Residency week at RKC: Listen to what our students have to say about it. Make an informed decision!

From the very start of my time with RKC, one of the questions I get asked the most is: What differentiates RKC’s online programmes from those offered by other universities?

I used to answer that RKC has been around in online education for more than 20 years, has developed the experience and technology to deliver a top-quality online education experience and has exclusive partnerships with three very recognisable and government accredited British universities, all of which are very valid and important points. 

However, in my opinion and, more importantly, in the opinion of a vast majority of our students, the biggest differentiator is the one-week residency programme we conduct either at the college campus in Zürich, Switzerland or at the university campus in the United Kingdom. 

This is a mandatory part of most of the programmes we offer (we have just launched a range of fully online ones too though) and you will have to attended one such week if you intend to graduate with the master’s degree. Now, I know that traveling for the residency is not easy: you will have to take time off, there is the added cost of stay, flight tickets, visa, local travel and food, etc. But the response to this part of the programme has been overwhelmingly positive from our students. 

Most of our students haven’t been in a classroom environment in a very long time and this one week is exciting. You get to go back in time and relive your school/ college experience, but in a whole new light, with the added benefit of experience and the confidence of an accomplished professional life.

You enjoy interacting face to face with the professors and fellow students, clarifying doubts and having fun doing it. Most times the focus of the residency is on preparing you to start your dissertation – research methods, discussion of actual ideas with colleagues and professors. You also get to network with your fellow students, not only forming lifelong friendships beyond this one week but also potential future business partnerships. 

Here is a short video of our students talking about their residency experience, you can judge for yourself the value and takeaways our students derive from the residency programme.     

So, which programme is right for you? Not a question I am able to answer via a blog post, I’m afraid, but if you want to find out, you can get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice.  

Explore the number of specialised master’s degree programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College through exclusive partnerships with top British universities. Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply.

A 100% online MBA or MSc? Yes, you (now) can!

It’s official. We are excited to announce the launch of five new 100% online master’s degree programmes to add to our growing list of programmes. We know our online masters (MBA, MSc and LL.M) programmes, with a one-week mandatory residency, have been immensely popular among working professionals who looked for a perfect (or even just manageable) work-study balance.  

However, we could not underestimate the growing demand for 100% online programmes. We developed our 100% online programmes through an exclusive partnership with University of Cumbria, offering the same British tradition and Swiss quality education – fully online.  

The specializations these new 100% online programmes offer are among the most sought after and highly rated online programmes. These include artificial intelligence, digital marketing, data analytics, computer science and international business and information technology. The world is going digital and we need future leaders well equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills. 

Ready to dig in? Here they are!

 All of the five new programmes share the following characteristics: 

Duration : Minimum 12 months, maximum 5 years. 

Delivery Method : 100% online via OnlineCampus (an interactive online learning environment) with intensive class discussion and collaboration. 

Entry points: Four times a year (winter, spring, summer and autumn). 

Tuition Fees: 12,000 CHF (Swiss Francs). This fee includes library access, OnlineCampus access, graduation fees, and University matriculation fees. Fees are payable in interest-free instalments, however, the programmes are not eligible for UK Postgraduate Loans for Master’s Study. Sorry! We do try to compensate to some extent for this by offering occasional time-bound bursaries, so keep an eye on our newsletter. Not yet signed up? Request a catalogue here

Programme details 

100% Online MBA Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

There is no industry in the business world today that does not uses AI. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have become mainstream tools in driving business. AI applications help companies reduce their costs, enhance customer experience, increase profits – in short, spending less to do more. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have already started revolutionising the business world, as many businesses are already using such technologies to achieve a competitive advantage. The MBA Artificial Intelligence is devised to equip you with the skills and knowledge required to manage the intricacies that stem from an artificial intelligence driven world.  

100% Online MBA Digital Marketing  

Digital media has taken the advertising to a whole new level and has made it a profession highly sought after. This has contributed to changing the landscape of jobs and how marketing is done today, encouraging businesses and business schools alike to evolve the way that marketing is viewed as an independent function. This online programme equips you with the skills needed to engage with customers via digital media and effectively market businesses across digital networks. 

100% Online MBA Information Technology 

I personally consider this programme a marriage between the business and technology worlds. IT managers are now required to have a thorough understanding of business, and not just technology, so gone are the days when one could afford to specialize either one or the other. The MBA Information Technology answers the growing demand of intertwining technology with business by blending the established business knowledge of an MBA with specialised courses on Information Management and the Internet of Things. 

100% Online MSc Data Analytics 

Computers and the advent of the Internet have brought upon the world the age of information and big data, and organizations want to retain as much information as possible about their business as they appreciate the role of data in gaining insights and out-thinking competitors. Whether your pursuit is technical or business-focused, the MSc Data Analytics nurtures your analytical skills.  

100% Online MSc Computer Science and International Business 

Modern businesses are dominated by technology with new computing systems and the internet dominantly driving the change. Global markets are now open to even smallest of the businesses. The MSc Computer Science and International Business seek to provide students with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how business merges with technology, offering a blend of computer science subjects and core business topics. 

Fully Online vs 1-week residency  

We are staunch believers in the value of the one-week residencies typically mandatory in all of our programmes. As already mentioned earlier, however, we do recognize the challenges raised by such events on you, the students. For those of you who always wanted an MBA or MSc, but were being held back by the prospect of having to attend a full week in Zurich or the UK, this should be a no brainer. But how can we justify a fully online programme? 

There’s no hiding behind the finger – the value of the residencies is not necessarily the tuition (this can be delivered relatively easily online), but meeting other like-minded people, from all around the world, doing the same programme, facing the same challenges, and heading in the same direction (graduation). You cannot really imagine the camaraderie and friendships built during such weeks. 

