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Webinars

UMD Online MBA Career Services Webinar

In this webinar, we will provide an overview of the Online MBA program and then dive into what services are available to Smith Online MBA students through Smith’s Office of Career Services. A recent online MBA graduate will also review his experience with Smith’s career services and how they helped him in his career path. We will then review application requirements and then conclude the session with a Q&A where we will field questions from attendees.

Presenters:

  • Julie Harrigan, Assistant Director, PT MBA Career Consultant, Office of Career Services
  • Julie Neill, Assistant Director, PT MBA Career Consultant, Office of Career Services
  • Dan Goldsmith, Online MBA Graduate
  • Jacques Avery, Online MBA Enrollment Advisor

Originally presented on June 14, 2017.

Read / Hide Webinar Transcript
Christina Walsh:
Hello and welcome to the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business online MBA career services webinar. I’m Christina Walsh and I’ll be your host today. I’d like to thank you for joining us and taking time out of your busy schedule.

Before we begin I’d like to review a few housekeeping items. At the bottom of your audience console are multiple application widgets that you can use. If you have questions during the presentation please submit your questions using the Q & A widget. Feel free to enter your questions as you think of them and we’ll answer as many as time allows at the end of the session. If you have any technical difficulty, the help widget provides answers to common technical issues. Also, and on-demand version of the webcast will be available tomorrow afternoon. A link to the recording will be sent via email tomorrow should you like to view the presentation again or share with others.

I’d like to introduce our panelists today. Joining us today is Erika Harrigan. Erika is a certified professional resume writer, certified career management coach, and a trainer with more than 19 years of experience helping clients secure a new position and/or advance within their chosen fields. Her resume work is featured in The Best Resumes For College Students and New Grads, Second Edition, Same Day Resume, Second Edition, and The Quick Resume and Cover Letter Book. Prior to joining the Smith School, Erika worked with mid-career adult learners in a variety of higher education settings, helping them navigate the challenges of transitioning into new functions and fields. She has also served as principal of Success Partners, where she provided comprehensive career development services to a wide variety of individuals, including students, executives, and professionals seeking to enter U.S. and foreign markets. Erika earned her Master of Science in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Development and Affairs from Drexel University. She also holds a certificate in Adult Career Planning and Development from New York University and has completed graduate coursework in Vocational Psychology and Program Planning and Adult Education at Rutgers University.

Julie Neill is an award-winning career services professional with a diverse background including over 15 years of experience working in higher education, government, and the non-profit sector in the U.S. and overseas. Prior to joining the Smith School, Julie coached mid-career and entry-level professionals at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. At SAIS she focused on advising students interested in private sector careers with an emphasis on finance and consulting, and worked to foster and maintain relationships with leading global employers. In addition to her experience at SAIS, Julie has worked in career services at American University’s Kogod School of Business where she directed employer relations. And at Gettysburg College where she advised undergraduate students and managed both employer relations and experiential learnings program. Julie’s work has been recognized by the National Association of Colleges and Employers for innovation in career services. And in 2010 she was awarded a Fulbright Award to Germany exclusively for higher education administrators. Julie graduated cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University in New York. And earned a Masters degree in International Development from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Dan Goldsmith has been a serial entrepreneur for two decades, buying and growing businesses in several verticals. Most recently he founded X-Laser, a high powered laser manufacturing firm that came to count numerous high profile musical artists and theme parks as clients, and grew into the largest firm of its kind in the United States. He earned his MBA online from University of Maryland’s Smith School in 2016, and now works for Thompson Creek Window Company as the Director of Digital Marketing and Strategy, and mentors new online MBA students during the opening residency.

Dan Goldsmith has been a serial entrepreneur for two decades, buying and growing businesses in several verticals. Most recently he founded X-Laser, a high powered laser manufacturing firm that came to count numerous high profile musical artists and theme parks as clients, and grew into the largest firm of its kind in the United States. He earned his MBA online from University of Maryland’s Smith School in 2016, and now works for Thompson Creek Window Company as the Director of Digital Marketing and Strategy, and mentors new online MBA students during the opening residency.

In today’s session, Jacques will begin with a brief overview of the University of Maryland Smith MBA program, and review some key benefits of the online MBA program. Next, Erika and Julie will review the services and resources available to online MBA students and alumni through the Office of Career Services. Then Dan will discuss his experience working with the Office of Career Services and how the program impacted his career. And finally, Jacques will then review the steps for applying to the Smith online MBA program, including some helpful tips. Following our speakers we will have a Q & A session to answer any of your outstanding questions.

All right, and now I’d like to turn things over to Jacques.

Jacques Avery:
Hi everyone, thanks for attending the session. During this webinar the primary goal is to speak first and foremost about, to present information about resources beyond the classroom, specifically with the Office of Career Services, but what happens in the classroom is equally relevant today.

