By Jennifer Williamson, DIstance-Education.org Columnist
If you’re considering an online MBA program, you’ve probably given a lot of thought to how employers will react to your degree. Going the online route isn’t the usual choice for everyone—and you may face extra questions about your degree during interviews.
But selling your prospective employer on your online degree takes simple marketing skills. It’s all about stating the benefits you offer as a result of getting an online degree instead of a traditional MBA. Here are some of the reasons an online degree makes you better qualified for the business world.
1. You’re a self-starterThose who take online degrees have to be independent workers. With no professor looking over your shoulder, study partner to copy notes from, and peer group to push you along, you have to be exceptionally self-motivated to succeed. Businesses value employees who can get things done without a lot of hand-holding and supervision. With an online degree, you can prove you have the skills and know-how to work independently.
2. You have solid self-disciplineAn online degree is a lot of work. Most programs require participation in online discussions, and plenty of reading and written work—just like you’ll find at a traditional school.
But because of the flexibility of an online degree, you often have to set your own goals and get your work done with a minimum of imposed structure. You must discipline yourself to get your work done without the structure of a traditional college, and keep yourself motivated outside of a supportive peer group. Not everybody can handle that. But someone with an online degree has the discipline to get the job done.
3. You have great time management skillsMany people choose online degrees because their other responsibilities make it impossible to conform to a traditional college schedule. As an online student, you may have a full-time job and family responsibilities to juggle as well. But an online degree gives employers a clue that while you may have other things in your life besides your job, you have the time management skills to handle competing responsibilities. That’s a valuable trait for any business employee to have.
4. You’re determined and resourceful.Most online students choose distance-learning programs because something has prevented them from attending a traditional college. It may be the cost; it may be family responsibilities; or it may be a full-time job. Whatever the reason, online students often face more challenges than traditional students.
If you hold an online degree, it shows that you didn’t let these barriers stand in the way of your education. It shows you’re a problem-solver: you can think creatively, work around obstacles, and achieve despite adversity. Most companies would kill to have a work force with those qualities.
5. You’re tech-savvyIt’s a given that to take online courses, you have to be comfortable with computers. You need to know your way around the Internet, be comfortable with uploading papers to your professors, and be proficient with e-mail and online discussions. You also need to be able to handle minor technical glitches that might prevent you from getting a paper in on time or participating in an online discussion. Your online degree shows that you’re comfortable with technology—and it’s tough to get a job without these basic skills in today’s business environment.
You communicate well in a global business environment. Getting an online degree involves hours of chatting with classmates and professors via IM and email. You quickly learn the ropes of communicating in a global, digitized business environment.
This is good news for your job search. Globalization is a big trend in business—and you may find yourself web conferencing with a virtual team halfway around the world from your own office. An online MBA means you can handle digital communication with clients and co-workers anywhere the world—no hand-holding necessary.
6. You’re better prepared for the workplaceYour online degree shows that you’re independent and resourceful. You manage your time well, and you’re at least reasonably proficient with technology. Most importantly, you’re likely to have more life experience than the typical college graduate: you’ve achieved a degree despite extra challenges most traditional students don’t face. In all, an online degree indicates a level of maturity and preparedness not always found in the typical college graduate.
With all the selling points of an online degree, it’s tough to see why more people don’t get their MBA online. If you talk about your online MBA the right way, it will stand out as a strength—and it will separate you from more traditional applicants. Market your online degree the right way, and you’re sure to get a good response from employers.