There are many reasons why students choose to earn their MBA from Smartly. Smartly offers innovative degree programs that are online and mobile, so students can learn wherever they want. And for many, the highly selective and global nature of Smartly’s admissions is a major draw—all in service of building an impressive and engaged network of students and alumni around the world.
Unlike many online education platforms, Smartly provides its learners with myriad opportunities to meet and connect. Smartly’s Network allows students and alumni from the MBA and EMBA programs to discover students located in their geographic area and who share similar interests. And with the recent addition of the Network Events tab, students can now do more than just communicate on the platform; they can also connect in person.
In the Events tab, students can peruse the many community events Smartly has to offer. These range from in-person conferences, meetups, and special events to online orientations and book clubs, where students discuss the monthly book pick over video chat. Some of the most significant networking opportunities in Smartly’s highly engaged network are the in-person meetups and conferences held in cities around the world.
Smartly meetups allow for students to make real-world connections with their classmates. Meetups range from sharing dinner with one another at local restaurants to a special event such as touring Facebook’s NYC Headquarters. Recent meetup cities include Toronto, Berlin, Taipei, and Sydney. Smartly has hosted meetups in over 40 cities in 2019 alone, including trips to tour the United States Capitol building and London’s Houses of Parliament.
While meetups primarily bring together students and alumni who live in the same city, the weekend-long Executive MBA conferences draw students from (nearly) every continent. Conference itineraries vary from city to city and provide unique opportunities for students to experience and learn about the city they’re in. In 2019, conferences were held in Washington D.C., Singapore, and Dublin, with the next scheduled for Spring of 2020 in Copenhagen.
Conferences provide an excellent opportunity for students to not only network with other students and alumni, but to learn about real world businesses. Students partake in workshops, collaborate on case studies, hear talks from prominent business leaders, and visit successful local businesses to gain new perspectives and insights on how businesses are run across industries and in different countries.
Why does Smartly put so much emphasis on students networking virtually and through conferences and meetups?
According to Alexie Harper, Smartly Institute’s Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer, “Networking provides students with new career opportunities and allows them to meet the right people who may later provide them with career resources and support when they need it.”
Networking can even be a source of inspiration—presenting different paths of success that others have taken and that you have perhaps overlooked. Particularly in mid-to-senior level management roles and for students embarking upon an entrepreneurial endeavor, networking is a vital component for advancing one’s career, avoiding stagnation, and making the most out of opportunities that arise.
There’s evidence that networking plays a major role in hiring. The chart below from SilkRoad’s 2018 research report on hiring sources shows that referrals were the largest source of job hires by a long shot.
This chart from Statista shows that friends and professional connections provided the most new opportunities for job seekers in 2018.
Through student projects that encourage students to work together to solve business issues, student meetups and events around the world, and the Network tab features, Smartly students are encouraged to build meaningful connections.
So go on. Meet new people, reconnect with old acquaintances, and grow your network. You never know where it could lead.
From art teacher to Facebook partner, Ian stresses the importance of finding your “common thread”
Something that most (if not all) Smartly students have in common is the desire to learn. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, with interests and expertise in everything from biotechnology, investment banking, and engineering, to start-ups, non-profits, and more. Some of these students, often with an insatiable sense of curiosity, wish to earn a degree in business so that they can transition into a new field. Moving from one industry to another can be difficult, but it goes smoother with the right mindset and guidance. This is the lesson that Smartly Executive MBA student Ian Saville learned and mastered.
Ian has changed career courses multiple times. In high school, he wanted to become a priest, but was also interested in math and physics. So upon entering his freshman year in college, he was set to double major in physics and religion at The University of the South. But, ever in search of a challenge, Ian opted for a major that pushed him out of his comfort zone: art. He realized that math and physics had answers that were too defined. He was drawn to art because there aren’t right or wrong answers, and that openness left room for him to problem solve and figure things out on his own. Upon this realization, he switched majors and completed his B.A. in studio art, and then earned his M.A. in Art Education from Columbia University.
“I think a lot of art making is about problem solving, coming up with unique expressions and novel ideas to address issues,” said Ian. “It’s challenging, and I like challenges.”