There are four on screen themes that will highlight this. First being the track record within the Smith School for excellence and focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. For the students to have real impact after graduation they need hands on experience with real world problems. Meaningful global opportunities and the ability to be innovative and entrepreneurial in an environment that is marked by diversity of races, cultures, incomes, gender, and expectations. They must be able to use both qualitative and quantitative thinking in their approach to solving ambiguous complex challenges.

The Smith School offers a systemic and systematic business education with a rigorous approach that equips students to create social values and economic prosperity within their communities and around the world. It’s for these reasons you’ll see, in a few slides, why the Smith School is highly ranked and regarded amongst its peers. During my time within the Smith School I have noticed several changes within the curriculum that have made things not only simpler for students to be a part of the program, but also have included changes that have made the program more encompassing and also more thorough in terms of providing industry-current curriculum.

There’s been a commitment to the community within the Smith School that interacts with business and policy leaders, private sector companies, governments both home and abroad, the non-profit sector, and especially with our alumni and friends. Working as partners with the Smith community, the quality and frequency of our outreach activities including executive education, corporate relations, development in alumni relations, and placement services within the Smith School. Our alumni base is central not only to funneling talent to organizations but also to shaping the curriculum and making certain that those industry-current practices are in place.

The way that that’s delivered is with our world class faculty including industry experts, innovative teachers, and established thought leaders. Within the Smith School the faculty is internationally ranked in the top 15 in business research areas including finance, accounting, marketing, information systems, operations management. And with great instructors like Dave Godes, Hank Lucas, and we have also many leaders within their field within research. And students have the opportunity to connect with these faculty members with mentorship type relationships, and that’s another things that builds additional value within the program for our students.

Some important things about our program and its quality come back to accreditation. There’s programmatic accreditation, which the Smith School has programmatic accreditation through the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business. Which, you know, is a select group of business schools and programs that do have that type of programmatic accreditation for its programs. Institutionally, the University of Maryland College Park is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which is thought of as the highest form of institutional accreditation that an institute of higher learning may have.

When it comes to the regard of the program, there are several rankings that the University of Maryland College Park does top. With the number nine ranking in the nation with online MBA program, with being able to support veterans and military-affiliated students we’re ranking of number five, and number seven ranking in student engagement. Which ties into how we’re interacting with students, the quality of the instruction that’s delivered within the program, and the support that it provides through additional resources like student advising.

In terms of the Smith School as a whole, there’s a number 25 ranking as an MBA program, number 23 ranking in the U.S., a U.S.-based institution by Financial Times. A number 19 ranking for the part-time program, we don’t make significant distinctions between the campus-based deliveries of our programs and the online delivery of the program. There’s a number nine ranking in the nation in student satisfaction, number one ranking in faculty quality, and a number 23 ranking within research.

The best part about the online experience is that you get all the same quality and rigor as the campus based programs, while still maintaining flexibility that you expect from an online program. When you think about the online delivery of the program, I do want to call your attention to the quote that’s in the side panel here. One of the things we pride ourselves on is access to faculty. We’re here as a partner for the students to manage the material that we set out. And that’s a quote from a fellow within the Smith Business School, and that really is true.

The professors here are ranked number four in the nation for a reason. They are very open with the online students, some students do have mentorship relationships with the professors that are within their program. And they’re accessible to their students during their office hours and scheduled one on one appointments when needed. Also within the online coursework there are weekly webinar sessions that students will engage with and have the opportunity not only to connect with their professors, but also with other students who are involved in the program. And we always encourage students to reach out to their professors as they progress through the program.

When it comes to connections, in addition to the regular interaction online, by attending campus residencies you have the opportunity to start building, or you start having the ability to build connections you will rely on throughout the program and your career. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet and interact with professors and classmates that’ll help you on your journey within the MBA.

When it comes to flexibility, as always students have the flexibility in their online program to complete their assignments and tests, as well as stay engaged with online discussions and interactive lectures offered during the scheduled lecture times.

Specialization is important within the program as well. You focus your degree by choosing from five in-demand specializations. Those are accounting, finance, information systems and business analytics, marketing, and supply chain management. There are some students who may select the general track, which gives them flexibility of being able to combine courses from different specialization tracks in a way that they feel supports their goals as their career does move forward, and helping them with the development of different skills that may benefit their organization.

And as always, when it comes to support it’s just a phone call away. You have your admissions team, student advisors, tech support, faculty who are available to assist you during the course of the program and beyond.

Christina Walsh:
All right. So now we’d like to kick it over to Erika, who will talk about the Office of Career Services.

Erika Harrigan:
Yes. Thank you Christina for inviting us to participate in this webinar today. And on behalf of the Office of Career Services I’d like to welcome all of those attending. Today Julie and I are going to spend just a few minutes giving you an overview of the Office of Career Services and the services that we offer. We’ll definitely go into it in much more depth and detail during your first opening residency. But today we’re going to focus on a bit of an overview to give you an idea of who we are and what we do.

