February 21

Sander Says: MBA Student Spotlight

Melanie Sander believes in hard work. As a self-proclaimed “late career changer,” she knows what it means to take risks with calculation and savvy. These elements have been a running theme throughout her life and her international career in education, and they’ve given her the momentum to get back into the classroom—this time as a student—and into the world of business.

Sander is a 2017 MBA candidate, but before joining the program, she spent ten years working in education as a teacher, including time in South Korea creating curriculum for students learning English.

“I love how personal education is and how when it’s done well it’s all about helping people succeed and recognize strengths they have and move forward,” Sander says.

However, as much as she loved her work, Sander felt the pull to explore her other professional interests.

“After seeing the realities of education, I realized there were some skills I wasn’t using,” she explains. “I wondered if there was a way I could blend the things I loved about education into a different kind of role that would emphasize those instead.”

She discovered her ability to excel in organization and analysis when planning curriculums and evaluating their effectiveness. Wanting to pursue those interests, she made the change to human resources because of the applications between the two fields. To her, both are about strategically helping people improve.

“I just kind of jumped in and tried to figure it out,” Sander says. “I found that I really enjoyed it and the challenge. But I had zero business background, which was difficult. I thought that if I really wanted to keep doing something like this, I should really think about going back to school.”

So she took the risk, diving headfirst into the MBA program’s strategic HR track. It wasn’t easy, and at times it felt overwhelming. However, as Sander found her footing, she also discovered more about herself.

“I remember one moment during my second semester when I just sat back for a moment, breathed, and realized how many experiences I had in both my classes and my teams,” Sander says. “I started to see all of my capabilities, such as being a leader and thinking critically, that I came into the program with that I hadn’t recognized and how the program helped me see them in myself. I’ve also been able to build on those and grow in new directions.”

Her dedication to making the career change has paid off. After spending last summer working in Bank of America’s New York City office, she accepted an offer to work full time in the corporation’s Charlotte, North Carolina, office in the bank’s development program starting in June.

“It was so exciting to see that hard work pay off and know that I have a path now,” Sander says.