A Master's Degree for Any Industry

Master's in Organizational Leadership Student Molly Nussbaum
Molly Nussbaum (photo credit Rachel Lang)

July 07, 2022
Jenna Turner ('16) | Graduate Enrollment Management

Television writer and producer, Molly Nussbaum, has numerous credits and she’s adding even more. Nussbaum, who has a bachelor’s degree in film, decide to go back to school to earn her master’s degree, something not common in her chosen industry.

“It really felt like a weird leap and strange, nobody in my business goes back to school or has this kind of extra degree,” said Nussbaum. “I was like, is this a crazy thing to do? But I was just really pleasantly surprised that everyone I talked to thought the exact opposite.”

Her career was taking off, not only was she working on a variety of productions, but she was also becoming more involved with her union. She felt she needed to expand her knowledge of leadership and she ultimately concluded that furthering her education was the next step.

“I just had this growing sense of we could do things better. I think the conversation people have in most workplaces over lunch is, why do we do it this way? So I was taking some classes and reading some books online on my own time about political organizing and community organizing and none of them really resonated.”

Nussbaum continued, “I looked at a few programs, but Gonzaga was the first one I looked at and the one that I kept coming back to. I just thought, I think they're doing exactly what I'm looking for. It was important to me to be in a program that was all online and had always been online or had at least a longer history of it, not just like a pandemic 2020 pivot. I wanted people that were good at it. It was also important to me to be in a program where everyone else was working full time so I felt like I could share in that experience with my peers and that there were similar expectations.”

Nussbaum enrolled in Gonzaga’s online Master’s in Organizational Leadership (ORGL) but was also concerned about how she would fit in with the other students. Her career in the film industry had been mentioned by other programs as possibly not being the right fit for what was being taught.

“Gonzaga was the only place that went out of its way to be like, oh my God, no, you couldn’t be more wrong. You’re going to fit in perfectly,” said Nussbaum.

The online Master’s in Organizational Leadership program ended up exceeding her expectations.

“I loved the diversity of careers that the student body had, that it was not a lot of people that worked in consulting or finance or anything like that, that most of my classmates work in healthcare, work in the military, work in logistics.”

Nussbaum also said “I still can't believe how often the people that I connect with most in classes over all the same problems work in the military. How is that a thing? I think that's been the biggest surprise that the online community has been so genuine and that the diversity of experiences of all my classmates has been so applicable.”

Nussbaum found ways to work her schooling into her busy schedule and having peers facing the same balancing act in the online program made the process feel like less of a burden.

“I couldn't have done it if it wasn't online, you know. My job is one where hours are weird. When I'm writing, it can be more of a 10-6 or 9-5 kind of job, but if things are in production the hours can be all over the place. So knowing that I can do the work whenever, really freed me up to just kind of do things on my own time.”

Nussbaum continued, “I remember one of my classmates was working in a diplomatic position, I believe in Kyrgyzstan. That's kind of what's great about this program is you can be anywhere in the world and not feel like you're falling behind or missing out or anything like that.”

Working through the curriculum and learning with and from her classmates helped her to develop additional skills applicable to her work and life.

“My skill as a communicator in conflict has gotten a lot better and working on that in an online program has been helpful in terms of written communication and Zoom communication. When things get a little heated or a little tense, understanding how to slow that pace down and how to be aware of the specific roadblocks in a digital space is something I’ve gotten better at in real life but also in the Zoom world that I will be living in indefinitely. I’ve found that really helpful.”

Nussbaum continued, “I've learned a lot about myself and a lot about the way I interact with people and the way I perceive the world and my role in it. The best way I can describe it is, the program helped me find another gear I didn't know I had where I'm like, oh, I can do more. I can go a little deeper on this idea. I can put in a little more time on this.”

While at first it seemed like a crazy idea to return to school, Nussbaum sums up her experience this way,

“It is one of the best things I think I've ever done for myself just as a person. And I also think it's been great for my career, just in none of the ways I thought it would be. It's much more about developing a mindset and I've found that to be just such an enriching experience that I think it's worth taking the leap.”

  • Academics
  • Alumni
  • School of Leadership Studies
  • Online Programs
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership