MBA student Daniel Holmes and CSPD Senior Director Janis Moore Campbell share the unexpected upsides of earning a graduate degree during a pandemic
Temple’s motto, “Perseverance Conquers,” may have never been more appropriate than this last year. Two members of the Fox community explain how students are exemplifying what it means to be Temple Made during times of complexity and why times of uncertainty might be the most optimal periods in which to invest in yourself.
Daniel Holmes, MBA ’21, started his journey to earning a Fox MBA in a classroom at the Temple University Center City Campus in January 2020. A 20-year veteran of the healthcare industry, he worked in various capacities of emergency medical services—as an EMT, a paramedic, a teacher and an operations manager—before finishing his undergraduate degree in December 2019 at Temple’s College of Education and Human Development. He then decided he wanted to take his education one step further.
Having worked on the operations and administrative side of healthcare, even working as a supervisor at air medical bases on the West Coast, Holmes chose to pursue an MBA in order to round out his business acumen. He searched for a program with networking opportunities that would help him find the next step in his career and enable him to share his knowledge and experience on a greater scale.
Holmes found his next step at the Fox School. Its convenient location was just a few blocks from his operations job at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. The program also offered him the alumni network and reputation within Philadelphia and the broader business community he was looking for.
“Fox is known for graduating solid workhorse MBAs and having alumni all over,” says Holmes. “Having connections is invaluable to growing. I knew the network needed to exist in the industry I wanted to grow in, and Fox offers such an expansive community.”
When the world hit pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic just a couple of months after he started the in-person program, Holmes didn’t skip a beat. He found the transition from in-person classes to online learning relatively smooth, with the program’s emphasis on hands-on learning and the Fox School’s experience in offering online courses for quite some time. “I’ve made connections just like I would have in a face-to-face live interaction situation. In class and after class, we’re still very collaborative, whether that’s over Zoom, in breakout rooms, via LinkedIn connections or in group texts,” says Holmes. “I was even offered a job in the middle of a Zoom session by someone I never met in person before.”
Holmes is able to use the skills he’s learned in class and from having to adapt due to the pandemic in his new role at Jefferson—a promotion to operations manager that he received right after starting the program.
“In a lot of ways, earning an MBA during a pandemic has been an added experience, because it’s forcing us to learn more adaptability,” says Holmes. “To be able to transition things at the drop of a hat and be more flexible are skills that are paramount in the business world.”
Janis Moore Campbell, PhD, senior director of the Center for Student Professional Development, believes students are even more valuable to employers during times of adjustment like these. “The shifts that occurred as a result of the pandemic have created more uncertainty—a return to ‘normal’ is unlikely and would ignore the beneficial lessons of COVID-19. Employers are reaching out to universities and to students, particularly graduate students, to help navigate that complexity. Universities are where knowledge is created,” says Campbell. “There is no better time than now for employers to engage with students, and graduate students in particular.
“It is never wrong to invest in yourself,” says Campbell. “At a time of increasing complexity and uncertainty, investing in knowledge creation in an environment where innovation is explored is the best place to be.”