Our fully online programmes do not require you to attend a residency – but they do offer the option of doing so if you wanted to – perhaps you will find yourself freer, richer, more motivated to travel – know that is an option. 

For what it’s worth, we should mention that at graduation you receive a degree of the University of Cumbria – whether you studied on campus, online with a mandatory residency or fully online. No difference whatsoever. The choice is fully yours! 

We are proud to launch these new programmes, with the first intake starting already in May 2020. Be among the first applicants and enjoy the array of exciting introductory admission offers! 

5 EASY Steps to Successfully Start Budgeting

I have never been one for budgets. In my youth (and I still consider myself young at under 40), whenever I tried to keep a budget sheet on Excel or an old fashioned passbook, I have always found it boring, tedious (yes, I know it means the same as boring, but that is how I feel about it) and ultimately it just got me all worked up and confused. In short, I hated keeping a budget.

Rocket Science or Budgeting!?

And so, I stopped keeping a budget and just left the money in the bank using it as and when I needed it. I figured as I got older, I would get more responsible and would start budgeting. But that just did not happen, until one day it all just hit me – wife, kid, mortgage, car loan, living expenses, school fees, etc., etc., etc. – scrambling to keep afloat. Forget personal development – it’s all about survival.

So, I sat down, introspected and approached the budgeting issue as any other problem. It all starts with understanding the what and the why.

What is a budget?

It is a plan. A planed and controlled way for me to spend or save my money, knowing exactly where, when and how much I will need, how much I will be paying and how much I will be left with after.

In other words, budgeting is the ability to be able to say what each individual swiss franc ( or dollar or pound or rupee or naira or euro or whatever your currency is) is meant to do. Some francs will be tasked with paying your phone bill. Some with paying rent. Some might have no job at all – so their job would be called “emergency fund”.

What should I (someone who hates budgeting) consider when I start planning?

I promised you five easy steps to start budgeting, so here we go.

  1. Know your monthly budget (income): At the start of every month (for most people) fresh funds hit their bank accounts; maybe from a salary, parents, or a trust fund. It doesn’t matter where you get your money from, but this is your starting point. So, be clear when and how much money you get every month, this is your money available to budget. We’re talking net income (after taxes) and not gross income, unless you get taxed as self-employed / independent contractor / freelancer / whatever the word is in your country, in which case this also means you need to account for those taxes coming in later on. Important!
  2. Split it: I wanted to keep my budgeting simple. I started by splitting my budget into three groups or funds.
    • Needs: I started by making a list of my fixed monthly expenses: utility charges, telephone and internet charges, loans, insurance charges, housekeeping and maintenance charges, school fees, fuel and travel, etc. These are your fixed expenses and money have to be allocated to this fund. You can of course reduce your expenses here in a number of ways, such as moving to a cheaper or less expensive telephone and internet plan, saving on water and electricity (switch off the light when you leave the room), move to a house with a smaller rent, etc. Not rocket science, but worth mentioning.
    • Wants: This fund is put aside to improve the quality of life. Some people might say that this is not important, and you can do without, but I am definitely not one of those people. Going for movies and dinner with family, meeting friends for coffee, taking the kids to the arcade, subscribing to Audible or Netflix, buying a gift for the wife; I could do without any of this, but I would be miserable. There may be times when I might have to cut back on this, but that is alright as long as it is only for a short time. I would put aside about 50% of the budget remaining after the Needs fund.
    • Savings: The remaining 50% goes into my savings fund. My aim is to have at any time a minimum of 12 months Needs+Wants fund in my savings, with the sky as the upper limit of the fund.
  3. Use your credit/ debit card: Credit cards have a bad reputation and for good reason, a lot of people have failed to pay their cards back on time and have been penalised heavily and disproportionately by the card issuers for this mistake. It will also mess up your credit score. So, if you are someone who does not have the willpower or awareness to spend within your limits or pay the card on time, then do not use credit cards, just use your debit card. On the other hand, if you are like me (at least till now, fingers crossed), someone who ensures money is there in the bank to pay for every penny spent on the card and who has never missed a payment due date, the credit card can be awesome. 
    • They help you keep track on your spending and help you analyse your spending habits.
    • You earn points for every spend, which in turn translates into saving either in cash or purchases using points.
    • Most credit cards will offer some kind of discount, offers, insurance or cash backs – again savings.
  4. Be a hunter: Before making any purchase, lookout for offers or delay your purchase until a sales/ discount season. Check multiple stores for the best deal on the item you are looking to purchase. Even RKC, generally known for its frugality and already low costs, will occasionally run some promotional campaigns, driven by our desire to level the playing field for all sort of candidates, regardless of gender or cultural background. If you are signed up for our newsletter, you should know this – if you are not, what are you waiting for?
  5. Limit your expenses: Before making any purchase, ask yourself: 
    • Do I really need this? 
    • Do I have sufficient “Wants” fund for this purchase?
    • Can this purchase be delayed until a sale comes along?
    • Will a less expensive and lesser known brand work for me?
    • There’s a nifty trick for this one (in particular the delay option) – keep your credit card separated from your phone, which you presumably always have with you, and do not save its details on the browser. That will require you to stand up and go look for it every time you need/want (budget verbs!) to buy something – do not underestimate the power of inertia!
Keep track of your expenses, no matter how bored you get.

Budgeting might be the most boring aspect of your month/week/day, but it goes a long way in helping you get financial security, independence, and peace of mind. It is also the only way you can be confident you can afford big expenses such as a house, car, or an investment in your future in the form of a Master’s degree – yes, shameless plug. But it is the truth.

