An Online MBA is an Asset in an Economic Downturn

The degree is helping students around the world to accelerate their careers or switch into new pathways

Economic pressures may be building, but there is still a strong demand for Online MBA candidates, who can use the degree to accelerate their career in the same company or function, but also to switch into an entirely new profession.

“Online MBA candidates still have the upper hand in a tight labor market, even with the stalling global market conditions, because they can continue in their paths or seek new ones while earning their degree,” says Kelly Noble, from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in the US.

“Online MBA students do not leave the job market entirely; instead, they continue to grow in their careers, apply newly-acquired knowledge daily, and hone the key global and virtual teaming skills that are required in today’s market,” she says, underlining the benefits of the degree.

Furthermore, Online MBA students use their ongoing studies — and the opportunity to tailor their experience to an employer’s needs — as a bargaining chip when they are seeking promotions and opportunities outside their current companies, industries, and functions, Noble says.

“Being able to pitch a promotion or new role with the backing and promise of a customizable, rigorous degree allows Online MBA students to create opportunities where one may not have existed previously.”

New and disruptive career paths

What new and disruptive career paths are emerging, and how are traditional pathways changing? UNC Kenan-Flagler is seeing a lot of growth in healthcare, technology and strategy-oriented roles. In addition, the rise of ESG best practices has meant that a lot of newer roles have been created across industries. Traditional pathways into consulting, for example, are becoming more inclusive of experienced working professionals pivoting into the field.

“Where a lockstep recruiting process — requiring a summer internship — might still be required by some big firms, others have recognized the value of more inclusive hiring and retention policies,” says Noble. “Seeing beyond the traditional full-time MBA profile has allowed firms to tap into a large, talented and diverse pool of value.”

Likewise, the employment market for knowledge workers in Australia is very competitive and Online MBA degrees are very well received by employers, according to Courtney Wright, director of career accelerator and student engagement at UNSW Business School in Sydney. “It’s a great time for our MBA candidates to be seeking new opportunities,” she adds.

How can an Online MBA help to facilitate a career change? “Our blend of workshops, [in addition to] employer, community and networking events, and a suite of online tools and resources, means students can work one-to-one with our experienced career coaches and design the career development path that best aligns to their personal goals and aspirations,” says Wright.

“The AGSM career development model emphasizes exploration – encouraging students to build the networks, consider industries and functions they may never have considered pre-MBA – before moving onto skill development and, lastly, achievement, where we help students bring it all together to successfully apply, interview, negotiate and secure an offer,” she continues.

Negotiating a pay rise or promotion 

There are still far more job vacancies than candidates who can fill them, so now is a good time to negotiate a pay rise or a promotion. “Employers seek strong talent to recruit and retain within their companies, so it is important for candidates to recognize their value within an organization and to be competitively aligned to similar roles within the market,” says Gemma Robertson, director of employer relations at Imperial College Business School in London.

In addition to negotiating on remuneration and benefits, she says there are other motivators for candidates -- including scope for progression, development, and career acceleration within a role, as well as culture and approach to flexible working.

Robertson says an Online MBA is still an excellent way to stand out against other applicants in the job market, which although robust will still be competitive for the best roles. “Employers recognize that holders of the qualification are disciplined and ambitious and continue to target and connect with talent from top-ranked Online MBA programs,” she says.

On such programs, students have gained sought-after leadership skills and professional experience during their studies. “Companies are looking for talent that can address skill shortages and drive organizations forward. For these reasons, Online MBA graduates rarely find it difficult to get hired,” Robertson adds. 

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