Hannah MacKnight (Engineering '19, M.S. in Civil Engineering '21)

Business Essentials, Summer 2021

How did you first learn about Business Essentials, and what prompted you to enroll in the program?

The Business Essentials certificate program was marketed to me while I was pursuing an M.S. in Civil Engineering. My Engineering degrees have prepared me well for a job in the industry, but I did not finish school with an abundance of business knowledge. I decided to enroll in the program because it would provide me with a foundation of business knowledge that I could carry into a role in engineering consulting. I also felt that completing this program would help make me a more marketable candidate as I started applying for jobs.

Which business concept(s) were you most eager to learn about?

I was most excited for the Management module. I knew I wanted to go into the private sector and work for a consulting firm. As an entry-level engineer, I wanted to understand the broader organizational structure of companies and how I would fit into that structure at the time and as I advance my career in the coming years.

Which business concept(s) challenged you the most?

I had the most trouble with the Accounting module. Math and numbers have always been strengths of mine, but learning accounting challenged me to approach problems with a different mindset than I do in engineering. Based on their strengths, and the background of knowledge they bring to the program, every student probably struggles with a different module. I think that is one of the strengths of this program–with students coming from diverse academical backgrounds, everyone brings a different approach to the same problem. The live sessions also provided a great opportunity to ask questions and clear up any confusion.

What is the most practical concept(s) or take away you learned from the program? How have you applied this in your current role?

The most practical concept I learned from the program was financial mathematics in the Finance module. This concept has helped me better understand costing and funding for the transportation projects I work on. Often, cost estimates are developed for projects years before breaking ground, and the projects themselves can take several years past that. It is important that the cost estimate not only capture the cost of goods and services, but also capture how that cost will change over the life of the project. Ultimately, the project cost is presented in the current year’s money. Learning about the time value of money, and the relevant equations and calculations, has helped me better understand how to cost projects and the importance of making informed assumptions.

How conducive was the program structure and format to your schedule?

The structure of this program as an asynchronous course with a few live sessions fit seamlessly into my schedule. There is plenty of time in each module to work around your other obligations and complete the recordings and coursework. I appreciated having recordings to rewind or go back to if there was a concept I was confused by and needed more time to figure out.

Did you find the time commitment and assignments to be manageable?

The time commitment for this course is extremely manageable. The lectures and coursework required for each module can easily be completed in the time allowed by dedicating an hour or two a couple of evenings each week. I started my full-time job halfway through the program and had no trouble keeping up with the coursework.

Do you have any advice for prospective students considering the program?

If you are considering enrolling in this program, do it! The program provides a great foundation in business concepts without having to commit to a full-time program. The knowledge and skills you will leave the program with can be applied to any industry, making you a more marketable candidate if you are looking for a job or helping you grow in your current position.

  • Undergraduate Degree Civil Engineering
  • Undergraduate Institution University of Virginia
  • Current Job EPR, Transportation Engineer