Can you actually afford a Master’s degree? Now is as good a time as ever: we are launching a number of new online master’s degree programmes, and we’re offering a limited time bursary on the tuition fees. If your budget is in good shape for it, and you believe in yourself, do check in with your RKC education advisor

Financial Management: Boring to Death or Deadly if Misunderstood?

Finance: each one of us deals with finance in some way or the other on a daily basis, whether we are a professional accountant, a number-crunching wizard, an artist, a medical practitioner, a lawyer, an entrepreneur or a home-maker. There is no escape from finance even if you do find it difficult to comprehend the financial concepts or resent dealing with numbers (that goes for myself, huh numbers!).  Being pervasive might make it one of two things (or maybe both): boring to death, or critically important. 

At RKC, we know an MBA is a prime management qualification for managers. Our Online MBAs give you a great overview of the business world and enhance your knowledge and skills further. And since Financial Management is an integral part of any business, we offer it as a core or as an elective module depending on which MBA programme you choose to pursue.  

Now, before I share with you an insider’s view of the online module let’s get started with the basics – learning what financial management is and why it is important in business.

What “Finance” really is – academically speaking 

Khan and Jain (as cited in Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian, 2009) define Finance as the art and science of managing money. Any kind of business entity, big or small, depends on finance to meet its requirements in the economic world and so if you accept that money is the lifeblood of the organization, then finance is its heart.

Types of Finance 

As described above, Finance is one of the most important functions of a business. It plays a paramount role in the smooth functioning of the business activities.

Finance can be classified into mainly two categories:  

Figure 1. Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian (2009). Paramasivan, C., and Subramanian, T. (2009). Financial management (New Delhi: New Age International (P) Ltd., Publishers). 

Private Finance includes the Individual, Partnership, and Business or Corporate Finance, while Public Finance, on the other hand, covers Central, State and Semi-Government Financial matters. (Source: Financial Management by Paramasivan and Subramanian (2009)).   

Financial Management 

According to Joseph and Massie (as cited in Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian, 2009): Financial Management “is the operational activity of a business that is responsible for obtaining and effectively utilizing the funds necessary for efficient operations.” The job of a finance manager includes procurement and efficient utilization of funds. Financial management has two main objectives: wealth maximization and profit maximization.  

So ultimately, why IS Financial Management important? 

It is imperative for any business to maintain adequate amounts of funds for its smooth operations. Financial Management thus plays an important role in the following: 

  1. Financial Planning:  Financial Management begins with the determination of the financial requirements of the business. 
  2. Acquisition of the funds: A financial manager employs the most effective means of acquiring adequate funds at minimum cost.  
  3. Utilization of funds: It is not just acquisition, financial management also involves the efficient and effective use of the sourced funds to improve the operational efficiency of the business. 
  4. Profitability: Employing financial management tools like accounting, budgetary control, ratio analysis and cost volume profit analysis, businesses look to improve their profitability. 
  5. Enhance the value of the firm: As stated earlier, one of the objectives of financial management is wealth maximization and improving returns for investors.  

 
What would you learn from the Financial Management module in the Online MBA? 

Business is about profit, and there can be sustainability only with proper knowledge of effective financial management. Oxford and Harvard Business School graduate Professor David Duffill will expand and reinforce your knowledge of financial accounting, management accounts, budgeting and financing. This module aims to provide an introduction to financial accountancy and managerial economics. The module will engage you in reflective and discursive argument on the materiality of different social, environmental and ethical issues, introducing you to accounting and principles of finance and letting you use your new knowledge in practical ways by using case studies. 

What our own students say about the module?

There is nothing better than to hear from the horse’s mouth (past and current students) though, so here’s what they have to say about the Financial Management module. Each cohort is surveyed at the end of the module.

For most students, the module was “an amazing learning experience”. The course developed their skills, enabling them to quickly adapt and find a new direction. The learning also allowed them to better understand changes in the economy, and identify new business opportunities.  

It “strengthened my business and financial skills”. Students benefit from a clear understanding of the foundations of finance as well as the various financial instruments used for valuations like futures and options and also from an understanding of financial statements to make an investment decision. Videos from Professor David Duffill and illustrated instructions on exercises or examples are seen as very helpful by an overwhelming majority. 

It is not all roses though. There is also agreement on the fact that assessments are very challenging (just like real business challenges are very … well … difficult!), yet they are also a very enjoyable experience allowing students to use different financial techniques to improve a business (for those who get it right anyway!).  

I hope you enjoyed reading about business finance management today. Stay tuned for next week’s blog that takes financial management to a more personal level – managing your personal (or family) budget! Watch this space! 

MBA or MSc: Is there a difference? Should you care?

It’s been a while since I finished my MBA, but I very clearly remember my thought process and the confusion I felt before deciding to start it.

I kept asking myself all sort of questions.

These are just some of the many questions that flashed through my mind at that time. But once the dust settled and I picked the path I wished to travel, a new question popped up.

Should I do an MBA or an M.Sc. (in management/business)?

Back then I already had friends who were doing or had completed MBA and M.Sc. programmes in management from universities around the world. As I myself was looking only at full time on-campus programmes, I asked them about their courses to get a better understanding on which programme to enrol for. These differences carry to the online versions too.

There are some basic differences between an MBA and an M.Sc programme.

