by Rebecca Barrett
A lot of people are surprised to find that Aaron Larson’s undergraduate degree in German led to his career in biomedical research.
After college, Larson worked in the translation industry, which is where his first brush in project management came. Six years ago, he switched to project management in biomedical research.
“I’m on the operations side of research,” Larson said. “I really love what I do.”
So much so that in 2020, he decided to pursue a master’s of science in business.
“I wanted to take the next step in my career,” Larson said.
After evaluating many part-time programs, he selected Oregon State University. The specialized master’s program in supply chain analytics has a heavy emphasis on data and statistics, while it is still a business degree.
“What really drew me in was the STEM designation,” he said.
OSU in Portland’s location near his office at Oregon Health & Science University was also convenient.
“Initially, it was set up to be hybrid, meeting in downtown Portland. I would come down the hill after work,” he said. “I attended two classes before COVID really hit.”
Larson’s program then switched and continued online, a model he found balanced and reasonable.
“The program is well-designed,” Larson said. “I could view lectures 24/7, rewatch them and my instructors were flexible, giving me lead time for when things were due.”
As a husband and the father of a 3-year-old son, Larson did a lot of his coursework in the evenings and on weekends. College of Business advisors are helpful in navigating the administrative aspects of the degree, Larson said. And the faculty like to give challenges.
“It’s like puzzles, fun to solve,” he said. “Never impossible.”
Larson describes the group projects and individual assignments as applicable and interesting, taking the skills he knew and enhancing them with new tools.
“They helped me to explore data analytics and data mining,” he said. “It was a good challenge to apply the material.”
Larson specialized in supply chain analytics, which turns out to be uniquely relevant in the current business climate. After completing his master’s degree in March 2022, Larson was immediately offered a leadership position in biomedical research. This summer, he starts as director of operations for Seattle Children’s Hospital shared research resources.
“[The new job] carries a lot of responsibility,” Larson said. “But with my experience, I can trust myself to be successful now that I have the education to back it up.”