Katie Proctor, EvMBA 2015 -
When I was researching MBA programs, I knew that an Evening program would be the best fit for me so that I could keep my dream job in CPG marketing. One of the reasons I chose Leeds is because of my interest and experience working in the natural and organic food industry. Leeds is located in the middle of Boulder – the epicenter of organics not only for the state, but really for the country – and has many connections with alumni working in the industry. I was intrigued by opportunities such as the Natural + Organics Student Organization, and couldn’t wait to get more involved in the community.
Of course, once classes started, I realized I was going to need to be really efficient with my time to keep up with my course load and full-time job, while trying to take advantage of all the resources available at Leeds. It is completely possible to get involved as an Evening MBA, and here are some of the programs that were flexible enough for my schedule:
- Board Fellows – I was able to coordinate a 1-year “fellowship” with a group I had been wanting to get more involved with, Naturally Boulder. The Board Fellows program was very open to me recommending this organization, even when it was nearing the application deadline. As a result, I got to attend all monthly board meetings and participate in an important mission and visioning project to define what’s next for Naturally Boulder as the natural and organic industry grows. I never would have been able to participate in this process as a non-voting board member, even though I was already a Naturally Boulder volunteer, without my connection to Leeds.
- Mentoring Program – I knew it was important to build relationships with the MBA Programs office, and my early introductions helped me get matched with an amazing mentor with CPG experience when I applied for the mentoring program. We meet every few months, or more frequently depending on my schedule, and my mentor is constantly challenging me to think more deeply about my career. These conversations have been an invaluable part of my Leeds experience.
- Student Organizations – While I ended up being able to attend fewer O+N meetings than I had hoped, I have fit in several Lunch & Learns and other events as my schedule allows. This group does a great job of lining up relevant, influential speakers from the community and this kind of access to top CEO’s and entrepreneurs is only available through Leeds. As an Evening MBA student, it’s important to throw the “all-or-nothing” approach out the window. I make it to what I can, and soak up as much knowledge and networking in these windows of opportunity.
Finally, I have had some of the best access to the natural and organic industry through my classmates. Several fellow Evening MBAs work at other CPG companies in the area, and we have become quite close. Additionally, I have made connections with full-time MBAs who are interested in learning more about my career path or volunteering with Naturally Boulder. It’s important not to forget about this built-in resource and get to know those inside and outside of your graduating class. After all, you could work side by side one day!
Photo: Katie Proctor with the Naturally Boulder Board of Directors