Alex Rasti has been building a home run of a career since switching his focus from engineering to construction management seven years ago.
Now a project manager, the Cerritos, California, native is on track to complete the online Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Construction Management program at Boise State University in August 2020.
“I have always wanted to move forward and be in a top management role within the company,” he said. “I am fairly young to be in the position that I am in. I felt like having further education would help my growth. I don’t have the long pedigree of experience that others do.”
After graduating with a pair of bachelor’s degrees in business administration from Boise State in 2015, Rasti put off earning a master’s degree while he gained real-world experience and started a family with his wife, Divinity. The couple has a 2-year-old daughter, Irie.
“You talk about it, but it never seems like the right time to go back to school,” he said. “You put it off and put it off. That was my mindset. Then, my wife said, ‘Dude, just do it. Let’s research the programs and start looking at our options.’ We did. I landed on Boise State and started doing it. Here I am.”
Rasti worked for two years as a project engineer at RM Mechanical in Boise, Idaho, before earning a promotion in February 2020. The flexibility of the 100% online format gives him the ability to earn a degree, work 50-60 hours per week and have quality time with his family.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I work on my classes every night. I get home from work and do the nightly routine with my daughter. She goes to bed, and I hop on the computer and do my homework.
“When I enrolled, Boise State said there was an option to finish in two years or one year. I said, ‘I am willing to go all in if I can get it done in a year.'”
Covering the Bases
Rasti started college as a baseball player at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California. He also played at California State University Fullerton before an injury derailed his career.
“I was giving up baseball and trying to re-evaluate what I wanted to do,” he said. “After taking some classes in engineering, it was starting to feel like it wasn’t the career for me. So, my wife and I wanted to get out of California and start anew.”
They came to Boise State because Rasti received a tuition discount based on his GPA for going from one western state university to another via the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program.
“When I was looking for my major, Boise State had a good construction management program,” he said. “I felt like it was still part of the engineering field, but it wasn’t necessarily sitting in an office all day. That turned me on to construction management.”
Although Rasti researched several online MBA programs, he came home to Boise State because of affordable tuition and the fully online format.
“Some programs have you show up in person once a semester or for one session,” he said. “I was trying to stay away from that and balance it. I saw an ad for Boise State and read through the program information.
“They had one of the higher business accreditations. I was also able to do it in a year, which not a lot of programs offer. Plus, if I needed to show up on campus for any reason, I am local.”
Among the business courses Rasti has completed, BUSMBA 550: Operations and Supply Chain Management and BUSMBA 501: Design Thinking and Strategic Management are his favorites.
“I have taken good information away from all of the courses,” he said. “I learned quite a bit about the processes that go into supply chain and about understanding design thinking and innovation.”
BUSMBA 523: Architecture, Engineering and Construction Company Management is his favorite among the three emphasis courses.
“They talked about how to go over different cash flows and how to manage a construction company from the higher level,” he said. “That provided a lot of insight for me as a project manager. I deal with a lot of those things in my work. It helped me speak to how to run a business in construction.
Three Up, Three Down
Rasti enrolled in the online MBA program in August 2019 and plans to walk in the commencement ceremony to receive his third degree from Boise State in December 2020. He received business degrees in management and entrepreneurship on his first graduation day.
“It didn’t matter to me, but my wife said, ‘No, your daughter is going to see you walk across that stage and have that experience,'” he said. “I am definitely doing it. Everyone is excited and supporting me to get it done and move forward.”
Although Rasti still has a few months remaining in the program, he is reaping the benefits of earning an advanced degree.
“While having discussions with my company, looking at my future and where they see me going, I let them know that I am pursuing a degree and understand what that means to them,” he said. “It is already having an impact on my career.”
From Rasti’s experience, strong communication is a key to success in the online MBA in Construction Management program.
“Every class seems to have specific assignments geared toward group work,” he said. “Group work, in general, is a challenge in school.
“It’s another challenge when you’re 100% online and dealing with people from all over the country with different time zones and different schedules. It’s important to prepare to work with people and communicate through technology.”
Thanks to a lot of ambition and a little bit of Divinity, Rasti is about to realize his dream of holding a master’s degree.
“When I was looking at the program, I said, ‘Why not do it? I got my two undergrad degrees from Boise State University. I might as well make it the MBA, as well,'” he said. “It’s been valuable, and I have enjoyed it.”
Learn more about the Boise State University’s online MBA in Construction Management program.