9 Job-Ready Skills You Will Develop When Studying an Online Master’s

by Daniela Dandes

With mobile devices and video-conferencing becoming more widespread, online opportunities like remote jobs and online degrees are also here to stay. More companies are turning to telecommuting as a solution to find the best talent for their organisational goals. On the other hand, more universities are introducing distance learning programmes, that reach out to a larger student group than ever before.

Online Master’s degrees are becoming so attractive because of the important advantages they offer to a growing number of people. Taking into account their accessibility and flexibility, more students are interested in studying online on a yearly basis. 

In the US, for example, a Babson Survey Research Group report has found that at 7.3 per cent, public colleges and universities experienced the largest growth in online course enrolment between 2015 and 2016.

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Online Master’s courses are also popular because they are a sure way to build skills that will come in handy at your work place. Think time management, knowing how to have engaging Skype calls, starting international collaborations, working efficiently from home, or even working remotely all-together.

Don’t limit your online education to just getting through the course material. Start developing these job-ready skills:

1. A sense of autonomy

A sense of autonomy boils down to making choices in a deliberate manner. 

By understanding the bigger picture of where you want to go with your online Master’s, and breaking this feat down into bite-sized, manageable tasks or steps, you can feel empowered to successfully go through with your online coursework. 

This skill comes in handy also in professional environments. For example, if you are charged with leading a project, then your newly-acquired sense of autonomy will motivate you to plan and act, instead of waiting for others to tell you what to do.

2. Super-sharp time-management

During your online studies, your university will fix specific deadlines, but for the rest, it is up to you to manage your time effectively. What time management essentially promotes is being conscious of what you do, when you do it, and why. 

Take the opportunity to learn how to plan your day in a way that is the most beneficial to you. Check your energy flow (when do you perform best?), identify productivity peaks (are you more of a morning or an evening person?), and plan ahead (don’t leave everything at the last moment). 

Also, keep an eye on time wasters. Getting an in-depth understanding about how you function will allow you to be more productive and less stressed at the end of the day.

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3. Over average communication skills

When working in an online environment, communication can get messy. 

If you don’t clearly articulate what you want to say to people, your message will most likely be falsely interpreted. That will lead to frustration for both you and the person on the other side of the communication process and this will cause you to waste more time explaining what you meant in the first place. 

When drafting your thoughts, don’t assume the other person will read between the lines. Also, make sure that sentences are not overcomplicated and keep paragraphs short and aired out. 

Ask yourself 'What should the other person take out of my message?' During your online Master’s, you will have plenty of opportunities to practice and master this specific skill. Time to become a pro-communicator! 

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4. Above-and-beyond digital collaboration skills

If you are reading this, most likely you have a phone that can do more than a computer could do 15 years ago. You can download apps that monitor your health, tell you how many steps you should take in a day, help you with your guitar practice, and sends you daily reminders to meditate. 

When studying for your online programme, it is obvious that you will need to be digitally savvy, if you want to get the most out of this experience. That includes the way you will collaborate with other colleagues, but also optimizing your learning time. 

By combining digital skills together with a clear and pleasant communication style, your collaborations will naturally flourish.

5. Strategic planning

To achieve something great, you need to be able to plan ahead. 

Take, for example, your online degree workload. How will you manage to have all the required readings done? Do you plan to reserve a special time in the evening, after writing your reports? Do you stack your tasks up in bulk and have a learning-marathon weekend? The answers to such questions need to come from a deep knowledge of your learning style, adopting an autonomous attitude (see point #1), and deciding on the best course of action. 

Strategy design is how you shape your decisions, to reach the most effective and personally-appeasing outcome. It is also a skill that you will have to develop during your online studies if you want to get the best experience out of it.

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6. Hardcore research skills

Online learners must engage with course material on the Internet rather than in a physical classroom. Which means that one potential bottleneck in the learning process could be that it becomes all too easy to copy and paste information and dump it into assignments. 

Hence why you can take a step forward in your development and hone some hardcore research skills while studying online. When you learn how to produce high-quality research, it means that you know where to look for information, and can decide on which information is most useful. 

In a world cluttered with heaps of data, having the clarity to distinguish the most relevant data is an understated necessity.

7. Goal-directed proactiveness

One of the biggest reasons why applying for an online Master’s might seem daunting to some, is the necessity to be proactive. 

Aside from a couple of deadlines, you will need to stay organised. You should want to have 100% control over your learning experience. That means that sometimes your coursework won’t be enough. 

Maybe you will need to spark some conversations up with fellow colleagues or university professors. Maybe you will need to set up your own experiments and research pursuits to understand certain topics more in-depth. 

Through this online Master’s experience, you can train your research skills to new levels of mastery.

8. Honing extreme ownership

Responsibility is a big theme in 2018 and will reign even bigger in the future. This skill is essential especially if you want to have a leadership role in the future. 

Holding yourself accountable can be hard. The reason why you have the chance to build such extreme ownership while you study online is that you are your own manager. If you didn’t submit a paper before the deadline, it’s on you. If you chose to play video games instead of preparing for that mid-term test, and you don’t pass with the grade that you wanted, it’s on you. 

Don’t look at this skill as a personal blame-game. On the contrary, start living like a responsible adult, by owning to all the decisions you are taking. This attitude will boost your self-confidence and it will definitely help you in being successful with your studies and beyond.

9. Setting healthy boundaries

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. And all work and no relaxation time can lead you to suffer from study burnout

Our tendency to push over our boundaries, mainly because society dictates a fast and intense pace, comes to our detriment. We shouldn’t ignore our brain and body capacities, just for the sake of ticking another task off a never-ending list. 

Good planning, together with a disciplined and balanced lifestyle, can prevent months of sickness and sadness. And without your health, there isn’t much that you can achieve, as hard as you persist.

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Take the chance to develop these essential skills during your online Master’s programme. If you strive for more than what is asked, you will develop a winner’s attitude, that you can translate in uncountable situations in your life. 

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