Women in RKC – Iulia Maria Garbacea, M.Sc. Marketing, University of Salford, UK

These are difficult and scary times, and at least for me, it just highlights how much I depend on the strength of the women in my life to see me through. I pray and hope that all our readers are being safe, taking precautions, practicing social distancing and doing their little bit to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Be safe! 

As we continue with these Women’s Day series of blog posts, we asked some of our students to share their experiences with us – the challenges of getting back to school, of managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students. 

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea is one of our student ambassadors and is a graduate of our M.Sc. programme in Marketing through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK. Let us see what she has to say:

Who is … 

A short profile 

Sahil Devasia (SD): Who are you, really? 

Iulia Maria Garbacea (IMG): I am a 28 year old Romanian woman, living in Bucharest. I am a bit younger than the average graduate (or at least was when I graduated) but would not change it for the world. Professionally, I am working on the implementation of a new ERP project for a big telecom company. 

Getting back into education 

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree 

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

IMG: Well, I wanted to see how other education systems worked. I did my Bachelor’s in Romania, but for my master’s wanted something different. 

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

IMG: It was intimidating having to balance a full-time job with studies, so it took me some time to decide to go for it. And I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. I had to do a lot of work on myself – to avoid procrastination, to not be late with submitting my papers, to study on weekends, to take days off so that I could finish my papers. 

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

IMG: That I can learn much more by researching articles/topics for my papers than I ever did by memorizing information. 

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

IMG: It depends a lot I think on the period of life in which you decide to go back to school. In my case it was easier, since I did not have anybody else to care for (children) and I could use the free time to focus on my studies. But I think that even if it might be more challenging for women later in life, they are setting an example for their children – studying at any age is possible. I think it is important to invest in our children, by investing in ourselves. 

Getting the degree 

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently 

SD: Which programme did you do? Why? 

IMG: I studied Marketing because I believe this field has a lot of potential. I believe a good marketer is like a psychologist. 

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

IMG: In my case, the most important lesson was not an academic one, it was one of personal development. I proved to myself that I am smart and determined enough to study in a language different from my own. I also had the luck to meet and make friends with people from around the world at our residency in Zurich. It was so much fun! 🙂 

SD: How did you balance work and studies? 

IMG: This was the most challenging part, especially when writing the dissertation. I worked on my assignments in my spare time, and also sometimes at work. I listened to a looooot of focus music to help keep my mind from wandering. 

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

IMG: Personally, I did not feel like I had it harder than my male colleagues. It was a very gender-neutral environment. We were all students in front of the professors. 

Life post degree 

What changed, if anything? 

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

IMG: I switched from a more commercial role, into a more IT-focused position. 

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

IMG: Yes, I am able to organize my projects better, to keep up with my commitments, and to be on time with delivery. 

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

IMG: I feel that any type of studies can help reduce gender discrimination in the workplace. As far as I am concerned, the online programmes are a way of keeping up with the modern world. We can do almost anything online nowadays, why not study? As people start working, it is very difficult for them to attend night-schools, or weekend schools if they want to study in parallel. But studying online means that you can listen to courses while commuting, or while taking a break from work. 

Advice for other women 

Or other students, really. 

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

IMG: It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of hard work, but at the end, the knowledge you gain is something that no one can ever take away from you. Also, those annoying focus music tracks from YouTube – they are a life changer. I still use them today when I need to work on important things. 

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

IMG: The ‘How to write you dissertation’ handbook – absolutely necessary! 

Closing thoughts 

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

IMG: Just that investing in a woman is an investment in a generation of people. 

Our own little contribution: March Women’s bursaries of up to 2’500 CHF! 

We, at RKC, are proud to play a part in the ongoing efforts in reducing the gender disparity in education. We have already announced a special bursary on the tuition fees for all female applicants during the month of March in celebration of the International Women’s Day, only a few days to go, don’t lose out! #EachforEqual!

If you have been thinking about getting your master’s degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

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.

International Women’s Day – is that enough?!

One day! – to celebrate the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters in our lives. We say we live in modern times and consider ourselves enlightened and educated, but even now, in many parts of the world women are discriminated against, not being given even basic human freedoms. And I am not just talking about third world countries: even in the so called “first world nations” women are discriminated against, looked at as objects and paid only a fraction of what is paid to a man for the same job.

I do not understand the reason for this discrimination. My father was an officer in the merchant navy, which meant that for most of my childhood he was away at sea and that meant my mother was the one who looked after all our landbound affairs, and I can tell you that if my father was in charge, things wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly as they did.

