Masters Degrees in Business Tips

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Business Degree + Public Speaking Skills = Employment

As a student working toward a business degree or diploma, you'll inevitably be called upon to give a presentation, report, or participate in active discussion. Eventually, you're going to have to present yourself to a potential employer through a first contact (phone or in person) and hopefully on to an interview. All of the skills and talents in the world will be futile if you can't present yourself in a dynamic, exciting, confident way.

Public speaking, in any form, is often fraught with nervous anxiety and apprehension. Before diving into full-time studies, or stepping in front of an interview panel, consider honing those public speaking skills. Organizations like Toastmasters International offer worldwide training clubs and workshops designed to transform your public speaking skills. Toastmasters International cites the following ten tips for successful public speaking:

  • Know your material
  • Practice
  • Know the audience
  • Know the room
  • Relax
  • Visualize yourself giving your speech
  • Realize that people want you to succeed
  • Don't apologize for being nervous – the audience probably never noticed
  • Concentrate on the message and your audience
  • Gain experience
Becoming a confident speaker will enable you to market yourself, and your skills, more effectively. So consider joining local Toastmaster groups, or practicing in front of friends, family and colleagues.

   

Taking A Study Leave From Work

It's not impossible to maintain a full-time job while working toward a diploma or degree online, but it isn't easy either. The sheer hours required to study, take tests, complete residencies, etc., is exhausting enough. Factor in the amount of hours you're putting into your regular day job, and ask yourself how long you can keep up that pace. Assuming your employer is supportive in your academic endeavors, it might be time to consider taking a leave of absence from work in order to dedicate your full energy to college or university.

Before taking or applying for a leave of absence, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have savings that I can draw from if I need to?
  • Does my family support the idea?
  • Will I qualify for unemployment insurance during my leave of absence?
  • Do I have enough time between now and the designated leave of absence to apply for, and benefit from, a deferred salary plan?
  • Will I be guaranteed my job back when I'm finished my degree/diploma?
  • Do I really intend to return to my place of work or is my intention to find something else?
With a little pre-planning, there are ways to make a leave of absence work for you.

   

Top Employability Traits

Employers who hire business graduates look for a variety of skills and traits that speak to the person as a whole, not just as someone with a degree. While that degree is significant for your future, there's a lengthy list of capabilities that will factor into the career equation. A noted authority conducted a survey of employers during the summer of 2002, asking what important traits or competencies they look for when hiring. The following is a partial list of their responses:

  • Common sense, reasoning
  • Fit within the company
  • Organizational skills
  • Intelligence
  • Diligence
  • Public relations
  • Leadership abilities
  • Mental Aptitude
  • Ability to articulate concepts
  • Personable and professional telephone manner
  • Sales skills
  • Integrity
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Computer skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to multi-task effectively
  • Ambition
  • Creativity
  • Enthusiasm
While some of the above speak to basic skills that begin to develop well before undergraduate school, other traits really speak to a person's character and values. Obtaining a business degree is only one part of the equation. Presenting yourself as a whole person with well-rounded skills, abilities, and work values, is what really makes the difference between getting a job, or not.

   

Top Business Degree Employers In The United States

As a recent graduate with a business degree or diploma, you may be wondering where the best jobs are hiding. There are a few different ways to narrow down your options, including through word of mouth from peers, friends, and family. Some people consider geographical location, preferring to work locally, while others prefer to branch out, searching the global market for the best place to work.

Still not sure where to turn? Do an Internet search using a string of keywords like “best places to work”. You're sure to turn up a few well-known survey results. To be sure that the criteria followed meets with your expectations of what a great employer should be, make sure to read the guidelines and criteria adhered to by the company. For example, a survey should rate a number of factors including benefit packages, employee satisfaction, salary scale, vacation and sick leave entitlement, advancement opportunities, etc. Basically, if it's what you'd look for in a job, you might want to consider their listing.

