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From A STEM MBA To A Walmart Marketing Career—How I Did It

The opportunities you could gain after a STEM MBA are endless—here’s how one grad used her degree to launch a Walmart marketing career


Thu Mar 23 2023

STEM MBAs are great for those who are interested in getting behind the data and understanding how analytics can drive business and marketing decisions.

These STEM-designated business degrees provide a variety of career options for ambitious grads that go beyond the traditional finance, consulting, and tech triumvirate. 

Kayla Winter, an MBA grad who attended business school in California, used her business insights to launch a successful Walmart marketing career—here’s how she did it:

Launching a Walmart marketing career

When she received her acceptance e-mail, Kayla couldn’t believe her luck. Not only had she secured a top marketing job shortly after graduating from business school, she’d landed a job at one of the leading retail corporations in the US. 

It wasn’t down to luck, however. This was a job Kayla had been working towards for a while. 

She’d used her learnings from her STEM MBA at University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD) Rady School of Management to stand out from the crowd.

In her Walmart marketing career, she’s the associate manager, marketing operations—eComm at Walmart Connect—the US arm of Walmart's global advertising business.

When you see ads appear on a website, these aren't just placed there without forethought. Kayla's primary responsibility is to own campaign performance and implement optimization changes—such as bid adjustments and targeting changes—to ensure client key performance indicators (KPIs) are fulfilled and/or exceeded.

“I have a deeper understanding of this area from the courses I took at the Rady School of Management,” she says.

How my STEM MBA program equipped me with the marketing skills I needed

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Kayla isn’t the typical MBA student. 

Upon graduating, she had two different career routes in mind: clinical psychology or business. She eventually chose the latter and became even more interested in the idea of completing an MBA when she was looking into the UCSD Rady STEM MBA program.

“Rady stuck out to me as it wasn’t a traditional business program. The focus on STEM was attractive as it reminded me of the reasons why I had taken certain classes during my undergraduate degree,” she says. 

At Rady, some of the courses Kayla enjoyed most were Quantitative Analysis, Customer Analytics, and Research Methods. These classes provided a needed step-up from her psychology degree and considered data through the lens of business management.

In her Ecommerce class, Kayla got involved in a real-world business project where she launched a Shopify website and helped with creating advertisements that could be picked up via Google search. 

“This class really prepared me for my current role as I learned about key metrics, so I had a baseline understanding from my MBA,” she says.

She says it also helped that she could tailor her business school learnings to what she was interested in through the electives on offer, which include topics such as Decision Analytics, New Venture Finance, and Business Innovation. 

“I was able to get a really well-rounded experience in different areas of business.”

Building that all-important business school network

Most MBA programs attract people with a variety of educational backgrounds but there are some programs that are particularly suitable for those from a non-business background.

"It was important for me to find a program with people from a variety of different backgrounds, coming from a non-business background myself," she says.

The UC San Diego Rady School MBA class is diverse in other ways, bringing around 52% international students.

Kayla was also pleased to find she was placed among people with a range of work experience levels. She met people who were just starting out in their careers alongside those who had around 10 years of work experience.

“As it’s a small cohort, it helped me get to know my peers on a personal level,” she says.

On average, there are around 48 students in a UCSD Rady MBA cohort.

Utilizing the career services on offer at business school

There were multiple factors contributing to Kayla’s successful job hunt.

While at Rady, she attended almost every job club, met with career counselors for mock interviews, resume guidance, and general career advice, and attended job fairs to seek out answers to questions about her chosen career path.

She used some of this career advice to then set up informational interviews with people working at Walmart to figure out whether she was a right fit for the role, and the kind of skills that Walmart Connect was specifically looking for.

All of this helped Kayla enter her job interview with a firm belief in the value she could bring to the retailer, and how her MBA skills could help her thrive. 

"I wouldn't have been able to get the job without an MBA—it allowed me to strengthen my knowledge while building a skill set that I use each and every day in my job," she says.

This article is for illustrative purposes only.