Problem solving is a big deal for Ian. It is something that has guided his career, influencing the various jobs he’s pursued. After college, Ian became a middle school art teacher in New York City because he felt it would help promote kids’ ability to problem solve and think critically. While he was passionate about educating kids, he realized that being a teacher wasn’t his true calling.
Ian then went on to become a career coach. He said that he wanted to help people reach that moment where they realize their potential and what they really want to be doing. He believes that if you can think about the underlying concept of why you are passionate about something, then you can find clarity in what you want to do. While he preached this concept to others, Ian realized that he needed to do this himself.
Ian needed to make a change — a big one. The thought of moving into a new industry can be an anxiety-inducing endeavor; there’s always the risk that what you think you want to do, won’t actually pan out in reality. It’s cause for some serious self-discovery and Ian heeded the call. He decided to meet with a mentor of his to find clarity.
Ian’s mentor helped him recognize that there was one thing connecting all his jobs and interests — a desire to help people grow. Ian originally wanted to be a priest to help people, he became an art teacher to help kids, and he was a career coach to help people improve their lives. This commonality was the beacon Ian needed to figure out his next step.
“I think there’s something about career transitions and pivots where it feels really daunting, but once you understand what that common thread of your work is, it actually makes it a lot easier,” said Ian. “But you really have to do the work and reflect on it to get there.”
This realization may sound simple, but it is not easy to come to. It takes a great deal of patience and focus to truly take an objective look at yourself and figure out your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Ian did not simply snap his fingers and figure it out.
“It took a lot of screwups,” said Ian. “I had a lot of really bad interviews in that process. It’s not like an overnight ‘aha.’”
Even though Ian had figured out what he wanted to do, he struggled to convey his industry-hopping in a way that was attractive to employers. Ian realized that he had been going about it all wrong, and that he was trying to hide and downplay his teaching experience instead of using it as a strength. He figured out that the main idea of teaching is “taking abstract concepts and turning them concrete.” By reframing his experience in this light, he discovered that his work had quite a few parallels to the tech industry.
It was in this reframing that Ian was able to land a job at Facebook, where he started as a Knowledge Manager before his current position as a Learning and Development Partner. Even at Facebook, Ian continues this idea of improving the way people figure out what’s important, out of an abundance of unnecessary junk, and builds knowledge pipelines to streamline the essential information.
“When we think about learning and development, there’s the need for learning and there’s the solution,” said Ian. “If we could reduce the amount of time between the need and the solution, then we are doing the right work.”
If you’ve been following this blog, you might sense a theme in the people we’ve profiled for Student Spotlights — they are all natural leaders. Ian is no different. In his career advising, he worked with executive-level clientele and learned a great deal about leadership. He believes that the key to being a good leader is consistency; consistent in how they delegate, ask questions, and create inclusive environments where everyone’s voice can be heard. Ian says that leaders need to think about the people they are leading and put themselves in their shoes.
“Be really empathetic to the people you are trying to empower or influence,” said Ian. “What do they want? What’s in it for them? Why should they care about your perspective?”
Ian also believes that good leaders need to be conscious of what they do and don’t know. It is important to reflect on themselves and think about where they have weaknesses and who under them has strengths in those areas.
“Great leaders have the awareness of knowing what they don’t know and can bring in others quickly to fill the gaps,” said Ian. “A bad leader is someone who holds all of the pieces to themselves and feel as though they need to be in control all of the time.”
Outside of advising others and his work at Facebook, Ian stays occupied by looking for other problems that need solving — in one instance, finding a better way for kids to learn Chinese. So, he and his wife created a children’s music book that teaches Chinese. The idea for the book came from Ian’s wife, Peipei, who was born in Shanghai. She wanted their son to learn the language but they soon realized that it was difficult to find books that teach young children Chinese. Peipei and Ian accepted the challenge and recently published the book, Bao Bao Learns Chinese.
During this process, Ian’s knack (or perhaps, penchant) for problem solving came into play when he and his wife had to figure out a business plan, despite neither of them running a business before. While Peipei was the one who actually created the book, Ian supported her with the business aspects. Even though Ian was a novice in this arena, the business parts of launching this venture went smoothly, thanks to the knowledge he gained in Smartly’s Executive MBA program. Ian said that Smartly helped with the awareness of business principles and decision making needed for the success of the book. Ian and Peipei, who works at Facebook as well, also used their combined knowledge of digital marketing to help launch the book.