And the best way to start is with our mission, which is what you see on the screen at this time. And as you can see, our mission is two-fold here in the Office of Career Services. First, it’s to provide students, all of you, with transformational experiences that launch extraordinary career journeys. We have a very large Office of Career Services, it consists of about 30 professionals. And what is special about the Office of Career Services here at the Smith School of Business is that we have professionals who are dedicated to the specific needs of specific groups within our university. And in this case, Julie and I, we are the coaches that work with the online MBA students, our working professionals who come to school and who are balancing work and life and school. And also their career development. So we work with you one on one, we partner with you on this career journey by meeting you where you are and helping you get where you want to go. Understanding that everybody has a different career journey, but we’re here to help you with yours.

The second part of our mission is to partner with employers as well, to infuse their talent pipelines with exceptional Smith Terps. There are employers who recruit from our Smith School of Business. They do recruit from all over the country, certainly. And if any of you are in a position to hire and need staffing, we are also a source for all of you, in that we can help feed your pipelines with Terps from the online MBA program, as well as our part-time MBA program, executive MBA program, undergrad program, and et cetera.

But let’s talk a little bit about the specific ways in which we partner with all of you and help grow great Terps. One of the things that we assist you with here at the Office of Career Services is personal branding. Understanding what your brand is as an MBA, or how you may want to rebrand yourself as an MBA. Typically the reasons why adult learners return to school is for some career-related reason. You know, sometimes it’s to make a career transition, sometimes it’s to move up within your organization. But in order to do that effectively you have to know who you are, you know, what your brand is, and how to accurately reflect that on your LinkedIn, on your resume, and articulate that in your pitch. So we’re here to help you with that.

One of the other things we help with, as I alluded to a little bit earlier, is making a career transition. So if your goal is to come to Smith in order to transition from one field to another, or from one function to another, we’re here to assist you with that as well. We do it through career assessments, particularly if you are not sure exactly what you want to do with your MBA. We do offer career assessments that help you understand what your interests, your skills, and your work-related values are. And to help you understand the world of work and, you know, what options might be best suitable for you in the business world.

We help you with career development strategies. And that’s pretty critical, especially if you’re making a career transition it’s important to start that at the very beginning. We help you understand what your strengths are as they relate to your target. We help you understand what your weaknesses or skill gaps may be. And we brainstorm what opportunities you can leverage, here at Smith and beyond, to help you get where you want to go. And create a career development plan that you can execute in lockstep with your education here.

If it’s simply a resume or cover letter assistance that you’re looking for, we’re here to help with that as well. We’re here to help you ensure that your resume is strong. But not only that, that it’s in alignment with your career goal, whatever that may be.

And finally, interview preparation is another way of assisting you in making a career transition, or just finding a new role, perhaps in your own career. We help by providing mock interviews. We also have online resources that will enable you to practice your mock interviewing from the comfort of your own home.

And one thing I failed to mention, before I hand it off to Julie, is the fact that we’re not like a typical career services department where we’re just here 9 to 5 Eastern Standard Time. We generally coach beginning the lunch hours, Eastern Standard Time, up until 7:00pm Eastern Standard Time. So we’re able to meet with you before work, perhaps during your lunch hour, or in the evening, whatever is most convenient to you. If you live in the Maryland, D.C. area we certainly can meet with you in person, you’re welcome to do that. But we also coach remotely, whether it’s by phone or video, Google Hangout. We’re here to be available to you when you need us and to provide you with the services you need at the time that you need.

So I focused a bit on some of the traditional things that you would expect from the Office of Career Services, and Julie is going to talk a bit about some of the other services that we offer. Julie?

Julie Neill:
Great, thanks so much Erika. So one of the big topics that we work with, with students all the time that is career-related, is of course the topic of networking. Which is critical whether you’re trying to get an internal promotion, whether you are trying to transition. So we offer assistance, again, where it can meet you where you’re at, whether you consider yourself an expert networker or a novice networker, we certainly help you talk about strategies, and to connect you to people who might be good contacts based upon your interests.

By entering the program at Smith, you are also entering into a huge community. We have 60,000 alumni. And of course, while we have a great presence here in the metro D.C. area, 30,000 of those, half of the alumni are outside of the metro D.C. area. So you have access to an incredible diverse network of people. And that’s just talking about Smith. You also of course, when you join Smith, join the wider University of Maryland, which has an even much larger alumni network.

