Education - Page 4 - Professional development

- Page 4
Professional development
New paths for continuing education

By E. Rose Scarff, Contributing Writer

In today’s constantly changing world of work, it pays to continue learning new skills throughout one’s career. Whether involved in business, marketing or law, these programs can take your career in a new direction.

Aimed to educate non-business people about business methods, the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business MicroMasters Program is the perfect way to explore all aspects of business.

“The program touches every area of business in the seven different core classes,” says Judy Frels, Ph.D., assistant dean of online programs. This includes financial accounting and marketing among the offerings (see sidebar). The credits earned are fully transferable should a student decide to continue for a master’s degree in business administration.

The program is fully online but is designed so the students and faculty get to know one another through video classes and other venues. “Each course starts with introductions among each learning cohort,” says Frels. “Students can opt to locate themselves on the map, creating an opening for local connections.” Students are encouraged to have an accountability partner and to reach out to each other.

“Even though it’s an online class,” says Megan Fetsko, a student who works as a corporate analyst, “it still feels like you are in a physical classroom at times. We get to interact with classmates and teachers, engage in case studies and do simulations to reinforce what we have learned.”The classes she has taken have already improved her current work.

The program has the same professors as the evening classes in the business school and is an economical way to learn about business as well as about themselves. “Our leadership and influence course improves student capacity to lead through personal development and adaptability in different situations,” says Frels.

“I don’t have a business background, so all the subject material is completely new to me,” says Adriana Ford, an environmental researcher living in London, who is taking her second course in the program. “I really like that it covers the core curriculum of an MBA. A lot of work has gone into its design and implementation, with a variety of learning tools, including videos, simulations, case studies and reflections on our experiences.”

Developed as a crossover between data management and marketing as the need grew for people trained to do both, Towson University offers a Master of Science in marketing intelligence (see sidebar). It can be taken as an imbedded certificate program in interactive marketing or students can continue for the full master’s degree.

 General marketing strategy was needed in the digital world,” says Philippe Duverger, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of marketing.“ Learning how to analyze and make a strategy from the data gives more validity and lowers risk.”

Students learn theory in class, but they also use actual databases for their projects. “They get to crunch the numbers to get results regarding marketing to their customers,” says Duverger. Not only are they taught how to use the internet to an advantage, but they are also given the opportunity to earn certifications in Google AdWords, Hootsuite and Hubspot.

The classes are held in the evening, although some are available online, and the class size is kept small. This facilitates the ability of students to work in groups on their projects and to develop community with other marketers. By working together face-to-face, students get a chance to enlarge their professional connections.

“Many of our students come to retool themselves to go into digital marketing,” says Duverger. Students may be coming from marketing departments, or they may have a background in data management but lack marketing skills. They may just have an interest in marketing or want to expand a small business. “One woman student was a personal trainer and wanted to learn how to build up her business,” says Duverger.

No matter the students’ background, they are given the same broad range of instruction, so they master all the skills needed for marketing success in the digital world. All students have access to Towson’s research and focus group facilities when they work on their projects.

Guest speakers provide a real world element to the coursework. These marketing professionals provide further networking opportunities and are often looking for people to hire in their field.

At the University of Baltimore School of Law, foreign trained lawyers can study U.S. law. Although all the students have a law degree from outside the U.S., their backgrounds and reasons for studying for the LL.M. are different.

“Some are foreign nationals who just want an understanding of U.S. law and will return home when they graduate,” says Professor Odeana R. Neal, J.D., director of the LL.M. program of Law of the United States (LOTUS). “Others may be permanent residents of the U.S. now and need further education, so they can practice in the U.S.”

Students come from all over the world, from the United Kingdom to the Philippines, Brazil to Romania, China to Tanzania and everywhere in between. Some students may have a law degree, but no experience and others may have practice experience already.

With students from so many varied backgrounds, some changes are planned for the program.“ Because many of our students work during the day,” says Neal, “we are planning to begin offering classes in the evening. For those with no law firm experience, we are planning internship experiences for them.”

For those students who need to strengthen their English language skills, the school is partnering with the English Language Institute at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “Students will be able to take English classes in the summer before our classes start in the fall,” says Neal.

There are two tracks the students can pursue in this degree. The first is a set curriculum in U.S. law for those planning to take the bar exam. The LL.M. helps prepare students to sit for the bar exam and the credits are fully transferable should they decide to continue law school for their J.D.

The other is a special interest track, for example, in international law, and it does not prepare them for the bar exam. In both instances, students learn how U.S. law works and how it differs from the law they studied in their home country.

“It’s a very dynamic program,” says Neal.“We work to shape the degree to suit the student’s needs.” •

Mastering career advancement

It is well known that those holding a master’s degree in their field earn more and have more opportunities for advancement than those who do not. The schools featured here prepare students in business, marketing and law in an economical way.

For those considering a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, but who are not sure that is what they need to further their career, the University of Maryland’s MicroMasters Program is designed for them. The seven core courses include marketing management, leadership and influence, financial accounting, data analysis for decision making, strategic and transformational IT, corporate finance and global business strategy will give them a solid background in business practices.

Marketing intelligence comprises not just a knowledge of marketing research, but also interactive marketing, data management and analytics as well as strategy. Towson University’s master’s in marketing intelligence prepares students as market research analysts with the experience necessary to develop marketing strategy and make high-level decisions. This is a high growth field through 2022 as predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For lawyers who have received a law degree in another country, but who want to learn about U.S. law, the University of Baltimore School of Law offers a LL.M. degree in the Law of the United States (LOTUS) designed specifically for them. It may be taken full-time or part-time. Students can focus on learning U.S. law, so they can take the bar exam or they can choose courses to complement their field of interest. •