Women in RKC – Introducing Derryle M. Rankin – A Double RKC Graduate

As we continue the International Women’s Day series, this week we are talking about Derrylee M. Rankin – a double RKC Graduate. Without further ado, let’s hear her inspirational story. 

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Who are you, really? 

Derrylee M. Rankin (DMR): Learning is an integral part of growing. My aspiration in life is to continue crafting my passions, building interpersonal relationships and being a leader who leads by example. 

I thrive in culture and commerce environments geared towards outstanding results that lead to profitability and overall success for any organization that I am part of. I prefer to work on tasks that challenge me intellectually.   

Akin to raising my two sons Fabio and Jacob as a single mother; the same dedication was applied to my decision of becoming a Graduate student. I obtained a Master’s Degree in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John University in York, England and a PG Diploma in International Commercial Law at the University of Salford, Manchester.  [Editor’s note: both degrees in exclusive partnership with RKC] 

VK: Which programme did you do? Why? 

DMR: MA Leading Innovation and Change  

PG Diploma International Commercial Law 

VK: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you? 

DMR: For years, I was prevented from receiving promotions or salary increases because I had not obtained a college degree. This was quite stressful and embarrassing as I was capable of doing the job, in fact in some cases I was already doing the job, just not being paid or recognized. 

My two sons were witnessing me working two and sometimes three jobs and I knew it had a negative effect on them.  I was determined to make a positive change in our lives and further my education. 

VK: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

DMR: Unfortunately, I dropped out of college twice due to my struggles as a single parent suffering from depression.  Depression affected my motivation and commitment. The lack of funds and family support was also a factor.  I realized that it was time to find the strength and courage to get my degree and have a positive influence on my two sons. 

VK: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

DMR: My challenge as a woman was a combination of working a fulltime job and raising my children.  I had to find ways to prioritize my school projects, submitting work deadlines on time while handling all of the responsibilities as a fulltime single mother.  There were many long nights. 

VK: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

DMR: I believe we all face particular challenges while studying. 

VK: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

DMR: Do your research, ask many questions and seek help from your professors and classmates. 

My professors were extremely helpful and very encouraging, I am forever grateful. 

VK: What surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

DMR: I was surprised by the support that I received from my classmates and professors.  They pushed me to overcome many obstacles.  

VK: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

DMR: I learned that self-value and confidence come from within.  My classmates and professors were very supportive and inspired me to push forward.  Our group projects also helped me to express myself and contribute my ideas with confidence.  

VK: How did you balance work and studies? 

DMR: I had to do most of my studies at night and on the weekends.  I was also fortunate to be working for a Government Department that offered a few study leave days.  

VK: What’s new in your life since graduating/starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

DMR: Since graduating I see myself as a worthy individual.  I have been given workforce opportunities that I could not have imagined prior to obtaining my degree. 

VK: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

DMR: Yes, I have improved my leading/management skills.  I communicate much better and always aim to ensure that my objectives are clear and concise. 

VK: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the workplace? 

DMR: Absolutely. 

VK: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

DMR: Have the confidence to believe in yourself and do not procrastinate. 

 
VK: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

DMR: My framed Master’s Degree. 🙂

I don’t know about you, but hearing the truly powerful and inspirational stories of these two MALIC graduates (Renata and Derrylee), I feel encouraged and motivated to take bolder steps to make a better life for myself and my family. Watch this space as more motivational stories are coming your way.  

If you too feel a Master’s degree may help improve your career progression opportunities, your self-confidence and self-worth, now’s as good a time as ever to get started. Sure, the times are particularly uncertain these days with half the world on lockdown and the other half biding their time, but we and our University partners are doing our best to support students during this period even adapting the face-to-face requirements to allow for online delivery using technology. Talk to our team of Educational Advisers today and see what we can do for you. 

Women in RKC – Renata Takac, MA Leading Innovation and Change

Dear readers welcome to the women’s Day special series. We reckon that just a day is not enough – so we will be celebrating women, their courage and their achievements throughout this month. I am excited about this series of blogs that we are presenting to you here featuring RKC’s women ambassadors from diverse backgrounds having their own unique story to tell.  

Full disclosure – the students we are featuring on the blog this month are all  RKC ambassadors. The RKC ambassadors programme is an internal project aimed at facilitating prospective students’ decisions about studying with us – ambassadors are not remunerated but decided they wanted to vouch for us and their respective programmes of study. So we must be doing something right! 

We asked a few of our female ambassadors questions about their personal journey before they enrolled for the Master’s programme, their challenges, their struggles and joys. Though we are dedicating this series to women out there, men can probably benefit from the advice too. 

