Prospective online MBA students usually have many questions plaguing them before starting a program. What will the program be like? What will an online classroom be like? Will future employers respect my online degree? Will my job prospects widen? Will the program be worth what I put in?
To help put some students at ease, we are asking online MBA graduates some of those important questions in order to give perspective on the flip side.
Audrey McLaughlin is a graduate of the online MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University-Bloomington. IU-Bloomington is a four-year public university that was founded in 1820 as the flagship campus of Indiana University's eight campuses. The university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the highly acclaimed Kelley School of Business is AACSB-accredited. The Kelley School is ranked in #1 for the Best Online Master's in Business degree programs, and also ranked at #2 for the Best Online MBA Program.
OnlineMBAToday: Overall, how satisfied are you with your online MBA education?
Audrey McLaughlin: I am extremely satisfied and impressed with my online MBA education from the Kelley School of Business. I am so glad I chose this program versus others I considered. Looking back, I would make the same decision over again.
OnlineMBAToday: What do you wish you had known before you started your program that you know now?
Audrey McLaughlin: Prior to starting my program, I wish I would have known that my peers would come from a variety of backgrounds not just business. Once enrolled, although we were not all from a business background, we all had impressive backgrounds in our prospective fields. That fact will allow my classmates and I to learn more from one another than a typical full-time MBA program.
OnlineMBAToday: What was your experience in the job market after graduating? Did employers show any reservations about the fact that you earned your MBA online rather than on-campus?
Audrey McLaughlin: After graduating from my MBA program at the Kelley School, the job market was strong. Since this was a part-time program, the advantage is nearly all of my peers are already employed and completed this program to advance in their current profession or change careers. So throughout the program, your network really grows and as well as your knowledge about other industries. Thus, I feel my classmates and I had an edge compared to the full-time MBA graduates. Some employers did have reservations that I earned my MBA from a part-time program rather than a full-time program, just because it is different that the historic traditional programs. Hiring managers are not always sure how to handle a part-time MBA graduate and struggle with if they fit the traditional MBA graduate mold or more of the experienced hire mold. The truth is, it is a blend. There are not as many structured hiring programs for part-time students. However, the typical online part-time MBA student has more work and life experience and a larger network. So that gives someone like me an edge.
OnlineMBAToday: What advice would you give to a prospective student trying to decide on a program?
Audrey McLaughlin: As a prospective student, I would look at the rankings of all the business programs the university you are considering offers, not just the one you are considering. That way you have a better idea of the entire portfolio of the university that may potentially be on your resume. In addition, do your research and see if the university actually does the online program in-house or if it is outsourced to another organization including faculty and staff. Talk to current students, alumni, and people from your desired industry and see their thoughts on the program and see if meets your needs and goals. Lastly, check with the university and see if career services are available for the online students, just as they are for the full-time students.
OnlineMBAToday: How positive of an impact do you believe obtaining your degree from this program will have on your career in the immediate future? Long term?
Audrey McLaughlin: In the immediate future, this degree has a positive impact on my career. While enrolled in the program I was able to successfully transition careers and now am working for Deloitte Consulting, LLP. I continue to use the skills and knowledge I gained from my coursework and will have opportunities of career growth that would not be available without my MBA from a top 20 school.
Do your research. Make sure you thoroughly research your prospective school and program. Get a good look at the whole school and how the different programs rank. This can give you a look look at how outsiders, employers and recruiters, view the school. Look at the rankings, multiple ones. And make sure that you have looked into the specific programs you are interested in. Talk to friends and alumni that are connected to the program. All this data can ensure that you are making a well informed decision.
Spin your unique position positively. Audrey said that "Hiring managers are not always sure how to handle a part-time MBA graduate and struggle with if they fit the traditional MBA graduate mold or more of the experienced hire mold." Be sure to meet any trepidation with confidence. If a hiring manager doesn't know whether to hire you as a newbie or experienced professional, show them you are the whole package. Even if you are changing careers, show them that you not only have the educations needed but a consistent professional background. Prepare yourself before interviews that some people might have questions or misgivings about an online MBA. If you can prepare yourself for them before hand and prep yourself to meet questions with confidence, then you can not only impress your interviewer but also spread the word on how great online MBA programs can be.
Check out the interview with the Erin Vincent, the Director of Admissions & Student Services of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University-Bloomington