And you’ll see on the slide there, we reference the University of Maryland Alumni Advisor Network. That is a wonderful electronic platform which you can access, which lists what I would call warm contacts. So if you go on LinkedIn, you can certainly identify University of Maryland alumni or Smith alumni, but this specific platform allows you to access people who have specifically want to be resources for students, as well as other alumni. And so when you go on the platform you can use various filters to search, and then through the system you can actually contact these alumni for resume reviews, for mock interviews, or for just plain old career conversations to learn more about what they do in their field. So it’s a great database to access.

So outside of networking and job search, the other thing that we assist students with is getting a promotion. Not everyone is looking to change fields or careers, so we absolutely help you in navigating and strategizing about getting that promotion internally in your own company. And then any other career-related or on the job issues. One of the common things that comes to mind is I often meet with students who have an upcoming performance review. How do we position ourselves and practice that to make sure that we are going to get promoted or get that raise or getting to the next level? So certainly we assist people with job search, with branding, with networking, but with anything that is career-related we are your resource and can assist you with that.

I’m sorry, for some reason I can’t go to the next slide. My computer’s frozen, so if Christina or Erika can move onto the next slide.

I want to talk a little bit about the resources that we offer for our online MBA students. So two of the resources, well, one of the main resources that we use is called HireSmith. And through the HireSmith website you can do myriad of different things. One of the most important things that you can do through that website is to schedule your advising appointments. So once you log on, you can actually see both Erika and I, our full schedule, and you can at your convenience schedule an appointment at whatever works for you.

Through that you’ll also see any events or workshops that are going on. It’s all the job listings. And also it serves as a portal to all the other resources, online resources, that we offer. And our office is always adding more resources, looking for more ways to assist students. And those might be, one is called Vault, our online career library. We have new resources to specifically help people who are looking into the field of consulting. So basically you’ll think of HireSmith as your portal to access all of those.

And then the other main resource I already mentioned in the University of Maryland’s Alumni Advisor Network, which serves basically as an online alumni networking database. But in addition to the networking database, that platform also houses on-demand webinars on quite a large variety of topics, whether they be industries, functions, or general career topics. So those are wonderful things that you can access on-demand at your own convenience.

So that kind of covers our online resources. I’d like to now hand it over to Dan Goldsmith who is one of our recent graduates of the program, and he will talk about his own personal experience.

Dan Goldsmith:
Hey everybody, it’s really good to be here today. As I said, my name is Dan Goldsmith, and in my bio you may have heard that I came into Smith as a serial entrepreneur. I had been building and growing and selling businesses for quite some time. But I was actually kind of a mess from a formal business management standpoint, because I had no training whatsoever in business. I had developed really good resources and I had developed really good instincts and I had managed to do quite well, but I reached a point where I just couldn’t go any further. My latest business had really taken off, it had grown a lot, it was getting very difficult to manage. And I just got tired of Googling stuff at 2:00 in the morning and then waking up the next day exhausted. I just wasn’t getting what I needed.

That brought me to Smith, and specifically to Online MBA, for a couple of reasons. The flexibility has been mentioned a couple of times, you really can’t be an entrepreneur and run a full-time business and also do a full-time MBA. It just doesn’t really work. And that was one of the major things that had me select the online format. But I think there are really three major value points to the program for me. And the first one was just the formal understanding of learning about the machinery that underlies all the headlines that you see in the Wall Street Journal. And in a much more pedestrian way, all the decisions that you have to make on a day to day basis. And all these disciplines that you don’t necessarily get a look into in some other way with a more focused Bachelor’s degree.

So I had a background in marketing, great. I had no background in financial management, I was learning that as I went along. I had no background in econ. I had a lot to learn about the leadership and management of human capital on a larger scale. And I got all of these things in the MBA, that all really tied back to understanding of strategy and figuring out how to apply all those learnings that I was getting every single day, directly into my business to help the business grow.

The second thing was that the MBA is really focused around, as I said, strategy. But specifically giving you the tools and the frameworks to understand this world that you’re living in. And understand how to get insights out of data and things of that nature.

And yes, the third point is while the flexibility is good, the thing that really worked for me and I continue to benefit from, really to this day, is that the online format is flexible, but it also allows you to extract the maximum amount of value out of the degree. And what I mean by that is that because you’re online, all of your materials are digital. They’re all storable, you can annotate them, you can highlight them, you can search them. There are many, many more tools accessible to you that allow you to sort of catalog your learning and look back on it. And I actually do that on at least a weekly basis. Every bit of every class that I took lives in my computer somewhere. And so when I remember, “Oh, this problem at work reminds me of a case study,” I can go back, get into that case study in just a matter of seconds, and it’s not paper that I have to go home and find and sift through and search and so on and so forth. So from that perspective, there’s a ton of sort of value on the backend there for me.

And I would really honestly credit my training in the OMBA with being able to successfully sell my business. As I said, it grew to a point where my instincts and the resources that I had available to me were just not enough to manage it. It allowed me to have a successful exit from it, mostly from being able to value it properly from the skills that I developed in financial management.

And then I had to enter the job market. And as a serial entrepreneur, I had never used LinkedIn. I had no use for it. I was simply living inside of my business. I didn’t have to do networking, I hadn’t had an interview with anyone since the ’90s. And I needed a ton of work. And so that’s when I actually turned to OCS, and Erika was actually my coach. And she, like I must have been an unbelievable project, because I had to start really from scratch. Everything from building a personal brand, and figuring out what a strategy would be for what jobs I was even going to apply for. President/CEO doesn’t necessarily qualify you to work in a function. So how do I brand myself in a way that I can actually get hired into one of these functions? We did a lot of one on one coaching on all these topics, all the way through to when I was doing the salary negotiations. Along the way there was also interview preparation, they mentioned the mock interviews and stuff like that. I took advantage of all of that because I really, really needed it, from the top all the way to the bottom of the funnel.

When I got hired at the strategist level position in a company, which got my feet wet a little bit, and actually I’ve only been in that job for nine months now and I’ve gotten promoted twice. And I’ve just been promoted to being a director. And I credit a lot of that to the skills I developed in the MBA, and specifically a lot of the help that I got from OCS to even get in here at all. So that’s just sort of a little bit about my journey and the resources that I used along the way. I would really strongly recommend if you’re thinking about developing your skills as a founder, or very much if you are trying to develop your value to your employer to get promoted, this is a very, very practical degree that’s delivered in a way that is flexible and allows you to extract a great deal more value from it than I would imagine would be possible in an on-ground setting.

So I’m happy to answer to answer your questions on the backend of this. If you’d like to connect with me on LinkedIn and ask more questions, happy to talk to you.

Christina Walsh:
Thank you Dan. And now Jacques will review the admissions requirements and helpful tips.

Jacques Avery:
Essentially, with the admissions process what we like to do is initially reach out to prospective applicants for the program and get a sense of who you are. Learn about your background on an academic level, on a professional level, and that way we can tailor what steps we’ll take with you in terms of application to the program. Particularly things that you may want to highlight within your personal statement, how you may want to position things if you’re applying for GMAT waiver, things that you may need if you’re an international student, if you come from a background other than a traditional business background either academically or professionally. So definitely do encourage you that if you have an assigned enrollment advisor, after watching and participating in this webinar here, to reach out either by email or over the phone with your enrollment advisor to get a sense of what steps that you may need to take with the admissions requirements.

In terms of the general admissions steps that our prospective students need to take, there is an online application which typically has five to six components. Essentially students will need to provide a copy of their resume, they’ll need to provide an official copy of their transcripts, they will also need to provide the name and the email address of an individual who can provide them with a professional recommendation. Aside from that, the applicants will provide a personal statement essay, which will be an outline of personal and professional goals, what motivated them to take these steps with their education, and how the Smith School’s program can help them to accomplish those goals.

Beyond that it’s where it gets a little bit murky. There are some applicants who will provide a GMAT or GRE score. An acceptable GRE score would be a total score of 300 or better, a preferred score would be a 305 or better. With the GMAT, there are applicants who will need to provide an acceptable score of 500 or better, although a preferred score would be a 550 or better. And beyond that, there are some applicants who may apply for GMAT waiver. A GMAT waiver will be assessed based on the quantitative and qualitative experience from your professional background as well as your academic outcomes. So I do encourage you to follow up with your enrollment advisor to see if you may qualify for that GMAT waiver.

There are international students who may apply to the program who may require a TOEFL or IELTS exam. These are English proficiency exams. With the TOEFL, you would need a scoring outcome of 100 out of 120 or better. With the IELTS exam, you would need a scoring outcome of 7 out of 9 or better.

With the admissions process for the online MBA program we do not have a singular interview the way that the campus-based programs do. There is an ongoing relationship that enrollment advisors and applicants for the online MBA have, so there is not a single interview, it is an ongoing relationship and ongoing contact that you will have with your enrollment advisor. Again, I do encourage you to give a call to your enrollment advisor. You can call in at 301-623-3193. Again, I’ll provide that information toward the end of our presentation.

Some helpful tips with applying to the program are to reach out to your enrollment advisor just to let them know who you are, what your background is, and what sort of questions that have about getting involved in the program. Any curriculum questions, questions about resources that you may have, they should be able to address with you there.

You can start your application online, we’ll be providing a link to the application with the follow up to our webinar presentation here. If you are completing GMAT or GRE, do follow up with your advisor, they may be able to provide you with some resources to help you to prepare for GMAT or GRE. You can also upload a copy of your resume and your transcripts to the online application. You do not need to physically send a copy of transcripts to the graduate school in order to initially apply.

