Jody Thrash loves a good challenge. After being out of the workforce for more than a year while caring for family members, she decided to take on the task of balancing parenting and work with advancing her education.
With a desire to increase her skills before embarking on a new career path, she tapped into her past management experience in deciding that Project Management was the educational path best suited to her interests and career goals.
She enrolled in Florida Tech’s MBA in Project Management, which is offered 100% online and “had the convenience, the accreditation and the specific program I wanted to pursue.” She said her instructors were “amazing resources full of current issues, knowledge and relevant information,” and incorporated real-life experience into their lessons.
Jody’s children will be there to share in the excitement and accomplishment of the day when mom walks across the stage during commencement ceremonies on Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus.
We talked to Jody about her favorite classes, how to balance being a parent and a student, and her inspiration. Check out our conversation with the Birmingham, Ala., resident.
Q. Tell us about your background.
I am a working wife and mother with three daughters (14, 8 and 5). I have a BS in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. I have worked as a manager of some sort since I was in college. My undergraduate degree opened a lot of doors for me just out of college, but I took off a few years to care for an elderly relative and a special needs child, so I felt out of touch and that I was in need of something to help me get back into a career that I would thrive in. I felt like I needed something else to “prove” my business skills as I re-entered the job market. When I considered all my past experiences and positions to decide which direction I wanted to focus on, Project Management came up over and over as my preferred career path. I worked as a Business Analyst and Project Manager for a bank, and that was by far my favorite experience in a job. So, I’ve been pursuing this to make a better life for my family and myself.
Q. Why did you decide to advance your education through a degree program offered online?
I’m a mother of three daughters and they are a priority, so I needed something that would work around my life and schedule with them. Online made sense, so I went searching for an accredited online degree that fit my needs.
Q. What was your favorite class and why?
It’s a tie between Organizational Behavior and Strategic Project Management. All of my Project Management classes had amazing professors with tons of valuable information though! I really felt like I was learning from “the masters!”
Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
Group work! It is so hard to coordinate around so many different schedules; I was really surprised how much group work was utilized in the program.
Q. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
So far, it’s been the Project Management information because it has prepared me to take my Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification.
Q. How will your Florida Tech degree make a difference in your career?
I am confident this MBA and the accompanying PMP Certification are going to help me get back into a real career in Project Management.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
Time management is so important. You need to find a schedule that works for you – for me, it was getting the majority of my work done during the week at night – and stick to that schedule. Read the books and suggested readings. Immerse yourself in the learning experience as much as you can. You only get the one shot at it!
Q. What advice would you give to parents who are balancing school and work?
Again, time management is key. I’d also say that you need to be OK with making life and kids a priority over school sometimes. That’s where the time management really comes into play. If you know when you have time to spare for some downtime, you won’t feel so overwhelmed when things are due. Definitely plan ahead as much as possible.
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
My kids are my inspiration. When I see all the potential and passion they have, it makes me want to be an inspiration right back to them. So I work hard to be a good example for them. I want to provide them with more and, to do so, I need to have a successful career that I am happy with.
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