Q&A

How has your HES experience helped you throughout your career journey? How do you expect it to impact your next steps? 

Before I started my journey at Harvard, I was contemplating my career trajectory with 20 years behind me and many more years of potential ahead. Working in marketing for the architecture and engineering industry offers many opportunities, but I felt restricted by my job description.

I had cultivated a reputation for doing a few things exceptionally well. But this limited my ability to expand my reach and ascend the ranks in my company.

Reading business books wouldn’t get me there. I needed an experience, a transformation. 

I couldn’t just quit my job and enroll in a local business school full time, however. What attracted me to Harvard Extension School was access to a world-class institution with the flexibility to build the academics into my busy schedule. The Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies program with a focus in Management would expose me to professors experienced in practical business.

Now, having graduated, all my hard work has paid off — my company promoted me to an expanded strategic management position! This is not because of a credential on paper, but rather because I show up at work in a new way, applying what I learned at Harvard.

I first felt intimidated by the three required courses for admission since they fell outside my everyday experiences, but I immediately took to the challenge. Over the course of these initial semesters, I noticed myself applying a new vocabulary to conversations with colleagues at work. I was soon able to engage in meetings with a higher level of understanding, and I felt braver speaking up with new ideas. This started the transformation of my professional reputation, expanding my contributions beyond my marketing background. 

This shift accelerated as I registered for more classes outside my areas of expertise, such as courses about sustainability, negotiation, and strategy. Living in Portland, Oregon, and working for a national consulting company dedicated to sustainable transportation, I saw an opportunity to enhance how we approach new work.

The final projects in many of my classes easily converted into presentations to my company’s CEO about ways to advance our business strategy. As I continued the coursework at HES, I was selected to pursue a special new job function at work, related to one of my favorite classes. 

What attracted me to Harvard Extension School was access to a world-class institution with the flexibility to build the academics into my busy schedule.

Now, having graduated, all my hard work has paid off — my company promoted me to an expanded strategic management position!

This is not because of a credential on paper, but rather because I show up at work in a new way, applying what I learned at Harvard.

Every class at HES was challenging, and required me to bring my full attention, my full self. The impact on my career journey is one that I would not have experienced on my own without the rigor asked by my professors, support of my cohort, and a structure that fit into my life.

These special moments at Harvard not only impacted my career; it was a life-changing experience.

What’s something unexpected that you learned about Harvard? 

One reason I was excited to apply to enter the ALM program was learning that HES is equally situated as one of the 12 of Harvard’s graduate schools.

HES is a fully accredited school at Harvard, which gave me a sense of pride and inclusivity in choosing a long-distance program for graduate school. 

What are you going to miss the most? 

I will miss many elements of HES, especially the camaraderie of equally driven students from around the world. I will especially miss the excitement of selecting classes for the next semester.

With so many interesting programs available, I always looked forward to those first weeks of discovery.

Describe your HES experience in one word.

Transformative.