  • Student demography: MBA programmes are usually targeted at individuals who have a minimum of 5 years work experience and as a consequence are usually somewhat older, people who are perhaps already in middle management positions. Whereas the M.Sc degree programmes are targeted at younger graduates, individuals with little to no work experience, usually coming in straight from their bachelor studies.
A graphic of median age distributions over MBA and MSc programmes since 2010
Figure 1. Median age for female (orange) and male (blue) students across the MBA and MSc programmes in RKC since 2010 – a clear and significant difference (statistically significant that is, rather than “important”).
  • Teaching methods: From the student demography we can deduce how the education will be structured in class. M.Sc. programmes are usually more theoretical and classroom centric, whereas MBA programmes are based on experiential learning, calling on the work experience of the students to analyse case studies, projects and submit dissertations, working in groups with other students, learning from their experience coupled with the theoretical aspects of learning.
  • Focused study: MBA programmes are usually focused on general management and not in a specialised field of study, in fact most of the modules taught in an MBA programme would be on general management. M.Sc. programmes on the other hand are usually more focused in a particular field of study (for example, Information Systems Management, Global Management, Accounting and Finance, etc.). 
  • Duration: MBA programmes are usually 18 to 24 months long, with a project and dissertation. M.Sc. programmes can usually be completed in 12 months, although they too will typically require a dissertation.
  • Cost: In most universities MBA programmes are priced much higher than M.Sc. programmes (although you will find exceptions too).

So, which one is good for me?

In recent times more and more universities have started creating courses where the differences have been reduced, creating courses that are unique and catering to the student’s requirements. This is especially true for online master’s degree programmes where technology has had a big impact on communication and giving students from all over the world and from different professional backgrounds access to information like never before.

So, which one is right for you? Not a question I am able to answer via a blog post, I’m afraid, but if you want to find out, you can get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice.

Explore the number of specialised master’s degree programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College through exclusive partnerships with top British universities. Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply

Interview hacks to land yourself that dream job (and a well-paid one too!)

I have had a fair share of job interviews in my career so far. And thinking retrospectively, I realize most (if not all) of these interviews asked very similar questions. You can probably relate. 

An interview is a great opportunity to prove your worth to the interviewer
  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself (a bit of a time-waster, unless they are trying to judge your verbal communication skills – otherwise that information is already present in your CV (or should).
  2. Why are you looking for a change/career change? 
  3. Why do you want to work with us? 
  4. What value will you add to this company? 
  5. What are your strengths and weaknesses? 
  6. What criticism or advice did you get in your earlier job? 
  7. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? (another cliche´ and rather a useless question).
  8. Proudest accomplishment? 
  9. What motivates you the most in a job? 
  10. Explain the gap in your career. 
  11. How do you handle the pressure? Describe a situation when you did that and how. 
  12. What are your hobbies/passion? 
  13. Describe a situation when you went over and beyond the job requirements and expectations.
  14. What are your salary expectations?

Behavioural Interviews

Some of these questions are “old school” and of little value, but more recent research in HR, and in particular recruitment and selection point to the value of behavioural interviews and there is a tendency towards this approach in recent years.  

When interviewers conduct a behavioural interview, they are looking for past experience and evidence of existing behaviours; a clear advantage over hypothetical questions such as “how would you handle conflict with a co-worker” where most candidates will try to give the “right” answer. They are looking to find the right fit, not only for the job role but for their company as a whole. You will normally be asked to respond to questions during such an interview using the CAR (Context, Action, Result) or STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) structures. These interviews are highly focused, situation-based interviews that demand crisp, precise and structured responses and having the ability to answer in this way takes practice.

It may seem to be an intimidating experience, but as you go through job interviews throughout your career, you will probably come to realize it is merely a conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee. While you may be nervous about answering the questions right, the interviewer is equally concerned about asking the right questions and establishing a good rapport with you. Recruitment and selection are an expensive process for any company, and they would like to avoid a re-run of the process for the same position again. Organizations do realize the importance of a good employee and of the fact that even if the interview process does not end up in selection, the candidate is a potential customer of their product or service, and they would like to make a good impression.  

Preparing the interview

Receiving an interview call in itself means that you knocked off other competitors and possess the competencies that the company is looking for in its potential employee. However, do not become complacent at this point. You have got to prove your worth and an interview is a perfect opportunity to make your case as to why the interviewer should hire you. Here are a few tips that will help you in preparation for a successful job interview. 

Pre-interview preparation

Understand the job description 

The humble job description yields much more than a naïve interviewee can decipher. The job description provides you with details such as the qualifications, qualities and competencies the company desires in a candidate (at least if the job description is done well). You could pick up hints on potential questions that an interviewer may ask in an interview. This is a good opportunity to align your presentation of your qualities to the given job description and make the case that you are the right candidate for the role. 

Match your qualifications to the Job 

You must have a good understanding of how you qualify for the job and why you are interviewing for the position. You must be able to explain to the recruiter your interest in the position and convince them how and why you are the best fit for the role. You have to be honest with yourself first – are you really a good fit? 

Research the Company and the role thoroughly 

This is probably one of the most common complaints, or, rather, disappointments for a recruiter: to see the candidate did not do their homework well and have little knowledge of the company and the position. Do thorough research to show that you have invested time in preparing for the job, and do care about the company, its values, and requirements of the job. 

Identify the requirements of the company – empathize with their problem 

When the recruiter asks questions like “why should we hire you?” Or “what can you offer that no one else can?”, they really are looking to understand if you “get” their requirements and whether hiring you would solve their problems. Be a problem solver to increase your chances of recruitment. Scrutinize all resources available such as company website, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram presence, etc.  

Google Yourself 

You want to put your best foot forward in an interview. You would not want to be surprised at the interview. Some experts report that up to 85% of hiring managers “Google” a candidate before or after an interview, and so should you. See what the first page of results brings upon you, and be ready to answer any questions about those (whether flattering or non-flattering) results. 

