Amber Oestreich is an overachiever. She holds two jobs, is pursuing her BS in International Business, and recently fit in a study abroad trip to South Africa. She shares how she juggles her responsibilities and what her future may hold.
“I absolutely love having my education online,” Oestreich says. “It allows me to have the flexibility to do my work in my own time and to explore topics that I am interested in more in-depth.”
Why an Online Degree?
Oestreich initially attended a traditional campus in New York City where she pursued her love of music. While working with some of her favorite musicians was rewarding, she found that “attempting to work on coursework during soundchecks and shows” wasn’t really sustainable.
“U of M Crookston stood out to me because it is part of the University of Minnesota system, and the descriptions of the programs and their flexibility really fit what I was looking for,” she explains.
How She Does It All
Oestreich decided to commit to her studies and moved back to Minnesota, where she works full time at IKEA and also holds a part-time job at Papa John’s. “In my current situation, no day is ‘typical’. My work schedules significantly vary week-to-week, which leaves me spending nearly all of my free time working on my classes. I will admit, it is extremely difficult to balance my time, but I know that the hard work will pay off in the end!”
Like many students, Oestreich had to develop good time management skills and go beyond what is required in order to understand the material. “I have to rely on myself to read my textbook and conduct any additional research necessary. Although this does pose a challenge at times, the professors are always just an email away when help is needed.”
Her advice to stay ahead of the game? “Use a planner! In the majority of classes, due dates for all assignments are given at the beginning of the semester, and using a planner helps to keep everything organized and ensures that due dates are not missed.”
Spreading Her Wings
Another benefit of attending the U of M is the opportunity to study abroad, even as an online student. Oestreich didn’t think she would be able to make it work, but after speaking with her boss and reaching out to her professors, she was able to make that fantasy a reality.
Oestreich recently returned from Cape Town, South Africa, where she learned about the country’s rich history and practiced her intercultural communication skills. Her group worked with the Amy Foundation, which provides education opportunities for children through in-school support, after-school programs, and summer camps.
“The main goal of the trip was to study technology and communication in South Africa. It is clear that in some ways they are years behind what we see here in the US; however, they have some pretty unique approaches to deal with the limited resources they have.
We visited a company called GoMetro, which has created a system for people to email their boss if their train or bus is delayed (an extremely common occurrence there), which has helped individuals keep their jobs.”
The students also witnessed cases of extreme poverty, which motivated Oestreich to do more to help them. “It really was an amazing experience, and I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to do it.
“I have always had a passion to learn about other cultures and to travel. I am really excited for what my future holds with my international business degree and have really enjoyed all my coursework!”