University of Tennessee

MSBA Student Spotlight: Jamie McKinnon

May 1, 2018

Jamie McKinnon spent the first portion of her academic career in a physics program at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. After graduation, she was eager to jump into a career that allowed her to apply her skills, but it was difficult to find a good fit.

In the end, McKinnon spent a few years working outside her field of study while she surveyed her options.

“Over and over, I saw myself gravitating toward jobs in analytics,” she says. “It excited me because it provided an application of math skills in the real business world.”

She started looking for avenues to advance her analytics skills and Haslam College of Business’s MSBA program stood out.McKinnon started the program in fall 2017.

“It’s a lot more difficult than I expected, but in a very good way,” she says. “I enjoy all the formal and informal opportunities the department provides to meet potential employers.”

McKinnon appreciates the emphasis on teamwork and efforts to recreate real-world work situations. “I’ve been able to work with others learning the same things, bouncing ideas off each other, and collaborating to find the best way to achieve what’s being asked,” she says. “Also, the department makes an effort to provide us with real business data, which adds to the experience.”

As a physics student, McKinnon often made presentations — with the understanding that her audience understood complex mathematic terminology. In the MSBA program, there’s a different emphasis.

“I get to focus on what I love in the math area but also improve my presentation skills,” she says. “There’s a clear focus on how much it matters to be able to express yourself effectively to business leaders who aren’t familiar with analytics.”

This summer, McKinnon is interning at Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. “I had an interest in nuclear energy before applying to the MSBA program, so I’m excited about this opportunity,” she says. “I think I’m going to learn a lot.”

In the future, McKinnon hopes to pursue her newfound passion, predictive analytics.

“I love being able to apply my training to help a company make informed business decisions,” she says. “Ultimately, I’d love to work in a field that makes a difference in the world, such as nuclear energy, healthcare, or security.”