Rehearse and Role-play 

The best way to score your performance at an interview is to practice mock interviews. Rehearse the answers you would want to give and watch out for non-behavioural communication that might confound the message. There are apps available now that use AI to score you (almost in real-time) on diction, intonation, filler words, and so on. Practice with a friend works well too.

Prepare in advance for STAR interviews

The mantra to be successful when appearing for the STAR/CAR interviews is to go prepared. Strategize and draw your responses from the key competencies for the position. Structure your responses with situations that highlight your knowledge and behaviour from previous experiences. This is a great opportunity to impress the interviewer with your skills and achievements.

Work on your body language and interview etiquettes 

Recruiters are generally good readers of body language and can gauge your confidence level just by the way you shake hands with them (they do this for a job, after all). Other body languages such as posture, gaze, how and where you sit on the chair, can leak information about your state of mind and sincerity.

Interviewers analyze your body language and etiquettes

Plan your travel ahead and get directions 

An employer appreciates punctuality and pro-activeness from its potential candidates. Being prepared and arriving prior to the scheduled time for the interview can always earn you some brownie points. 

At the interview

Wear appropriate interview clothing and groom your hair 

You do not have to dress to kill. However, put on formal clothing and take care of even how you groom your hair. A hippy hairstyle may speak volumes of your character and preferences that may not necessarily fit with the company’s vision and values. Then again, if that is who you are and enjoy being, showing your true colours can prevent landing a job in an environment you might not enjoy!

Know what to bring along for the interview  

Always ask ahead of the interview if you need to bring any original documents, certificates, etc.

Hone your salary negotiation skills

One tricky question that most candidates are hesitant about responding to during an interview, and for good reason, is about compensation.

Interviewers ask this question to see how well you know your worth, or maybe as a way to get a “cheaper” deal. Is it fair to ask it? Debates are raging, but one thing is for sure – it is fair not to answer it! 

Of course, you do not want to antagonize your interviewer, and there are different ways to handle remuneration related questions avoiding conflict. Try to deflect such questions towards the end of the interview, so that you have complete knowledge and understanding of job duties and expectations. Experts advise that instead of quoting a number, always provide a salary range. Show that you are open to negotiations. Include other remuneration forms like benefits and perks as an opportunity to negotiate.

Prepare follow-up questions 

Most recruiters will normally allow the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview – be ready to do so. It shows your interest and how well you have researched the company.  

These are some of the hacks that will come in handy to break through the toughest interviews. Sound knowledge of your field of work, grit and thinking off the feet can actually get you on the other side of the table.  

Do share with us your job interview experiences in the comment section below. And I wish those who are going to appear for a job interview the best of luck. Even though our students are mostly employed while they study in the Masters programmes, most do end up interviewing for new/better jobs as a result of graduating.  

Looking to make the jump into HR? We have some tips for you!

Full disclosure: I have never worked in the Human Resource department of an organisation and almost all my knowledge of the challenges faced by an HR professional is second hand. In fact, until recently, I did not even think they faced any challenges. Yeah, yeah, I know, every job has its challenges and HR is no different, but to my mind the average HR person’s life looked so comfortable and stress free. No targets, no work pressure, no deadlines – just show up, smile, have a good time taking with your co-workers, plan team outings and play team building exercises.   

Naivety thy name be Sahil.

Those of you who read my blog on 6 Reasons to Do a Master’s Degree Programme know about my friend Jojo. Well, Jojo was an HR manager with more than 15 years’ experience as an HR professional, it was speaking with him that first gave me an insight to the challenges faced by the modern HR professional.

Challenges facing the modern HR professional

These can be broadly classified into three main categories:

  1. Environmental or external: These are challenges that are caused by changes that have been brought about by external factors that will not have anything to do directly with you or your organisation. These factors are usually generic in nature and will have an effect on multiple industries or the corporate workforce as a whole. Some of the environmental challenges are:
    • Government legislation: Governments nowadays the world over change like the seasons and each government comes with their own mandates and ideas on how businesses should be run and the country’s workforce should be managed. 
    • Global economy: Companies today operate on a truly global scale (even small companies), and this has resulted in local units and companies incorporating global best practices into their work culture. But what is best practice in some countries might not be what is best or even what works in your country. So, while companies like to standardise practices, a one size fits all policy might not work everywhere. 
    • Workforce diversity: Diversity in the workforce has had a massive and positive impact on the way business is done globally, from infusing new and fresh ideas, getting the best talent, accelerating the implementation and adaptation of technologies, opening new markets, reducing costs and increasing profits. Diversity must be encouraged; it will take your company from strength to strength. However, there can also be a number of issues that spring up on you if you are not alert and miss the warning signs, such as discrimination against certain communities or ethnicity, and divides or groupism in your workforce based on community, religion, sex or ethnicity.
    • Technology: Changes in technology have the potential for massive and sudden impacts on the nature of the workforce. Can your workforce keep up with the changes in technology? What do you have to do to get them up to speed? Will you have to downsize or hire new talent, or could technology end up substituting most of your workforce?  
  2. Organisational or internal: As the name suggests, these are challenges put on you by your organisation itself. By the work culture, management, internal policy changes or the annual performance of your organisation.
    • Cost cutting: The two departments that normally must be prepared for a company’s cost cutting measures are the marketing department and the HR department. While the marketing team might lose part of its marketing or advertising budget, the HR department will have to be prepared for anything from downsizing and layoffs to restructuring and reallocation of resources. 
    • Recruitment: Finding the right person for a job is vital to the long-term success of the organisation. Recruitment and selection are probably two of the most important functions of an HR professional. Attracting talent and ensuring you have where to choose from (in order to achieve diversity for example) almost marries HR with marketing – HR have a niche responsibility for the organisation’s brand with respect to prospective employees. And then there is the age old argument of quality versus quantity.  
  3. Individual challenges: These are challenges that an HR professional will have to overcome on an individual basis. These challenges will usually have a relation with both the organisational challenges and the environmental challenges. 
    • Building a team: For an organisation to be effective it should have an effective team of professionals working towards the success of the organisation. Finding or training people to best complement your organisation’s strengths, developing a team spirit, motivating them and providing job security will put you on the path towards building a strong team. 
    • Attrition management: Once a strong team has been built, keeping the team members motivated and secure will cultivate loyalty to the organisation. Losing a highly trained and skilled employee will not only have an immediate impact on the productivity of your team but could also be giving your competition a valuable asset who is also in the know of your organisation’s workings. Providing a good work-life balance will go a long way towards reducing the rate of attrition. 
    • Monitoring productive and counterproductive behaviours: Keep an eye out for productive employees and they should be rewarded and acknowledged for their efforts. At the same time, you should keep an eye out for counterproductive employees, they can have a negative impact on the morale and the overall productivity of the workforce. Counterproductive behaviour can also lead to a divide in your workforce caused by conflicts due to groupism and political divides. 

