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MBA Programs Are Suffering + Alternative Ways to Get a Leg up in Corporate America

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MBA programs fall on hard times: Full-time MBA programs in the U.S. are seeing marked declines in applications, according to The Financial Times. Every single one of the FT’s top 10 U.S. business schools have seen a dip in applications over the past two years, with Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and Duke’s Fuqua seeing double-digit declines of 22.5% and 14.6%, respectively. A tight job market may be keeping would-be applicants from leaving the world of full-time employment. And visa restrictions and trade tensions with China are not helping matters, the FT suggests. In recent years, business schools have come to rely on an influx of foreign students, particularly from China and India.

So what is the path of upward mobility in Corporate American? For those who enjoy corporate life and envision future success in it, there are reasonable alternatives to getting an MBA. Thanks to Investopedia they have given up an Alternative Guide to a MBA:

Alternatives to an MBA

When it comes to finding alternatives to obtaining an advanced business degree, ask yourself these basic questions:

  • What is your dream organization or company looking for?
  • What skill sets are critical to succeeding in the organization?
  • Is spending time and money on business school the only way to acquire these skills?
  • What work experiences, training, and exposure can help you develop these skills?

Companies look for employees who add value to the organization—that is, employees who have the drive to work quickly and accurately, provide unique insights and who can manage and lead teams aligned with organizational goals. Let’s look at a few development opportunities that can help you acquire these coveted skills without returning to full-time studies.

Leadership-Development Programs

Larger companies often have management or leadership-development programs tailored toward young professionals that display high potential. These programs can be in specific functions, such as engineering, finance, and accounting or can be general programs for future senior managers of the organization. Professionals are often rotated around various jobs and responsibilities every six months or so in order to provide exposure to different aspects of the business.

For instance, a new financial analyst entering the program can be placed for a few months in departments such as audit, treasury, mergers, and acquisitions, financial planning or investor relations. Having gone through such exposure can make the analyst a candidate for manager, controller, or CFO down the road.

Professionals who undergo these types of programs will have gained hands-on, paid experience in different aspects of the company as opposed to merely a theoretical approach to the function they would get in business school.

(See also: Top Job-Search Mistakes For Finance Grads.)

Change Your Work to a Different Function

A professional can dive right in and gain experience in a certain field. An accountant who wants to transition into marketing can network and look for opportunities in the marketing department of his or her company or join a marketing services firm. Yes, this can work.

Attitude and a successful track record are often the deciding factors in whether an applicant is selected for the job. An accountant with a solid history of success and strong references can be favored for such a position—if they properly communicate the reasons for the employment change. This can give an advantage over a former accountant with an MBA who has taken a few marketing classes.

Two years’ worth of experience in a certain function can be highly valuable, as one learns the intricacies and critical success factors in that field. A classroom does not provide the level of insight or the industry relationships you will need to succeed in the field.

(See also: Six Steps To Successfully Switching Financial Careers.)

Certifications

Moving up to management requires leading and managing teams and ensuring organizational goals are achieved. Managerial responsibilities also include financial planning and the handling of budgets and forecasts. Depending on which part of the organization you would like to transition to, you can prepare for a variety of designations to prepare yourself for added responsibilities and skill sets. There are certifications that are related to finance and accounting, including:

Other certifications that are more consulting-related include Six Sigma Black Belt (for process optimization), Project Management Professional, and Certified Information Systems Analyst, among others. There are a wide variety of certifications out there in virtually any field of business.

Obtaining these allows you to remain employed, and successfully passing all the requirements and exams will show others your competence in the specific field of interest. An MBA, on the other hand, may be too general to convey particular expertise in an area.

Besides, there are companies out there that will gladly pay for you to obtain these certifications. Imagine that: They’ll pay for you to become stronger in your field—for you to earn a higher income and future promotions. Now there’s a good deal.

Training for Professionals

Universities offer a variety of development programs for managers and executives that allow professionals to undertake training courses on-site during evenings and weekends. Some companies pay for such training if it directly tied to one’s job.

