Balancing work, life and school with the UofSC PMBA program

Taking on the work associated with earning a graduate degree while maintaining a full-time job may sound daunting, but the flexibility of the University of South Carolina’s Professional MBA program allows students to find a balance between their course work, career and personal life.

“The nature of the program helps you develop and hone time management and prioritization skills,” said Thomas Victa, a PMBA candidate who began the program in 2018. “Working a full-time job while in graduate school is a challenge, but the PMBA program is designed to help you manage your time.”

PMBA student Nicholas Fernandez has three young children and accepted a leadership promotion at First Citizens Bank during the final stretch of his PMBA coursework. Fernandez relocated to Boca Raton, Florida, in fall 2019 and is completing the remainder of the PMBA program remotely while overseeing the integration of two banks into the First Citizens Bank system.

“Flexibility has become key in my life as things change routinely and I have to adapt,” Fernandez said. “Time slots are limited, so I try to make the most of my schedule and catch up on the weekends. I have full flexibility to complete the PMBA program, but I definitely rely on the remote connectivity. I also routinely travel back to Columbia, South Carolina, for the Saturday sessions when I can.”

The blended learning format of the PMBA program allows students to complete their courses while managing the demands placed on today’s working professionals. Fernandez said that, due to the time commitment that the bank mergers require during the workday, he often does not begin his schoolwork until after dinner.

“Balancing a family, my new role and graduate school has been extremely challenging,” Fernandez said. “Effectively, without the flexibility of the PMBA program, I don’t think it would have been feasible for me. The balance lies in effective time management, sticking to a routine/schedule, prioritizing deadlines/tasks/projects well in advance, flexibility to adjust and adaptability.”

Erika Davis, a 2018 PMBA program graduate, is also thankful for the flexibility she experienced while completing the program. Now RDI North America logistics coordinator at Michelin, a promotion she earned while completing the PMBA program, Davis managed her coursework while raising her then-10-year-old daughter, Alessa.

“Finding work, home and school balance required a lot of sacrifice,” Davis said. “In the beginning, it was more of a challenge to find how all aspects of life and the new challenge of the PMBA program would fit together. By the second semester, a routine formed, and time management was a key factor in the driving success of course work.”

Finding immense success from her perseverance through the PMBA program, Davis said she is grateful that the program allowed her to “show my daughters that you can accomplish anything you want if you put in the work.”

“Professionally, [the PMBA program] has shown me that I can manage my time and put in the work to succeed at the tasks presented. It has opened doors for new job positions to advance in my career,” she said.

The PMBA program at UofSC’s Darla Moore School of Business offers a flexible, accessible MBA for professionals from all industry backgrounds who are looking to gain the skills and networks needed to accelerate their career.