Where next?

These are just some of the many challenges faced by an HR professional today. You are perhaps one yourself – an “accidental HR person” as someone once described themselves, perhaps? Sound off in the comments if there are any particular challenges you are facing that we have missed out on and that you feel are important to talk about. Or perhaps you are simply an employee who feels the HR department in your organisation is facing a different kind of challenge and they are not raising up to it – let us know too! 

And of course, for those of you looking to formalise your HR knowledge, or looking for a jumpstart into an HR career, Robert Kennedy College offers an online M.Sc. programme in Human Resource Management and Development through an exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK. Click here to apply for the programme.

All you need to know about University of Cumbria’s Residency

It is 2020! First and foremost, on behalf of our entire team at Robert Kennedy College, I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year. We wish you good health and a positive mindset, and success will follow!

All of our University of Cumbria’s online MBA programmes have six-course modules – four core modules, one elective and one residential. The mandatory one-week residential module is held in the UK at either the Ambleside, Lancaster or Carlisle campus. The module title is “Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability“. There are several dates during the year which you can choose from to attend the residency that fits your busy schedule. 

Time flies and it is almost time for the first Residency in January 2020 for our University of Cumbria’s Master of Business Administration programme students. For those who are not our students yet and wondering what is a Residency, keep on reading to find out all about it. And those who are registered for this upcoming residency, pull up a diary and make notes of what to expect and how to prepare well for the residency, because here are some real insights, tips and advice from our current students about their own experience attending the residency last year. 

The topic: Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability

All our MBA programmes focus on real-life problems and issues that enable you to think critically about your company and your own career. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), according to Visser, involves what is called the four ‘DNA responsibility bases’ of good governance, value creation, environmental integrity and societal contribution. There is a demand for the more global marketplace and more ethical managerial conduct to deal with the global-local challenges, and responsible leadership is an answer to such demand.

Our students are leaders or aspiring leaders in the business world who face this challenge in their companies every day. This residential module allows the students to gain insight into how the dimensions of corporate governance, sustainable development and ethics are affecting and shaping today’s organizational policies and practices. Students are guided and invigorated to unique ideas and solutions to issues faced by their current organization or local community. This is an enriching one-week that promotes experiential learning through contemporary case studies and teamwork.

Where and When to plan for residency?

We surveyed about 120 of our current MBA students with some of the frequently asked questions about the residency. We got 50 answers back (a response rate you should be very happy with for your dissertations, even though you would, of course, aim for higher numbers!). Here’s what they have to say about their experience at the residency, sharing some immensely useful tips learned the hard experiential way.

There was 50:50 split on the choice of location of residency between the Ambleside and Lancaster campus.

A vast majority of students (80%) had completed at least four modules before attending the residency and a little less than half of all respondents (46%) thought the right time to attend the residency was when they were about half-way through the course. So the takeaway here is to try and take the residency somewhere after the third or fourth module.

On the other hand, 24% of students would have rather attended the residency as soon as possible after completing the first module.

Attending the residency right after the first module allows one to have human interaction in the otherwise online programme, establish relationships that develop and last throughout the programme and beyond, and allow you to better relate to your peers and colleagues

Paul H.

Some students found that it can help with the rest of the modules too. Peter said that he found taking the residency early on gave additional value in the structuring of academic writing and formulation of assignments as well as how to use OneSearch.

For those who voted for attending residency either halfway through or as late as possible attributed it to the fact that having finished other modules equipped them with a better foundation and management tools to interact and respond in the group.

Thus depending on whether you are more a human interaction person or self-starter, you can choose the right time to attend your residency. 

MALIC Residency Nov 2012
Team Discussion during Residency

What else do you learn at the residency?

Many of our students ask “why is the residency important in an online programme?” and what does one actually gain from it.

It was a great experiential learning experience with an interdisciplinary and diverse group from around the world.

Luis C.

Many students gained an interest and understanding of the future focus of sustainability and climate change, the value of cross-sector collaboration, how to tackle ethical dilemmas and apply ethical theories in real-life.

Others learned about the concepts of Triple bottom line, SDGs 2015 and ERS, and yet others learned how to structure their dissertation. Maurice B., who came to the residency with over 35 years of experience of working, studying and interacting with multi-cultural groups, was nevertheless impressed by the high degree of professionalism, dedication and above all the feelings of warmth, the receptiveness of the residency.

Congratulations to all on a splendid display of academics, stewardship of facilitation, operational and executive excellence – the absolute best I have ever seen!

Maurice B.

A staggering 80% of the students surveyed agreed that the learning at residency was completely relevant and 92% said there was a definitive value-add in attending the residency.

