Graduate School is nothing like Undergrad: 5 ways it is more Rewarding

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When talking to undergraduate students or even those in the workforce considering going back to school for their Master’s, I am always asked, “How is it different?” It is very different, and in a good way.

I waited close to three years between my bachelor’s and master’s. I chose to graduate with a double major in Business Administration and Marketing, continue working full time and make a dent in my student loans. When I was ready to start the process of applying to graduate school, I found out my employer would not pay for courses in “Marketing” because I was working in a technical department within the telecom industry (with the hopes of a marketing department transfer). Instead of getting a Masters in IT or being deterred, I went ahead and switched jobs and made my preparations for grad school. Looking back, this was a great thing. Not only did I get my Master’s, I avoided massive layoffs, seeing my employer investigated by the SEC and the collapse of one of the largest telecom companies in the United States. Gotta love the ‘90s!

The biggest concern I had about graduate school was the GMAT. I felt I never tested well. Once the test was taken, the results printed, I was on my way to two years of fun. Truly, I loved every minute of it. And here is why:

Level of Maturity
I was 25 and mature enough. By 25, you usually have your personality developed, aspirations in mind, goals set out and a picture for the future — what better time to devote about two years to bettering yourself? I had some professional experience under my belt, which would prove to be useful in my course work, and had a clear idea of what I wanted from my graduate program.

Career in Progress
I was not as concerned about hurrying and finishing my degree so I could get a “better job,” as I was during my undergrad years. I worked part time my freshman and sophomore years, and full time during my junior and senior years. I was so determined to graduate and get a better-paying job that I overloaded each term by taking 21 to 24 semester hours. This time around, I was making better money and was able to pay for each class as I took it. Not to mention, while in school, I could defer my previous student loans.

Industry Specific
Probably the main reason I loved my Master’s program so much was that each course was directly related to my area of interest: Marketing. What’s not to love about Consumer Behavior, Global Marketing, Marketing Managements and Promotions? Graduate courses are focused on topics you may have experience with or will have experience with as you develop your desired career. These courses also make readings, case studies and projects more relevant and applicable. In contrast, my undergraduate courses varied and typically were dealt with subjects I had little interest in until I reached my junior and senior years.

Connections
In my graduate career, I had some great instructors who took an active interest in me. The classes were smaller, and we were able to get to know one another better. Many of these instructors kept in touch after graduation, and ultimately it was one of my grad-school instructors (turned Department Head) who hired me for my first adjunct teaching assignment. These instructors see what you are capable of doing and can be a great source of information and guidance — they can also write killer letters of reference! Similarly, I was able to create friendships with my peers that transcended into valuable professional contacts. Now with social media, it is even easier to stay connected to instructors and peers, and explore networking beyond graduation.

Like-Minded Individuals
Have you ever felt out of place with friends? Most of my friends had very little interest in business in the depth I did. Most had careers in different sectors or were married with children. In grad school, I was surrounded by like-minded folks who shared my respect for education, valued hard work and had the potential to be thought leaders in my field.

I am not saying obtaining a Master’s or an MBA is a piece of cake and one big social party. It is hard work, but when the end result is one you desire and the topic of study is one you love, it really can be enjoyable. And don’t forget: There are plenty of organizations that value an MBA.

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from pursuing something so awesome! If someone you know if ‘thinking’ about a Masters/MBA, be sure to share this post with them.

15 Social Media Concepts to Make You a More Marketable Social Media Professional in 2013

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Social media marketing know how is quickly becoming a must-have skill for marketing professionals. Approximately 73% of Fortune 500 companies have a Twitter account; 66% have Facebook Pages. However, many of these organizations lack experienced personnel to truly unleash the power of social. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review of 2,100 companies, only 12% of those utilizing media feel they use it effectively. Further, online job postings requiring social media skills have gone up 87% from 2011-2012; there is now demand for proven social media professionals. This is great news for all of my Social Media grad students! This leads me to believe that not only employers accepting social, it is now a requirement for business (a notion many of have been shouting from the rooftops). Along with this comes the need for employees who can accomplish social strategies for businesses.

Many believe that social media is simply having an active Facebook profile or Twitter feed. I assure you it is not, there is a method behind the madness! My social media MBA courses offer students the opportunity to learn and apply skills relevant to their career or career goals. These courses are part of a traditional MBA program, requiring courses in accounting, finance, management and more. Students utilize all of these classes together; not in a vacuum. They learn to be strategic and analytic. Upon their completion of the MBA with the social media marketing focus, a student should be able to demonstrate the below competencies. These are not necessarily individual skill sets, but cover a broad spectrum of skills that if used together, make the individual more proficient and marketable. These topics below are addressed more fully within the courses I teach, but are a great resource to look over and evaluate yourself. View this check-list and assess which you have conquered and which you can improve upon in 2013:
* At a minimum, you should have an active Twitter account and LinkedIn account designed around your personal brand. Similarly, you should know what a hashtag is, why we use it, and how not to use or overuse it!
* Do you know the logic behind utilizing social? Here’s a hint: Engagement. This is a broad answer, but if you have been following this blog, you should know that the common theme is “engagement” with external and internal stakeholders.
*Accept and embrace the importance of listening before you speak (via social) and having a social plan/strategy before jumping on the social media roller coaster.

Read the entire article at:
WindmillNetworking.com
Social Media Today
LinkedIn

photo credit: draggin via photopin cc
I had one of these Little Professors as a kid! Was a favorite gadget of mine!