From Engineering to Business: Q&A with Steven Highland (MBA ’20)


Steven Highland (MBA ’20) is a first-year student in the Full-Time MBA Program at Boston College. Before enrolling in the BC MBA Program, he worked as a mechanical engineer in a small family-owned and run company in Los Angeles and was the founder of a program that taught children about science, technology, engineering, and math. Here, he speaks about his experience of pivoting from engineering to business school.

What considerations did you take into account while making the pivot from engineering to business school?

Working at a small company right out of college gave me the opportunity to be in charge of different projects and business processes, but I found myself wanting more, and so I started a business of my own. My new venture was an educational program and although it was very successful, I still felt a need to learn more about how to run a business. This is when I decided to pursue an MBA.

Initially, I was very nervous about doing an MBA. I wasn’t sure what kind of requirements I needed to succeed in this program, but I knew that it was going to be an essential step for my career. Through much research, I realized that pursuing an MBA was the most strategic career move I could make. I could use it to obtain a higher position at a company, and to eventually start my own business. I decided to apply to the program once I finally felt like I was ready to take time away from my job and invest myself into a full-time schedule, grow my network, and gain some real-world experience through a summer internship.

What is it about engineers that make them fit to pursue an MBA?

In college, engineers are exposed to a lot of numbers and data and develop good analytical skills in the process. These skills are crucial because, contrary to popular belief, MBA programs are not necessarily all about business and management. The current professional market has dictated that MBA programs now focus on quantitative analysis skills, which is clear by the increase in data analytics courses and the shift into more quant-focused classes in a whole.

I have also noticed that engineers have a valuable outlook in approaching business problems,  and their real industry experience makes them stand out as desirable applicants to employers.

Why did you choose to pursue your MBA at Boston College?

Being from Los Angeles, people always ask me why I came all the way to Boston for business school. I tell them it is because I have always wanted to be in a city that thrives off of education. Boston is a city that has a lot of startups, big-name corporations, and everything in between.

I specifically chose Boston College because it offers smaller class sizes with a personalized approach to education and career-building. I was also struck by BC’s connection to a range of companies in the region and a powerful alumni network across the US that actively looks out for each other. Just visiting campus for the first time, I was able to feel the prestige that comes along with the BC name, and I am happy to say that I eventually found my home in the BC MBA program.