Friday, March 21, 2014

Real Networking & Leadership Development for Online MBA Students

There’s a reason why Kelley Direct brings entire cohorts of online MBA and masters students together on the Bloomington campus several times a year. It’s the same reason why 1 entire lecture out of the 9 lectures we have during our first in-residence week on the Bloomington campus is all about networking. Shaun Heneghan’s networking session was one of the many memorable things at Connect Week, and also part of the reason why I started looking at networking differently. Here’s a slide from his presentation showing how he defines networking:
Kelley Direct staff and faculty appear to be operating with the same principle – they genuinely care about our success. The school wants to help us take advantage of the fact that my classmates and I signed up to share two to three years of our lives with highly talented, intelligent and motivated people living all over the world. They really do everything they can to ensure that we don’t squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity including inviting the students back to campus for a second, week-long in-residence week, providing study abroad opportunities in emerging markets where students work with real businesses and once again make presentations to business owners. They support and fund student clubs to help us build closer bonds to classmates with similar interests, and facilitating online networking via LinkedIn and social media. They even travel all over the U.S. throughout the year to host cocktail receptions for students, alumni and prospective students so that we have more reason to come together.

How Online MBA Students Network

Even though we are an online program, we have so many opportunities to build real, lasting relationships with our classmates. Sure we don’t see these people every day like we may have in a traditional program, but we still went through two grueling case competitions that forced us to work together for hours at a time and present in front of professors and company executives while they judged our slides and delivery against those of our peers. We still have group assignments in most of our classes that require us to get on the phone or on Google Hangouts every week to discuss how to solve a business case or how to decide how much to invest in marketing versus R&D in a business strategy simulation to maximize ROE and share price (that CAPSIM simulation was pretty cool).

Not only does this help us increase our networks, but it also teaches us practical skills that we can directly apply to the global workplace. GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect and Google Hangouts exist because there is a real need for virtual meetings. One of the managers I worked for at a previous job lived in Costa Rica and I only met him twice in-person during my time at the company. Half my team was in a different city several hours away in my last job so we met via web conference every week. That’s the reality of the workplace. Online learning is actually benefiting my classmates and me by forcing us to learn how to manage teams and projects virtually.

Why You Should Attend a Top Ranked Online MBA Program

So when someone says something like this about online programs on a discussion forum for MBA hopefuls: 
It makes me feel very fortunate that I chose a program that takes an active role in our networking and leadership skills development, who gives their online students the same access to career services as their full-time students, and whose online students graduate with the same salaries as their fellow Kelleys in the top 15 ranked full-time MBA program.

Both the school and the students care. That is what you can expect from a top ranked MBA program. The fact that my MBA is online just means that I have to work a little bit harder to make that connection with my classmates, and I’m happy to do so. So many of my classmates are willing to do so as well. We made time to host an in-person marketing conference that included company visits, guest speakers, networking dinners and informal nights out in the city.

We make time to host virtual club meetings and webinars for our fellow online students. We make time to mentor new students and help them meet others in the program via our Student Leadership Association. We make ourselves available to speak with and meet prospective students who are thinking about joining our program.

That’s the type of student body Kelley Direct has actively recruited and continues to attract.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Come see us and talk to our other online MBA students and alumni. We’re just getting started with our national networking tour for 2014. Houston is up next:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Kelley Direct Student Leadership Association Launches New Website for 2014

Introducing the Kelley Direct Student Leadership Association

On behalf of the Kelley Direct Student Leadership Association (SLA), I'd like to welcome the new Spring 2014 cohort to the Kelley Direct Online MBA program. We're looking forward to meeting you at the upcoming Kelley Connect Week in Bloomington! 

I also wanted to take this time to tell you and our fellow KD students about the SLA and some of our major initiatives over the past year. The SLA is a network of student leaders who serve as representatives of the Kelley Direct community and provide opportunities for student involvement. The SLA serves as a liaison between the Kelley Direct Student Body and faculty and administrators, as well as other organizations within the Kelley School of Business. The SLA also serves as advocate to promote student involvement and student leadership initiatives.

The SLA serves our online MBA and MS students in many ways

  • We are a conduit for the students’ opinions and voices to be heard by administration.
  • We give feedback to the staff and administration on proposed program changes from the student’s perspective. 
  • We provide new students an opportunity to be paired with a mentor or experienced students the opportunity to mentor.
  • We help our student clubs recruit members and promote their events.
  • We helps Kelley Direct bring new quality students into the program.

Major SLA Initiatives in 2013 - 2014

1.           New

This fledgling new Kelley Direct SLA website is meant to be a place for students to get involved with others outside of their classes and a place to exchange ideas and issues and plan meet-ups around the world.  It is also the place where they can find more information about the various clubs or get into contact with SLA members for help.

2.           Club webinars

Many of our clubs started hosting webinars with great speakers directly from the industry who share information relevant to their members and other interested students.  Topics of past webinars have included:
  • Connecting Providers & Patients: Navigating Haystacks of Needles
  • “Real World” Considerations for Securing Capital to Start and Sustain a New Business Venture
  • Healthcare Reform and Pay for Performance

3.           Mentoring

The SLA partners interested 1st year students with experienced 2nd year students in a mentoring relationship.  Through the mentorship program students are able to build personal relationships and receive advice and guidance from other students.  Interested students can email for more information about becoming a mentor or mentee.


Rachel Dressler

SLA President
Kelley Direct Online MBA & MS Programs