For Angela Andrews changing jobs in the corporate world had become a depressing routine. “You’re in a different cubicle, but it’s the same job.”
Despite a string of successful stints in financial accounting at top corporations, Dr. Andrews had never landed in the niche that felt just right. “I couldn’t find the job that fit,” she says.
As she was contemplating yet another job change, her mother—a former college secretary—called to tell her about a mailing she had received from a program called The PhD Project.
“That flyer changed my life,” Dr. Andrews says. “When I read it, I thought, this may be what I’ve been looking for.”
The PhD Project conference was a few weeks away, and she attended. “When it was over,” she remembers, “I had tears in my eyes. I said, ‘This is what I’m doing.’”
Dr. Andrews had never earned an MBA, and while she knew the master’s degree was not required for doctoral studies, she wanted it nonetheless. Earning it, she determined, would shore up her strengths in accounting, and present an opportunity to score the stellar grades that had eluded her as an undergraduate in engineering.
But two years of full time study with five more years in a doctoral program piled on top was not a realistic option. She would have to continue working while pursuing the MBA. Over the next few years, she would slip into her cubicle at the office before dawn nearly every day, daily morning caffeine fix in hand, so she could leave early enough to attend evening classes. At home, she would study until 11:00 pm or midnight, fall into bed, and arise in the dark to do it all over again. Weekends were simply extended study sessions. As time approached for her to enter a doctoral program, she identified gaps in her academic preparation. Her remedy: summer classes in calculus and economics.
What got her through that stressful three year period? “I was so busy taking classes that I didn’t think about it,” she jokes. In fact, her mother’s vantage point provided her with all the motivation Dr. Andrews needed. “She had worked with professors and had seen how they lived and worked. She always told me, ‘Those professors have it so good; if you get that Ph.D., many doors will open for you.’”
And what did she sacrifice during that tough time? “Nothing important. Just hanging out with friends.”
The rigorous routine established the standard for her doctoral program at Michigan State, where Dr. Andrews was well prepared for long hours and new challenges. One came along when she learned, late in the game, that she needed to change her dissertation topic—it had already been covered by someone else. She tacked another year onto her timetable.
Previously, she was a professor at the same school where she earned her MBA, Wayne State. She is now a Clinical Assistant Professor of Accounting at Indiana University-Purdue University and, she reports, “It is everything I had hoped it would be—and more.”
The dream continues…
A new door opened for Dr. Andrews in 2010, when she took a sabbatical from Wayne State University and served as an Academic Fellow with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She was able to put her computer programming skills learned in her Ph.D. program to good use in the Division of Corporation Finance. As an Assistant Professor, she has actively mentored several undergraduates and guided them toward internships that led to employment. “I try to stress the importance of an internship to them even if it means extending their graduation date,” she says. “I tell them they would rather have a full time position at graduation rather than be seeking a full time position.”