The following article is a advertorial provided by Prague College:
Standing out from the Crowd: Keeping Your Skills Fresh – a Masters degree education in Prague
The current global economic crisis certainly concentrates the mind, the career and the bank account. More to the point, no one is sure how it will finally play out and what the long term impact will be, economically, socially and politically. In this context, many businesses and individuals are asking one fundamental question and that is how to differentiate themselves from the competition? I have run numerous career workshops and 121 sessions on “how to stand out from the crowd” , now even more so in a job market here and outside of the Czech Republic, where competition for jobs (and the right job) is fierce. A chance conversation over coffee at Al Cafetero – a little gem with Mark Anderson, Marketing Director for Postgraduate Programmes at Prague College, we ended up touching on one of the key components of doing differentiation successfully, namely keeping your skills fresh. What do you offer your current company or a potential employer? Basically, what you learn could make you more valuable in your current job. And if you do unfortunately get made redundant, it might help you get the next job.
We discussed the Masters Degree Programme that Prague College runs. First off, he had to explain the concept and then convince me that there was a real benefit for people doing this. This would take more than just buying me an excellent cappuccino! After all, deciding to take any degree course is a major commitment of time and money; a decision not to take lightly. But, before we get in to the detail, I would advise anyone considering any type of further education to take the time to think about:
Why? How does it fit with your career goal? Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you want to do with your career and how further education will help you reach that goal. If you are not clear, then individually, with a colleague or career coach spend some time working on some self-assessment and career planning options. Will it really make you more marketable? Think it through or you could waste both time and money.
When is a good time? Is it better to do a Masters or MBA right after you complete your bachelor’s degree, or is it better to wait a few years and gain some work/life experience first? I have provided a very quick overview of some of the main pros and cons to help you think things through.
The reasons for continuing straight after getting your bachelor’s degree:
· You are used to being a student — and have momentum;
· Your study skills are sharp, hopefully!
· Some careers require an advanced degree even for “entry-level” positions.
The reasons for working for a few years before going to graduate school:
· You may better know your career goals by working for a few years;
· Some graduate programmes require work experience;
· You bring a broader and real-life view to your studies;
What is the best option, for you? It is important to do your research into what is on offer, where you can access Master´s programmes or MBAs, when they are available and how much such programmes cost and how long they take. Individuals will have different priorities and need to assess what is the best option for them.
Based on the discussion with Mark, I asked him:
What is a Masters programme? My simple view would be a way to expand your knowledge basically! His answer was a bit more detailed! Typically, a Master´s degree is awarded after one or two years of study following the completion of a bachelor’s degree programme. Each Master´s designation is followed by the particular discipline, such as Master of Fine Arts or Master of International Management and designates the academic or professional area of expertise. The MSc International Management programme in Prague is a structured management education programme for those aspiring to senior management positions in international business and cross-cultural organizations. The programme is run in English with an international faculty from all over the world. Currently, the MSc programme is made up of continuing students, experienced executives, international students, and those looking to change career paths.
How does this differ from an MBA? An MA or MSc is typically seen as the next step in education after a Bachelor level education; it is the continuation of an academic cycle. It is there to prepare the student to become a “master” in a particular field, or create a narrower specialty in general fields, as in the case of Prague College, International Management. A Master´s programme does not typically require previous work experience, although many people taking them do have this. On the other hand, an MBA traditionally usually asks for a minimum of 5+ years of working experience in order to build on the experience of peer groups and strengthen the general business and management background of the participants. Essentially it is a postgraduate, post-experience education in general management and general leadership.
Why do a Master´s? Many people believe that such degrees will provide advancement in their skill set and hopefully bring about a pay rise. Often, people do a bachelor´s degree in for example, English, but have then decided that they want to move into business and a Master´s degree will allow them to develop expertise in a new area and enter a new career, more easily.
How Long? They can vary, usually taking 2 years. At Prague College, the MSc International Management was designed with the working professional in mind and the schedule is quite flexible to allow people to complete the programme in as little as 12 months or to be able to take a half semesters that would fit around most standard working hours.
What happens? Ask how often and how many intakes each year there are for a programme and whether study is during the day, evening or weekends? Most institutions offer a variety of options to meet the need for flexibility from their students. Master´s degree programmes are based around seminars with a great deal of discussion and most programmes require students to complete an extended research paper/dissertation. I asked Mark about his programme and he said that “the programme is built around giving future managers a wide spectrum of management topics including people, marketing, finance, strategy and cultural management theory mixed with case studies and practical application”.
Practical application is a key aspect to check out whoever you end up talking to about further educational opportunities. In my last corporate role, my team looked at MBA options for our employees and we found that in some institutions, students had criticized the programmes because they were too theoretical and did not blend theory with how to make things work in the real world. If you want to convince an employer of your value, they need to see how you will or have applied the skills you are talking about.
Added benefits that differentiate a college or university? At the start of the article I asked the question: “how to stand out from the crowd? This question is just as important to ask any institution you may study at. I asked Mark this question – and I hope this gives you an idea of what to probe. “While Prague College does not offer an MBA programme, our MSc incorporates as many positive features of MBA programmes into our MSc International Management through complimentary programs like the Master Speaker Series which allows students to interact, network and learn from top business executives from around the world. Prague College also offers to its students a unique opportunity to publish their work and findings in one of Czech Republic´s only registered English language, university published research journals”. Critically, in today´s tough economic climate, Prague College also offers various payment terms and conditions on the Master´s level to help students work with the cost of their further education.
Amazing what you can learn over a cappuccino! Good Luck.
Claire Dickson, Executive and Career Coach
HR Solutions: www.hrsolutions.cz
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