Edwin Ekstrom couldn’t be much more of a self-starter.
After enrolling in college for the first time seven years ago, he will graduate from the Master of Business Administration with a Finance Concentration online program at Eastern Washington University in June 2020.
“I knew a bachelor’s degree wasn’t going to be enough for future job opportunities, and I had gotten used to being in school mode,” he said. “I have also considered being a professor and going for my Ph.D. I figured if I was going to do that, I might as well stay on the school route and keep going with it.”
Ekstrom has also been self-employed for more than 11 years. He works as a stock trader for supplemental income and long-term investing.
“I’ve also done landscaping, handyman work and photography — lots of odd jobs,” he said. “The online format allowed me to work at my own pace and finish my MBA in one year. It definitely makes things a little bit more manageable.”
Ekstrom, 32, began his stock trading business while enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration program on campus at EWU. He went straight into the master’s degree program after graduating in 2019.
“I wanted to have retirement and the future planned for as much as possible,” he said. “One of the best ways to do that is by investing wisely. I have noticed that budgeting is a problem for a lot of people. I’d like to be able to help them and other people with their financial needs, as well.”
Ekstrom grew up in Kennewick, Washington, but he has lived in the Spokane area for more than a decade. He began his higher education journey at Spokane Community College, where he graduated with an associate degree in 2016.
“My wife, Valerie, and my family are very proud and excited for me to be in the MBA program,” he said. “They like how dedicated I am to my schoolwork. I’m one of two people in my immediate family who has a four-year degree.”
So far, BADM 533: International Investments is Ekstrom’s favorite course in the MBA with a Finance Concentration online program.
“In this class, we built our own portfolios to test over a four-week period, and this has given me a chance to test various investments in the current climate, without investing additional funds on the actual markets,” he said. “With me working from home, trading on the stock market and wanting to get into finance for my career, it’s the most relevant of the courses.”
All of the curriculum in the program has not only been applicable, it has given Ekstrom a different perspective on his job.
“I have been able to translate a lot of the education over to my stock trading,” he said. “When I [first] started trading stocks, I made more emotional decisions. Now, it’s a lot more rational and calculated, which helps me in the long run.”
Plus, the fully online format suits Ekstrom’s self-motivated style. He was also accustomed to distance learning at EWU after taking some online courses as an undergrad.
“I’ve always been better at self-studying and working at my own pace,” he said. “Not having somewhere to be every day was a lot more convenient. If I was going to have to read the textbook anyway, I might as well do the online program and learn the material.”
Although Ekstrom plans to remain self-employed until he completes his Ph.D., he is keeping all of his options open.
“I’ve thought about going the CPA route,” he said. “I need to take a few more accounting courses in order to qualify for it. It’s a potential outcome with the finance degree.
“That’s one of the reasons I chose the finance concentration. I couldn’t decide on going straight into accounting in the beginning, but I wanted to leave it open as an alternative.”
With graduation day around the corner, Ekstrom is excited to become the first person in his family to earn a master’s degree.
“If there is a commencement ceremony, I’ll potentially go,” he said. “It would be nice to meet some people in my online program and have a face-to-face interaction with them. I’ve had some of the same instructors in the MBA, but I’ve had several new ones too.”
Ekstrom still has an eye on becoming a professor in the long term, but for now he’s focused on finding ways to help people become financially stable. He also still enjoys photography on the side.
“One of my biggest career goals is to find a nonprofit to work for where I can work with lower-income and middle-income families and help them get on their feet,” he said.
Now that Ekstrom has almost completed the MBA with a Finance Concentration online program, he has some advice for prospective students.
“Be prepared for a lot of coursework and familiarize yourself with self-studying,” he said. “Time management is huge. Knowing how to teach yourself is important. A lot of the professors will take time and explain things to you by email, but it’s beneficial to learn it for yourself.”
Learn more about EWU’s MBA with a Finance Concentration online program.