For those who want to take their careers to the next level, a master of business administration degree helps. But to build a solid network of business professionals – and get hands-on training in crucial skill sets needed for a career in the business world – you need a little more than academia.
Kamloops’ Thompson Rivers University MBA program allows students to fill in any training gaps and hone their approaches to networking and business relationships.
The TRU MBA program was created for students coming from non-business backgrounds, according to Bernie Warren, TRU MBA co-ordinator and faculty member. These students found they were lacking certain skills needed to move up the management ladder in their field.
“They needed to understand accounting, finance, human resources and the business aspects that they didn’t get in their prior education,” said Warren.
TRU offers mandatory foundational courses for those without business backgrounds, including statistics, accounting, economics, marketing and human resource management. After completing the foundational courses, followed by the core MBA, students can take more courses, complete a graduate project or go a more traditional academic thesis route. Those students with a business background may be eligible to complete the one-year accelerated MBA program, beginning directly with the core MBA courses.
Bridge to Business
Students from all backgrounds can benefit from the program and its many resources, particularly on campus in Kamloops. On campus, MBA students can access international and graduate student support, network with other students and use meeting and conference rooms. TRU’s free Bridge to Business program helps MBA students acquire the soft skills needed to push them up the ladder of the business world.
“An MBA on its own is not a golden ticket to a job.… People are looking at all the soft skills – the whole package. Can we work with this person? Are they well connected? Are they well spoken? How do they present themselves?” said Bridge to Business project manager Colin O’Leary.
International MBA student and Bridge to Business participant Rahul Das completed his engineering degree in India, then began working at his family’s organization.
“I decided to do an MBA because I needed a business skill set to run the organization. I was OK with the technical part, but the management part was really getting difficult. And there were high expectations,” Das said.
Once at TRU, Das realized he needed more than just an academic education and joined the Bridge to Business program.
Bridge to Business participants receive professional development training that complements the MBA program. Participants have eight major skill sets to tackle during their time with Bridge to Business. They must take training workshops and attend a community business networking event to apply those skills in real-life settings.
How to get a job
Through Bridge to Business, Das learned practical skills, such as how to write professional reports, how to speak with professionals and even the workings of business socializing – how to order during a business dinner and when it’s appropriate to start talking business.
Bridge to Business participants network with people they may not otherwise get to meet, like politicians, doctors, mayors, CEOs and entrepreneurs, says O’Leary.
Having benefited from connections through the Bridge to Business program, Das was ultimately offered a job. He says it was not just because he was earning his MBA.
“It was more about the things we have been doing to level up. You need to really show the soft skills, which won’t be learned through the classroom. It’s the things that you do outside the MBA program that make you stand out.”