Online Business Education Creates Pathways to Employment in New World of Work
Posted October 03, 2017 by Cynthia R. Mullins
- Legal and Business Executive and Adjunct Professor
Much has been written about differences between traditional classroom instruction and online learning. Some topics discuss whether educational institutions should offer online courses, methods for online educational engagement in different modalities, course development and learning outcomes, and online teaching effectiveness. Business graduates who have taken courses in online learning settings are adequately prepared and tooled to confront today’s workplace challenges, in ways that are not always explicit.
Online business school learning platforms help bridge gaps between academia and business practice by preparing students for flexible, fast-paced global work environments. This post discusses the skilled, learned talent pool available to organizations that recruit graduates who have taken business school courses completely online or through a hybrid approach.
Online business education provides an effective and transformative learning environment. It helps prepare inexperienced and experienced graduates transitioning from school to an evolving business world. Employers are beginning to recognize and appreciate that business school online learners are equipped to add immediate value to their organizations and are uniquely positioned to have increased opportunities for meaningful and successful work experiences.
In the new world of work, organizations need employees who are collaborators, critical thinkers, relationship builders, and effective communicators—verbal, written, and virtual—who can immediately make a difference and contribution. Hiring business school graduates with online learning experience can fulfill this requirement. Online learning promotes employee advancement in areas pertaining to problem-solving, self-discipline, productivity, motivation, teamwork, leadership, initiative. and self-direction.
By taking online courses, business school students, regardless of age, develop and hone critical skills valued by organizations. To no surprise, younger students are predisposed to navigating comfortably in online learning environments, given they have grown up in the age of digital media, socializing and collaborating online quite early in life. Online learning helps seasoned professionals in revamping, advancing, or reinventing stalled or unsatisfactory careers. As the nature of work in organizations and job requirements continue to change, business school online learners of all ages can update or acquire new skills and immediately apply learning outcomes on the job, in real time.
As graduate students begin searching for employment after business school, those who have taken business courses online will have a multitude of qualifications and transferable skills to highlight when interviewing with recruiters. Grouped into broader categories, below are the many proficiencies recruiters should take into account when considering candidates with an online learning background:
Communication and Critical Thinking Skills
- Connects well virtually based on experience dealing with coursework unique to communicating via online platforms
- Communicates in global environments with diverse people in remote locations and appreciates different opinions and backgrounds
- Analyzes and synthesizes information productively based on close, independent examination of course materials
- Writes thoughtfully, having developed substantive, relative, respectful, and valuable discussion posts
- Examines different points of view using logic, precision, and evidence in making an argument or business case
- Understands and has practice in teleconference etiquette
- Works with information in asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods
- Uses tools to encourage communication via discussion groups, live webinars, collaboration software, and social learning methods
- Is fluent in information technologies and media literate
- Possesses the necessary tools and mindset to be a capable and productive remote worker
- Effectively leads virtual teams based on projects designating team leaders
- Listens generously, is reflective and effective in retaining knowledge
- Meets deadlines and has excellent time management skills
- Excels in oral presentation skills based on experience posting video assignments designed for professional audience
- Continually seeks opportunities for independent, lifelong learning
- Collaborates effectively given participation in weekly discussion boards and coordination with classmates on group projects
- Advances and sharpens discussions and debates with team facilitation skills
- Provides constructive feedback and receives productive criticism well based on peer review assignments
In addition to the above list of job-ready skills, online business courses provide learners numerous opportunities to cultivate and enhance essential transferable skills like organization, project management, research, and time management prior to joining the workforce.
I personally can attest to the benefits and rigor of online learning as a graduate of an online master’s degree program in Business Ethics and Compliance in 2011. Weekly deliverables in most of my courses required each student to read textbook chapters, case studies, or articles; submit papers with references; contribute posts (adhering to quality and quantity guidelines) to discussion boards a minimum of four times to further the exchange of meaningful dialogue among classmates and the professor; write detailed comments to posts submitted by fellow students; and sometimes participate in collaborative conference call sessions led by the professor.
At the completion of each online course I was required to submit a comprehensive project or paper based on individual research or group collaboration. Ironically, at the time I had no idea that I would eventually teach business courses online and was therefore adequately prepared to later teach online courses based on my student experience with online learning.
Given changes to how we work and the continued impact of technology in organizations, candidates’ experienced with online learning environments are destined to become a competitive necessity for today’s organizations, especially as they look toward the future of work.
Cynthia R. Mullins is a member of the leadership team at JMW Consultants and an adjunct professor of both business law and management. Mullins is a graduate of the AACSB Bridge Program.