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

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

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

Behavioural Interviews

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

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

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

Preparing the interview

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

Pre-interview preparation

Understand the job description 

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

Match your qualifications to the Job 

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

Research the Company and the role thoroughly 

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

Identify the requirements of the company – empathize with their problem 

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

Google Yourself 

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

Rehearse and Role-play 

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

Prepare in advance for STAR interviews

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

Work on your body language and interview etiquettes 

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

Interviewers analyze your body language and etiquettes

Plan your travel ahead and get directions 

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

At the interview

Wear appropriate interview clothing and groom your hair 

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

Know what to bring along for the interview  

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

Hone your salary negotiation skills

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

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

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

Prepare follow-up questions 

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

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

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

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

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

Naivety thy name be Sahil.

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

Challenges facing the modern HR professional

These can be broadly classified into three main categories:

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

Where next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where and When to plan for residency?

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

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

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

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

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

Paul H.

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

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

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

MALIC Residency Nov 2012
Team Discussion during Residency

What else do you learn at the residency?

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

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

Luis C.

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

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

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

Maurice B.

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

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

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

Serge
A reflection session in progress

Where to stay during the residency?

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

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

Rosamunde C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John M.

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

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

Fatos A.

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

See you in Cumbria!

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

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

Seasons greetings…

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

…and a Happy New Year

Why resolutions?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

A duck seemingly advancing with no effort through the water 

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

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

Plan ahead  

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

Plan travel around assignments 

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

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

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

Organize Internet access 

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

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

Have reliable technology and back-ups 

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

Mind the zone 

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

Keep track of your progress 

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

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

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

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

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

6 Reasons to Do a Master’s Degree Programme

I am going to tell you a story about a friend of mine and yes, I know “a friend” sounds made up, but this friend is real and what happened to him could happen to anyone of us in the corporate world.  

To make matters simple, let’s call this friend of mine Jojo (yes, this time a made-up name). A while back Jojo found himself out of a job due to no fault of his. The reasons given: downsizing, centralising, the usual corporate jibber jabber, and this from a company in which he had spent the last two years of his life setting up and developing an entire function for the organisation. 

He was reporting directly to the Managing Director and Country-Head, a position he achieved by hard work and determination and with professional experience going back two decades – working for some of the biggest multi-national companies in the world. He was not worried: with his experience, getting a job would be EASY. 

Safely crossing the gap from one job to the next is not always straightforward…

But as the days turned into weeks and then into months and he was still unable to find a job, the gloom around him was palpable.  

Jojo’s story 

Jojo started his career immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from a top local university and as his career progressed at a faster-than-average pace, he never found the need and time to go back to school and enhance his academic profile too.  

Over time as life evolved, so grew his professional and personal commitments, demanding a greater share of his time and effort. He concluded that putting in time, effort and money into his education did not merit the return on investment.  

Fast forward to Jojo’s job search – he found that the lack of a master’s degree was having a profound impact on his ability to get hired. 

To be clear, I am not saying that you need a master’s degree to succeed in life. In fact, most people don’t have a master’s degree and are very successful in their profession. What I am saying is that a master’s degree can have a positive impact in your professional career (because, learning is good :D).

Added benefit of a Master’s – graduation is fun! Notice how these RKC graduates from 2018 have big smiles on their faces, despite the freezing cold of November in York.

Here are 6 reasons you should consider doing a master’s degree. 