Ian leveraging what he learned in Smartly to publish a book is something that reflects Smartly students as a whole — they are driven, self-motivated people who aren’t afraid to tackle new challenges. These students actively seek new opportunities, such as continued learning and switching industries, in their quest to reach their true potential. While transitioning to a new industry may seem scary and difficult, Ian’s talent for navigating complexities and the discovery of his “common thread” allowed him to find his dream job. It’s a story we can all learn from and ask ourselves as we broach any major career change — what’s my common thread?
An essential list of resume questions we developed to help you showcase your experience, skills, and potential to employers. Plus, a resume template you can download!
Creating a great resume can be daunting: What format looks best? How long should it be? What information should you include?
Below is an essential list of questions we developed for Smartly students and candidates in our career network to help them showcase their experience, skills, and potential to employers. And to make the process even easier, we created this simple, one-page Word template (download here) that follows these recommendations. Copy your information into this template to put your best foot forward in your job search!
1. Is my resume easy to read?
Use Times New Roman or Arial.
Use 11 or 12 point font.
Use 0.5-1 inch margins on each side.
2. Does my resume tell a clear story and showcase my strengths?
List experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent position first).
List multiple positions for the same employer as individual entries to highlight your progression.
Focus on achievements, not descriptions: Write concisely and focus on problems you solved, actions you took, and results that followed. Do not describe overall duties. Consider using the following framework: Action verb + Project (what you did) + Result (what you accomplished).
One page per 10 years of work experience: For most people, a good rule of thumb is one page per decade of work experience.
3. Do I stand out?
Make it personal:
Include a small “Personal” or “Additional Information” section at the end of your resume. Include language proficiencies, citizenship, service activities, society memberships, or current hobbies. If including interests, be as specific as possible (e.g. “avid Caribbean scuba diver” or “die hard Philly Eagles fan”). Do not repeat information from other sections.
Start each bullet with an action verb, and lead with the most important point.
State the outcomes of your work and quantify them when possible.
4. Is my resume error-free and consistent?
Format: Companies, universities, job titles, and dates should all be formatted the same way. We recommend bolding companies and universities, using italics for titles, and utilizing MMM YYYY–MMM YYYY (e.g. Jun 2015–Jul 2016) for dates.
Spacing between experiences and at the end of bullets should be consistent.
Things to avoid:
Avoid jargon, personal pronouns, objectives or personal statements, photos, and listing “references upon request.” These just take up space without adding value.
5. Have I proofread my resume?
It helps to have a friend or two proofread your resume for you. You can also read your resume backwards to help catch spelling mistakes—start at the last word and use your finger to guide you from one word to the previous. This forces you to isolate each word from its sentence.
6. Is my resume formatted as a PDF?
Formatting in Word is variable, so always save your resume as a PDF. This way, the recipient of the resume (your potential employer) will more likely see the resume the way you intended.
Note: This is a general guide that works across many industries and job functions. However, we know that it may not be appropriate for all fields (e.g. design, where the layout also serves as an example of abilities in the field) or experience levels. We hope you find it useful and wish you luck in your job search!
Congratulations to two Smartly MBA students who have been honored in the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 List.
Smartly is proud to announce that two Smartly MBA students have been honored in the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 List. The annual list by Forbes magazine recognizes young leaders who are making outstanding contributions to business and industry.
Kaitlyn Yang is being recognized in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Hollywood & Entertainment category. She is the founder of her own Los Angeles-based post-production studio, Alpha Studios, and has over 40 credits to her name, including the five-time Emmy award-winning Robot Chicken. Kaitlyn is a Smartly MBA 2016 graduate and also a graduate of University of Southern California’s Animation and Digital Arts Program. You can find Kaitlyn’s profile on Forbeshere.
Mary Iafelice is being recognized in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs category. Mary is the co-founder of the Washington, DC-based humble ventures, which supports entrepreneurs from underserved communities, including veterans, women, and people of color. In the company’s first year, they’ve helped 25 startups raise over $4 million in funding and achieve nearly $1 million in revenue. Mary is a Smartly MBA 2017 candidate and also a graduate of College of the Holy Cross. You can find Mary’s profile on Forbeshere.
