I think the experience of the professors from the analytics space was just really attractive to me.”
Complementing that top-shelf expertise of Kogod faculty members is the program’s class sizes and a tight student-to-faculty ratio that ensures personal and professional relationship-building; it’s helped Johnson forge lasting friendships and mentorships, to be sure.
But it’s her tangible takeaways from the coursework that perhaps influenced her career the most.
Having earned her graduate analytics certificate as part of her education, Johnson specifically cited professor J. Alberto Espinosa’s predictive analytics course as one that swiftly erased any doubt as to whether her education would prove directly applicable to her line of work—particularly after Espinosa queried students about their professional backgrounds and aspirations during the first week of class.
“I feel like he took that input and tailored the models we were building to fit the fields we wanted to enter,” Johnson said. “I think that made it more translational to my real-world experience.”
Indeed, Espinosa says, the course is designed to provide students “a solid foundation to hit the ground running on their first job after the program,” teaching students to develop predictive models, process data, and effectively interpret and communicate results.
While acknowledging she still seeks Espinosa’s feedback on her work—a nod to the seeds of mentorship the program sows—Johnson makes clear the lessons she learned were anything but abstract.
“I’m able to forecast the size of an audience by building my own predictive models that I learned in the Predictive Analysis course,” she said of the contributions she now makes at Amazon. “That is not a skill that I had before.”
A year after graduating, Johnson feels her MBA degree has helped provide a missing ingredient. It bolstered a resume that already included digital marketing at a polling agency and a role at Marriott, along with her earlier work on Capitol Hill.
The classroom experience—combined with the analytics and managerial exposure she gained at Kogod—has been her “secret sauce,” she says.
Not many marketing folks can build their own data model, so I can be that liaison between marketing and data science.”
As much as she credits the hands-on experience she got at Kogod, Johnson’s story is, in many ways, a demonstration of what’s possible for others considering the next step in their education.
Johnson navigated her coursework alongside a full-time job with the help of “16-hour days and no weekends,” plus the support of an understanding faculty that made accommodations when she needed to travel for work.
And her MBA pursuit is one of several potential roads offered to students.
For instance, Kogod’s 100 percent online MBA program allows students the flexibility to complete the required 48 credits on a 12, 15, or 18-month track. The online program also features in-person global business immersions to inspire the same close-knit experience that proved so valuable for Johnson—an experience that, a year later, she views as a catalyst of sorts.
“I think I’ll see it as my launching off point,” she said while offering a distinct humility. “I didn’t do anything special… I just worked really damn hard.”