And also, as you’ve been thinking about taking these steps with your education, also think about who may be impacted by your success as a student and your success as a professional. Whether that’s on a personal level or a professional level. But particularly on a professional level, you may want to think about individuals that you have relationships with who would be excellent sources to use for your professional recommendation. You should be able to add their name and their email address to your application in order to be able to provide that recommendation.

Aside from that, there is providing the personal statement, which is the component of your admissions packet that you have the most control over. How you come across with that goal statement within the application.

Aside from that, there is a $75 application fee with our online application as well.

There is also a toll-free number to the right where you can reach out to your enrollment advisor.

Christina Walsh:
Okay, thank you Jacques. Now I will like to move onto the Q & A portion of today’s session. If you haven’t already, please submit your questions in the Q & A widget on your console, and we will do our best to get to all questions. If we run out of time, any remaining questions will be handled via email.

So the first question we received, this person has a low GPA and is wondering how heavily weighted is the GPA in the application, or if there’s a minimum GPA to apply?

Jacques Avery:
Generally, a 3.0 out of 4, on a 4.0 scale, is what is considered for admission with the program. There are some circumstances where students may need to take additional steps if they have a grade point average lower than a 3.0. Again, would recommend that you do reach out to your enrollment advisor, if you have one, to be able to communicate with them about steps that you may need to take in the event that you do have a grade point average under a 3.0. We’ll provide the contact information for the enrollment team at the conclusion of the webinar.

Christina Walsh:
Thank you. Next question, is it possible to select two specializations?

Jacques Avery:
Two specializations is an option. When you do select a second specialization, you are adding on additional coursework to the program, of course. However, you will have fulfilled the requirements for graduation once you have completed the foundation courses as well as the specialization courses for the first specialization. So technically you will have already graduated with the program once you do start to incorporate the second specialization courses. But yes, it is an option.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you. Is there any difference between the degree received after completed an online MBA versus the full-time or part-time MBA?

Jacques Avery:
There is no distinction made with the official transcripts or the diploma certificate that you receive from the business school upon completion of the program. As you can see from our presentation here today, we want to make certain that students who are involved in the online MBA program know that they have access to resources with Career Services and other resources within the business school. So there most certainly is the commitment to our Smith community whether or not you are a campus-based student or an online student.

Christina Walsh:
And a question about an application. This person has a background, has a Bachelors in biology with no experience in the business field, but would like to pursue their MBA. What would be a recommendation to help them set up a stronger application?

Jacques Avery:
There is no assumption of prior knowledge with the Smith MBA. So all students are coming into the program and building skills from foundation-level courses that will not only serve them in becoming more effective and efficient professionals, but also building skills through the program, through that first year, particularly coming into the second year of courses, as well as the specialization courses. So I would encourage you to reach out to your enrollment advisor to speak more deeply about your particular experience if you do not have a traditional business background on an academic or professional level.

Christina Walsh:
Okay, thank you. Next question is for Dan. He’s talking about, he said you had all positive outcomes, but what challenges have you faced while taking online classes or any other issues you encounter? And how it helped you grow your company or transition to your new role. Thank you.

Dan Goldsmith:
Yeah, so that’s a really good question, and I think I’m going to give you what is hopefully going to be a satisfying answer. Which is that I can’t really answer that. And the reason why is, coming into this program I had a ton of challenges personally, just sort of adapting to the online environment.

And also, when I came in the program was quite young. So the cohort before me was the very first cohort to run through the program, so everything was brand new. So they got some learnings from that, and then my cohort was sort of like the beta cohort. They got some learnings from that, and so on and so forth. What I can tell you is, we had a lot of challenges. But every single one of those challenges was run up to the program director, and they are all fixed.

I volunteer, I think Christina mentioned that there’s a residency, so when you get accepted to the program you come in and there’s an on the ground residency, you meet all the people in your cohort, you spend a couple of days with them, learn a bunch of stuff. I actually teach a course in that residency about how to thrive in the online MBA world. And really what that course is about is all the learnings that my classmates and I developed coming into the program out of more traditional on the ground programs.

And what I can honestly tell you, and I tell everyone in those classes, they ask me who the bad professors are. And I say, “I don’t know, they don’t work here anymore.” All of the challenges that we identified and ran up the flagpole have all been fixed. And they take the feedback extremely seriously. So that having been said, I think that there is a learning curve to really be able to utilize the online tools well. Especially for people who are just sort of used to being on paper. And that’s now addressed in residency. So other than that, everything that I experienced really isn’t relevant anymore. So hopefully that answers your question.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you. Next question is back to Jacques. Jacques, can you review the difference between the GMAT waiver request and the goal essay?

Jacques Avery:
The GMAT waiver is really an essay that I would describe as being very similar to a cover letter. It’s you giving a description of professional and academic experience that you feel put you in a position where you may qualify for that waiver based on proficiencies that you’re demonstrated through that experience. Particularly on a quantitative and analytical level. And so essentially they’re looking for skills that will provide evidence that you can be a successful student and that you can handle the quantitative aspects that you would experience within the program.