Let’s meet: Renata Takac

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Who you are, really?  

Renata Takac (RT): Excellent question! I was born in ex-Yugoslavia – now Croatia and spent my childhood in Pakistan. I travelled quite a bit and loved discovering other cultures. I dedicated the first half of my professional life to corporations (marketing and sales), and the second one, since 2006, to human resources and organizational development.  I graduated MALIC [Editor’s note: Master of Arts in Leading Innovation and Change] in 2013, and my next huge step in professional development is a Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy, which I started three years ago.  

Personally, I am a mother of a grown-up daughter, a wife and a friend. I enjoy sports – I was a marathoner once upon a time, and now I swim, row, etc. I love singing, travel, books and movies and many more. In agreement with this question – who I really am – I enjoy discovering who I am, really, apart from all the mentioned functions and roles.

VK: Which programme did you do? Why? 

RT: I did MALIC, because leadership was my primary interest at that time, and change and innovation were bonuses 🙂 

VK: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you? 

RT: Actually my path towards MALIC was several years long – I was looking for a program that would be a good match with my job (coaching, mentoring, training, etc.) and at least partly online. After I chose MALIC, I needed the money to fund it 🙂 so it took me some time to earn it. Finally, after I enrolled, I spent the first several weeks working in Malta; so the start was fiery, but I fell in love with the program and that was it! It’s perhaps an interesting fact that I enrolled in 2011 when I was in my prime – 48 years young. 

VKWhat were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

RT: I partly answered this in the previous question; once I decided that MALIC was my choice, the only obstacle was money. But I was lucky enough to be able to earn it, and I had my family’s support regarding the idea that such money is well invested.  Besides that, the program, of course, required the time and effort. However, it was such a perfect match with my professional interests that I did it with pleasure. 

VKDo you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

RT: Of course, many. From my experience, I was able to enroll in such a challenging program only after my daughter grew up and I left my previous corporate job. I can imagine it could be much more difficult if I had to fight opposition from family members, or similar. 

VK:  Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

RT: I remember one of our female colleagues telling me at the end of the York module [Editor’s note: a one-week residential (face to face) module during an otherwise fully online programme] that she was greatly encouraged to remain with the programme. Before coming to York she was not sure she can continue with the studies and graduate, but that week strengthened her resolve.  

Perhaps sharing other female students’ experiences can encourage others in their belief that they can. 

VKWhat surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

RT: The freedom – the choice of when, how to learn, etc. was great! Furthermore, the teachers’ support and respect for our previous knowledge and experience. 

VKAny particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

RT: I did not notice any gender-specific challenges regarding the online study. On the other hand, I did notice that all our professors were male. 

VKWhat is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

RT: Oh, that is a difficult one. Perhaps the notion that I can do it! Besides that, the whole programme was so packed with intriguing, real-life related, 21st-century ideas and knowledge. For instance, the idea of ongoing change we discussed in 2012 really quickly transferred to today’s VUCA world. 

VKHow did you balance work and studies? 

RT: At the time of my studies I worked mainly on projects, so I was able to adjust the work to MALIC deadlines. However, now that I think about it, today I work 9-hours workdays and I still manage my psychotherapy studies… so I guess it’s a matter of motivation and dedication. 

VK: What’s new in your life since graduating/starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

RT: It is important to me that I can support my competencies with a degree in leadership. For many of my clients, a recent master’s degree is decisive because it signifies knowledge in recent leadership studies. 

VKAnything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

RT: Many things – starting from reading (I don’t feel pressure to read the whole book or paper anymore in case I need only part of it), critical thinking, up to the content of my training, the leadership models I mention to my coaching clients, etc. 

VK: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the workplace? 

RT: I would say yes. As long as any program is more accessible, it means it is even more accessible to women, due to usual restrains (demands of the job, family life, etc.). The connection between a Master’s degree and better job opportunities is positive, I guess. 

VK: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

RT: 1. Enjoy yourself! It is demanding and stretching but at the same time an enjoyable experience. 

2. Use the chance to communicate with the professors. They are great and can help you immensely. 

3. You’ll make some long-term friends (Bert Lee, Brenda Jiaying Hobin, looking at you!) 

4. Make your study visit to York close to the end of the programme. You will know much more and be closer to your research and thesis. 

VK: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

RT: My witch doll. It is not only a symbol of female power but the message to myself: Be yourself. You’re a survivor!  

Hope you enjoyed reading the first blog in the series celebrating womanhood. I really hope her story draws inspiration and courage in you to take the next big step to transform your career and make your own mark. Just like Renata, you will learn that yes, you can do it! And as she rightly points out, we also believe that sharing other female student’s experiences can help others strengthen their belief that they too can! So share your experience here and let your story be an inspiration for many women Master’s aspirants. 

