Ready for a career pivot in 2020? Katie Weiland went from teacher to professional at Regions Bank. Here’s how.

Katie Weiland, MBA at Regions Bank

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Katie Weiland, MBA at Regions Bank
Katie Weiland went from teaching special ed to managing special projects at Regions Bank with the help of an MBA from Montevallo. Photo via Hannah Chambley for Bham Now.

While banking isn’t the most common path from teaching special ed, that’s exactly the direction Katie Weiland went in after getting an MBA from Montevallo. She’s six months into her new job as Consumer Banking Project Administrator at Regions Bank, and so far she’s loving her new career. 

Want to know about Montevallo’s MBA program? Here you go.

1. Meet Katie

Katie Weiland at Potterworld
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore Photo courtesy of Katie Weiland

Born in Wisconsin, Katie Weiland’s family moved to  Birmingham area when she was 5 years old. She loves her dogs, baking cookies, cold weather, board games, reading (Harry Potter, anyone?) and music. 

Katie is the proud mom of an almost 13-year-old Boston Terrier named Piper plus two Humane Society dogs: an 8-year-old Lab/Pit bull mix named Willow, and a 4-year-old Boxer/Mastiff mix named Rumpel.

2. From special ed teacher to project administrator at Regions Bank

Katie Weiland as a special ed teacher
Katie Weiland was a special ed teacher before getting an MBA at Montevallo

With a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Collaborative Education, Katie spent five years working with young people with severe disabilities and behavioral problems. 

While she loved her students and enjoyed the challenge, she knew she wanted something different over time. A self-proclaimed book nerd and lover of school, Katie was looking for an opportunity that would open doors, but wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like.

Ultimately, Katie chose business administration because of how many things she could do with it. Little did she know, when she embarked on Montevallo’s MBA program, where it would lead. Not only did she learn a ton in her classes, but the people at Montevallo took the time to help assess her skills, career interests, and personal goals.  Based upon this process, the MBA program hooked her up directly with Regions and helped get her placed in an exciting new position. 

A behind-the-scenes look at Montevallo’s MBA program

Here’s what Katie had to say about her experience in the Montevallo MBA program: 

“One of the best things about my experience in the MBA program was having professors who’d worked in the business world and could give real life examples of how to apply what they taught us. It was helpful to hear about situations they had encountered and how they handled them. 

The interactive nature of the program showed me how to approach things from different angles and collaborate with people who saw things differently than I did. 

The content taught me how to better analyze and problem solve. Having knowledge about so many areas of business gave me a lot of resources to pull from when approaching a situation. Those skills can be applied in any area of business and have been very useful in my current career! 

The program also taught me to communicate in various ways depending on the purpose and audience.

The most valuable things I gained during the program, though, came from the investment the professors made to make sure I really understood how to apply what I learned and how to work well with others in order to produce the best end product.”

Life after Montevallo’s MBA program is pretty sweet, too

Katie Weiland at Regions Bank
Collaboration is one of the big skills Katie learned at Montevallo’s MBA. Katie Weiland and Brian Lizak, Project Administrator, with boss Colleen Atkinson looking on. Photo via Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

She absolutely loves her new position, which she describes like this: 

“We wear a lot of different hats. On any given day, I can be writing a feel-good article, creating a powerpoint presentation or a proposal to change something within our branch system while also responding to an associate. I’m in charge of a portal that aims to make life better for all our branch associates. There’s just so much involved in it and it’s just different every day.”

Katie Weiland, MBA

Can you tell that education is in Katie’s blood? Finding a corporate environment that fosters continuous learning and collaboration makes her really happy.

Explore your options at Montevallo’s MBA program right here.

3. Education translates really well into business administration

Working at Regions Bank
(l-r) Colleen Atkinson, Senior VP, Danielle Roberts, Project Administrator and Katie Weiland, Project Administrator. Photo via Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

Katie did have some trepidation going into the MBA program without a background in business. However, she and her professors were quickly surprised to discover how well her background in education translated into business. 

Once she got to management classes, here’s what happened: 

“I had written behavioral plans and things like that and it’s the same thing. I actually had people say ‘Wow this translates into a business degree more than I ever would have thought.’”

An unconventional background turns out to be an asset in the business world

Katie elaborated:

“So much about the workforce now is positive reinforcement and making people feel valued. I’ve been doing that forever; it’s just different. We don’t give you sticker charts, but everybody needs those three positives for every negative you have to say. It’s the exact same concept for grownups. 

Having worked with students with emotional problems, I notice when people are uncomfortable. I pick up on things that other people don’t. For example, I can see if you sound confident but you do not feel confident. I see things that other people don’t see and that helps me put people at ease.”

4. Katie’s life is different now in a lot of ways

Katie Weiland after her Montevallo MBA
A Montevallo MBA gave Katie Weiland a big boost of confidence that serves her well in her new role at Regions Bank. Photo via Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

Katie loved being a teacher. She was great with her students and enjoyed the work. Now, though, she’s gained new confidence. 

“It’s great that I can bring my personality—a little sarcastic and silly—and the things I enjoy and still fit in a business environment. I’m able to sit down and be serious and have conversations where my opinions are heard and respected. 

My different background only comes up in a positive light. The whole experience has really changed how I view myself. Being listened to, having respect—not only because of the MBA, but because I bring a set of opinions and experiences that no one else has. I approach things differently, and that’s valued. As a person, that’s gonna make anybody feel good at the end of the day.”

5. Why Montevallo for an MBA?

When she knew she wanted to do something new, Katie started researching MBA programs. The deciding factors that led to her choosing Montevallo were the small class sizes and many built-in opportunities for nurturing and professional support

That nurturing began from the moment the program administrator greeted her and her application with enthusiasm and encouragement, and continued throughout the program and beyond with small classes and lots of support. 

You can do the Montevallo MBA 100% in person, 100% online, or your own hybrid of the two

While Katie was in the program, which she did in person in Pelham, from 6-8:30PM each weekday evening after working full time, she was surprised to discover that the professors who came to teach the MBA classes each day were enthusiastic and loved to teach. One cool thing about Montevallo’s MBA program is that it’s possible to do it entirely in-person, like Katie did, entirely online in real time, or your own personal hybrid of the two. 

That contagious commitment and support helped her stick with the program even though she worked throughout her studies. Having people celebrate successes with her and help navigate each next step was invaluable. 

If you’re thinking it’s time for a career upgrade…

If you or someone you know is thinking of making a similar move, here’s Katie’s message for you:

“Stop telling yourself the reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t. You can always come up with those. It’s worth the effort. If you see that you want something different for yourself five years down the line, put in the time now; it’s absolutely worth it. 

You don’t want to be sitting here five years down the line thinking ‘I hope things are different in 5 more years when you could have already accomplished what you want to do.’ 

It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what that is. There are people to help you and guide you along the way. You just have to make that first step to start figuring it out.”

Katie Weiland with dog
Katie and her dog Piper. Photo courtesy of Katie Weiland

Check out Montevallo’s MBA program today.Apply now for Fall 2020. Find out how you can apply for financial aid here.

We love seeing people transform their lives in Birmingham. Be sure to let us know of other people with incredible stories by tagging us on social @bhamnow. 

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Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference