When I first began my college search, I was looking for a school that would challenge me to step outside of my comfort zone, a school where I could pursue intensive studies while making lifelong friends, being physically active, and becoming more independent. I found all of these wonderful traits and more during my time spent at Clemson University. As soon as I walked around Clemson’s campus on my first official tour, I knew that it was a truly special place. Students, faculty, and alumni used the term “Clemson Family” passionately and the surrounding town radiated enthusiasm for the University at its center.
As I moved 600 miles away from where I grew up in Maryland to my new home in South Carolina, I quickly acclimated to the culture of college football down south. While there are many things to love about Clemson, a true Clemson experience is incomplete without a trip to at least one home football game in Death Valley. I cherish my time spent tailgating with friends and sharing a Clemson tradition.
To me, one of the core attitudes of Clemson students is a “work hard, play hard” mentality. When I wasn’t hard at work in Cooper Library, Fluor-Daniel, or Holmes basement you could just as easily find me hanging out in a hammock on Bowman field or grabbing some (amazing) buffalo shrimp tacos at Loose Change. I would spend weekdays pouring over thermodynamics notes with classmates and then play a game of pickup basketball with the same group of friends. I was incredibly lucky to meet many new friends at Clemson who were both well rounded and highly intelligent.
During my time in undergrad, I was also able to take advantage of one of the many co-op opportunities offered through career services, where I worked for several rotations with a local engineering company. As I approached the end of my studies at Clemson, however, I felt a growing need to learn more about business as a whole before going out into the world to find a job that I would truly love.
In the fall of my senior year, I learned about the M.S. in Commerce program at UVA. I took a look at the itinerary: a well-balanced fall semester full of essential business courses followed by a spring semester full of technical track courses – I was most interested in Business Analytics. To top it all off, the program would conclude with a comprehensive Global Immersion Experience where we would learn about business practices around the world. By the time I visited Charlottesville on a December Saturday, my mind was set to come to McIntire.
When I arrived in Charlottesville to start the program in early August, I was still a little unsure of exactly what the M.S. in Commerce program would be like. However, any doubts I may have had were quickly dismissed as I was introduced to my fellow classmates. By far the best part of the master’s program so far has been the quality and diversity of students enrolled. From the very first day where I sat between a political science major and a physics major I knew this would be an enlightening experience. Our class periods usually consist of short lectures followed by long and engaging class discussions where each person can contribute their expertise from undergrad. I soon found that my UVA cohort shared the “work hard, play hard” mentality I had learned at Clemson.
A second area where the M.S. in Commerce program truly excels is in the services offered by Commerce Career Services. One of the most noticeable differences from my time at Clemson is how the career search process is so deeply integrated into the curriculum. In addition to the traditional business classes like accounting and finance, the M.S. in Commerce program has courses on consulting, organizational behavior, and strategy and systems. Throughout the fall semester, what I was doing in the classroom helped to reinforce what I was doing outside of the classroom – searching diligently for a job. I was able to take advantage of nearly 10 advising sessions with career services, and I was even lucky enough to land an excellent full-time offer to work for Navigant Consulting’s energy efficiency practice in D.C. following graduation. The job opening called for “mechanical/electrical engineering undergrad with a graduate business degree,” so it will fit me perfectly!
As I start spring term at UVA, Charlottesville is becoming more like home. I’ve gotten the chance to get outdoors with some good friends to hike and explore – notably a sunrise hike to the top of Humpback Rocks. I’ve discovered lots of new cuisines and now have a lifetime affinity for places like Bodo’s Bagels, Continental Divide, and Roots Café. I’ve also made sure to take time to just sit back and take it all in – UVA is a beautiful university filled with exceptionally bright people. All-in-all, I feel like the M.S. in Commerce program is preparing me to truly reach my full potential. I’m surrounded by good friends, first-class faculty, and an ideal place to live as a graduate student.