- Having an MBA helped me to get my foot in the door for positions that I may not have been considered for with an undergraduate degree. Specifically, the SAP experience as well as the project management skills I gained as a part of GVSU’s team for The Project competition set me apart. Additionally, the cultural training we received in the MBA program, as well as the opportunity to travel, provided me with skills and experiences I have been able to apply while working as a part of global teams.
Aaron- completing the MBA program helped to set me apart from other candidates when I was looking for my first job. The professional development opportunities and work experience through the MBA program helped me to feel more prepared to enter the workforce.
Thinking back, what were some of the challenges that either of you encountered while in the MBA program?
Looking back, the biggest challenge for both of us was the shift in expectations and priorities from an undergraduate program to a graduate program. The higher expectations for the work being completed both for the program and our jobs helped us to develop time management skills and learn how to manage competing priorities. Working through these challenges helped to set expectations for what working full time would be like.
As you moved along your career path, what opportunities have been presented to you as a Seidman alum?
We started our first jobs in Dallas, Texas and then moved to the Bay Area for a few years before coming back to Michigan. We joined Alumni groups in each place we lived, and there is also a GVSU alumni group through our employer. Having these groups are incredibly helpful for networking and making connections, especially in new cities.
Are there any words of wisdom that either of you would like to share with those that are thinking about pursuing their MBA or other Seidman graduate degree?
Olivia- Completing the MBA program allowed me to develop professionally and gain additional skills and experiences that have helped me to excel in my career. Getting an MBA is an investment in you and in your future. It will only benefit you in your career and give you an edge in the job market if you are looking for a new position.
Aaron- Just go for it! Put in the time and the effort, it’s worth it and a graduate degree is something that employers are looking for, especially if you would like to move up. More and more we are seeing “MBA preferred” in job descriptions and having that experience gives you an edge.
If you could speak to your past “student self”, what would be the one piece of advice that you wish someone would have shared with you?
Olivia- Take advantage of all the resources and opportunities available to you during the program. Get help with your resume and interview skills, join a group or club, set up one-on-ones with people in the school or community to learn more about a career you are interested in. Network, network, network! GVSU has so many resources available to students, make sure you use them.
Aaron- Don’t overlook opportunities to build connections. Take networking opportunities seriously and work to build relationships with professionals in the industry you are interested in. Knowing someone at a company can make the difference between having a recruiter look at your resume, or having it get lost among the hundreds of other resumes that were submitted for a job.
*Aaron and Olivia were a part of the MBA program design that was discontinued in 2016. The Seidman MBA was updated in 2018 and is now known as the Professional MBA.