In 2007, top companies identified as "best places to work" included Google, Genentech, Wegmans Food Markets, Container Store, Whole Foods Market, Network Appliance, and S.C. Johnson & Son, to name a few. A little research will easily turn up the top 100 companies to work for in America. The hard part is finding the right fit, and the right job, for you.

   

MBA Interview Debriefing

Everyone's a little nervous about being interviewed for acceptance into the college/university of their dreams. Once you feel confident that your resume is up-to-date, your skills are well articulated, your interview look is professional and confident, and you've done your homework on the school, you should be ready to step into that interview as prepared as anyone. After the interview process, sit back and do a little debriefing. By jotting down some quick notes, feelings, and observations, you can better prepare yourself for future interview situations, and even help peers prepare for their own interview experience.

Depending on the school, the interview process may have been very casual, or very formal. In your own words, jot down answers to the following questions, adding any additional thoughts or observations as you go:

  • Were there several people on the interview panel?
  • What was the most difficult question they asked you?
  • What was the atmosphere like?
  • Did you feel valued as an applicant?
  • Were you rushed or was there plenty of time to answer questions?
  • Did you feel prepared?
  • What were your first impressions of the interview panel?
  • Did anything about the interview change your mind about the school? If so, what was it?
These are just a few questions to ask yourself after the interview is over. While most people are just relieved it's over, it's important to reflect on the experience to prepare yourself for future interviews, and to provide valuable feedback to other potential students.

   

Top Business Degree Employers In Canada

With all of the different companies and organizations to consider, it can be overwhelming when deciding where to actually apply for work. It's tempting to blanket the city with your resume, and some may even suggest it's a good idea. However, in order to be able to effectively sell yourself, you need to really target where it is you'd like to work, and why.

The Financial Post conducted a competition of top Canadian companies in 2007, using criteria such as the revenue growth and size of the companies workforce, the physical workplace, work atmosphere, health, financial, and family benefits, vacation and time off, employee communications, performance management, training & skills development, and community involvement.

The following, according to The Financial Post (based on the criteria above) were deemed the top places to work in Canada, 2007:

  • Christie Digital Systems Canada, Inc.
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • Fidelity Canada
  • HSBC Bank Canada
  • Jacques Whitford Limited
  • Research in Motion Limited/RIM
  • Shell Canada Limited
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc.
  • Vivendi Universal Games, Inc.
  • Yellow Pages Group
Interested in finding out more about these companies? Your first step should be a quick Internet search where you'll find the "About Us" section, contact information, and the company's mission statement. You should also be able to find an "Employment" section where current jobs are posted. If their opportunities align with your skills and career goals, perhaps you should consider dusting off your business degree and applying.

   

The Learner As Leader

One of the key differences between learning in a classroom setting and learning through online or alternate delivery, is the shake-up in the instructor-student relationship. The very nature of classroom study lends itself to an atmosphere where the instructor is at the front of the class, and all of the students are in rows, or in small groups around the room. There's a certain expectation that the students are there to listen and absorb, and the instructor is there to deliver everything there is to know on a particular subject.

With online learning, all the typical visual cues are no longer there to support outdated educational stereotypes. Suddenly the student is in a position to lead the way in his/her own educational journey. Oftentimes, course loads are designed with various learning styles in mind, allowing the student to pick and choose which assignments they want to complete, and how they prefer to complete them.

While this method enables the student to capitalize on his/her strengths, it can also hinder any opportunity to push the boundaries of comfort-zones, thus inhibiting potential educational growth. A good instructional designer will create a course load of assignment options and electives, while maintaining certain mandatory course requirements.

   

Recognizing Informal Training

Think back several years and tally up the number of workshops, presentations, books, lectures, discussions, groups, etc., you've joined or participated in. They may or may not have been directly related to your field of work, but they most likely contributed to your lifelong learning. Whether it's communication skills, organizational skills, time management workshops, literary studies, reflective exercises, or even safety training of some kind, it's all valuable training. When submitting applications to universities, colleges, or even to potential employers, don't forget to give value to the informal training experiences you've encountered.

