Matthew Craw earned his undergraduate degree at Clarkson and is now pursuing a Clarkson MBA. He explains what that journey has been like so far:
Q: Matt, you joined the Clarkson MBA program right after completing your undergraduate program, what did you study?
A: I have a Computer Science BS with Honors from Clarkson University, with minors in Math and Economics. I know that’s a mouthful; I normally tell people my background is computer science – primarily software application development – and I have some engineering experience as well.
Q: What are your long-term career goals? What motivated you to pursue an MBA as a part of your long-term career goals?
A: In the shorter long-term (~5 years), I would like to be working and gaining experience in the technology industry. Ideally, I would like to be a tech consultant or business analysis – some type of role where I can act as a bridge between clients and developers.
In the long-term (15-20 years), I would like to occupy higher management positions, as that would give me the ability to introduce new products, services and technology – which I am extremely passionate about doing.
I already had a lot of technical knowledge going into the MBA, but this program has helped me gain a lot of valuable business skills and knowledge that I had lacked. I’m really excited to see how the things I have learned in this program are going to help me accomplish my goals and establish a fulfilling career for myself.
Q: What has been the biggest difference from your undergraduate to your graduate experience?
A: For me, personally, the biggest difference would be the use of case studies as one of the main learning tools utilized by professors in the program. Because my undergraduate degree was not in business, I had not been exposed to this learning method before. In my undergraduate computer science classes, we were given a task or problem and had to find the correct code to properly solve the problem (of course, there may be more than one way to solve a problem, but we knew what the outcome needed to be). Now, with the MBA curriculum, we are given situations through case studies, most of them adapted from real-world events and businesses, and we have to use tools to analyze and understand how the actions of a company resulted in a particular outcome. We can then use our analysis to help make smarter and more informed decisions in the future.
I have also found that, in business and business classes, there is a heavy emphasis on building intuition based on an understanding of your company and industry. You are given tools which will help you gain understanding of that full picture, but the information can only inform your decision, and there can be unexpected ways to find creative solutions to problems. This is different from what I am used to in the technical field. When I am programming, I can be creative, but only within the bounds of the program. It is more cut-and-dry.
Q: What part of the program do you enjoy the most?
A: I like to work with different types of people in groups, which we get to do a lot in this program. I find all of the projects we do together, particularly the in-depth simulation we did as part of our Organizational Behavior class, really enjoyable. You feel like you really are all part of a company task-force, and have to solve whatever problem has been thrown your way. It is very fun and inadvertently very educational as well.
I have also really enjoyed the fact that, through this program, I am in contact with so many different people with diverse viewpoints and ways of thinking. It has truly expanded my mental horizons.
Q: What things are you involved in and passionate about outside of the academic work of this program?
A: As a hobby, I have developed a website and, on it, I try to explore the realm of digital entertainment and digital media. It’s a great opportunity for me to allow myself to be creative in the tech realm. I dabble in logo design, 3D animation, video editing and internet safety. The ability to put all of this onto my website to share it with the world is something I am very passionate about.
In general I enjoy learning new things – Clarkson as a whole and the people in this program in particular share this passion. I am always researching new tech, and my classmates and I frequently have lively conversations about different topics. For example, I just had a conversation with classmates in the lounge about new research being done into “curing” aging, as though it were a disease (researchers hope to use this to solve aging-related illnesses).
Q: Describe your job search journey thus far.
A: Computer science and an MBA is a valuable and often scarce pairing. Even though I don’t have as much experience as industry veterans who go back for their MBA, the companies I have talked to have been very willing to work with me to find positions where I would be satisfied with the work and pay, and they would be satisfied with my level of experience.
Q: What skills or knowledge have you acquired through the program you will bring with you through your life, regardless of your career?
A: Ethics is something that I was interested in and studied before joining the MBA program, but I found the ethics class very valuable. I thought that the class did a good job of allowing myself and my classmates to explore the meaning of ethics in a business setting and how the theories should be the same in business as they are outside of business. The tools I developed to examine ethical dilemmas are valuable in any setting, and will definitely prove useful no matter what stage of career or life I am in. I find that the program as a whole, and that class in particular, allows the class to explore philosophy and teaches us to learn how to think, which, in my opinion, is one of the most important things to learn.
Q: What would you tell someone who is considering the MBA, and, should they select the Clarkson MBA program, what piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get the most out of this program?
A: I would encourage students to think about what they want down the line. If you want to be able to lead projects and people you should be seriously considering getting an MBA. Management requires a whole set of skills and tools – and this is the type of knowledge a respectable MBA program, like the Clarkson MBA program, can provide.
The ability to run an organization, or even to manage a complex life efficiently – those are skills that are typically not taught through undergrad that you learn through a graduate program.
Learn more about the Clarkson MBA program.