Randazzo_LauriePickard_20141123_01238-EditFor those who are just finding this site, here’s a quick recap:

The goal: An Ivy League MBA education, minus the debt. 

The plan: Two years of MBA course work spread over three years of part time study, all via MOOC from my home in Kigali, Rwanda, all while working full time.


Course work update 

I’ve now completed about half of the MBA education I envisioned when I started this project in August 2013, and I’m on track to finish by summer 2016. Even though courses start continuously – and many are now offered in a self-paced, always-available format – I still like to think of my education in terms of semesters and units.

I’m at the start of my fourth of six semesters. (To see my courses from the previous three semesters, have a look at the Curriculum page.) So far I’m registered for two courses on entrepreneurship through edX – Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer? and Entrepreneurship 102: What can you do for your customer?

This semester I don’t have a well-defined plan for my studies so much as I have a checklist of courses and topics I feel I’m still missing or would like to go deeper into. These include: 

  • Data analysis
  • Finance – more advanced topics
  • Supply chain management – I’d like to finish edX’s series
  • Computer science and programming – I’m a total newbie, but I would like to become at least semi-literate in one or two programming languages


Commencing the job search

Like regular MBA students, now that I’m in the second half of my business education, my focus is shifting towards what happens when I finish my studies. This is the big question, isn’t it? It is through my job search that I will put my No-Pay MBA to the test. How will I stack up next to other job candidates? Will employers understand, and more importantly, will they see the value of my education? 

Fortunately, I am happily employed, and I have no plans to leave my current job. But two years from now, my husband’s tour in Rwanda will be over, and we will be moving (location as yet unknown). At that time I will most certainly be on the job market. Two years might sound like a long time to conduct a job search, but my research on how MBA students look for jobs indicates that it isn’t uncommon for MBAs to spend their entire two years job searching.

Since my success (or failure) at leveraging my studies for future employment is such a big question, I plan to post periodic updates on my job search and what I’m learning about the value of a MOOC-based MBA in the marketplace.


How to build a startup – for real

The most exciting thing I’m starting this semester is some work for a startup called Coursolve. Here’s how I got involved: First, the Udacity course How to Build a Startup, which is still one of the best courses I’ve ever taken (online or otherwise), got me thinking about startups. Then, while enrolled in Foundations of Business Strategy, I came across Coursolve, whose online platform connects MOOC students with business through digital internships. I had a great experience doing a strategic analysis for Coursolve– so good that I’ve come on to do some business development consulting for the company. This is great experience for me – getting to work inside a startup that is still gettings its legs – and of course I expect to bring some value to the company as well.

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