The important thing to remember about informal training (training that doesn't lead to specific credits or toward a specific designation) is that it's all very self-directed. Chances are, you're the one who decided to take these workshops, courses, or lectures. You had the drive and ambition to attend. That says a lot about your commitment to lifelong learning.

Keep track of everything you do in that regard, write a reflective piece on your learning experiences, and try to keep instructor/facilitator contact information for reference purposes. Why? You want to be able to articulate all of your learning experiences, both formal and informal, when the need arises. Doing a self-assessment of all you've done will prepare you to sell yourself, and your skills, in the future.

   
How will I know what concentration I should choose when completing my masters in business?

A Masters In Business - Just Because

There's nothing wrong with wanting to advance your professional or educational status. Sometimes there's a proverbial carrot at the end, like a better job, more money, and prestige. Other times, there's the simple satisfaction that comes with personal accomplishment. Whatever your reasons for obtaining an online m b a, they're sure to be honorable.

Some people truly enjoy being a part of higher education. Of course, there's the informal learning that comes with age and experience, and the formal education that drives individuals to succeed in business. What's your reason for obtaining an online m b a? Do you aspire to obtain a master of business administration or master of international business? Sometimes we're driven and we don't know why. Take the time to do some personal reflections on all of your prior learning, especially if you're not sure which direction you want your education to take. We all have special skills and talents, passions and pursuits that drive us. Use these key indicators to point you in the right direction. Whatever the type of mba degree you're seeking, you'll have a better chance at success if you know your own passions.

   
How can I get my employer to support me in my effort to obtain an online m b a degree?

MBA Degrees And The PD Factor

Professional development comes in a variety of forms. People take weekend retreats, hire experts to come into the workplace, attend local seminars, or study online - all in the name of professional development. Suppose you decide to look at MBA programs. Does that qualify as professional development, or is it something more?

The answer depends on your employer. An organization that values its experienced employees may seriously consider helping with tuition costs by refunding certain educational costs, allowing time off to complete online m b a programs with pay, or by extending an unpaid leave of absence with the intention to rehire once the training is complete.

The more educated an employee is, the more valuable he/she is to the organization. Here are a few key steps to follow when seeking employer assistance in completing an online mba degree:

  • Research situations (either within your own organization or within another) where employees have contributed positively to the work environment after continuing their education.
  • Be prepared to demonstrate how your extended education will benefit the company.
  • Consider building a case study of your own professional achievements within the organization with a clear direction of where you've been, and where you'd like to be within the company.
Finally, be prepared to take full responsibility for your own education. You might not get the support you want from your employer. The time and money you invest into an mba degree may just fall squarely on your own shoulders.

   
Should I be nervous about obtaining an mba degree online?

An MBA Degree At Any Age

We've all heard of 90-year-old great grandmothers obtaining high school diplomas or achieving similar educational pursuits well into the senior years, but does that make you feel any better about delving into an mba degree? The choice to return to school is always a tough one, pierced with concerns about money, family, and whether you'll still have what it takes to be successful in school, especially if you've been out for a while.

These days, it's not unusual to visit a college classroom and see a demographic of twenty to sixty-somethings plugging away at mba programs. In fact, there's a certain texture those varying ages and experience levels bring to the educational setting. However, if you intend to work on an online m b a, your concerns about age and returning to the classroom may be diminished.

There are distinct advantages to obtaining an mba degree online, including (for some people) the sense of autonomy. Yes, accredited schools will do everything they can to bring their curriculum to life in the virtual world, including setting up synchronous activities to complement the asynchronous world of online learning. There may be periods of video conferencing where students have an opportunity to post, view, critique, or interact in real-time. Still, it's not the same as being in the classroom, thus eliminating a lot of the self-conscious qualms people sometimes have about returning to school. For many people, obtaining an online m b a is the perfect choice.

   
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