Josh Reece, Air Force Acquisition Specialist, strives for a new professional future

Josh Reece

Meet Joshua Reece, first-year Online MBA student at the SMU Cox School of Business. Prior to coming to SMU Cox, Josh enlisted in the US Air Force after high school and was the first person in his family to join the armed forces. After graduating from the Air Force Academy, he embarked on active duty as a Second Lieutenant. Today, Josh, who was recently promoted to First Lieutenant, works for the Air Force in Acquisitions and Contracting where he writes procurement contracts.

What brought you to the Online MBA program at SMU Cox?

I always knew I wanted to get my MBA, but I didn’t know what route I would go in terms of residential or online. I didn’t even realize SMU had an online program until after I was already seriously researching other options. My mom actually sent me information about the SMU Cox Online MBA Program, and as I investigated, was impressed by what I found. SMU is a prestigious institution and had everything that I wanted. I was intrigued by the curriculum and also learned that the Online MBA tuition was a better value in terms of cost and ROI, compared to other programs I was considering.

How have you found the online aspect of the program thus far?

I like it a lot because it’s flexible with my unpredictable schedule, which was a huge factor in my decision making process. If I were to get deployed or need to go out of town for work, I can still attend class and stay on top of my coursework. The flexibility that the Online MBA program offers has been incredibly helpful. At first I was afraid that it might be a self-paced, click through online assignment situation, but it’s not like that at all. As soon as I did my virtual tour with SMU Cox and they explained to me how the program worked, I knew this was going to be much more like a traditional or residential MBA than a remote hybrid. And I appreciate that a lot. Aside from the fact that I can’t turn to my neighbor and talk to them during class, it all feels normal and engaging. My instructors have their whiteboards and it’s a very top-notch and interactive learning environment.

What is the sense of community like within your cohort?

The sense of community started building from our small group assignments, but really took off after the immersion. The Immersion experience is a requirement built into the OMBA program and my cohort was able to go to London for our immersion trip. Prior to that, many of us had never met in person, so we were really able to bond and get to know each other in London. While there, we got to explore, go on excursions, and socialize together, which was big for fostering that sense of community.

Josh in a dinner with other SMU Cox students.

It sounds like meeting your classmates and working on the case studies, that are part of the OMBA Immersion trips, have been a highlight of the program. Is that accurate?

Absolutely. I loved it. The fact that it was international was huge, because I love traveling. The immersion trip to London was so great because it gave us real life experience with a market and economy different from our own. This allowed us to use the problem solving we’d been practicing in class and actually put it into practice. There are several immersion opportunities each year, and it’s a graduation requirement to do two of them during the program. One of them has to be abroad, and then the other one can be domestic.

Josh with classmates during the immersion.

What are some skills you acquired in the Air Force that have been helpful as you earn your MBA?

Definitely my flexibility and ability to adapt when things change quickly. I am able to be quick on my feet to address and meet changes head on. Aside from that, I would say that the workload at the Academy prepared me well for the OMBA curriculum. I’m already used to having a lot on my plate and still being able to stay productive.

What do you hope to do with your MBA?

I’m not sure yet, to be honest! The reason I started so early after I got an undergrad degree is because my service contract is for five years. And since I don’t know exactly what I want to do, I wanted to have my MBA in case I did decide to separate from the military. Having an MBA in my toolkit will do more than just boost my resume, but add in a whole new network. SMU Cox’s alumni and professional network are an incredibly valuable resource.

What advice would you offer a serviceperson who is on the fence about earning a master’s degree after serving?

A couple of things come to mind.

  • There’s never “the right” or perfect time. You have to just take the leap, go in and do it.
  • There are a lot of programs going online, especially now after COVID-19, that are making it a little bit more flexible and user-friendly. Don’t be afraid or worry that you won’t have enough time.
  • Don’t forget that earning an advanced degree looks good on your military reports and appraisals. Education is definitely a separator in terms of striving for all sorts of employment opportunities.
  • And lastly, veterans get so many financial benefits with tuition assistance. They will go to waste if you don’t use them! I would recommend to my fellow veterans to invest in yourself and your future with an advanced degree.

An Online MBA from the SMU Cox School of Business can help you become more of an asset in your current role or enable you to pivot your career and professional trajectory. If you’re thinking about earning your Online MBA from SMU Cox, apply here today.

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