  1. It shows you are hard working and committed: A Master’s degree implies that you have taken the extra step of getting a higher qualification, gaining extra skills and specialisations. Having worked on projects and submitted assignments and dissertations in a timely manner, it shows you to be more disciplined, structured and task oriented. 
  2. It levels the playing field: In today’s competitive job market, most of the candidates applying for any above entry level position will already have at least one master’s degree, if not more specialised qualifications and just a bachelor’s degree or lower educational qualification would just not cut it. Depending on the nature of the job and the position you are aspiring to, a master’s degree might be the minimum requirement to even apply. 
  3. It can help with switching careers: There may come a time in your career when you pull your hair and cry out – “I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”. I understand, I have been there a couple of times. For whatever reason, if you feel it is time for a change in career to a field that requires specific knowledge that you do not have or to a career in a regulated industry that requires you to have certain education qualifications, a master’s degree might give you a leg up in your new career. 
  4. It can help you standout: Unfortunately, this is the world that we live in. There may be several of your co-workers eyeing the same promotion that you have been after. Whether it is a management position or that specialised role within your company, a master’s degree could make the difference in your getting that position. In some cases, a company might also be willing to sponsor the master’s degree if they feel you are a potential leader and it could be mutually beneficial, so it is always worth asking the question to either your manager or the HR department.  
  5. It may help with relocation: We are no longer limited by geography. A master’s degree might help you in getting a work visa to a particular country; after all, you might be required to show why you are more deserving of a particular job than a citizen of the country and a master’s degree might go some ways in your company hiring you over a local.  
  6. It can fill the gap: Going back to the example of my friend, the longer you go without employment the harder it will get to explain the gap in your resume and to get employed. Doing a master’s degree is a good way to fill this gap, improve your knowledge, gain new skills and to generally show you are not one to wait around for things to happen.  

There’s more?

I am sure that there are many other reasons why people choose to do a master’s degree with benefits we wouldn’t have even thought off. If you have experienced or can think of any, let us know in the comments below! 

Finally, getting back to Jojo. It took him a while, but he is finally back to work. It is not what he wanted to do, and he had to take a hefty pay cut, but he is working again. He has still not joined a master’s programme (despite my constant reminders) but he is on the lookout for one that meets his requirements. Let’s hope he doesn’t leave it for too late.  Can it really ever be too late?

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.

Robert Kennedy College and York St John graduates being silly with their hats in the Quad before graduation.

Understanding University Rankings – humph!

So, when I decided to write an informative blog on university rankings to enable you the reader to make an informed decision, I did not realise what I was getting myself into. And after days of research and multiple migraines, I have decided that if I just go ahead and dump all the information here, you are just going to lose interest, get confused and finally just go away and never come back. 

Utility of Ranking Systems

To begin with, should we even look at rankings to base our decisions on? After all UNESCO did observe that rankings “do more harm than good” and you will find some of the reasoning for this as you read further. On the flip side they also observed that rankings have also become a measure of quality and have created an atmosphere of competition between universities. You can find more information on this UNESCO finding in the UNESCO Publishing – Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses.

Like most things in life, rankings also have their good bits and their bad bits. To begin with, there is no almighty, all encompassing ranking system out there, because that is just not possible. There are just so many parameters that educational institutions can be ranked on, any ranking agency will just get overwhelmed with data and quite possibility put out a very confused and confusing report. There was even a ranking in the United States that ranked universities on squirrels (yes, the cute little rodent).

So, most agencies will pick and choose a few areas they feel are important and grade the university. This is where things start to look a little murky.

The Perspective

I remember when I was considering universities to apply for my MBA, I just opened a few of the top selling magazines and educational journals, looked at the top universities, made a list of universities that featured in multiple magazines/journals and applied to them. It did not ever occur to me to look into the parameters that the universities were being evaluated on and if they were even relevant to me.

There are many ways to reach your destination. The choice is yours!

So, make your own list, make a list of parameters you feel are important, may be campus job placements, alumni engagement, faculty, student to teacher ratio, campus, etc., and focus on rankings that evaluate on parameters that come closest to your list. Another point of view is to forget about the university rankings and look at subject rankings (say, Law). A particular university might not be ranked too high, but for the subject you are interested in, the university might be ranked 1st in the North West and 8th in the UK.

As we are looking at rankings that come closest to our list of parameters (and here comes the murky bit) there is usually no transparency. Most ranking agencies will not share their algorithm (and why should they, they have worked hard on it and have spent a lot of money on it) or for that matter, even parameters that have gone into giving a particular rank to a parameter. Why did university A get 8 points for Student Engagement, but university B get only 3 points? At the same time, last year university A was on 3 points, what has changed? So, look at rankings that are a little more transparent, they don’t have to open up their algorithms to you, but a little transparency will help you make an informed decision.

