13 Questions With Sandra Villavicencio, ’16 MEM Grad

EPD: What have you learned from the program that you have been able to directly apply in the workplace?

SV: If I have to pick the one that stood out the most to me I would say dealing with different people. In management, it is important to be able to communicate with different people, people come from different cultures and generations. Also, people have different personalities, so it is imperative to be able to establish good communication with workers to ask them for work. In my opinion, if this skill is not properly utilized, it would be very hard to be in a management position with employees who share the vision and want to be part of a team.


Sandra Villavicencio

EPD: What was your favorite thing about the program?

SV: My favorite thing about the program was meeting the cohort and the staff. There was an immediate click and this made the two years of the program very enjoyable.


EPD: What was your least favorite thing about the program?

SV: It’s really hard to think of one!  I would say that at the beginning, I didn’t like how I had to manage my time, but I know now that it was part of gaining this skill for my career and I am very happy of what I have accomplished.


EPD: What attracted you to UW-Madison’s program?

SV: The good rankings and the summer residency.


EPD: How did you find out about it?

SV: Online


EPD: How were you able to balance the demands of a full-time job and going to school?

SV: Time management was critical–understanding that procrastination was not acceptable helped me very much.


EPD: What was a typical “day in the life?”

SV: I worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., worked out from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and did schoolwork from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. during the weekdays. During the weekend, I did a lot more schoolwork and household chores.


EPD: How supportive were your boss or coworkers of your decision to pursue the degree?

SV: Very supportive. My boss paid for my master’s degree and my coworkers see the potential that my career has in the company.


EPD: What advice might you give to someone considering the program?

SV: Go for it! Every hour invested in this program is worth it. The cohort is great for sharing experiences and the professors are great guides for the different scenarios that come up at work.


EPD: Were you interested in pursuing an MBA at some point?

SV: I was, however, I am very glad I was able to find this program before I made my final decision.


EPD: If so, what made you choose MEM over business school?

SV: The MEM program is more directed toward engineering. For students who want to move to a management position in engineering firms–this program is excellent. It gives you the tools to become a manager while keeping the engineering skills you’ve already gained in check.


EPD: If there was one thing you could have done differently, what would it be?

SV: I planned my wedding during the last semester of school! This definitely took a toll on me. I was very tired from multi-tasking all of my activities. If I could do something differently I would concentrate on work and school for two years and move the rest of the activities for after graduation.


EPD: Can you sum up your experience completing a master’s from UW in one word?

SV: Vision.


Villavicencio isn’t the only grad who juggled the demands of a full-time job and personal commitments. Find out how Ron and Tanya Higgins, also graduates of UW-Madison’s online master’s degree programs, raised a family while working and going to school. Click here to find out more.


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