Business and Ethics / Campus Community

Business of Rebranding

Written by Andrew Binion

March 7, 2023

Photo of the 2023 cohort class of the newly rebranded MBA program.
The 2023 cohort of the Early Career MBA program.

Albers changing its Bridge MBA program to Early Career MBA, to better reflect its focus on recent college grads looking to pivot to business careers.

Coinciding with the program’s 10th anniversary, the Albers School of Business and Economics has changed the name of its Bridge MBA program to the Early Career MBA.

The one-year, graduate level MBA program is specifically designed for students without a business undergraduate degree or extensive professional experience. The focus of the program itself will remain unchanged.

The name change makes sense to Annie Wright, ‘23, who discovered the Albers MBA program when a traumatic series of events after college led her to take another look at her professional trajectory.

Though she joined the intensive, four-quarter program when it was called the Bridge MBA—becoming part of its 10th cohort—Wright says Early Career MBA better describes the program.

“It’s something more people will understand,” Wright says. Further, Wright says she believes the rebrand will make the program more competitive. “It increases student confidence in the program. They know what it means and they know that recruiters know what it means.”

The program started when Albers’ faculty and staff realized an unmet demand among young adults without a business-related degree or professional work experience.

The prospective students expressed interest in the Professional MBA program, which is designed for business professionals with two or more years of work experience, but were either intimidated because of their lack of business knowledge or weren’t eligible because they didn’t have enough work experience.

The origin of the old name comes from the concept that the program is a “bridge” between undergraduate work and careers.

“We believe that the new name better reflects the program’s focus on early-career professionals who are looking to enhance their skill sets and expand their career prospects,” says Albers Dean Joseph Phillips. “We look forward to continuing to develop and nurture this next generation of business leaders."

There are very few Early Career MBA programs in the country and only a handful that are truly designed for this student population, says Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs Jeff Millard, one of the initial developers of the program. “Albers saw a need and developed a program specifically for these individuals.”

The program is meant for students who want a strong graduate-level business education but didn’t major in business, says Early Career MBA Program Director Liesl Bohan. Some students also arrive with entrepreneurial ambitions, wanting to learn how to put their ideas into action. The Early Career MBA provides them with the knowledge and structure they need to begin this journey, she says.

“We found there were people out there who picked their undergraduate degree maybe because they love that subject, but they don’t quite know what to do next or maybe their undergraduate work doesn’t lead to an obvious path,” says Bohan. “This one-year-program provides the business foundation, skills and career guidance to help them redirect.”

A 2019 political science graduate from the University of Washington, Wright long planned to become a criminal law attorney with the goal of prosecuting crimes against particularly vulnerable victims. She began reevaluating that goal after she was seriously injured by a traffic crash in March 2021 outside Atlanta.

Following the accident, Wright returned home to Seattle and as she healed both physically and emotionally, she worked as a legal specialist for the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Through that experience she realized she wanted to take a different path, but she didn’t know exactly where to start.

“I created a vision of what I wanted to be doing, though it wasn’t a super clear vision,” Wright says. “I wanted to build relationships, I wanted financial stability, I wanted to join an organization with similar values to mine.”

She then asked herself, “How do I get there?”

Shortly after looking into other MBA programs and learning that many required a business degree or years of professional experience, she found the Early Career MBA at Albers.

“It seems weird to say a program spoke to me,” Wright says. “It seemed like the program was directed at people like me.”

Learn more about the Early Career MBA and get more information from Program Director Liesl Bohan, program director.