Sponsored by the University of Birmingham \r\n\r\nNetworking as an online MBA student is essential to progress your career and gain access to exclusive work opportunities. As an online MBA student, there will be many occasions to network with professionals in a variety of industries and build up strong relationships with connections, whether this is through recruitment events, alumni networks or projects. \r\n\r\nTopMBA spoke to Melanie Billingham, a careers consultant at the University of Birmingham’s (UOB) Birmingham Business School, to find out more about how studying an online MBA at a triple accredited business school will help you connect and engage with top employers. \r\n\r\nGain access to networking events \r\n\r\nWhile studying an online MBA, you will be offered opportunities to attend networking events – online and on campus – for different sectors, enabling you to gain industry insights and increase your professional network. \r\n\r\nBirmingham Business School’s careers team (BBS Careers) host and promote a variety of events which online MBA students can attend, such as workshops, talks with industry professionals and the virtual MBA Careers and Chat sessions, one-hour sessions with a particular industry focus, which let MBA students ask questions and make contacts on a more informal level. \r\n\r\nBirmingham Business School recently held an MBA Symposium for Distance Learning MBAs, a two-day event that included industry speakers from Deloitte, the BBC, Astra Zeneca and the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, as well as interactive workshops on business agility and authentic leadership, and social events with alumni to facilitate greater networking. \r\n\r\nOpportunities to network with alumni \r\n\r\nAnother benefit of studying an online MBA at Birmingham Business School is the opportunity to be part of an extensive alumni community of more than 350,000 University of Birmingham graduates. Through our alumni groups on LinkedIn and other channels, you will be able to network with alumni and build up a list of professional contacts across the globe. \r\n\r\nAt Birmingham Business School, every MBA student will have access to a dedicated MBA alumni relations manager as well as the BBS Careers team. \r\n\r\nThe BBS Careers team supports professional development and employability in a variety of ways, including: \r\n\r\n\r\n\tAccess to online career resources to support job search \r\n\tIndividual career advice (via email, online or in person) \r\n\tCV or job application reviews, practice interview sessions \r\n\tGuidance on managing LinkedIn profiles and building professional networks \r\n\tProfessional skills development coaching \r\n\r\n\r\n“We also offer a lifelong service to our all of our MBAs – so if they need careers advice after graduation, or at any point in the future, they can continue to contact us for support,” said Melanie. \r\n\r\nWork on projects with global business leaders \r\n\r\nBusiness schools often have connections with industry and collaborate with these connections to make the course content more relevant or to offer students real-world work experience. \r\n\r\nFor more than a decade, Birmingham Business School has offered the Deloitte Consultancy Challenge. This is an intensive weeklong consultancy training workshop delivered by ‘Big 4’ global professional services company Deloitte, exclusively for Birmingham Business School’s MBA students. \r\n\r\nDuring this week, Deloitte teach Birmingham Business School students how to manage consultancy projects, and students take part in sessions where they learn how to deliver recommendations to clients at board level. \r\n\r\nSome sessions are recorded so students can look back at how they did and understand how they can improve. \r\n\r\n“The week is very intensive, with consulting skills training sessions every morning, and a case study scenario that is analysed in teams every afternoon, culminating in a presentation to the board on the final day,” said Melanie. \r\n\r\nThe challenge can also be a chance to connect with Deloitte as a potential employer, as Birmingham Business School MBA alumna Bunmi Olaniyan found. Bunmi was selected to take part in the Deloitte Consultancy Challenge in 2021, where she had the opportunity to network with Deloitte representatives. She is now working there as a senior consultant. \r\n\r\nTake part in development events that will help you impress employers \r\n\r\nTo help their students impress and connect with potential employers at networking events and assessment centres, business schools regularly offer interview practice and mock assessment days. \r\n\r\nBirmingham Business School hosts virtual mock assessment sessions, open to business school students across all programmes, including those based in Singapore and Dubai. \r\n\r\nThese assessment centres are hosted on a platform called Assess.Digital, in collaboration with Smart Resourcing Solutions, which is also used by some employers to run recruitment events. \r\n\r\n Melanie said: “During the event, participants take part in a range of recruitment exercises – this can include a group exercise, interview session and a case study or presentation. \r\n\r\n“Each exercise is delivered by an experienced assessor or careers professional, and every participant receives a written feedback report on their performance. The feedback includes an assessment of strengths and areas for improvement, which can be used to improve performance at future recruitment events with employers.” \r\n\r\nMeet industry connections to help you start your own business \r\n\r\nIf you would prefer to start your own business after graduating, business schools such as the Birmingham Business School can give you the skills and industry connections to help you succeed. \r\n\r\nUniversity of Birmingham’s B-Enterprising team provides specialist advice, support and guidance to set up your own business or social enterprise. \r\n\r\nB-Enterprising runs the UoB Elevate programme - an incubator and business growth programme supporting UoB start-ups onto the next level with funding, incubation space, support and talent. The programme offers a wide range of support, investment, mentoring and networking opportunities through business engagement and the University of Birmingham alumni network. \r\n\r\nB-Enterprising also deliver and facilitate a range of events for budding entrepreneurs including boot-camps in collaboration with major companies such as Accenture and Siemens. \r\n\r\n“These events provide an opportunity to enhance and develop skills that are important to employers, such as teamwork, creativity and presentation skills,” said Melanie.