Remaining Relevant in the Workforce
Poole College broadens its portfolio of graduate programs, including launching specialized master's programs, graduate certificates and lifelong learning opportunities.
By Caroline Barnhill
As quickly as technology advances, so do the systems, industries and processes it supports. No longer can one expect their baseline knowledge to carry them throughout the course of their careers.
And it’s why we’re seeing more and more adults return to the classroom – long after hanging their undergraduate diplomas on the wall.
The future of the workforce relies on individuals who are able to adapt to new technologies and utilize and incorporate growing fields such as data analytics and artificial intelligence.
“The future of the workforce relies on individuals who are able to adapt to new technologies and utilize and incorporate growing fields such as data analytics and artificial intelligence,” explains Frank Buckless, Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Dean of the Poole College of Management. “We regularly hear from our industry partners that they rely on us, as a college, to provide training in emerging fields and produce a workforce equipped to tackle the unique challenges facing businesses today.”
According to a recent survey conducted by higher ed tech company Ellucian, 88 percent of all students plan to pursue a degree or credential after their current educational program – and both recruiters and employees agree that in order to remain relevant in the workplace, employees should take further educational or credentialing programs an average of two years after completing an educational program.’
Not only that, Poole College’s Enterprise Risk Management 2021 Risk Report identified that the adoption of digital technologies requires new skills or significant efforts to upskill/reskill existing employees as the top risk facing businesses through 2031.
Responding to the call
To meet the demand, Poole College continues to broaden its portfolio of graduate programs, most recently with the fall 2022 launch of the Master of Management, Risk and Analytics (MRA), which follows its sister program, Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA), which launched in fall 2021.
“There is a growing need for people who are trained in analytics, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure and offer a degree that would provide the students with in-depth knowledge about specific business areas,” explains Bill Rand, executive director of Poole College’s Business Analytics Initiative and professor of marketing. “We created the MMA and MRA programs to give students both the fundamental skills they need to conduct data-driven decision-making and in-depth knowledge of the area – marketing or risk – that they want to pursue.”
There is a growing need for people who are trained in analytics, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure and offer a degree that would provide the students with in-depth knowledge about specific business areas.
The two new programs join NC State’s well-established Jenkins MBA, Jenkins MAC and Economics Graduate programs, which often receive high rankings for their affordability and flexibility and make them ideal for working professionals.
The college, in partnership with NC State Executive Education, also recently launched a new MAC Lifelong Learning program – giving individuals in the accounting profession the ability to pursue professional development opportunities, network and fulfill industry-required CPE hours – without the rigor of a full graduate degree program.
“The purpose of the MAC Lifelong Learning program is twofold. One is to provide an opportunity for alumni and their friends to invest in themselves by keeping up to date with current industry trends and skills. Second, to provide an opportunity to enhance the relationships that originated in the MAC program,” says Scott Showalter, director of the Jenkins MAC program.
Individuals also have the opportunity to differentiate themselves in the workplace by adding a graduate certificate to their resume. Graduate certificates are a selective mix of courses designed to give students a deep insight into a specific field, be it operations and supply chain management, technology entrepreneurship and commercialization or marketing.
We know our students professionally and personally. We don’t leave any student behind – and we have very high success rates because of that.
“From a student standpoint, they of course appreciate the flexibility of our graduate programs. But we often hear that our students also value that our programs, while rigorous, still come with a lot of personal attention,” says Bev Porter, Poole College Director of Career Center for Jenkins Graduate Programs. “If you have a challenging academic program, you want to have lots of touchpoints with faculty and staff. And we do. We know our students professionally and personally. We don’t leave any student behind – and we have very high success rates because of that.”
The Hunt for the Perfect Program
As more individuals are looking to sharpen their business skills and stand out in the workforce, finding the perfect program can be a challenge. Those looking for graduate programs often want flexibility, customization and the ability to hone in on specific skills. And while traditional programs like MBAs and MACs still receive a lot of interest, some students are looking for something a little different.
Like Matt McCann, for instance.
“Going to graduate school was already a yes in my mind, but I wanted to find a program that lined up with what I wanted and needed. Every month, I scanned websites and researched different programs. Finally, in the fall of 2021, I saw Poole’s marketing analytics program – and it was immediately clear that this program was the right choice,” McCann recently shared about his journey to joining the college’s Master of Management, Marketing Analytics program.
As a faculty member who leads the MMA program, Rand hears similar sentiments from lots of prospective students.
The desire to receive a concentrated graduate degree in a highly in-demand field such as analytics is a huge selling point, especially since they can do it part-time while continuing to work.
“The desire to receive a concentrated graduate degree in a highly in-demand field such as analytics is a huge selling point, especially since they can do it part-time while continuing to work,” Rand says. “We also work really hard to ensure all our graduate programs provide several opportunities for our students to Think and Do, which is a hallmark of education at NC State.”
Graduate students at Poole College get to participate in practicums, networking events, competitions and other high-impact practices that allow them to apply their knowledge in the real world. Students also have the opportunity to engage in the various centers and initiatives Poole offers to make the most of their graduate education.
“Our goal is to graduate well-rounded, engaged and competent leaders – both at the undergraduate and graduate level,” Buckless says. “By allowing our students to participate in the college’s offerings, whether it’s participating in a Business Analytics Roundtable, taking advantage of our robust career services, or attending one of our DEI events, our desire is for their time at Poole College to enrich their lives both personally and professionally.”
Eyes on the Future
In order to ensure the college continues to offer valuable programs and professional development opportunities to meet the ever-evolving needs of the business community, college leadership regularly engages with its industry partners to make sure Poole College graduates have the skills and resources they need to be successful in the workplace.
“We make ongoing, continuous changes to our programs – modifying existing curriculum or introducing and phasing out courses to ensure our learning processes are benefiting our students the way they are supposed to,” says Vikas Anand, associate dean for academic programs at Poole College. “Every few years, we thoroughly review our portfolio of graduate offerings and examine whether needs have emerged that can’t be met by our existing degree or certificate offerings.”
Every few years, we thoroughly review our portfolio of graduate offerings and examine whether needs have emerged that can’t be met by our existing degree or certificate offerings.
And since the workforce is regularly evolving, you can be sure that Poole College will be, too.
“We’re seeing broader environmental trends happening that have changed skill requirements, so we’re responding to those with new programs – like the marketing analytics and risk analytics programs,” Anand continues. “We’re also working to develop graduate certificates in sustainability and innovation and corporate entrepreneurship. Poole College will continue to graduate students able to make an immediate impact on the workforce.”