Meet Jessica Mould
When Jessica Mould received an acceptance letter to join the accelerated master of business administration (AMBA) program at ETSU, she was tempted to ignore it. The thought of returning to the classroom 11 years after completing her bachelor’s degree in sport and leisure management filled Jessica with doubt and fear. However, she quickly realized that while the classroom might feel unfamiliar, ETSU is home. Jessica has worked for ETSU Campus Recreation for almost 15 years, first as a student and then a full-time employee. Her family and co-workers rallied around her to provide the confidence and support she needed to start the yearlong AMBA program, study abroad in Italy and complete the strategic experience required for graduation.
When did you start working for Campus Recreation and what led you to become a full-time employee?
I started in 2003 as an intramural program assistant. I was taking the Intro to Sports Management class and we were tasked with going out and interviewing a professional in the field. I was familiar with Campus Recreation so I interviewed the intramural coordinator at the time. I really enjoyed talking to him and seeing his interactions with students. He offered me a job after the interview, and that’s how it all began.
I worked there for three years until I graduated. The executive aide position came open in 2007 and that’s when I started working full time at the CPA (Wayne G. Basler Center for Physical Activity). It was the perfect position for me because I had just had my first child, and to be able to balance being a new mother with maintaining a career was important to me. I accepted the position and never left because they are a great family to work with. Campus Recreation and Student Affairs have provided so much support to me along my journey.
What are some of your job responsibilities and how have they changed over time?
I coordinate all the office paperwork, flow of the office, anything from the hiring paperwork to contracts. I do the payroll, oversee the purchasing and assist in budget planning. Our programs and department are growing, so in February my job changed to office coordinator. When I first started, our staff was around 125, now we are pushing 230. We see Campus Recreation as a great escape for the students. It gives them a place to come and relieve stress and get to know other people through our programs.
I oversee 20-25 students and one graduate assistant. I’m a mother of two beautiful children, but sometimes the students feel like my children, too. As they come through, I offer them support. They know my door is always open and they can come in and talk. I have students who work for me who make my job a lot easier by helping me. Sometimes their first job is at the CPA and I watch them grow. They may start out in the front office reception area and by graduation they are a building supervisor. I can see the impact I have on their life, but most importantly the impact they have on my life.
What made you decide to pursue an accelerated M.B.A. degree?
The M.B.A. has always been a goal of mine. When I graduated with my sport and leisure management degree, I knew I wanted to further my career but I didn’t know what avenue I wanted to take. Working in the campus recreation field, I realized that obtaining my M.B.A. would be very beneficial for me, not just in sports management or campus recreation. I felt like it would open up more opportunities for me. I enjoy being in leadership roles. I thought going through the M.B.A. program would help build my confidence. I took some time off to be a mom, so now that my children are a little older, I feel like I have more time to focus on myself. I chose the accelerated program because it’s a year, but it’s nonstop and I’m focused all the time, so it can be challenging, but a year goes by so quickly. I enjoyed the hybrid method of the AMBA program that we met on certain weekends, but had the online portion, too. It was flexible and I enjoyed the interactions with my professors and classmates.
What is the key to balancing obligations at work, school and home?
God has set this whole path up for me so I’ve continued to have trust that he will lead the way. I would not have been able to do it without support from my friends, family and my children.
I had an army of support behind me. You have to find that balance. You have the power to be positive or negative about something and I chose to buckle down and get through this year.
You studied abroad with fellow M.B.A. students this summer. How was the experience?
I went to Italy for 18 days with 12 classmates. I had never traveled internationally. I was in a global business class and the professor asked who has traveled internationally. I was the only one who didn’t raise my hand. Having the opportunity present itself, I went back and forth and thought I couldn’t leave my kids or my job, but I had an aunt step in and my boss stepped in and they said, “You need to go; you need this experience.” I am so thankful that I did it. We really got immersed into the culture and the lectures were geared toward business practices in Italy, looking at their health care system and how it works.
Students in the AMBA program are required to complete a strategic experience in order to graduate. What is the focus of your project?
Our strategic experience – you can look at it as a capstone project. I have a team of two other students and we have been tasked with working for the Management and Marketing Department at ETSU to focus on the M.B.A. program to see what direction it can go in. We’ve interviewed a lot of stakeholders, from employers to undergraduate students to alumni; benchmarked our peer institutions; and collected a lot of data to give back to our professors so they can review it and hopefully implement some of our recommendations to grow and enhance the program.