How Steven Schmidt Advanced in His Career with UNT's B.A.A.S. Degree

Written by Amanda Wicks • Updated on

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas, the senior food service manager and culinary operations chef completed his master’s and is now considering an MBA.

[Featured image] University of North Texas alum Steven Schmidt talks about what he's accomplished after earning his BAAS degree.

Earning a bachelor’s degree isn’t standard practice in the culinary arts. But it felt like an important career investment for Steven Schmidt, now a senior food service manager and culinary operations chef at the University of North Texas

Schmidt has a culinary degree, but he believed a bachelor’s would be a worthwhile investment for career advancement. “I knew, moving forward in my workplace, it was going to be very important to have,” he explained. “Not many people have one.” As far as Schmidt could see, that “piece of paper” would make a big difference if a senior role opened up, helping him compete with external candidates.  

When the pandemic moved much of education online in 2020, Schmidt enrolled in UNT’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) program, then newly offered through Coursera. The completion degree requires a standard 120 credits to graduate but allows students to transfer up to 90 credits, significantly shortening the length of time it takes to finish. “I had quite a few credits that transferred in,” Schmidt said, though he doesn’t recall the specific number. “That was helpful.” 

During his time in the B.A.A.S., Schmidt opted to concentrate in consumer behavior. “At the time, since it was the first cohort, there were really only a couple of options. That one tied most into my area of expertise: trying to learn about consumers and what they’re going to do,” he explained. B.A.A.S. students now have nine in-demand concentrations to choose from, including hospitality, organizational supervision, lean distribution processes, and data analytics. 

Schmidt was intimidated when he first started the program. After all, committing to earning a degree takes dedication, especially when you’re learning online, but connecting with certain professors put him at ease. He recalls one standout in particular, Dr. Susan Watson. “She really made it easy to learn and made me want to learn,” he said. 

He also connected with another student, Steve R. “He and I text three or four times a week,” Schmidt said. Steve R. is getting ready to finish his master’s—an advanced degree Schmidt also recently completed in an interdisciplinary studies program. “I went with strategic business management and hospitality, and how those work together.” Now, both he and Steve R. are considering earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA)

One of Schmidt’s professors in his master’s program encouraged him to think about an MBA based on the 22 years of managerial experience he’s accumulated. “He said, ‘If you ever think about going back, get your MBA. A lot of your experience is going to translate right into that,’” Schmidt recalled. Schmidt’s wife, too, has been a big motivating factor. “She convinced me to keep going. She’s almost done with her doctorate now, though I don’t want to go that far.”  

Working full-time and going to school is a major commitment in and of itself, but UNT’s self-paced programming made a big difference for Schmidt. “I really liked how easy it was to pick and choose classes. It’s a self-paced type of thing and you can use that to your advantage.”  

Time management was another critical piece. “I tell a lot of my part-time student employees that time management is the key to succeeding,” Schmidt said. While earning his B.A.A.S., he took advantage of the two hours between getting home from work and his daughters arriving home from school. He also worked on weekend mornings while his daughters slept in. 

But the effort still required sacrifice, and Schmidt tells his student-workers as much, explaining the tradeoffs he’s made. “I’ve canceled a lot of dinner reservations. I’ve canceled events,“ he said. “You have to make school your priority.”

Learn more about applying to the University of North Texas’ Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences.


Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

SEO Content Manager II

Amanda Wicks has developed and produced content for New York University, University of North Carolin...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.