The Rich get Richer

There are also a number of ranking agencies, especially the smaller ones, that fall into the trap of ranking universities on their reputations. While I personally believe there is nothing wrong with this – to a very limited extent – after all, the university probably worked hard on developing this reputation and in all likelihood deserves it, basing a ranking system primarily on reputation will continuously reward only a handful of universities. For example, a reputation based ranking system will always rank universities like Oxford and Cambridge at the top while ignoring universities that are working towards developing their reputation by offering better programmes, teaching methodologies or more advanced and modern study environments.

Universities have also learnt to play the ranking game. Most universities have dedicated teams that engage ranking agencies, understand how their ranking system works and learn to either improve their offering and thereby improve their ranking or to manipulate the system and improve. Look at the older rankings of the university and mark their progression through the ranks, seek out explanations as to why a university has improved in a certain parameter but not in others. Try to seek out transparency on the change in rankings. 

Look at rankings that are updated on a regular basis, preferably on at least an annual basis. A university on top today may be at the bottom tomorrow.

Further Research

Finally, let me leave you with the link to the Wikipedia page (even though using Wikipedia in academic writing would get me wrist slapped by Dr Negoescu!) on the college and university rankings, where you will find information on a number of global and regional ranking agencies that should provide you with information you might find useful or you might just find confusing. This is the way the cookie crumbles, sorry! I wish you the best in your hunt for that perfect university, there is one for everyone.

It is worth it at the end

Since you are reading this blog, you probably already know that we at Robert Kennedy College offer more than 30 Master’s degree programmes in partnerships with 3 UK universities and we have been helping more than 14,000 students from almost every country in the world develop their skill sets, improve their CVs and advance their careers – you are in good hands should you consider taking the plunge. Have a look at our programme catalogue and get in touch with our Admissions’ team if you have any questions about the programme most suitable for your background.

Join us in celebrating Robert Kennedy College and York St John 2019 graduates!

Sandra, Ilse, Doris, Asha, Melanie, Lilian, Matthew, Alaine, Marlini, Wilfried, Boguslaw, Ebru, Graham, Dag, Karen, Julie, Tony, Jialei and Sandra – these are the names of the 2019 RKC/YSJ MA in Leading Innovation and Change graduates who made it to York, to what I *know* was a great delight! We know quite a few of you could not make it physically to graduation this year – your achievement is no less impressive though – well done!

Graduation 2019 – group 1 photo
Graduation 2019 – group 2 photo

Wednesday the 20th of November 2019 was the day about 20 of our own MALIC students experienced the graduation of a lifetime, in one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe – the York Minster. For all of you reading this at home and thinking that sounds awesome – know that it is, and I hope we’ll be able to hear from a few of them who were there to confirm this is not just my impression!

Graduation: I couldn’t recommend it more

By the time graduation comes around, you will have attended the residency either in Zürich or York, so you know (or discover) that travel is not easy, nor cheap, but despite all that, I wholeheartedly recommend attending Graduation too. I haven’t heard a single whisper in the past 7 years of someone being disappointed with the graduation.

Here’s a short video of our graduates, so you can judge for yourself the emotions and excitement of the moment. See if you can count how many of them forget about the photo opportunity with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, in what was his last awards ceremony as York St John’s Chancellor. Next year’s graduates will be shaking hands with Reeta Chakrabarti.

A special shout out to Sandra Ahlers for the Dissertation prize, and to Ilse Baxter for the overall programme prize! Woohooo – amazing performance ladies – well done!

Finally, a huge CONGRATS! to all graduates alike, whether they’ve been able to walk the stage in York or had to stay at home (much like I did this year). Keep us in the loop with your professional exploits post graduation and help make this world a better place. Well done you all!

P.S. If you are wondering about the MA Leading Innovation and Change, know that it has smoothly transitioned into the MBA Leading Innovation and Change and next year we are likely to have the first batch of MBAs graduating in the Minster – are you one of them, or can you become one? Let us know in the comments!

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.