Undergraduate: Computer and Information Technology, Arkansas State University
Before graduating from Arkansas State University in 2005, Adrian Burks knew that he would return to school for an MBA in the future. However, he did not expect that it would be under the conditions that led him to the Walton College.
“In 2009, amidst the slumping economy, my company had a reduction. Five of us lost our jobs, and in a company of 36 people, that is a significant reduction,” he said. After an unsuccessful job search, Burks began considering graduate school. “I had a ‘what now moment’. The job market was very discouraging and I was living in South Carolina, far from home, while my girlfriend pursued her Master’s. We knew we wanted to land back in Arkansas, and we really liked Northwest Arkansas, so I looked for jobs there.” Burks said that his early career was heavily focused on computer programming and adds, “I took a step back and looked at what I was doing. I could not really see myself programming for 10 more years, I really wanted more from my career.”
“During my job hunt I did a lot of research about the consumer packaged goods industry, and the entry level positions. I was very intrigued by the data analysis, consumer behavior, and forecasting roles. However, I found I lacked the experience to be competitive especially while the job market was saturated with candidates.” Burks then shifted his focus to graduate school and was drawn to the Walton MBA program because of its relevance to the consumer packaged goods industry. “The three semester length seemed like a nice tradeoff between an accelerated one year program and a traditional two year. The courses really grabbed my attention, especially those in the Marketing career track and the supply chain classes.”
“The program has been great so far, it is very challenging. I have learned a lot more than I expected in my first semester, coming from a business undergraduate program. I have also been presented with tremendous opportunities, from getting a behind the scenes tour of Walmart’s distribution center to interacting with executives from Walmart, P&G, Kimberly-Clark, Tyson, and others.”
In a class of 36, Adrian says he has gotten to know many of his classmates well. “We hang out together a lot outside of class; we play golf, go eat, and spend evenings out on Dickson.” Burks adds that while his class has become friends, that they are still competitive. “We definitely push each other, whether it is in class, or competing for internships. We all know who we are up against, and who we will be up against when we start searching for careers.”
Burks plans to focus on Marketing, but also will be taking courses in the Entrepreneurship track as well as competing in business plan competitions. “I was attracted to the business plan competition after hearing about all the success that Dr. Reeves’ teams have had. It is a great opportunity, and an experience that most MBA candidates do not get. I’m excited to see what the program has in store for me.”