I have always been the kid who loves school. I never balked at a summer reading list, and after about three weeks of summer break, I was ready to go back. Even while completing my undergraduate degree at James Madison University (Go Dukes!), I had a strong feeling that I would head back to school some day for an advanced degree. I wasn’t sure what my area of focus would be or when I would start, but I knew it would happen.
Before I could make these choices, I wanted real-world experience. I joined Vanguard in 2014 as a Client Relationship Associate in our Charlotte, North Carolina office, serving our personal investors. I supported a few teams within our Retail Investor Group, where I was responsible for helping new clients meet their investment needs and continuing to deepen current client relationships. From there, I transitioned to the social media team in the summer of 2017 to focus on community building and social care. If you’ve ever seen a post signed with “—Emily” on our Facebook page, that’s me!
It was a few months into my new position when I felt ready to continue my education journey. Work was going well for me and I was getting the hang of how marketing works outside of the classroom (I took a few marketing classes as an undergraduate, but everything is different in practice than in theory). I wanted to learn more about not only marketing, but business as a whole, and decided to begin looking for an MBA program.
Charlotte is a hub for many financial companies, so I had multiple programs available to me. I needed a program that would allow me to continue working full-time, since I would be paying for this on my own. I also wanted a program that was cost-effective (as a Vanguard crewmember, I think about costs more than the average person), and flexible in case I needed to take time off. The Professional MBA (PMBA) program through the University of South Carolina is what I ultimately chose, and two years in, I’m so glad I did.
Posing with Cocky, the University of South Carolina’s Gamecocks, at the Charlotte USC campus
Because I would be paying for school on my own, I was nervous about how I was going to make this work financially. I’m fortunate to not have any undergraduate debt (thanks Mom and Dad!), and did not want to be buried in debt as a result of obtaining a graduate degree. When discussing my education goals with my manager, he mentioned Vanguard’s Academic Assistance Plan. Once I researched this further, I became even more excited to start my studies.
The Vanguard Academic Assistance Plan offers a generous tuition reimbursement each calendar year for full-time crewmembers. There’s no minimum time-in-job requirement, so even as a relatively new employee, I could still take full advantage of this benefit. Based on the cost of my specific program, the plan covers the cost of tuition for four classes per calendar year. School is stressful enough, so not having to worry about how to pay for it is a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m able to focus more on my studies and build relationships with fellow students because I don’t have to fret about how I’m going to afford everything.
I plan to graduate from my MBA program in December 2020 and will genuinely miss working with the professors and other students. Having the opportunity to get the perspective of other professionals, both inside and outside of the financial services industry, has helped me provide more well-rounded input and insights in my current role and better understand Vanguard’s place in the business world at large. Vanguard’s Academic Assistance Plan is allowing me to accomplish one of my dreams (getting an advanced degree), while working at a great company.
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