Raul Villagomez is adding new expertise to his resume with the Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing from the Southern Oregon University online program. Adding a marketing-focused MBA to his information technology background will likely land him job offers soon.
"Whenever I'm looking for software development jobs or director of IT jobs, I want to be able to go in there and say, 'Hey, guys! I understand where you're coming from because I focused on marketing during my MBA program to create a two-way communication street,'" Villagomez said.
It's that kind of forward thinking that has helped Villagomez enjoy steady career success since graduating from SOU with a bachelor's degree in computer information science in 2007. He is on track to graduate from the online MBA program in summer of 2019.
"Starting five years into my career, I have been promoted toward management jobs and positions," Villagomez said. "I wanted to formalize that with additional higher education. There are lots of director or management positions out there that require either a Master of Science in Computer Science or an MBA."
The online format was the only way Villagomez could return to school with a full-time career as lead developer at Vortx, in Ashland, Oregon. He and his wife, Vickie Son, have a daughter, Alice (7).
"I didn't want to do evening classes or weekend classes," Villagomez said. "I wanted something flexible that works with my schedule. Of course, there is a schedule and there are deliverables, but I can work on it anytime during the week or on the weekends.
"That kind of flexibility is very important to me. As an alumnus, I also trust SOU. I didn't want to go with just any online school. The price point was perfect for me after comparing it to other schools. Everything about SOU was right. It's the perfect time for me right now."
Trail to Oregon
Villagomez was born in Southern California to parents who immigrated to the United States from Mexico and are now U.S. citizens. His family moved to Oregon when he was in fifth grade.
"I've always liked computers," Villagomez said. "My parents could never afford one, so I spent lots of time in the computer lab, typing up papers. I like computer games. All of that got me interested in computer science.
"I was also told the computer field pays well. I initially chose SOU because I didn't want to be far from home. It's been great for me. It's a great campus that they are constantly making better."
Villagomez started his career in retail as a lead web developer for Motorcycle USA in Medford, Oregon. He has also worked as application developer, web consultant, web department manager, director of software engineering and senior software engineer at various companies.
"I noticed that — especially with the online retailers — they have their development shop and their marketing shop, and it is always about, 'What are we prioritizing?" Villagomez said. "I've worked at places where there's a constant battle between the marketing department and the technology department."
While Villagomez works to bridge that gap, he has enjoyed the first six courses in the online MBA with a Concentration in Marketing program. MBA 519: Graduate Research Project is his favorite, so far.
"You go through and do research," Villagomez said. "There is a statistics portion of it, but there is also writing a paper. The course teaches you a lot about what needs to happen to do proper research. It's a challenging course, but I have learned the most from it."
Home, Sweet SOU
In addition to familiarity and trust with SOU, there are a couple more advantages for Villagomez who is a Raider once again.
"I know the quality of work the professors look for, which is an advantage," he said. "Plus, I live in Medford, which is 15 minutes away from SOU. I have the added advantage of being able to stop by and say 'hi' once in a while.
"I'm a little shocked by the amount of extra work you have to do in the MBA program. I did my undergrad studies, which required 'x' amount of work. The graduate studies are quite a bit more challenging, but it's not unexpected. I've been learning a lot, and I am very happy and excited about the things that I have been learning."
Although higher education wasn't a priority for Villagomez growing up, it is important to his own family. Vickie Son graduated from SOU in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in English and Writing.
"Vickie's dad is from South Korea and got his degree from SOU — that's why Vickie came over to the United States. She was born in Ashland," Villagomez said. "It's already second generation. If Alice goes to SOU, it's third generation. I'm the first person in my family to go to college. My wife, my friends and my co-workers are ecstatic about it. They are all cheering me on and love it."
Villagomez hopes to continue ascending to bigger and better management roles and eventually become chief technology officer or director of IT for a technology company.
"I want to climb the ladder," he said. "Here in the Rogue Valley, there are not a lot of opportunities for that. I don't want to move. I'm working toward getting my education because there is intense competition for the few spots available in the valley."
Once Villagomez completes the online MBA with a Concentration in Marketing program, he will be ready the next time a local position he wants becomes available.
"I'm looking at this as an opportunity to cement 10 years of experience with an MBA. I have management skills I learned. I'm looking for that to be my competitive advantage when I apply for jobs."
Learn more about SOU's online MBA programs.
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