Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Networking is Part of Your Kelley School Online MBA Experience

Prospective students often assume networking is more difficult in an online graduate program than in a residential program. Student organizations, career services, technology, and pedagogical design make this untrue in Kelley Direct. Connection between peers and alums within the program match the caliber of connection between individuals and businesses in the twenty-first century workplace.

Networking is active and intentional in the Kelley Direct program. Kelley Connect Week, LinkedIn groups, student organization webinars, weekend courses, virtual town hall meetings, global consulting trips, and frequent receptions across the U.S. enable online students to connect with 1000 actively-enrolled Kelley Direct peers and over 100,000 Kelley School alumni (3000 from online programs) to achieve their professional goals.  

Kelley Direct’s career development curriculum PROPEL teaches students the art of networking. How do I contact professionals in my industry? How do I introduce myself?  How do I maintain an active group of contacts?  How do I leverage contacts to support career advancement? Online MBA and MS students graduate with answers to these questions. Through coaching and interaction with faculty, peers, and alumni, Kelley Direct students build a robust network inside and outside of the Kelley School.

Virtual Networking Skills Are Essential in the Workplace

Most students virtually engage with work colleagues via phone, email, chat, and web conferences. This mimics interaction with Kelley Direct peers during online class sessions and group projects.  The curriculum pushes students to more efficiently communicate and solve problems when team members physically sit in different parts of the world.   

As more professionals work remotely, virtual management skills become more essential for career success.  Group assignments, discussion forums, webinars, impromptu video chats, and cloud-based project management tools normalize virtual interaction for students. The Kelley Direct ecosystem instills virtual communication as a sixth sense among its students.  Technology enables wider contact than a residential program. Through continuous interaction with peers,

Online MBA Students Meet in Bloomington, Abroad, and at Local Events

Kelley Connect Week brings a student to Bloomington twice during their online MBA tenure (and at least once during MS studies). The six days on campus purposefully mimic a week of the residential MBA experience.  Students work in small teams and compete against one another to solve a live case written by the faculty. They interact in classroom sessions taught by the Kelley School’s best MBA faculty. The schedule sets aside time for networking so students with a common interest find it easy to connect. Events at Nick’s, Assembly Hall, and other venues in Bloomington cement a student’s social bond to the Hoosiers and Indiana University. Students typically complete their first Kelley Connect Week before the start of their first term. This means they meet and befriend their peers before the first online course begins. Students feel a sense of community from day one.     

Students also form social bonds through AGILE global consulting courses. Together in teams, students solve high-stakes problems for small businesses in an unfamiliar emerging market such as Botswana, Brazil, or Myanmar. In such projects, failure is not an option.  Immersion in the management challenge is very personal; participants learn executive skills through trial-and-error in solidarity with peers. Collective reflection deepens the experience and gives each student a high performance team example to put on a resume and chat about in an interview.

Kelley Direct holds networking events twice a year in all of our big markets. At a nice venue, current students, alums, and prospective applicants come together for good food, drink, and fellowship. Deans, faculty, and staff members who attend provide an update on the program, gather feedback for future improvement, and advise everyone on ways to further the Kelley brand. We invest in special effort to help current students make connections that further their career network.



Clubs Help Students Focus Networking Efforts on Their Professional Interests

Expansion of graduate student life online is a priority at Kelley Direct. Online MBA and MS students launched six student organizations over the past eighteen months with the support of the Student Leadership Association (Kelley Direct’s student governing body). Kelley Direct now has the Consulting Club, Entrepreneurship and VC Club, Healthcare Club, Investment Club, Marketing Club and Women’s MBA Club. These groups host conferences to bring the members together in person, host webinars with industry experts, and have even helped shape the curriculum.

Through technology and deliberate program design, the Kelley School’s online MBA and MS programs are a hub of continuous and diverse professional and personal contact.  Kelley Direct students build their network while they work and learn. Multiple touch points immerse our students in the largest business school alumni network in the world.

By Phil Powell, Faculty Chair of Kelley Direct
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