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Campervans and coursework: Couple earns MBA on the road

Road trip and gain a qualification: it is possible to do both. Source: Shutterstock.
Road trip and gain a qualification: it is possible to do both. Source: Shutterstock.

Many students are hit with a spell of wanderlust sometime during the course of their degree. Instead of accepting one or the other, in the summer of 2017, one US couple decided to gain their MBAs and travel simultaneously.

Elena Brondolo and her partner Kyle Bucklin were enrolled in an evening MBA programme at the University at Albany (UAlbany) but were both struck with the desire to road trip the country. After one of them lost their job, and with an uncertain future, they decided the time was now.

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“We decided last minute we were going to do it for the fall term,” Bucklin told UAlbany News.

Bucklin said they wanted to expand their knowledge and life experience as well as take some time to think about their plans post-graduation.

The details weren’t too difficult to sort

Despite originally feeling quite daunted by the task of sorting both the academic and physical logistics of road tripping and studying, Brondolo claimed it was actually rather straightforward.

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“We were able to register the whole semester online in a couple of weeks, which made the trip possible,” Brondolo said.

The pair took to the road in an old Chevy van with their dog, Marbles and for the entirety of the fall term, Brondolo, Bucklin and Marbles travelled through over 20 US states.

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Together Bucklin and Brondolo’s father had renovated the 2002 Chevy, inputting necessities including a bed, kitchen cabinet and a heater.

It wasn’t without its challenges but it was worth it

The couple struggled with consistently finding reliable Wi-Fi to complete their studies, as well as keeping up with the course in multiple different time zones.

However, they claimed they wouldn’t have had it any other way. They felt they had a real purpose while they travelled, instead of just wandering aimlessly.

“I didn’t so much feel like we were on vacation, but more like we were working on the road and being able to experience a new thing outside every day,” Bucklin said.

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The pair explored as much as possible, tackling the world by boot, bike, board and boat as they delved into national parks and rocky waters.

Bucklin claimed the trip enabled him to properly reflect on his coursework as well as inspiring him.

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how businesses create their competitive advantage,” said Bucklin who majored in entrepreneurship.

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“It was fun to be taking a strategy course while driving around the country and thinking about all these businesses we’re passing and going into.

Brondolo too felt the experience enriched her learning in her interest of management. She was able to further her research into how values affect workplace dynamics by seeing first-hand the different attitudes and cultures across the states.

The flexibility of evening MBA programmes allows students to experience many other facets of life as well as studying, from travelling to work. Typically, evening MBAs take between two and six years, with classes usually twice a week.

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