From military to civilian life, by way of MBA
Micah Sims entered Clemson University’s new online MBA program with not one, but two challenging jobs that required him to be away from home most of the year.
While taking classes for his MBA degree, Sims was serving as a lieutenant commander in the United States Naval Reserves and sailing as a civilian for an oil tanker company. Both jobs often required him to be away from home an average of six months a year. In fact, last March, Sims was activated by the Navy to support the U.S. Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy. He did all of this without missing any of his classes thanks to the MBA programs’ new flexible online courses for working professionals.
“What was great about the online classes was that I could still participate in the MBA program as long as I had an internet connection,” said Sims. “I could tune into lectures, I could see my assignments and still stay up to date with what’s happening in every class.”
Sims credits the flexibility of the MBA program with making it easier to fit into both his civilian and military job duties.
“There was hard work and time management involved,” he said with a laugh, “but I feel like in the MBA program, they realize that most people who are doing this probably have a job, and that’s why they can’t take classes full-time. They’re very flexible with letting you work at your own pace to get your assignments done. I’d work my shift on the ship and then spend a couple of hours each day completing different parts of the assignments.”
On the surface, Sims might not appear to be a likely candidate for the MBA program, simply because his career path was already set. He seemed destined for a life on the sea from childhood.
“My grandfather is a World War II naval veteran,” said Sims. “That sparked my interest. My uncle was a tug and barge captain on the Mississippi for about 15 years. When he was doing that, he said I should really look at the Merchant Marine Academy.”
Sims applied for both the Naval Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy, but chose the Merchant Marine Academy because he felt he would have a lot more job options when he came out of school.
In 2010, Sims graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. While there, he met Lauren, the woman who would become his wife. He moved to Charleston, S.C., with her after graduating with a B.S. in Maritime Transportation, a Third Mate Unlimited Coast Guard License, and an officer’s commission in the Naval Reserves.
With a new marriage, new home and plans to start a family, Sims began to look beyond life at sea.
“I knew that I didn’t want to sail on the ocean all the time,” he said. “I knew that I was going to want to come to a shoreside capacity, and I wanted to do that at some point with a maritime company on a corporate level.”
In order to do that, Sims felt he needed to add an MBA as part of his resume, along with the experience of sailing on merchant vessels and working with logistics in the Naval Reserves that he already had.
“I wanted to show to a company that I also have a business degree from an excellent school, and I could bring all of that to the table,” said Sims.
Luckily, he had an advisor who could help him decide where to get that business degree: his wife, Lauren Sims.
“My wife is a Clemson alumna,” he said. “She was actually one of the Clemson dancers, so she got to perform with the band at halftime. I had always been an LSU fan, but she turned me into a Clemson fan, which led me to check out Clemson. Talking to different people in this area, I found that Clemson’s College of Business had an excellent reputation, it was affordable and the faculty and staff were great.”
Sims started taking classes earlier this year, and he found a company in the private sector that was interested in both his educational and career pursuits. On August 19, Sims started a job as the Terminal Operations Manager for a Charleston company called Marine Repair Services Container Maintenance Corporation (MRS-CMC). The company handles the operation and maintenance of containers that are loaded onto ships, trucks and railroad cars.
“In my final interview, one of the things they said they were happy to see is that I was working toward an MBA degree,” said Sims. “They wanted to bring in a qualified person with a business background, so they were excited to see that I was in this MBA program. I believe it helped me land the job.”