“Having not just one but two Forbes 30 Under 30 winners in the first year of our MBA program is a testament to the quality of the Smartly community. Kaitlyn and Mary are two high impact entrepreneurs that we’re proud to support,” said Tom Adams, Smartly’s CEO. “We look forward to seeing them continue to grow their respective companies.”
Congrats to Kaitlyn and Mary, and may they have continued success with their companies!
Smartly is on a mission to connect learning and skill attainment to positive career outcomes for candidates.
The team behind Smartly set out to alter the status quo in higher and professional education. We realized there was a larger issue at hand that needed to be addressed – it’s common for students to spend upwards of and often over $100,000 on a graduate degree without clear career advancement. On the other end of the spectrum, employers are at a loss on how to reach out and acquire talented candidates. Our career network, Smartly Talent, makes the process of hiring and vetting more streamlined and efficient for our partners – leading companies and organizations. We are on a mission to connect learning and skill attainment to positive career outcomes for our candidates.
Sign up. Once you have signed up and been accepted into Smartly Talent, you will be able to quickly view and connect with our candidates. You’ll be able to put in Preferences to find candidates that match your openings. Plus, our machine learning algorithms also suggest suitable profiles to you. We’re using technology to connect companies to talent, and strengthening the workforce with more efficient employment matches. You’ll be: joining a range of companies in our network including:
Our Candidates. In Smartly Talent, you will find high-caliber candidates looking for new opportunities. They have studied at elite universities and achieved results at innovative companies. These candidates join our career network, Smartly Talent, when they are admitted into one of our learning programs – world’s first, elite free MBA (2-10 years of work experience), executive MBA (10+ years of experience), and the Smartly Business Certificate (0-2 years of experience).
Browse Top Talent: In the “Browse” view, you can filter candidates by office location, role, years of experience, and keywords. When you see a candidate that you are interested in, you can Invite to Connect and send a message to the candidate letting them know what position(s) you are recruiting for. You can also just Like a candidate to request a connection without sending a message. We also give you the option to Share a candidate with a teammate via email or Pass on a candidate that you don’t want to connect with at the moment.
Featured Candidates: Our matching algorithm and personalized curation are used to suggest candidates that might be of interest to you.
Track Your Candidates: In your Tracker, your interactions with candidates are centralized. You’ll be able to see candidates you’ve connected with, your pending connections, and candidates passed on.
Save for Later: You can use our newly introduced “Save for Later” feature to revisit candidate profiles when you’re ready to make a decision.
Invite to Connect: When you’re ready to move forward with a candidate, you can use our “Invite to Connect” feature to start the interview process.
Hire!: Your first hire is free while we’re still in beta! So sign up or head back to Smartly Talent today to browse our candidates!
As your business grows, how can you hire with the same mentality as your upper management?
As companies scale, upper managementbegins to focus more on business operations and the macro management of the organization. Recruiting decisions shift to hiring managers and recruiters. As a recruiter, you aim to hire candidates that uphold the company’s values and culture. Before you reach out to candidates, everyone on the hiring team should have a clear sense of your company’s core values and markers you’re looking for during the interviewing process. Now the question becomes, how can you hire with the same mentality as your upper management?
Ask behavioral interview questions
Technical questions are an important part of any interview process but it’s important to remember that they are only one piece of the puzzle. Asking behavioral questions during an interview is a great way to test emotional intelligence, temperament, and the candidate’s stress response. The unconventional nature of behavioral questionstests candidates’ authenticity and problem-solving skills.
Look beyond the resume
The difference between skill and competency is hard to gauge by quickly scanning a CV. It’s especially hard to vet candidates early in their careers based on resume alone. Inc. Magazine argues, “excellent candidates are being overlooked, not because they lack ability, but because they have a blank resume.” For inexperienced candidates, it’s important to look at aptitude and whether they could learn the necessary skills, and then quiz their skills and competencies. You want to hire for the future–you want to hire people that are not afraid to take initiative and have great work ethic. Sometimes the best candidate is not the one who has the most relevant experience but the one with the most potential. Here are two suggestions to consider. First, you can ask candidates to solve a problem during the interview or submit a writing sample with 24 hours. Second, to gauge passion, you can ask candidates to speak about any personal projects that they may have started or are working on.
