How a Leave of Absence can Help you

Note: While taking a leave of absence may seem like a step backward, guest blogger Ayanna shares how taking time off from Temple University helped her re-evaluate her degree and future career. If you have any questions or comments for Ayanna, please leave them below!

Taking a leave of absence from Temple University was one of the most difficult decisions I made. However, it was one of the most rewarding decisions I ever made because of the experience I gained. During my leave of absence, I was able to focus on excelling in my career at The Body Shop (TBS) and then at White House Black Market (WHBM). As I worked within the retail industry, I discovered I had a passion for marketing, specifically in analyzing data to improve the customer experience. After determining I truly wanted to begin a career in marketing, I felt comfortable re-enrolling at Temple.

I was nervous to inform my parents of the decision I made to take leave from school because they both have Master’s Degrees, and my sister was finishing her last year at Temple. I began at Temple pursuing a double major in secondary education and mathematics, but I lost passion for a degree in education when I started comparing my Temple bills to the average salary of teachers in Philadelphia. Thoughts of taking a leave of absence were the result of me wanting to better understand myself and the world before I committed to the $80,000 degree I felt forced into pursuing. I eventually become sour of the whole idea of school and did not want to go back at all. It was my four-year career at TBS that reignited my interest in receiving a degree.

When I started at TBS as a seasonal associate, I was a sophomore at Temple, and when I left Temple I was a full-time assistant manager with TBS. My store manager, Christi, provided me with challenges that encouraged my development which eventually led to me taking on the role of store manager. When I was promoted, Christi was also promoted to district manager. Knowing my drive for results and my determination to succeed at any endeavor, Christi continued to challenge my skills in management, visual expertise, operational procedures, and building customer loyalty. Through conversation with customers, family and friends, I realized that my real interest was marketing. After delivering results that put my store at #4 in the United States with TBS, I was approached about a new opportunity with White House Black Market (WHBM).  

Trends within the retail industry were becoming easy for me to identify when I began at WHBM. After recognizing flaws in numerous marketing campaigns, I realized the limitations retail managers found themselves restricted to when trying to increase profitability. I knew my clientele at TBS and WHBM better than I knew some of my friends and family, but the retail corporations I worked for did not seek information from the people who were touching their customers most; this did not sit well with me. My excitement in the creation process of retail marketing campaigns ultimately motivated me enough to speak with an advisor and re-enroll at Temple.

Now I am a senior at Temple pursuing a degree in marketing. Immersing myself in my retail career allowed for me to make new and meaningful connections. Overseeing multiple stores, hosting events, developing teams, and many more experiences throughout my life have taught me skills critical to running a business. Wanting to be a part of the continued evolution of our retail and sales environment motivates me to earn a marketing degree as I work full-time and attend Temple’s Online BBA Program.

– Ayanna K.

Picture from the Fox School of Business.

IMG_4344I am Ayanna Kenyatta, a marketing major attending Temple University full-time as an online student. I also work for Apple as a full-time expert. My hometown is Somerset, NJ, but I have lived in Pennsylvania since I was 13 years old. I currently live in the Chestnut Hill area as I try to get to know myself better. I love outdoor activities, kickboxing, yoga, and anything puzzle-like! I am always finding new interests or trying something new, and looking forward to what life has to offer.