Beginning a graduate degree program reflects a decisive move to boost your personal development and improve your career prospects. A digital MBA is a particularly effective way of doing this – one that incorporates many facets of modern working life. As businesses of all sizes increasingly rely on digital technology, and as these technologies continue to advance rapidly, a digital MBA leverages tools to analyze data-rich markets and make informed, responsible and innovative data-driven decisions.
Your success in completing a digital MBA depends on a number of factors: drive, discipline, organization and, perhaps most importantly, balance. Without balance, it’s difficult to maintain the others for the duration of your degree. So, how do you do it? You’re already a full-time professional, what time do you have for more responsibility?
Think of the Opportunities
An online program is a chance to flex and strengthen existing professional muscles and to stretch yourself further. Rather than a chore or a drain on your time, think of it as a supplement to your existing schedule – one with the added value of time devoted exclusively to the exciting cultivation of new ideas.
Consider some of the key competencies you’ll develop in a digital MBA program:
- Understanding how to listen and respond to customers in the age of digital technology
- Understanding and leveraging the power of social networks
- Integrating online and offline marketing strategies
- Digitally analyzing opportunities and risks
- Exploring new technologies for business solutions and innovations
A digital MBA gives you the opportunity to explore the business theory behind these competencies and gain an understanding of best practice, both immediately transferrable to professional life.
Tailor your Schedule
One of the most attractive qualities of online degree programs is their flexibility. You can listen to lectures on your commute to work, peruse discussion forums during your lunch break, read assignments when you’re feeling most alert and use the more fixed tests or group activities as the foundations on which to structure your working week. An online program means freedom to do the work when you’re in the best position to get the most out of it – you can really sculpt a schedule that works around your professional timetable and energy levels.
Don’t forget, with a digital MBA you are studying a program that’s directly applicable to your career. This means you can talk about your academic work with your colleagues and be open and transparent about your other commitments. The relevance of the one to the other means you’re getting a reciprocal payoff.
When you start a digital MBA program, you’re looking at a commitment of about a year. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a lot of time. Before you begin the program, try to gather a fairly good idea of what your academic schedule will look like and pencil in your existing responsibilities. This should give you an initial picture of whether the learning experience and your professional life can work in tandem.
Once you see the schedule for each of the courses you’ll take, mark your calendar. Find any potential conflicts you will need to work around – say, a conference the same weekend you have a case study due.
Make Use of your Support Networks
Yes, you may have to suspend or curb some activities, like a particularly time-intensive hobby, but it’s also very important to take time for yourself. That might take the form of a quiet walk, a workout to relieve stress or spending time with family.
Ask people you trust to support you. Again, this isn’t a lifetime commitment, but a chunk of time during which you need to be able to lean on friends and family. The payoff will be worth it.
Once you begin your program, you’ll find that your professors and cohort can also give you much-needed support and encouragement. Your classmates, after all, know exactly what you’re going through – they’re doing the same thing. And your professors should work with their colleagues to craft courses that, singly or in combination with other courses, build on your content knowledge and skills.