Working in teams is an important part of most MBA programs. This is certainly true in the Kelley Direct distance MBA program. One of the things that I have enjoyed most about the Kelley Direct experience so far is the interaction I have had with fellow students and especially the team members I have worked with in each class.
Teamwork starts in the first in-residence on campus where everyone is assigned a team with whom they do all of the class work, presentations, etc. My team at the in-residence (pictured above) was awesome. They are all very intelligent and brought unique perspectives from their diverse professional backgrounds. We worked hard, but we also had a lot of fun together. I learned a lot from each of them.
For students who are new to the Kelley Direct distance MBA program, here are a few suggestions for forming teams:
Take advantage of every opportunity to network. Get to know as many people in the program as possible. That way you will know who you would want to work with in future classes. The best place to start this is during the in-residences. I made an effort to meet as many people as possible at my first in-residence in Bloomington. Most of the people I have chosen for my teams are people I met at the in-residence.
When I was deciding between MBA programs last year, I sought input from a current Kelley Direct student. He gave me really good insight into the program and great advice on how to be successful. He highlighted the importance of networking at the in-residences:
“As you move forward, you have friends in the program (which is good because there tends to be a lot of group work interaction) who have each others' back and that comes in very important! Through email and Skype calls, cell phones and Facebook pages, I am in constant contact with my classmates. The interaction, support, and camaraderie are wonderful.”
Consider the impact of time zones. Coordinating schedules can be difficult because everyone in the program has a full-time job as well as other responsibilities. Finding a time when everyone is available for a team meeting poses a unique challenge in an online MBA program because the students can reside all over the world.
In my Economics class, I choose teammates who live on the west coast like I do. Since we were all in the Pacific Time Zone, coordinating schedules was a little easier. My Marketing professor put us in teams based on our time zone too. Same-time-zone teams can be helpful for scheduling, but time zone should not be the only criteria in forming a team. Some of the strongest teams I have had were with teammates who live on the other side of the country.
Choose teammates with complimentary skills. Some of my most effective groups were with teammates whose strengths complimented my weaknesses or lack of experience. If you have less experience in a particular subject, it can help to have someone on the team whose area of expertise is that subject. My team in my Finance class was very successful, in part because we had someone who worked in the financial industry. The Kelley Direct student body is very diverse, both culturally as well as professionally. Utilize that diversity in your teams.