With the goal statement, or the personal statement, it is really more about objectives that you have with the MBA, both in the short and the long term. It is also a statement about your motivations for pursuing the MBA, and any unique perspectives that you feel that you may bring to the program.

So these are two separate essays. One is about experience, the other is about future goals and objectives that you have on a personal and professional level.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you. Would you be able to review the tuition requirements and the financial aid information?

Jacques Avery:
Yep. So in total the program is 54 credits. The cost per credit is 1,555. The total program cost is 83,970. With a majority of students, well, with all students that apply and become accepted to the program they will have a merit-based scholarship review. This year over 90% of students have been awarded scholarships. The average scholarship amount has been just over 16,000. So there is some cost mitigation through scholarship. Students do look into federal student aid, they may have tuition assistance, tuition reimbursement through their employers, they may have VA benefits that they look toward helping them to be able to fund their program, external scholarships. So those are some common ways that students do fund their program. But of course, each individual situation may be different, so I would encourage you to work with your enrollment advisor to get an understanding of what resources that you have, so that you can plan appropriately with your resources as far as funding your program.

Christina Walsh:
Perfect. Next question, again for Jacques. How would you identify your enrollment advisor if you have not submitted an application for enrollment?

Jacques Avery:
If you have requested information about the program, it’s very likely that you were sent some information about the program via email by an enrollment advisor. You should be able to identify their email address ending in @onlineprograms.umd.edu. So I would encourage you to look in your inbox if you have requested information from the program. If you have not requested information from the program, I would encourage you just to simply call in to the admissions line at 301- … Oh, actually it’s right on screen. So toll-free number on screen and also a general inbox as well.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you. The next question about how, a ballpark percentage of students who are coming into the program to switch careers as opposed to those looking to advance their current career. Maybe Erika, do you have an idea of people that you’ve worked with?

Erika Harrigan:
Yeah, sure, absolutely. It seems like, and I don’t have hard numbers to share, but a lot of students from our online program who have met with us, have come to see us in order to make some sort of career move. Some of them know what they want to do when they come in, they know what kind of area they’re thinking of going into. We have a large number of students who don’t know exactly what they want to do either, and we help them as well. So we do have a large number of folks who seek to make career transitions that we meet with. But like I said, it runs the gamut, we also work with students who look to make career transitions and such as well. So we work with everything and everybody. I hope that answers the question.

Julie, do you have anything to add?

Julie Neill:
Yeah, I would just echo that. I think everybody, you know, we see a wide variety. There’s certainly a large proportion who are trying to do a career transition. Sometimes it’s a major one, sometimes it’s a little bit more minor. And a large contingent, too, who are not quite sure, and we help with that exploration process. So it really is all over the map.

I will say also, sometimes you have people who come into the program and they think, or they come in with a certain idea of what they want, and then that really shifts over time, over the course of their experience with the program. Their exposure to different subject matter areas, you know, maybe they came in thinking about finance, and then they realized that maybe that’s not, and they’re more intrigued by marketing or analytics or some other area.

You know, what we generally say to people is that if you are contemplating a major transition, to start early, to contact us early so we can start that process and then we can go through maybe confirming that through assessments and through conversations. But we really are customized to work with every student, meet them where they’re at, and to help them achieve their goals, and to help figure out what those goals may be.

Erika Harrigan:
I have to echo what Julie said with regard to meeting early, though. That’s really critical, particularly if you’re making a career change. It’s best not to wait until the very end or until you graduate to finally say, “Okay, now I’m going to make a career change and move into a different role.” There’s so many steps that are involved, and it’s best to start that early, to know what that goal is from the outset, and then to plan for it, to create a career development plan that you can work on as you go through your education. So that when you are indeed ready, you can just flip the switch and make that move.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you both. That’s great. Jacques, can you review the course requirements for the program, about how many credit hours and everything?

Jacques Avery:
In total there are 54 credits that are delivered within the program. The curriculum is very rigorous. There are over 20 courses that are delivered within the program. And there is another question here about the data analytics specialization. The course load with the data analytics specialization, there is the analytics specialization of course, but within the core curriculum as well there are additional courses that relate to analytics as well. That’s another thing about this program, within the curriculum, is that not only will you have exposure to those subject areas within your specialization, but also within the core curriculum in some way, shape, or form. So I would encourage you to reach out to your enrollment advisor.

And also, if you’ve requested information from the program in general, there should have been a brochure that was made available to you which actually does outline the curriculum, where you are able to more closely see the courses that are within the, not only the core curriculum, but also within the specializations. Also, within the landing page for the program there is a breakdown of the curriculum with course descriptions for essentially every course that’s delivered within the program. So I would encourage you, too, to take a look at that page as well.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you. Jacques, can you review the live session requirements and kind of review how that works for students?

