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Best Buy employee earns 2 degrees thanks to education partnership

After graduating from high school, Dan Smith headed off to college with every intention of finishing his degree while working a part-time job at Best Buy. But soon that part-time job became something more.

“I enjoyed what I was doing at Best Buy, and I started getting the opportunity to take on more responsibility,” he says. “Getting promoted was great, but it made balancing work and school very challenging. I started thinking I’d just take a semester off, but that one semester turned into about 10 years.”

Dan is now a Regional Magnolia Custom Senior Manager, based in Houston. He has a bachelor’s degree and an MBA, thanks to his hard work — and a partnership between Capella University and Best Buy.

A flexible education

Capella’s FlexPath program allows students to set their own pace, moving quickly through material they already know because of their work experience and spending more time on subjects they’re encountering for the first time.

Dan — now married and with a son — was selected for a full-ride Capella scholarship available to Best Buy employees. He was off and running.

“It was perfect,” he says. “A lot of the concepts were basic for me, given my tenure with Best Buy and the fact that I had been in leadership roles. So, I was able to fly through some of those early courses.”

Then, things got busier at work, and Dan was relocated within Best Buy. But the FlexPath program allowed him to slow down his education program to accommodate everything else.

“The program is incredible in terms of your ability to apply what you know,” he says. “I highly recommend it for people who, like me, ended up leaving college, entering the business world, and getting real-life experience.”

It took Dan about a year to finish his bachelor’s, and another year to complete his MBA. For both degrees, he was able to walk in the Capella commencement ceremony in New Orleans. Those were experiences he was happy to share with his family.

“Neither of my parents have degrees, and my dad would talk about how important it was to get one,” he says. “For my son, I wanted it to be an example and show him what I’ve done — and what he can do.”


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