The majority of the students found meeting the peers and professors a valuable experience and felt better prepared for the rest of the programme. So though the residency week can be pretty intensive and action-packed (as 44% of students agree), 62% of students admit it is a lot of fun as well!

It is the best experience of the MBA program, combining both theoretical and practical aspects of sustainability in business with a multicultural team. The group exercises are just great and the tour in nature is very inspiring. I’m convinced you will enjoy it!

Serge
A reflection session in progress

Where to stay during the residency?

I must say it was a unanimous response from most of the students on the survey, that one must stay close to the university during the residency week. Make your travel plans in advance and book accommodation early to avoid any disappointments. Talk to our StudentCare team and they can provide a list of accommodation near campus for your stay during residency.

Book accommodations directly through university suggested facilities and arrive a day early to acclimate. Don’t forget to make daily summarizations  of activities and sessions.

Rosamunde C.

Many students also put a word of caution about the wet weather conditions in Cumbria, UK and recommend coming prepared for cold and rainy weather. 

To summarize the residency, I would like to quote John’s advice in his own words:

1. Plan for your UK visa in advance – it takes up to 3 months depending on the holiday season and country you are located in. ([editor’s note] and this was before Brexit!)

2. Book the hotel in advance – depending on the season, it is difficult to find accommodation especially in and around the University of Cumbria specially during the March season. 

3. Weather – when you want to play golf, it rains in the UK. Therefore, prepare yourself with winter-wear, umbrella (if possible), windcheater or raincoat and boots as there are outdoor activities and trekking involved. 

4. Time management – spend about an hour to revise the day’s work so you are prepared for the next day’s activity. When in groups, participate and lead the team as some peers may be in a holiday mood. Get them to work with you and research for the final day activity – prepare and participate. 

5. Cumbria – is the place of William Wordsworth – daffodils are everywhere, enjoy them and unwind in the midst of nature. This is the place to be if you are interested in Sustainability and Environment.

John M.

I hope reading through the blog you gained valuable insight into our residency module and how to best prepare yourself for it. And we could not agree more with this quote from Fatos:

It will be an experience you will have once in a lifetime. I assure you will not regret any day being in Ambleside!

Fatos A.

Finally, a big thanks to all our students who helped us provide you with these tips and tricks about the residency – they generously offered their time and advice – a sharing spirit we witness every day in our OnlineCampus.

See you in Cumbria!

3 failed resolutions! It’s the New Year, time for another resolution (sighroll)!

I really did not mean to start this article off on a negative note, but new years resolutions and I have rarely had a positive relationship.

Seasons greetings…

Before I carry on with my rant, let me wish all of you, our readers, good tidings for this festive season and a happy and prosperous New Year 2020!  

…and a Happy New Year

Why resolutions?

Why do people make resolutions at new years’ time? The answer, more often than not, is self-improvement. To start the new year on a positive note, to be a better version of yourself. Such a laudable goal and yet most people fail in their resolutions. 

And this new year being also the start of a new decade, people are going to be making resolutions left, right, and centre.  

So, I pulled out my list of unfulfilled resolutions and resolved that this year I will not fail in my resolutions. I looked into why most people fail in their resolutions and more importantly how they succeed. Here is what I found.

7 and a bit ways to make your resolutions a success!  

Tim Pychyl – professor of psychology at Carleton University
  1. Cultural procrastination: According to Tim Pychyl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University and the author of “Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change”, this is  – “culturally prescribed procrastination,” meaning we’re culturally primed to procrastinate by making a resolution for a future date, instead of committing now. So, don’t wait for the new year to start your self-improvement goal, start right now! 
  2. Reprogram your mind: Your mind and body are used to the way you do things, something akin to muscle memory. If you are under the impression that starting or stopping something is going to be easy and not require you to work on it, you are (probably) wrong. You need to work on developing good habits that can help in achieving your goals. There is a reason why so many people fail in their resolutions. So how do you go about reprogramming you mind? 
    • Get specific: Let’s say your resolution for the new year is to get healthy. What does that even mean? Do you mean eating healthy, losing weight, going to the gym, giving up smoking – getting healthy is just so vague. Be specific: what do you want to achieve in “getting healthy”? 
    • Set short-term goals: Now let’s say you choose to exercise more. Again, let’s try and get more specific: you choose to run every day (although swimming might be a better choice, lower impact). First, set yourself the end goal: running in your local 10K marathon at the end of the year. Now break this down to short term goals – you will run 1 kilometre a day for the first 30 days, then 2 kilometres a day for the next 30 days, then 4, 6 and so on. 
    • Track your progress: As you progress, keep track of your achievements. It will help in building your confidence and motivating you. You will be able to see your progress and your success and will not want to fail. There are plenty of apps and fitness trackers (you might already own) that can help you do this with a high level of granularity.
    • By the end of this exercise, your body would have gotten used to running every day from not running at all and you would have gotten healthier. You would have also succeeded in reprogramming your mind and developing a good habit. 
  3. Choose achievable goals: Be realistic! If you decided to become the next leader of your country and are not already in politics, then that is unlikely to happen. So, choose something achievable, that can have a positive impact in your life. Learn a new language, lose weight (set a specific target), stop smoking, complete your assignments before the deadline, show up to all your classes, join an MBA, complete your master’s degree this year, etc. 
  4. Choose a resolution that is personal: Your resolution should be personal to you. Achieving it should make you happy and benefit you. You will be more motivated to stick to your resolution if the resolution has a tangible and positive impact in your life.  
  5. Stay true to yourself: Don’t choose to take on so many resolutions that it will change your very character. If you want to be a better version of yourself, do it slowly, step by step, get used to the changes and like what you see. If too many things change too soon, you are not going to like it and will start making excuses to fail in your resolutions. Make one or at most two resolutions, there is always next year.
  6. Keep going: Failure is part of life and every failure is a learning experience. Cliché, I know, but it is a fact. Everybody fails, but that doesn’t mean you just give up; start over tomorrow. It’s not like all your hard work will be wiped out with a single failure, or even multiple failures – pick-up from your last success.
    • It is usually the case that we are our harshest critic, so if that is your case too, give yourself a break. If a friend or family member failed at something and was upset, you would likely (hopefully!) support him or her. So, what is the harm in extending that same support to yourself?
  7. Ask for help: If you are comfortable with sharing your resolutions with your friends and family and believe that they will be able to support and help you in achieving your resolutions then don’t be ashamed in asking for their help. Chances are, they will be happy to see you succeed.   