Hire for the “IT” factor
Soft skills and non-technical skills can be hard to quantify. Understanding how a person works with others or their leadership potential isn’t something that any resume or even quick interview will uncover. But, these skills are important to the “IT” factor. Google believes that “Technical ability will only carry you so far. Employers also want to see a skill that can’t be taught.” That’s why asking behavioral interview questions are so important. Behavioral interview questions help identify intangible skills.Teamwork, communication, work ethic, adaptability, problem-solving, and intellectual humility are some of the important qualities to look for when hiring and vetting candidates. As you make your next hire, keep asking yourself–does this candidate have the “IT” factor to be successful at your company?
We know that building your team can be challenging and time-consuming. That’s why we designed Smartly Talent, our hiring platform where you can efficiently browse and connect with high caliber candidates for your open positions. We have amazing software engineers, data scientists, marketing managers, account executives, product managers and more who are active in our career network and are taking advantage of our learning platform to gain the business skills they need to get ahead in their careers.
Sign up or head back to Smartly Talent to browse our candidates today! And, while we are in beta, your first hire is free.
A few tips to ensure that you’re doing your part to keep your company’s “All-Star” talent around for the long haul.
While attracting top talent requires diligence, retaining them poses another challenge for young startups and large companies alike. Cultivating and nurturing talent is essential to the success of an organization, as high performing employees directly impact your business. This function is something that cannot be automated; companies that support and encourage educational development, professional growth, and overall satisfaction of their employees tend to see lower employee turnover rates. Here are a few ways to ensure that you are doing your part to keep your “All-Stars” around.
One of the most valuable assets for a young startup is time. Having standard operating procedures and training modules in place allows new hires to better understand the day to day requirements of the role. Having mentors with experience at an organization can help new hires with onboarding and understanding the organization better. Mentors who are currently in roles that new hires want to take on in the future can provide valuable advice on how to accelerate their personal and professional development.
Promote a Learning Culture
Forbes believes that “establishing learning and development processes, and routine coaching practices, helps ensure people are acquiring new knowledge and skill to keep up with the intensified ‘mitosis.’” Give candidates space and ability to explore and learn new ideas. A great example is companies investing in B2B online learning platform subscriptions for their employees. This gives employees the ability to learn and hone skills that can aid them in the current role and promote their professional development.
Give and receive feedback
In his book “The Hard Things about Hard Things,” Ben Horowitz explains “that the reason employees leave a company is due to lack of guidance, misaligned expectations, and questionable feedback they receive. Often times when employees resign, they are leaving their managers and not the company.” Constructive criticism and valuable feedback help show that an employee’s work has a meaningful impact and areas upon which they can improve. When giving feedback specificity, observations based on facts, and encouragement on how to improve moving forward are crucial. This helps build trust and relationships between managers and their employees. Impactful feedback is critical for employees to grow and succeed which then impacts the company as a whole.
Reward and Retain
Working at startups can be risky and equate to long hours, but rewarding your hardest working employees can help provide a balance or a sense of fairness. According to research done by FastCompany, employees who feel tired and burnt out are 31% more likely to look for a new job than those who have a great work-life balance. For smaller startups, organizing weekly lunch outings and happy hours are a quick easy way to reward employees after a hectic week or project. Asking your “A Player” employees for product input and feedback is a great way to let them know their ideas matter. It also helps when the upper management at a company is vocal about the impact that each and every employee has on the company’s vision and direction. Townhall meetings that congratulate and spotlight team members and groups based on their accomplishments is another way to ensure that employees are rewarded for their hard work. For Series A and B startups employees, perks are often rewarded based on performance and meeting goals. Some examples include bonuses, onsite gym and spa facilities, and lounge areas with games and snacks.
We know that building your team can be challenging and time-consuming. That’s why, we designed Smartly Talent, our hiring platform in which you can efficiently browse and connect with high caliber candidates for your open positions.
Sign up or head back to Smartly Talent to browse our candidates today! And, while we are in beta, your first hire is free.