How to thrive in the online environment as a Full-time MBA

18 June 2020

Full-time MBA participant, Sresha Banerjee, discusses how she has maximised online learning and networking. 

2020 will be largely remembered for when ‘the world went online’. As the pandemic shook our day-to-day lives, we also saw a spectacular change take place in front of our eyes. From corporate, to public services, to education – working patterns, company culture, organisational strategies, and structural workflows – all shifted towards a new way of working. As a result, Lloyd’s Digital 2020 Global Overview Report suggests that nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population is now online.

Teaching and resources

Our MBA course was no different. We quickly saw all learning, networking and careers coaching go online. I commend WBS’ efforts towards ensuring continuity of education. I have taken two electives online via my.wbs. My classes were engaging and interactive, and also offered opportunities for group work with the Distance Learning MBA and Executive MBA cohorts, who we would not ordinarily have had the chance to collaborate with. Furthermore, the access we have to a wealth of online resources via the Warwick Library has ensured that there has been no interruption to our academic research and assignment completion.  

 

Networking

Beyond our routine learning, this has also felt like a great opportunity to try out new things.

With the desire to further develop networking opportunities for myself and my cohort, I put together the “Guest Speaker Series Webinars”, 40-minute sessions on Zoom, featuring professionals from different industries and sectors giving talks on their area of expertise. I found that online ticketing websites, such as Eventbrite, are great for remotely organising events, especially online webinars. We have now hosted six webinars on topics ranging from exploring the ‘Future in FinTech’ to understanding the ‘Science of Consulting’. We will continue to host webinars every Monday at 5pm, and these are open to all students and staff at WBS.

One observation I made during my first two terms at WBS, was that the panels at networking events at The Shard were largely male dominated. Perhaps, a result of women having strong commitments to their home lives after work – because there is certainly not a lack of female leaders in the workplace. With the world moving online, households can better share responsibilities and achieve an overall work-life flexibility and balance. Perhaps as a result of this shift, I have found that more female professionals have been keen to join panels and events.

Careers Support

The crisis not only created distance, but also a slow-down in recruitment and career opportunities. However, personally – this felt like the right time to enhance my networking and professional development skills in order to be better prepared for when the world ‘starts up’ again.

My fabulous Careers Coach, Donna Walker, with whom I have continued online coaching session using Microsoft Teams, has some great advice about building resilience during my job search. She encouraged me to leverage my LinkedIn during this time:

  1. Spruce up your profile and make your experience come alive
  2. Stay in touch and continue cultivating your existing network
  3. Avoid the dark, black hole of mindless multiple application submissions online
  4. Don’t forget, some companies are recruiting! Be flexible and try to understand the current market.

Our Careers Coaches have also been instrumental in helping the MBA Women in Business Club facilitate group coaching sessions via Microsoft Teams. This is a safe space for women to openly discuss career challenges and workplace barriers, and to identify tangible solutions. To be able to continue this online has been fundamental to my learning and development. We have successfully explored topics such as Risk-taking for Women, Negotiation Strategies, Sexism at Work, and Finance for Women. We have recently formalised this student-led initiative in a LinkedIn group, connecting WBS MBAs from the past, present and future.

 

To me, those who have continued to thrive, are those who have not only embraced the change, but the opportunities to explore new avenues, as well supporting their organisations to successfully implement online working.

 

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