Next week we will talk about Derrylee M. Rankin, another MALIC graduate and PG Diploma holder in International Commercial Law, sharing her story, so stay tuned! 

P.S.: In case you are wondering, Renata’s MA programme was transitioned into an MBA in Leading Innovation and Change.

Feb 29th – an opportunity to reflect on 4 years’ worth of learning?

2020 is a leap year and Saturday, 29th of February marks the leap day: an extra day in our lives that we encounter every four years. Walking through February 29 is almost like walking through a rare portal that is only accessible to us every four years. Well, when I dug a little deeper into the history of how we actually came to have 29 days in the second month of the year, I found some very interesting facts about this day.

The history of Feb 29th (and/or of Feb 28th for that matter)

A leap year was needed to correct calendar drift because the Earth orbits the Sun every 365.242 days, a number that is fairly difficult to accommodate on a calendar. And it was a lot of trial and error before the world could settle for the modern-day leap year system. Many ancient cultures had taken on to the practice of adding extra days, or even months, to round out the calendar year.  

The National Geographic News explains the Roman civilization would add months to try to correct the drift of the lunar calendar. But this system was sloppy. In the modern sophisticated society, all kinds of things such as paying rent or interest accruing on loans would all mess up.  

Egyptians were the first to determine the true length of the solar year and brought the reformation. Egypt adopted a leap-year system, with an extra day every four years, during the Greek rule of the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305 to 30 BC).  

In 46 BC, the Julian calendar came to be used as a reformed calendar after what came to be known as the Year of Confusion. But there was an inherent flaw that caused the drifted Julian calendar to drift 10 days by the late 16th century.  In 1582 the Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, and it slowly but surely became the main calendar system for most of the world. 

Now you might be wondering why I am talking about the history of leap years? Well, apart from its historic relevance, I consider the leap days significant as the day of reflection and reminiscence.

A day for reflection

A wise person would say, don’t live in the past nor the future, stay in your present. However, it is important to foresee the future to identify the goals you want to achieve and reflect on the past to see how far you have come along your planned path, appreciate your achievements, recognize the pitfalls and improve upon them.  

Reflection is a key part of learning – it is not dwelling or beating yourself up for past events, but rather recognizing the pros and cons of past experience. Standing on the leap day today, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the achievements and memorable moments for Robert Kennedy College and its exclusive partners, during the last 4 years of imparting Swiss quality education online.

Scroll through the slides to see some of my favourite highlights of RKC history..

  • Celebrating 50 years of University of Salford

To top it all here’s a short University of Cumbria 2019 graduation video. I hope this inspires you to take the walk as a proud master’s graduate yourself one day (hopefully before the next leap year in 2024!)

So I would encourage you all to take the opportunity that this great day, that comes once in 4 years, has to offer. Reflect, plan, set your intentions and take the plunge! For any guidance that you might seek on our Master’s programme, just reach out to our dedicated education advisors

Happy Leap Day! 

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! 

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! 

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.  

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!

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 

The University of Cumbria Law ranks 1st in the North West and 8th in the UK!

Yes, you read that right! The Guardian League tables for 2020 have our partner the University of Cumbria Law’s programmes right at the top for the North West region, and 8th in the UK, a few places away from Cambridge, Oxford, and Durham.

England is divided into 9 official regions. North-West England, one of those official regions, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West is known as the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and is home to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. The third most populated region in the UK, the North-West is also known for its vibrant and diverse culture. It is also the home to our partner, the University of Cumbria, operating from campuses spread across Cumbria and North Lancashire. 

So, what does it mean to be #1? There are 12 institutions (with University status) in the North West England that offer programmes in Law. The Guardian League Tables recently ranked the University of Cumbria as #1 for Law, ahead of the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester. Cumbria also bags the  #8 position overall in law, competing against a total of 101 institutions nationwide. 

The Guardian League Table ranks the Universities on the basis of several factors that are important to students while making their choices for where to study. These include factors such as how much students benefit from the teaching and how much they like the subject and the University. The University of Cumbria ranked high on these parameters as well with 97% of students satisfied with their course and 95% satisfied with the teaching at the University. 

For our part, we’re making it possible for students from all over the world to join Cumbria’s LL.M International Business Law – with online delivery and a one-week residency in the lake district in Cumbria’s Ambleside campus. 

See the full The Guardian League Tables for 2020.

Download the catalogue for more information about the Online Masters of Law programmes offered by the University of Cumbria and RKC.