How To Get Key Business Experience Before You Start Work - The Business HND
These days, most of us know that having business experience gives you a head start in gaining a foothold in your chosen career. A contradiction, you may think, but with a Business Management Higher National Diploma – or HND – under your belt it’s possible to combine business experience with practical knowledge.
If you’re already in work, however, the next decision to make is whether you quit your job and concentrate solely on your studies – or combine work with the course, doing both at the same time. For many of us, financial commitments mean that the decision is pretty much made for us.
Even if you’ve got the financial freedom to quit your job, you might want to think twice before doing so … For one thing, the transformation of virtual learning over recent years means that distance learning is no longer the poor relation of the full-time alternative. Most importantly though, the very nature of this highly practical, work-centered course is such that by carrying on with your job, you may actually find the course itself more rewarding! It’s worth taking a look at the reasons why …
The Business Management HND: a qualification tailor-made for the needs of industry.
The modern Business Management HND is essentially the type of qualification the business world has been demanding for years. Organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have long complained that there’s a marked disconnect between what employers want and what educational institutions actually provide. By concentrating on areas such as applied Information and Communication Technology (ICT), appropriate business communication, project management and effective marketing, this course effectively bridges that gap. It’s a highly regarded stand-alone qualification and it’s also a perfect bridge to further study.
Indeed, Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) figures suggest that after obtaining an HND or similar qualification (referred to in the table as ‘other undergraduate’), there seem to be three main routes followed by students in pretty similar proportions – namely full time employment, full time study or else a combination of work and study.
Figure 1: Destinations of full-time HE in FE qualifiers from English FECs in 2010-11, by qualification obtained
(Figures taken from Higher Education Funding Council for England “Destinations of leavers from higher education in further education colleges’ Academic Year 2010-2011)
Why the Business Management HND Is particularly well suited to a work-study combo.
Let’s face it; we’re not talking about a degree in mediaeval poetry here. If you’re already in work – even a relatively junior role – and whether it’s the public or private sector, it’s worth thinking of your job as a resource. It’s something that you’re probably going to be able to utilise when it comes to your studies – especially with the personal research-based aspects of the course.
Whether you want to stay within your current organisation once you’ve passed the course is obviously something you’ll need to consider further down the line. If you’re dead set against staying where you are, you may find yourself changing your mind later on. Many former HND Business Management students find themselves being pleasantly surprised at what doors are opened to them within their current organisation once they’ve actually added the qualification on their CV. Look at it from your current employer’s perspective: if a more senior role comes up, why take a chance with an outsider when there’s someone there already who knows the ropes and is recently equipped with a suitable qualification? Even if there don’t seem to be any openings at present at your current place of work, don’t forget that a lot can happen over two years. Staying in the world of work while you study at the very least leaves that possible door of opportunity open to you.
Forget ‘distance learning’ and think ‘virtual learning’.
There are a few of us who still recall the rather grim reality of distance learning in the bad old days. Waiting days for course materials to arrive in the post; going for days and sometimes weeks without any contact from tutors (let alone other students!); as well as the frustrating delay between submitting a query and eventually getting a response. Quite simply, in 2013 there is no excuse for any of those problems. Any decent online HND course provider should be giving you full tutor support as standard. Ideally, This should mean reliable, helpful and prompt assistance via email and telephone.
The most attractive change in online learning in recent years however, has been the development of the virtual learning environment. What you get is a true collegiate feel: you’re not just being lectured to – there’s an actual dialogue going on. What’s more, this dialogue isn’t just between you and the tutor: the presence of bustling forums and online discussion groups for students within the VLE setting generally makes for a thriving environment for exchanges of views.
There’s another bonus as well: you feel far less self conscious about posting a query at a virtual lecture than putting your hand up in a packed lecture hall!
Flexibility: the key to the popularity of online learning?
The reality is that most of us have no choice but to work while we learn. The thought of finishing work and then traipsing off to our nearest FE college on a wet November evening is enough to put anyone off the idea of part time study. Online learning generally allows you to complete your course over a longer time that suits you; it tends to be cheaper than the ‘local’ alternatives and the learning experience tends to be just as rewarding – if not more so, than the alternatives.
Sound appealing? Tell us what you think.