What’s next?

Have I missed any points that you feel can help someone stick to their resolutions? Let us know in the comments below. 

If your resolution is to do a master’s degree or learn something new, then explore the number of specialised master’s degree programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College through exclusive partnerships with top British universities. Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply

Can you travel and study at the same time? Here are 6 ways to help you do it!

The popularity of online studies has been on the rise in recent years, and we have seen so much right here at Robert Kennedy College. With practically our whole student population being in full-time employment, we know the flexibility afforded by online delivery is amongst one of the highest-ranking reasons why people study online. 

I understand how critical it is to have the possibility of being able to access, learn and review course content anytime, from anywhere in the world. Working professionals like yourself have a demanding job and may be required to travel frequently for work.  

Now while it might look pretty simple and easy to study online on the surface, it is actually not quite so. I like to compare this to a duck’s swimming – when you see a duck advancing through water, you probably think calm and grace. Our eyes behold a view of effortless and smooth progression on water. However, under the surface, the duck is paddling frantically to propel itself forward.  

A duck seemingly advancing with no effort through the water 

I do not intend to scare you with this analogy. I want to focus on the duck’s efforts and skills that keep it advancing (keeping afloat is apparently the easy part, for biological reasons, ducks weighing less than the water they displace due to their uropygial gland and air-trapping feathers). Similarly, you can advance smoothly through your studies with the help of planning, foresight, prioritization skills and grit – especially when you are travelling.  

So, here are some tips that will help you stay afloat while planning your studies on the go: 

Plan ahead  

I personally can’t get enough of planning. I sometimes re-plan my plans (ha-ha) just to be sure of how my schedule and week/month looks like. Yes, planning is the key to be able to travel stress-free and balance the commitment of a university course module with the disruption caused by travelling. While you may not always be able to choose your travel times when travelling for work, do take your study calendar into account and redesign your plans accordingly. 

Plan travel around assignments 

Give yourself enough time at each step of your travel plan. To begin with, make sure you do not plan your 15-hour flight across continents a day before your assignment submission. Be wary and give yourself ample time to recover from jetlag. Reversely, if you have little control over your travel plans, advance your deadlines and submit earlier, or look into the administrative processes that may help you get an extension if done in time. 

Arrange your meetings in a way that you have some relaxing peaceful time segments during that day. This will allow you enough time to catch up with your course material and focus on the assignments due. There might be some occasions when you will have to prioritize studies and must skip that social evening with work associates and miss a drink. Reward yourself later when your work is done.  

You can download course material on RKC’s iOS and Android apps

Organize Internet access 

Most of your study materials normally require the internet to access them. You want to avoid situations where you have time to spare but no internet access nor offline materials. Know when you would be in limited connectivity zones and download the necessary course materials ahead of travel. RKC’s iOS and Android apps can help with that. 

As a student, you can also get internet access through the Eduroam network, something most Universities in the world are a part of. You use your home institution’s credentials to login to any “eduroam” WiFi you find (typically in and around University campuses, University and sometimes public libraries). Have a look at the eduroam map before travelling to know if you have this option.

Have reliable technology and back-ups 

While you are travelling you are completely reliant on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Always have your chargers, spare power banks and hard drives to backup data so that you do not lose your work. With the pervasiveness and ease of use of cloud back-ups today, “I lost my laptop/my disk died/etc.” is the equivalent of the “dog ate my homework” of yesteryear. 

Mind the zone 

While our online course materials can be accessed at all times, you may have to be careful of the different time-zones you are travelling to and how it will affect your deadlines (they don’t – your deadlines are always Zürich time!). What a different time zone will affect is when you must submit – so work that out in advance and anticipate the deadline rather than miss it. Another impact of travelling to a different time zone is that last minute questions may receive delayed responses with respect to when you were back home. 

Keep track of your progress 

It is easy to lose track of time when you are travelling and have so many things to manage. In order to make sure you do not fall back on coursework, keep close checks on your schedules and deadlines. While travelling breaks away from the 9 to 5 schedule (or 7 to 7 for the unlucky few) and could offer more flexibility in terms of the time of day you can study, it is helpful to chalk it out. 

Do not fret if you face any technical issues while travelling. Simply reach out to our student care team and they will be happy to help.  

It may feel overwhelming at times to balance work, study and travel. But with adequate preparation ahead of time you can enjoy smooth sailing; gracefully swimming like a duck towards your goals (with more or less frantic paddling). With these simple yet vital study tips, you can certainly ace study and travel together. Please share with us any tips or tricks that you might have up your sleeve from your personal experience.  

P.S: An easy way to connect with us on the go is to download our OnlineCampus Mobile App, which helps you prepare your “offline study packs”. Here are the links: 

For Android users: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=swiss.rkc.cumbria 
and for iPhone users: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/unicumbria/id1464904297?mt=8