Jacques Avery:
When students register for courses, and as Dan mentioned, there have been changes that have occurred within the program, and now students register themselves for courses. This allows students to pick and choose courses, or course sessions, when their webinar sessions are delivered on a weekly basis. So each course does have a 90 minute webcam session each week. They are typically delivered in between 7:30 to 9:00pm or 8:30 to 10:00pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. So when students register themselves for courses, they are also registering for the day and time that they will have those webcam sessions delivered on a weekly basis with each course.

Christina Walsh:
And that’s Eastern time, correct?

Jacques Avery:
Eastern time.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you. Next question. What would be the typical course load for online MBA, MBA student per semester? Is it fairly easy to drop credit hours or add them as necessary for life demands?

Jacques Avery:
At the beginning of each term, when students do register themselves for courses, you will have an opportunity to really set your own workload, in a sense that you are registering yourself for courses. Students take one or two courses simultaneously through the duration of the program. The students who do take two courses a time, they are considered to be full-time. And it is a rigorous program. Dan, would you mind speaking to what it was like for you to make that balance between your professional obligations, personal obligations with your personal life, personal time, and also with being a student?

Dan Goldsmith:
Yeah, so the challenge for us coming into the program is that it is a lot of work. And I think everyone is quite transparent about that upfront. I mean, this is an MBA from a ranked school. This is not, you know, you come in, you show up, you get socially passed and that’s it. You’re going to have to do the work.

And so what a lot of us ending up doing, which worked out to be very successful, was that we all got onto schedules. So for me personally, I’m a night owl, I prefer to work until 1:00 in the morning. There are lots of other people that got up early, or would spend a weekend day doing school work and then they’d spend the other part of the weekend with their families. Whatever schedule works for you, we usually found that we would, taking two courses, which was a lot, but not unmanageable. And remember, I was an entrepreneur, so I’m running a whole company while I’m doing this, and I have my family with two kids.

Was I busy for two year? Yes, absolutely. But it is absolutely accomplishable if you get yourself and your family and your friends onto a schedule. You’re going to have less socializing time. But that having been said, you have a lot more time and a tremendous amount more flexibility as to when you do that work when you’re in this format where the only thing that you really have to be there for are the live sessions. And if you have to miss a live session, you can usually jump into another live session from another group or professor to make sure that you’re getting the same material. And the material is standardized. So if you’re in one class week three and you’re in a different class for week four, you’re still getting the same basic content. So you have a lot of flexibility that way.

And the other thing I would say is that the professors are acutely aware that we are adults. We’re not treated like we were in undergrad, where it’s like, “Get it in, or oop, oh well, sorry.” They are very understanding that things come up. I had, in the course of going through OMBA, I had six, well five people and a pet die in the course of two months. I was back and forth to funerals all the time. And never once did anyone give me a hard time about that. And as a matter of fact, the folks in my cohort really helped to pull me up to make sure that I didn’t fall behind. So you get to establish those relationships and get those people to help you and pull you along and give you that support when you need it. And as I said, the professors treat you as adults.

So it’s a lot of work, you do have to schedule it in. But once you get on that schedule, managing two classes and a full-time job and a family is actually accomplishable.

Jacques Avery:
Thank you for that answer, Dan.

Christina Walsh:
Let’s see. So we’re nearing in at the end of our session here, so we’ll do one last question. Can you review the program completion timeline that’s typical?

Jacques Avery:
Program completion really does depend on the number of courses that you take at one time, whether or not you do make any changes in your program pacing as you progress through the program. As Dan talked about, some life events that he incurred as he went through the program, some of those will come up, they may have an impact on how many courses or whether or not to participate in courses during a certain period of time. So all students technically have up to five years to complete the program. However, the designed program length when students do complete two courses simultaneously through the duration of the program is two years, 24 months. There are some students though who may take on courses, you know, one at a time through their participation in the program. However, the design of the program by default is that students are completing two courses simultaneously. And along that timeframe, or along that type of pacing, they will complete the program in two years.

Christina Walsh:
Great, thank you. All right, so that is the end of our session today, we’ve reached our time. So on the screen, again, you’ll find the contact information for the enrollment and career services offices, so if you have any additional questions. Any questions that we were not able to get to today will be covered off on directly from the enrollment advisor. We will follow up by tomorrow. If you’re ready to apply into the program or would like to schedule an appointment to speak with your advisor, you know who they are, links to do so can be found within the resources widget. And additional program information links are also available to you there.

I’d like to thank our speakers for their time and willingness to share their expertise today. And thank you to everyone who participated, we’re really glad that you could join us and hope this session was helpful for you. And now I will close things up. And thank you everyone for your time and have a wonderful day.

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