We have made some progress already – things are better today than they were in the past. Women were considered the weaker sex and seen only as a companion, caregiver, housekeeper, cook and breeder. Men on the other hand were stronger, the hunter, the protector, the main bread winner and because of this they were given some education and seen as smarter. There was no need to educate women as it would have been a waste of money and would not have been in their job description. I can’t believe this is what men thought and, in some cases, still think!

In fact, some western countries gave women the right to vote only about 50 to 100 years ago, mostly during the interwar period – Canada (1917), Britain and Germany (1918), Austria and the Netherlands (1919) and the United States (1920). Notable exceptions in Europe were France, where women could not vote until 1944, Greece (1952), and Switzerland (1971).

Women have had to fight at every step for the right to be treated as equals to men.

Gender Pay Gap

Female filmmakers protesting the gender pay gap and other inequalities in the film industry, during the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Even today, in several countries (including in “enlightened” first world countries), women are not paid on par with men for doing the same job and just as competently. There are a number of social reasons given for this disparity in income – from motherhood (perception that women cannot work as long or as hard as men) to jobs that are perceived to be male dominated (construction, manufacturing, mining, transportation, etc.).

For example, the following graphic shows the women’s weekly earnings, employment, and percentage of men’s earnings, by industry, in 2009, in the United states.

The OECD was showing the following gender pay gaps (unadjusted) in 2008.

The unadjusted gender gap according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2008.

There’s been positive change since, with numbers from 2015-2019 showing improvement overall. Lower numbers are better – and Belgium is leading the pack.

Gender Education Gap

What is more shocking than this disparity in income, is the disparity in education.  

Learning is the cornerstone for growth and self-discovery, so what happens if educations is denied or restricted to a part of the population. This part of the population will not have any growth or self-actualisation.

A world map showing countries by gender difference in literacy rate. A detailed Robinson projection SVG map shaded by country using two equally distributed colour palettes (red and blue) according to the difference in literacy rate between men and women (i.e. higher rates for males denoting positive numbers). x = difference in literacy rate and countries without data are light grey. The figures represented are almost entirely collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) on behalf of UNESCO with 2015 estimates based on people aged 15 or over who can read and write.

The countries with the largest difference between men’s and women’s average years of schooling are Afghanistan and India. 

Top 10 Countries with the biggest difference in mean years of schooling (2017) 

Country Male Female Difference 
Afghanistan 1.9 4.1 
India 8.2 4.8 3.4 
Equatorial Guinea 7.3 3.3 
Togo 6.5 3.3 3.2 
Congo (Democratic Republic of the) 8.4 5.3 3.1 
Cameroon 7.6 4.7 2.9 
Nepal 6.4 3.6 2.8 
Pakistan 6.5 3.8 2.7 
Liberia 6.1 3.5 2.6 
Central African Republic 5.6 2.6 

Human Development Data (1990–2017); www.hdr.undp.org (as on 15 October 2018) 

Even in developed countries, according to OECD 71% of men graduates with a science degree work as professionals in physics, mathematics and engineering, whereas only 43% women work as professionals and fewer than 1 in 3 engineering graduates and lesser than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are female. 

Moving forward

It saddens me that in this day and age, there is still so much sexual discrimination both at work and in education. Doesn’t this get you worked up? What can we do to change this status quo?

We at Robert Kennedy College are pleased to see an upward trend in the number of women students enrolling for our online master’s degree programmes in management. Over the past 7 years, we have seen a steady year on year (YOY) increase in the women to men ratio, shown below – we are off to a flying start in 2020 (Jan and Feb numbers counted so far), so we hope to see this trend continue and this disparity in education between men and women being greatly reduced in the years to come.

The trend of the percentage of female students over time. Color shows relative year on year (YOY) change in this value. After a slight dip in 2011-2013, the trend is clearly upwards, with 2020 (based on just Jan/Feb so far, of course) showing an encouraging spike towards the 50-50 line.

Our own little contribution: March Women’s bursaries of up to 2’500 CHF!

We are proud to play a part in the ongoing efforts in reducing the gender disparity in education, and today we are announcing a special bursary on the tuition fees for all female applicants during the month of March in celebration of the International Women’s Day! #EachforEqual! 

* the button above will connect you with our team over Whatsapp.

If you have been thinking about getting your Master degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

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! 

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.

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

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.  

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!