Maryam Khan, originally from Lahore, Pakistan, came to Missouri State to work on a Master’s of Business Administration. After discovering more of what MSU has to offer, Maryam now works on two degrees and graduate certificates while serving as a graduate assistant in MSU’s Marketing Department.
Maryam attended FAST Business School in Pakistan for a Bachelor’s in Marketing. Eight semesters of making the Dean’s list later and Maryam had finished college. After graduation, she worked in an advertising agency for three years as an account manager, leading projects for name brands such as Pepsi and Samsung. As an account manager, Maryam was the liaison between a brand and her creative team. Her job was to take the corporate vision and get the creative team to execute it while meeting campaign goals.
Working in an agency gave Maryam valuable experience. On the Samsung account, she led a digital advertising launch for the Samsung Galaxy S5. During the launch, one of the brand ambassadors tweeted using an iPhone instead of the new Galaxy S5. This blunder fell back on Maryam and her team. They quickly developed counter strategies to overcome the event. These projects showed Maryam that the job of an account manager is unpredictable and fast paced, requiring a wide range of skills.
Interested in furthering her education, choosing the US was natural for Maryam. After a 21-day visit in 2015, Maryam left thinking, “I really liked it there. I thought I was more American than I was Pakistani. There’s this feeling that you get when you go somewhere and you think ‘Ok, I connect to this place’.” After returning home, Maryam wanted to explore the US more. That’s when she began looking for opportunities here.
Maryam heard about Missouri State from a friend who was working as a graduate assistant in the Technology and Construction Department. He loved his job and recommended Maryam give it a try. After applying, she was hired as a graduate assistant, got admitted into the MBA program, and moved to Springfield. “Once I started my MBA, I realized I actually wanted to study project management too because that’s how everything worked in the practical world. Everything was actually a project, it’s just that I was applying business skills to that project.”
The first few weeks in the US were the hardest, not because of culture shock or a language barrier, but because Maryam now needed to cook for herself. “I didn’t know cooking at all. I burned a few bread slices. I came to work so many times without having any breakfast, but I learned and now I’m a good cook,” she says. Other than that, living here just clicked with Maryam.
Back home in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, Maryam would typically spend time with friends trying new restaurants or going to movies. Here, she spends her free time studying and working so that she can finish school on time. Fortunately long school breaks allow her to visit family and friends at home.
In Pakistan, family has a greater influence on decisions such as education and career options. Maryam’s parents support her choice to return to school before she starts a family of her own, different that what many of her friends did. Maryam chose this path because her parents always wanted their children to be able to support themselves independently, telling her, “You’re capable of doing much more. Don’t just settle for what you’ve got.”
Maryam plans to graduate in December 2017 with a Master of Business Administration, graduate certificates in Marketing and Project Management, and a Master of Science in Project Management. Her post-degree goals are to find a job and save money. Maryam says, “At the end of the day, however I want to be an entrepreneur.” She is open to working wherever she finds the best opportunities and is looking forward to getting back into the business lifestyle.
After graduation, going back to work will be an entirely new experience. Before, Maryam was held back by her local perspective. She studied in Pakistan, had friends there and felt just like everyone else. Now, she has international experience and better insight into how the world thinks.