Dual-degree grad Emily Haller uses MBA, MSW in medical social work and nonprofit accounting careers
Earning an MBA was not part of the plan for Emily Haller. The 2021 Daniels Professional MBA graduate had found her calling in social work (she also earned her MSW from DU this year), specifically in medical social work. But after working at a local nonprofit as a program coordinator for an integrated healthcare grant, Haller realized that sharpening her business skills would make her better able to support the people and communities she was so passionate about. As program coordinator she was doing things like grant administration and accounting for the first time—aspects of the job that she enjoyed, but that she didn’t really know much about.
“I learned it on the fly,” Haller said of the business side of things. “Nothing in my undergraduate (Haller holds degrees in music and psychology from St. Olaf College) was connected to that, and I realized I needed business skills as well. I knew I wanted to do my master’s in social work, but what if I just did both?”
Having grown up going to DU hockey games and driving past the University every day headed to work at her new job with the accounting firm the nonprofit used, Haller was very familiar with DU. She knew the school’s social work and business programs were both strong, so it was a no-brainer to enroll in the Daniels Professional MBA program alongside her master’s in social work. She took a big leap immersing herself in the realm of advanced business education with her nontraditional background, but she considers the PMBA program one of the most meaningful parts of her education. A lot of that, she said, is because of her fellow Daniels students in the trenches with her.
“My favorite part has been being in a tightknit cohort with some of the best people I’ve ever met. I got to learn from their experience working in fields completely different from anything I’ve ever done. It’s such an exceptional experience to go through this process with these people,” Haller said.
She also loved her two internship experiences, the first at a small hospice and the second at UCHealth, working in oncology. “Being there solidified that medical and health care social work is my passion,” she said of her UCHealth internship. “The opportunity to decode and help folks navigate what can be a really complex system is really rewarding to me. My fundamental belief is that business and social work can be strengthened by one another, but we don’t always speak the same language and work in the same context. What’s been great for me is understanding and living in both zones—in school and in both programs—and working for an accounting firm and interning with UCHealth and the hospice agency. I get to use both sides of my brain.”
Next up, Haller will spend two years accruing hours toward her clinical licensure to become a licensed clinical social worker. She hopes to find a position in medical social work, ideally in a large health system where she can blend social work with her business education.
“It makes me emotional to think about the whole ride,” she said of her time at DU. “It’s been so transformational. The faculty and staff I’ve had the opportunity to work with at both the social work and business schools, the opportunities I had to learn from other professionals in the PMBA program, the internships and field education—DU has been a dream come true. This is what I wanted to do, and I feel like DU helped make that a reality.”