Kirstin Sym-Smith works as the government and public safety customer team sales director for Irving-based Nokia Solutions and Networks. In this position, she sells large multi-million dollar telecommunication and public safety networks to the US federal government.

Sym-Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Now, Sym-Smith shares her educational experience and how she believes that having a master’s degree under your belt will open up new doors and connections.

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Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“There were two main reasons: [First,] I wanted to make a career change. [Secondly,] I spent three years with a talent acquisition start-up and wanted to explore other industries and functions. Eventually, I got a job in the telecommunication market that offered me the chance to do rotations in a number of marketing and sales positions.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The highlight was interacting with dynamic classmates with diverse work experience, cultural experience and learning about other careers. I also gained a number of great friends.”

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What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree? 

“Initially, it was challenging being a student again and adapting to the first year workload. It was also a good challenge to have and so many resources available to you from close interaction with the faculty, to a strong career center and visibility to a number of leading companies.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?

“My biggest reward was coming out of the two-year program with a great job and now being a part of a strong alumni network.”

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Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at