Nic Higgins had already planned to get his master’s in business administration (MBA) after graduating from UMass Dartmouth’s undergraduate management program in the spring of 2021. After the Covid-19 pandemic sent him home during his junior and senior years, coming back to his undergraduate campus to complete his MBA has given him back a piece of his college experience he missed out on, and added new perspectives and responsibilities as a graduate student.
Master of Business Administration
How does graduate coursework differ from your undergraduate experience?
"Courses are certainly more advanced at the graduate level. I feel like each 600-level class is a deeper dive into each study, and once you get into electives, you’re getting a high-level insight into what you want to do with your life."
What should UMassD undergrads considering an MBA know about the program?
"They should know they can get a jump on pursuing their MBA by taking graduate courses while still an undergrad. This does not mean you should feel rushed. Taking my time with my education has given me so many opportunities to really figure out what I want to do. But if you know a graduate degree is in your future, get a head start!"
Many graduate students work in jobs or assistantships on campus that help finance their education, while also adding bullet points to their résumé. For Higgins, it also represents an opportunity to pass on six years of lessons he’s learned to undergraduate students.
What do you do for your graduate assistantship?
"I assist in the Career Lab in CCB 241 with Professor Ardito every Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-4, post jobs and internships on our newly developed CCB Internships page, monitor and report job-related material posted on our university's Handshake, and anything else that aids the career development of our undergraduate Corsairs.
"Assistantships offer a lot of freedom and room for creativity. Professor Ardito and I will sit down and just think of things we can do that will help develop the internship program. This makes the job super exciting and adds something to look forward to on top of our weekly obligations."
Is this a paid position?
"Yes, I get paid an hourly rate for 20 hours a week, which certainly helps finance my education."
Is it rewarding to help connect students to internships and jobs?
"I’d love to say I helped X number of students land an internship, but the reality is they helped themselves by taking the extra steps needed in order to achieve that. Last semester I showed two students how to get on Handshake and apply for internships they ended up landing for the following summer. I got a message from each student thanking me for helping them along the way. It was a very rewarding feeling to know that I helped in some way!"
Off campus, Higgins spends another 20 hours a week interning in the inverse role to his graduate assistantship, recruiting potential employees to open roles at a Boston-based staffing company KNF&T. This allows him to understand both sides of the trade, making him a well-rounded connector of talent and job openings.
How valuable has your experience been at KNF&T?
"Very! I’m happy to say KNF&T has extended an offer to promote me to Recruiting Manager after I complete my MBA in May 2023! My director and I are extremely close, sometimes it feels like I’m chatting with a friend when we talk about work. I think it’s safe to say I found what I want to do with my career, as it doesn’t feel like ‘going to work’ – instead I get to wake up and go help people find jobs!"
"I’m also able to take everything I learn in my internship and bring it back to the Career Lab to help students design their résumé, practice job interviews, and help them stand out to recruiters like myself."
"It’s been 6 years since I first arrived on UMassD’s campus as a freshman. I wasn’t the most motivated student in high school, but I knew if I kept to my education, I’d figure out what I would want to do with my life. I remember being frustrated at job fairs not wanting to hire me as a freshman or sophomore with little to no experience, so I definitely relate to any underclassman struggling with the job search.
"It’s a privilege to be able to talk to students as someone who was just in their shoes a few years ago. I share things I wish I’d done differently with them, so they have an easier time landing that first internship. Sticking to my education gave me time to realize that my passion is helping people and I’m thankful I’m now able to do that for a living!"