Allie Corrigan always knew she wanted to fly — and pursuing her online Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology is helping her achieve exactly that.
“Growing up, I was extremely interested in aviation. My dad would take me to air shows, and I just fell in love with the Blue Angels. In high school, I worked toward my private pilot’s license. I was set on being a commercial pilot,” Corrigan told USC Online.
As time on went on, however, Corrigan discovered she also had a passion for marketing, which she studied while earning her bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University.
Today, she’s been able to merge her love for aviation and marketing by working for aerospace company Boeing, where she dabbled in multiple departments — including customer service, finance and supply chain strategy — before transitioning to a role in product marketing.
Still, Corrigan wanted to continue advancing her career through higher education. That’s where the MS in Integrated Design, Business and Technology came in.
The online program, offered by the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy, allows students to charter their own courses, bringing together the study of communications, art and design, business and technology to develop future leaders, entrepreneurs and creatives.
“Honestly, my jaw dropped when I saw that this program existed because this was just the perfect thing for me. I had interest in all three of those categories,” Corrigan said.
When she first explored graduate schools, Corrigan considered getting an MBA. After all, the majority of her co-workers at Boeing were in business or engineering, so business school seemed like the go-to choice.
She soon realized, however, that the degree path would feel like a retread of her time at Ohio State University.
“I [already] took accounting, finance, marketing … I felt I had a lot of that experience, both working in business and with my undergraduate degree. So, I really started to think, ‘How can I pivot and learn something else and launch myself into a different space?’” she explained.
Corrigan next considered graphic design, as she always enjoyed art and calligraphy, but she was concerned she wouldn’t be a strong enough student and that the program would be too rigorous.
But contemplating graphic design wasn’t a dead end. Instead, while researching her options, she came across the MSIDBT at USC Iovine and Young Academy.
“The program is whatever you want it to be, which is what I absolutely love about [it],” said Corrigan, who is planning to graduate in the spring of 2022.
The MSIDBT’s core courses center around the traditional aspects of business, but they also teach students how to “leverage design, storytelling and technology” within their own companies, said Corrigan.
“I like to think of this program as very entrepreneurial,” she said.
And because the MSIDBT — which takes between 16 and 24 months to complete — is so customizable, it attracts a variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds. That diversity is a large part of the appeal, according to Corrigan.
“Being in a program like this at a school like USC, you’re just introduced to so many different mindsets, cultures, beliefs [and] companies or employment situations that people come from … I feel like that alone has completely opened my brain, inspired new ideas [and] helped me understand new technologies. I am constantly learning,” she said.
The Creative Core of MSIDBT
Although Corrigan only began the program last year, she has been able to apply her learnings “every single day” at Boeing.
“I almost pinch myself [thinking] about how much my brain has opened up and how much that’s applied to my everyday,” she enthused. “I think there are so many real-world applications for my classes, even at a big corporate company like Boeing. That’s something I feel really fortunate about — that I see myself thinking in more creative, different ways than I would have even a year ago.”
The MSIDBT experience, according to Corrigan, is particularly exclusive to USC.
“I very much chose USC because this program is so unique, and I could not find anything like it anywhere else. Plus, I think what really sold it for me at the end of day is just the reputation that USC has. I knew that that even though I was going to be doing an online program, I was going to be taken care of because of USC’s reputation,” she said.
While Corrigan worried virtual learning would distance her from the USC community and deflate her sense of Trojan pride, one key encounter during a visit to campus eased those concerns.
As she was picking up a shirt at the USC Bookstore, Corrigan met an employee, who asked if she was a student. Corrigan downplayed her enrollment and told him she was taking online classes from Seattle, Washington.
“He got so passionate and was like, ‘No! You are absolutely a Trojan,’” she recalled. “He gave me this whole pep talk, saying it doesn’t matter where you’re doing it, you’re a Trojan through and through. He taught me about the [school] colors, the mascots and the fight song. Just the passion behind that and how much I felt welcomed by some random person is something I think about frequently.”
Making the Leap to Graduate School
Corrigan knows graduate school can seem like an intimidating undertaking, and she admitted that initially, she was anxious about the commitment.
“When I started the grad program, I imagined myself sitting in a library with a stack of books, crying my eyes out, drinking Monster every few hours,” she joked.
Luckily, that isn’t the case.
“The reality has been so much different than my nervous daydreams. I do work full-time, and so there are some days where I close my laptop and then I have to open the other and start school. But this program doesn’t feel like work, not at all. It feels like a totally different skill set,” she said.
Of course, juggling her 9-to-5 career at Boeing with evenings of classes and coursework isn’t always easy.
“There are definitely days where I don’t want to worry about going to class or doing homework, and I just want to watch TV,” she laughed. “But I can genuinely say that every time I get out of class … I am truly so happy that I spent my night that way. I’ve learned something new. I get hyped about the program and the fact that I’m bettering myself every single day, every single week.”
She advised any students considering the MSIDBT program — or even graduate school in general — to change the way they think about higher education.
“Some people take piano lessons outside of work, and some people teach yoga outside of work. I go to class outside of work. I like to learn about design and technology and come up with business plans outside of work. So really, my advice would be to try to not think about it as another job — try to think about it as a different part of your life, another interest or hobby,” she concluded.
Learn more about the online Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology today.