Living overseas is a dream that many people share. Justin Lightfield, a One Year MBA student, has the same dream.
Originally from Ohio, Justin graduated with an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning before moving to Washington D.C. to begin his career. After a couple of years, Justin wanted to advance his career and find better work-life balance, so he began to look around.
Eventually deciding on Colorado, he searched and landed a job as the town planner for Vail, Colorado. He wanted to enhance his business skills and decided to pursue an MBA, soon discovering and choosing the One Year MBA program at the CU Denver Business School.
With only a couple of months left until he graduates, Justin looks forward to utilizing his MBA to help him reach his goals and hopefully move overseas to begin a new journey.
From the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains
Soon after graduating, Justin moved to the nation’s capital to work for AECOM, a design, build, and finance infrastructure company. After a couple of years of being in the workforce, he realized he wanted to work for something he was passionate about – public service. He also realized how important it was to have a healthy work-life balance and a higher quality of life with access to green space and nature.
After looking around, he decided to move to Colorado, drawn to the state’s natural resources and the opportunity to spend time in nature. Shortly after arriving in Colorado, Justin landed a position as the Town Planner for the Town of Vail. He was in charge of town planning management, site planning, design review, policy development, and other various responsibilities. Justin was finally doing something he was passionate about, but he understood it was time to take his career to the next level.
Utilizing his degree to the max
To expand his career potential and reach his goal of moving internationally, he knew he needed to enhance his leadership and management skills. After looking through a number of MBA programs, he was certain the One Year MBA at CU Denver was for him. “Location was one of the biggest factors in my decision. CU Denver is located in the heart of the city, providing access to many different opportunities,” Justin shared, “Denver provides access to many high profile for-profit, nonprofit, and municipal leaders.”
He hopes to combine his MBA and undergraduate degree to pursue a career in real estate development and eventually move to Europe with his partner. “The MBA will allow me to pursue a career in international business and hopefully provide us with the opportunity to live overseas,” said Justin. “There are many multinational companies across the world I’d like to work for, the possibilities are endless.”
“The MBA will allow me to pursue a career in international business and hopefully provide us with the opportunity to live overseas.”
The One Year MBA is unique because of its fast-paced curriculum. It consists of nine five-week terms with a one-week break between each term for 12 months. “I decided to attend CU Denver because of its five-week course structure. I researched a wide array of programs, and of course, the One Year MBA program stood out to me,” said Justin.
“I decided to attend CU Denver because of its five-week course structure. I researched a wide array of programs, and of course, the One Year MBA program stood out to me.”
With each fast-paced term, Justin spends an extensive amount of time together with other MBA students around him. Each student has a diverse professional and educational background, and Justin’s been able to learn a great deal from his classmates. “We spend a majority of our time working together, it helps us build long-lasting friendships and a strong sense of community,” shared Justin.
Justin also enjoys the global perspective and the international opportunities the One Year MBA offers. It includes an international trip abroad for MBA students. “CU Denver recognizes the value of education abroad and seeks to support students in cross-cultural immersive learning,” said Justin. This year students are either traveling to Shanghai, China and Seoul, South Korea, or Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Justin went to China and South Korea for his international trip. “My biggest takeaway after visiting local companies, is that APAC, specifically China and South Korea, are two desirable places to work for those that wish to be on the forefront of technological innovation and e-commerce,” shared Justin. It was evident to him that China and South Korea were on top of digitalization and e-commerce based on their sudden growth spurt.
Working alongside CU Denver’s chancellor
Competitive paid internships, paid graduate assistantships, and consulting coursework are included in the One Year MBA program. These opportunities give students a unique hands-on experience and help students expand their networking pool, build their resumes, and jump-start their careers.
Justin is currently an intern for the University of Colorado’s Office of the University Counsel. Some of Justin’s current responsibilities include participating in proposal evaluation sessions, making recommendations to teams, analyzing RFP requirements, and collaborating with teams to ensure desired outcomes.
“The largest benefit of my internship is my ability to meet diverse groups of professionals like Chancellor Dorothy Horrell. I’ve learned a lot and it continues to align my interests of site planning, real estate development, and finance,” said Justin.
“The largest benefit of my internship is my ability to meet diverse groups of professionals like Chancellor Dorothy Horrell. I’ve learned a lot and it continues to align my interests of site planning, real estate development, and finance.”
Through his MBA, he’s been able to apply what he’s learning in the classroom to what he’s currently doing in his internship. Justin said, “Finance has been the most applicable class thus far. We are currently reviewing pro-formas from a dozen real estate developers and my finance class has provided me with basic tools to understand exactly what I’m looking at.” Justin’s classes have also helped him develop critical thinking skills and a big-picture understanding of any industry he’s put in.
The end is only the beginning
Balancing an internship, school, and life can be rigorous. With 48 credit hours to complete in 12 months, the light at the end of the tunnel can sometimes be difficult to see. Justin views each 5-week term as small races and the entire program as a marathon. Knowing that after each term there will be a week where he can relax and escape to mountains motivates him to keep chugging along. “Simply knowing how beneficial the MBA will be once I graduate keeps me going,” shares Justin.
Justin looks forward to graduating in August and sees this ending as a new beginning. He plans to take advantage of all the international opportunities the MBA provides and relocate to the Netherlands or Denmark.
“The connections you make at CU Denver will last a lifetime, and students will join an extensive alumni network that can be essential when venturing into a new industry or job.”
Justin shares that for anyone thinking about pursuing their MBA at CU Denver, having enough passion and drive is important. He shares that having skills and experience are more valuable than credentials, so an MBA will pay off in the long-term. “The connections you make at CU Denver will last a lifetime, and students will join an extensive alumni network that can be essential when venturing into a new industry or job,” said Justin.