Opting to study your MBA online allows you to learn remotely from wherever you are in the world, giving you the flexibility to work to your own schedule.
To enhance the learning experience, some online MBAs also offer a residential period which gives you the chance to break from virtual learning and meet your peers in person.
BusinessBecause spoke with students from the Global Online MBA at ESMT Berlin, a highly flexible degree offering week-long residential periods for students, to find out how this impacts the MBA experience.
The online MBA experience
Today, online learning has become the norm for many people—around 65% of students prefer learning in an online setting. That’s largely due to the flexibility that comes with pursuing an online degree.
At ESMT, you can complete your Online MBA over a period spanning anywhere between 24 and 60 months, studying at your own pace while you work.
This heightened flexibility makes studying online an attractive option for those working full time. Online MBA students at ESMT will typically have at least 3 years of professional work experience and will be eager to develop their career whilst they study.
“I was looking for an opportunity to improve my management skills. The program was a good fit for me because learning online meant I could fit in studying alongside my job,” says Justina Geneviciute, a student on the Global Online MBA.
Like full-time programs, online MBAs are a great way to develop your business acumen, with curricula teaching business fundamentals ranging from finance to human resources.
But unlike full-time degrees, online MBAs typically have small class sizes which is a useful way to interact and learn from your professors and mentors. At ESMT, you can further this opportunity by engaging in online sessions with the career services team, or by paying for personalized career coaching sessions.
The course structure will also help you get the most out of your program by teaching valuable business skills made specifically for a virtual format.
At ESMT, as well as general management, marketing, technology, and innovation skills you can also develop your virtual learning skills through modules focused on communication and teamwork in a virtual setting.
Build connections to get the most out of your online MBA
To make the most of your degree, it’s important to build connections and establish a network of contacts during your MBA.
While this can be more challenging when studying online, a residential period gives you the chance to network and build strong connections with your peers in-person.
At ESMT, students have the opportunity to take part in two residential ‘Experience Weeks’, one based in Berlin and another based in another key location which varies from year to year. With flexibility a key priority across the program, attendance is optional, however those who do attend gain credits and complete several group projects.
Taking part in the residential experience means you have the chance to work closely with the people that you have interacted with throughout the course, strengthening your personal and professional rapport and building a sense of community among the entire cohort.
“In the world of business, connections are everything,” adds Patrick Gall, another student on the Online MBA. “This week was really valuable for me and was a great chance to meet my classmates face to face,” he says.
Building relationships with your peers in person is a great way to create lasting connections with business professionals who could end up in leading positions around the world later in your career. These relationships enable you to build a global network and can potentially provide access to career opportunities in the future.
Gain a global perspective
Not only is the residential period a great way to expand your professional network, but it also gives you the opportunity to deepen your connections with people from all corners of the world, and to broaden your understanding of different cultures.
To succeed in a modern business environment, it is important that you have strong interpersonal skills and can connect with diverse groups of people.
“The global nature of the program was really interesting to me, and I think we have something like 30 to 40 different students from different countries,” says Patrick.
“You're learning their perspectives on business and management. You’re also learning their cultural takes on business” he adds.
While the residential period ensures you can build the type of quality connections you’d typically gain while studying in-person, it’s just one of the benefits you gain from studying online that can prepare you to succeed in an increasingly virtual world.
“We are progressively moving toward a more online world. The business world too is progressing. When there is an opportunity to meet in person then that’s great, but knowing how to succeed in an online environment is also crucial,” adds Patrick.