Nichols Earns Valuable Career Experience Through One-Year MBA
Savannah Nichols first heard about the Chaifetz School of Business’ One-Year MBA program during her undergraduate years at SLU, where she graduated in 2020 with degrees in HR and marketing. Her dad taped a program brochure onto their fridge during the fall semester of her senior year, and ever since, the idea to earn her MBA was stuck in her head.
“I knew getting my MBA was something I always wanted to do,” Nichols said. “I was just wondering when the right time would be and if I was really ready.”
Nichols officially graduated with her MBA in May 2021 and is grateful she pursued it immediately after finishing her undergraduate degree. She said that although some people might benefit from taking time to join the workforce, she appreciated gaining the necessary knowledge needed to pursue her career goals before entering the workforce.
“I’m really grateful that as I continue on with my career trajectory, I won’t have to stop that momentum to go receive more education,” Nichols said. “But in every career, you’re always learning, too.”
More than Classroom Education
As part of the graduate program, Nichols spent time working with fellow classmates at the St. Louis Aquarium’s Conservation & Education Center, which is a collection of exhibits that help educate the public about topics pertaining to water conservation, the health of ecosystems, local waterways and the Mississippi Watershed. Nichols, who swam for the Billikens as an undergraduate, was excited when she found out the Center would be an option for her practicum.
“I really have a huge passion for environmental justice and ecological integrity,” Nichols said. “So that is why I was drawn to the aquarium, and getting to work with them was really great.”
During the six-week practicum, Nichols and her peers applied data analytics skills they developed in the program to enhance engagement with the Aquarium’s exhibits and improve overall visitor experience. An integral part of the One-Year MBA curriculum, the practicum provides students the opportunity to gain experience leveraging data to produce business intelligence. This practicum, and the MBA program in general, gave her more exposure to data analytics than she’d received in her undergraduate years. Although she’d taken a course on Excel, she wasn’t previously exposed to any other data analytics softwares.
“It was intimidating at first, but the professors were so nice and willing to take it slow and work with you,” Nichols said. “You were able to not just learn the material for that three-week period, but to really understand it and to be able to integrate it into your other courses, which was great.”
In addition, Nichols spent time working as a graduate assistant for the Chaifetz School’s marketing department, where she applied her knowledge on strategic planning and different types of published media content.
“I definitely think SLU allows you to not pin yourself to one internship or club,” Nichols said. “I feel like a lot of individuals are involved in many things, which helps widen your perspective.”
Opportunity Beyond the Professional Horizon
While she was able to receive plenty of professional opportunities during her time in the program, Nichols also feels grateful for the classmates turned friends she was able to meet along the way.
“We just recently went to one of my classmate’s weddings,” Nichols said. “I don’t think people realize if you take advantage of the time and people you’re surrounded with for 11 months, they won’t just become your classmates, they’ll become lifelong friends. It’s a blessing, really.”
Nichols credits this time and the people she met to helping dissolve some of her former timidness and fears surrounding business.
“It settled a little bit, and I was able to really focus on the betterment of a business model or project or whatever I’m doing,” Nichols said.
A Rewarding Experience
In August, Nichols began her professional career working as an application program analyst at Deloitte in Kansas City, Mo. She entered the position feeling more confident in her expertise due to her knowledge gained in the MBA program.
“The program gave me a lot of confidence, whether that pertains to being in a meeting or creating some sort of strategic business model or working with clients,” Nichols said. “I feel the confidence to really articulate my opinion and the right information.”
Nichols expressed being open to the future and her many interests, and is eager to expand her professional career in the years to come, wherever it might take her.
Founded in 1910, the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business at Saint Louis University has shaped the future of industry for more than a century. As one of the oldest business schools west of the Mississippi, the Chaifetz School has built a reputation as a leader in business education with eight undergraduate and graduate programs nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report.