An MBA forces you to cover a variety of required topics, whether you want to or not. Executive programs and extension classes, on the other hand, allow you to target areas in which you would like to improve, allowing you to tailor learning according to your needs. These programs are typically structured so that participants must fulfill course requirements and can cover a wide variety of business topics, including:

  • Negotiation skills
  • Leadership
  • Public speaking
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Alternatively, there are various for-profit training centers that allow you to hone certain skills. For instance, finance professionals can undergo training in valuation or in accounting. You can remain employed while enhancing your skills, and some companies provide reimbursement upon satisfactory completion of requirements.

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

Walmart’s Creates Weapon Against Amazon + How You Can Use the Same Weapon to Automate Your Finances

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Walmart unleashed its latest weapon in the fight against Amazon: the Alphabot. It’s an automated warehouse to help speed up its grocery pickup service. Analysts are calling it “the most promising technology to hit food retail in years.” This Alphabot will revolutionalize Walmart’s business, but how can we use bots for personal finance? Enter in Artificial Intelligence, aka AI!

In finance, AI has already been transforming the industry. Banks are already using AI in FinTech to automate many processes, help with fraud prevention, as well as thwarting potential hackers from stealing sensitive information. When it comes to you and me, AI can really help us manage our money better. The sad truth is that many of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck, so a new way to stop the cycle is dire to our financial health and well being.

AI is so advanced that it can use predictive technology to analyze how we spend money and give us advice based on our habits in order for us to live more fruitful. AI can also identify potential savings opportunities if used right. I know many of us get spooked every time our favorite shopping place follows us around the internet serving us ads, but this, in a way, is a form of AI. Based on your shopping data, advertisers and retailers know what you are looking for and how to get it to you. With the right app or program, there may be a way to serve you up only the items you need and at the best price. AI can also stop you from impulse shopping by advising you on your purchases based on the goals that you put in. The options are limitless.

While the thought of computers telling us what to do can be scary; understanding how AI can make our lives easier is important. I’m not ready to give up everything over to the bots, but some things I can wait to hand over. Only time will tell how this plays out, but just know that your financial struggles may be over soon thanks to AI.

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Ditching the Commute: 7 Fast-Growing Career Categories for Remote Jobs

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Going into work is not a popular thing to do anymore. Across the total U.S. workforce, remote work has grown 91% in the last 10 years, according to an analysis by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics (GWA). While remote work exists across most career fields, it is growing more quickly in some fields than in others. With that in mind, FlexJobs analyzed over 50 career categories in its database, comparing the number of remote jobs posted on January 1, 2019, to the number of remote jobs posted on December 1, 2019, to determine which seven remote career categories have grown at a high rate during 2019, indicating they will be promising fields for remote job seekers in 2020.

“There is far more variety and depth in the types of career fields that allow people to work from home than most people realize, but this list represents the fields that have experienced particularly high growth during 2019,” said Sara Sutton, founder, and CEO of FlexJobs. “While a number of factors contribute to growth, all of these fields are highly compatible with remote work, so it may be that companies are using remote work as a strategy to attract candidates in a tight job market,” Sutton concluded.

The seven categories below have seen remote work job listings grow more than 40% when comparing the number of jobs posted on January 1, 2019, to December 1, 2019. A “remote job” is defined as a professional-level job that allows the worker to work from home either entirely or part of the time. Remote jobs are also known as telecommuting jobs, virtual jobs, and work-from-home jobs.

These are in order from highest to lowest growth, with each category having grown more than 40%.

1. Art & Creative: Creative careers often allow its professionals an exceptional amount of flexibility in their jobs. These jobs usually involve coming up with original and innovative ideas, both for aesthetic and practical value. Some artists work freelance while others work as part of a company’s or educational staff. Some of the common remote job titles within this career are Art Director, Illustrator, Commercial Artist, Website Designer, Conceptual Designer, Interior Decorator, Textile Designer, Painter, Photographer, and Musician.

2. Bookkeeping: Remote work opportunities for bookkeepers come from a variety of industries such as nonprofit, sales, small business, art and creative, client services, and of course, accounting and finance. An aptitude for organized and detailed work, and math and computer skills are essential for bookkeepers. Common job titles associated with this remote career category include Accounting Clerk, Sales Manager, Bookkeeper, Operations Manager, Office Assistant, and Accountant.

