Design Integration: Justen Dawson '18 MBA

March 2, 2017

Sunset at the University of Arizona

Justen Dawson is currently an evening MBA student from Summit, Mississippi, and is the vice president of the Evening MBA Student Association. Check out his responses below!

Why did you choose UA to obtain your MBA?

I relocated to Tucson after college graduation. At that time, I had already been debating an MBA degree and was happy to be within range of one of the top public schools for MIS. I chose the MBA program because I wanted to strengthen my business acumen skills and seek entrance into management consulting, investment banking, or the financial technology sector.

What is your program and date of graduation?

I am an Eller Evening MBA candidate for December 2018. Computer engineering is my current focus; I've graduated with my bachelor's and master's degrees in 2012 and 2015, respectively, from Jackson State University in that discipline.

What does your work/life balance look like?

Classes are once-weekly and the balance with work is interesting. As with any degree of higher education, it helps to be highly motivated in seeking the change one desires. Therefore, I've become a lot more efficient in time management; I set strict study hours on the weekends for subject matter review.

I work for Raytheon Missile Systems as an embedded software engineer. Work is sometimes stressful and the challenges are numerous and dynamic, but I've come to understand that progression is iterative; it occurs over time with careful planning and consistency in execution -- that is the mindset with which I approach my daily tasks.

Also, I've taken the opportunity to network and join student organizations including the Evening Student Association as vice president, Arizona Consulting Club, Eller African American Honorary, and the National Black MBA Association.

What type of relevant professional experience have you had or currently have?

In undergraduate studies, I've been a part of two National Science Foundation internships at both the Computer Science Department of Stevens Institute of Technology and the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Arkansas. For two years, I was an undergraduate research assistant for the Northrop Grumman Center for High Performance Computing near my home university. One of my engineering professors managed the research there and I attribute my retention in engineering to much of his guidance.

Can you tell me more about the how you prepared for your MBA admissions?

Before my admissions process, I took the prep course at ThinkTank, the tutoring center here at the University of Arizona. It was very helpful since I am an "in-person" learner. My advice is to find some local group to help you with prep, in terms of support and accountability. Also, taking as many actual exams under the time constraint as possible can help scores drastically. Sometimes tests don't reflect the true aptitude of the taker. It comes down to fundamental testing skills that may not be exercised in the standardized format. Do not be discouraged if testing does not go as planned the first time around, because true success is measured in terms of discipline and consistency.

What has your professional experience taught you?

My professional experience has taught me how complex the world truly is! There are so many economic problems that need solutions and it can be overwhelming. In the software design lifecycle, there are so many improvements that everyone wants to make for a product; adding shiny bells here and new whistles there on a car, for instance. However, thinking up a viable solution is often much easier than implementing it in the real world.

I practice design integration daily; it’s truly where the rubber hits the road. To make the correlation, I believe that professional experiences and even life lessons are about the cycle of working an objective, project, or solution to success or closure. Ideas are just ideas until dreams become actions.