Alicea Arnett has the best of both worlds. She'll soon have a graduate degree, too.
After initially planning to become a veterinarian, Arnett switched to data analytics. Her new job combines these two areas – she works as an analyst for Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, Washington.
The Medford native will graduate from the Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Business Analytics online program at Southern Oregon University in August 2019.
"I was doing all sorts of different jobs in the healthcare field and wasn't feeling very challenged," Arnett said. "I wanted to find something where I could be in a leadership position and ended up in data analytics. Where I worked, any of those positions required a master's degree.
"Until then, I had not considered it. It wasn't until I got into my actual career when I said, 'I think I need a little more education.' I basically wanted a challenge."
Arnett attended on-campus classes at SOU during her first year in the MBA program before transitioning to the fully online format her second year. She landed the business analyst position at Banfield in April 2019.
"I had done some online courses during my undergrad, so it was a smooth transition," she said. "The online format has been a lot better — especially because I ended up getting a job in Washington. It was really nice to be able to transition up here without any problems."
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in biology from Portland State University in 2013, Arnett set her sights on earning an undergraduate degree in business from SOU upon returning to college.
"I didn't realize at the time that you could get a master's degree in business without having an undergraduate degree in business," she said. "Then, I talked with [MBA Director] Dr. René Ordonez. He is awesome. He said, 'Based on your work experience, we should look at a master's degree.' SOU was a good fit not just because of location, but because it is a good school."
Arnett is the first person in her immediate family to earn a college degree. She and her husband, Matthew, love to play basketball and travel. She worked as a medical assistant for Asante before enrolling at SOU.
One of the courses she took early in the MBA program, BA 597: Advanced Management Information Systems, provided Arnett with the direction she wanted to take her career. She moved into a data analyst role for the same company where she was employed in 2017.
"They taught us SQL and Tableau in that course," she said. "Up until then, I had never considered any kind of data analytics. Then, I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is awesome. Now, I am an analyst.'"
MBA 575: Advanced Organizational Behavior was Arnett's favorite course in the curriculum for the insight into leadership it provided.
"It was amazing," she said. "It was more of a hands-on type of class. I feel like I learned a lot about how to be a leader for other people.
"A lot of the other classes were more skills-based, in terms of computers and accounting, which were really helpful, as well. But the chance to be in a class where they actually give you real-life experience of how to lead other people really made a huge difference."
All of the information Arnett gained in the MBA program was applicable to the three jobs she had during the 24 months she was enrolled.
"Everything I have learned so far I have been able to use, which is nice," Arnett said. "The faculty has been great. They have someone who calls me all of the time to check in."
The Home Stretch
Arnett is in the final course in the MBA with a Concentration in Business Analytics program. She looks forward to gaining more experience in her new career field and applying on a daily basis what she has learned at SOU.
"I want to stay with the company I am at now doing the same thing, but I would like to become a project manager for the data analytics team," Arnett said. "I would like to move my way up from where I am."
Although her family was supportive of her return to college, they weren't sure how she was going to manage it with a full-time job.
"They thought I was crazy," Arnett said. "They said, 'You're so busy. I don't know what you're thinking.' It worked out well. You get from it what you put into it. If you want to get a good education and learn, you absolutely can. You just have to put the time into it."
Arnett is glad she still works for a company that allows her to remain close to her furry friends even though she is now in a completely different field.
"It's definitely not the same as being a veterinarian, but at least I'm working for a vet company and getting that animal experience," she said. "The MBA has already opened doors for me. I wouldn't be in the job I am in now if it wasn't for this degree program. I am pleased."Learn more about the SOU online MBA with a Concentration in Business Analytics program.
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