3. Internet & Ecommerce: The Internet and Ecommerce have made it possible for thousands of professionals to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home. There are many jobs relating to the Internet that involve working with information technology, web development, and design, and social networking tools. This category also encompasses SEO, SEM, and social media jobs. Common remote job titles include Operations Manager, Search Marketing Specialist, Paid Media Manager, SEO Consultant, and Social Media Specialist.

4. K-12: Teachers and educators most often manage live classrooms in elementary, middle or high schools but in this information age, many are providing their teaching services online. There are many accredited virtual learning platforms such as elementary, middle and high school programs that are fully online now so that has opened up the door for more remote jobs for qualified teachers. There are also many parents who choose to home-school their children and receive support from K-12 teachers. Common remote job titles include Virtual Teacher, Tutor, Online Instructor, Curriculum Developer, and Speech Language Pathologist.

5. Graphic Design: Graphic designers produce visual solutions to the communications needs of their clients through a variety of creative skills and commercial awareness. They are creative people who have a flair for what is appealing to consumers, are aware of upcoming trends and can convert their ideas into visually pleasing images. There are many avenues for graphic designers to work virtually in marketing, technology, and commercial industries. Related remote job titles include Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Conceptual Professional, Art Director, Layout Manager, and Creative Director.

6. Translation: Translation careers are an exciting option in remote work. As business is becoming more global, the demand for professionals who can work as translators to bridge the communication gap between cultures and businesses is immense. This is especially important for companies that operate internationally or have operations in other countries where associates must live and work. Some of the job titles available for remote work in this category include Website Tester, Training Specialist, Language Tutor, Business Translator, Document Proofreader, Meeting Facilitator, Advertising Quality Rater, and Bilingual Writer.

7. Math & Economics: Math & Economics jobs exist in a number of industries, including education, accounting and finance, nonprofit organizations, government, banking, information technology, and publishing. Common remote job titles in this career field include Financial Services Representative, Operations Specialist, Mathematics Translator, Instructional Designer, Economist, and Statistician. 

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Credit Union Loans Getting Riskier + How-To Not Get Risky with Your Student Loans

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Credit unions have increasingly taken on high-risk loans, which could lead to borrowers or taxpayers getting burned in the event of another financial crisis, reports The Wall Street Journal. The member-owned alternatives to banks are designed to provide lower borrowing costs and higher deposit rates. Yet, credit unions’ assets have grown almost twice as fast as those of banks over the past ten years. High-risk loans from banks contributed significantly to the 2008 financial crisis. This is dangerous because unlike a traditional bank Credit Unions are owned by its members so it is the members who stand to lose the most. But how can you make your Credit Union loans less risky? This is the same question we ask when it’s time to pay off our student loans. Who will be the first? Or How can you pay off your loans faster? Here are six ways:

1. Develop a plan

Develop a plan to pay off your student loan debt before you graduate.

2. Save your money

Each summer throughout your college education, get a job or internship. Save half the money in a high-interest savings account. After a few months, consult a financial advisor to earn the highest possible return on your money. After college, you can use the money saved during all four years to pay down your college debt.

3. Consolidate your loans (But use caution)

Consolidating student loans combines your loans into one payment but may or may not provide you with a lower interest rate. Do extensive research before consolidating your student loans. In addition, you may not be eligible for various student loan forgiveness programs if you consolidate your student loans.

4. Exchange work to reduce debt

Perform volunteer work or work for the following in exchange for reducing student loan debt: teaching in certain locations with low-income students or areas with a shortage of teachers, providing legal and medical services in low-income areas or working for Americorps or the Peace Corps.

5. Get a work-study job

To help pay for the costs of college get a work-study job on campus to help defray the cost of college. Go to your campus employee office to ask about their work-study program. Work-study jobs pay at least the minimum wage for that state.

6. Apply for grants + scholarships

Apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships never have to be paid back. Some grant websites are Zinch.com, Fastweb.com, ScholarshipPoints.com, Cappex.com, and Scholarships.com.

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