Graduate Student Focus | Jennifer Whitmore

Jennifer Whitmore

Hood alumna, Jennifer Whitmore, earned her certificate in project management in January 2021, and is currently enrolled in Hood's master's in business administration program (MBA). Jennifer is currently an implementation analyst at Heuristic Solutions, a computer software company based in Arlington, VA.

Jennifer Whitmore, MBA '21

Program

  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Project Management (C)

Department

  • The George B. Delaplaine Jr. School of Business

"The amazing professors are definitely my favorite part of Hood College. The quality and experience of the faculty was one of my top selection factors, I believe it’s incredibly important for an MBA program to offer professors that are both academically accomplished and have significant business experience as well."

Please provide a brief bio including your educational and career background.

Prior to completing my bachelor’s degree, my work experience was primarily in the staffing and healthcare industries. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Edinboro University with a B.S. in Business: Management Information Systems. While I was completing my undergraduate degree, I discovered I really enjoyed programming and completed a minor in that area.

After graduation, my industry experience grew to include finance and energy. In 2018, while working as a Manager of Development and Design for Bookminders, I felt an increasing desire for professional growth, and I began working on my MBA.

With a full-time job, a family and personal commitments, I knew that I’d be limited to one or two classes at a time so my graduate work would take place on what I fondly refer to as “the slow-track.” Completing your MBA is a journey to be enjoyed and savored, not just a goal to attain. While it has been bittersweet to make friends with classmates that would then complete their own programs in a year or two, I have enjoyed the opportunity to build a vast personal network.

Spreading my classes out over time has also allowed me to focus on the subject matter on a deeper level, apply it in business, and learn from that experience before tackling the next round of content.

Why did you choose Hood College Graduate School?

I was searching for a graduate program that offered excellent coursework, top-notch professors, and in-person classes within a reasonable driving distance. As someone who spends the majority of the day in front of screens, I didn’t want to complete my coursework online.

I was thrilled to find everything I wanted in an MBA program within the boundaries of our beautiful little town of Frederick – it’s really like uncovering treasure buried in your own backyard!

Since the onset of the pandemic, my classes have moved to online and, while I miss the in-person classes and look forward to returning to those, I am so pleased with how well my professors adapted.

What do you enjoy most about being at Hood College?

The amazing professors are definitely my favorite part of Hood. The quality and experience of the faculty was one of my top selection factors, I believe it’s incredibly important for an MBA program to offer professors that are both academically accomplished and have significant business experience. Hood has certainly delivered on that promise! 

The MBA Program leverages the talent of some amazing individuals. Professor Mike Jewett, my Program Management and Leadership and Organizational Behavior professor, is an Associate Director for Program Integration and Senior Interagency Liaison for the National Institute of Health. Professor Jim Racheff, my Organizational Sustainability professor, is the President of DMS Health and Research IT. Dr. Brian Crilly, who taught my Managing Technical Project Teams class, is an alum of the DOL program here at Hood and the Systems and Software Engineering Director of Thales Defense and Security. I could fill this entire page continuing to list the great professors I’ve had the opportunity to learn from while at Hood! 

How did your PM Certificate from Hood College assist in preparing you to get your PMP certification?

The courses required for Hood’s certificate in project management cover a large portion of the content required for the exam. While there’s no substitute for PMP exam prep, taking the certificate-required courses in advance will allow you to immediately understand the project management content being covered in the PMBOK Guide. This curriculum foundation was crucial during my exam studies.

I also contribute my exam success to Professor Jewett’s encouragement and the resulting PMP preparation course that I took with Carl Pritchard, the “Risk Guy” and owner of Pritchard Management Associates.

Carl is a former Frederick resident whom I first met when Professor Jewett brought him in as a guest speaker for our Project Management class. Carl’s communication style is interesting and fun, and both his advice and preparation tools are absolute exam prep GOLD. He’ll even help you complete your PMP exam application and remains a permanent resource to you after you’ve passed your exam.

What advice do you have to those that are interesting in earning a PMP certification?

Start preparing early and be prepared to make a significant time investment! If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need 4,500 hours of project management experience to apply for the exam but that doesn’t mean you should wait to start your exam prep. You’ll need to log 35 hours of formal project management education to apply as well. Hood’s Project Management class will fulfill that educational component while also counting towards the certificate program, so it definitely pays to work on your certificate in advance of exam application.

I also highly recommend taking an exam preparation course. This will help you identify gaps in your knowledge, develop an effective study plan and execute on that, and provide you with a network of other individuals. In the last four months prior to the exam, I studied an hour per day, six days a week. Be sure to take some extra time to study the exam guide so you know what areas are weighted more heavily than others and hit those areas hard!

Lastly, don’t get discouraged. The official pass rate for first-time test takers is not published but it’s reported to be as low as 40%! If you don’t pass the first time, review your exam analysis to identify the areas you need to work on and then immediately reschedule your exam for a month or two out to establish a sense of urgency around your studying.

I scored just below target the first time I took the exam, failing by what looked like a single question! I’m not accustomed to failure and I was pretty upset about it. I emailed Carl and he encouraged me to refocus my studies on a specific area that was weighted heavily in the scoring, and retest right away. Four weeks later, I took the test again and passed not just with a “meets target” score with one that was well “above target!” 

What do you do when you aren’t working or studying?

I enjoy spending time outdoors with my husband and children hiking, kayaking, and playing disc golf. Biking is my absolute favorite activity and I have been active in cycling advocacy for some time.

My husband and I ride each year as support team volunteers for the annual San Mar Children’s Home TGBT tour and I’ve been a member of the City of Frederick Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee since 2018. Cycling is an excellent form of exercise, a mental-health booster, inexpensive transportation, and an great tool for improving social equity – what’s not to love?!

Inspired by Jen's story and ready to #GOFURTHER in your career? Learn about Hood’s graduate programs, including Business Administration and Project Management Certificate, by clicking here.