What are hiring managers looking for in a degree?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by BMWGuinness, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. BMWGuinness

    BMWGuinness New Member

    I've been posting on instantcert's discussion forum, thought I would get a broader range of opinion.

    I've got a similar story to many of you.

    I went from community college to tech school (computers).

    I have 11 years of experience in the IT field, with MANY certifications (17 exams) under my belt. Minimal direct managing experience.

    Decided to go back to school to finish my degree (awaiting evaluation from Excelsior and TESC)

    Would love to pursue MBA after, but not set in stone. I wouldn't mind my career moving into management.

    I'm pretty sure I could get a Liberal Studies degree much quicker than a Business MIS degree.

    I have a few options I'm looking at, and would love your input.

    Is it preferable to have a degree that caters to your field, or is just having the degree good enough?
    Is it preferable to have a degree that caters to your field, or is just having the degree good enough if you plan to attain an MBA?

    Here are a few paths I'm considering right now.

    Excelsior Paths

    BS Liberal Studies --> Career
    BS Business Management Information Systems --> Career

    BS Liberal Studies --> MBA Program --> Career
    BS Business Management Information Systems --> MBA Program --> Career

    TESC Paths

    BA Liberal Studies --> Career
    BS Business Computer Information Systems --> Career

    BA Liberal Studies --> MBA Program --> Career
    BS Business Computer Information Systems --> MBA Program --> Career

    BA Liberal Studies --> BS Business Computer Information Systems --> MBA Program --> Career
    AS Emergency Disaster Services --> BA Liberal Studies --> BS Business Computer Information Systems --> MBA Program --> Career
  2. siersema

    siersema Member

    The truth is that it depends on the hiring manager as well as where you're at in your career. Like yourself I have may certifications as well as many years in the IT field. I don't believe my choice of undergraduate degree would greatly impact getting a job within IT. However, if I were to look outside of IT than I believe what area my degree is in would have more weight. You don't say what field you're looking into regarding your career path, is it IT or something else? Also keep in mind you can focus a Liberal Studies degree into specific areas.
  3. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    The best advice I ever got was to do what the people I want to be are doing. In other words, talk to managers in the field you want to go into. You don't have to talk to them about your EC or TESC options, just get feedback.
    Also, if I could be a little preachy for a second....you should also aim high. I think too many people aim low, and then if they slip they are below their minimum goals. Aim for the MBA. Say it out loud. Tell people, "I am perusing an MBA." If you wonder that you may not have what it takes erase that from your mind. What it takes, like everything that separates the completers from the drop outs is "doing." Welcome to the doing club :eek:)
  4. BMWGuinness

    BMWGuinness New Member

    I find the IT career field to be very satisfying, so a natural progression into Project Management or upper IT Management would be fine.

    I'm not looking to become CIO of a company, since I've seen that position stress and age the occupants severely (not to mention the divorces as a result). No need for that kind of stress if I want to start a family.

    This is kind of my fall back plan. I have been extremely successful with real estate investments over the last 5 years. However, being that the real estate market is what it is, I thought better to be safe than sorry if I don't find my other investments as rewarding.
  5. BMWGuinness

    BMWGuinness New Member

    In my last interview I mentioned finishing a Bachelor program and pursuing an MBA, and it was accepted in a positive manner.
  6. dlady

    dlady Active Member

    1 - Certifications and professional memberships in your field are key
    2 – MBA is the new BS, doesn’t matter from where but you have to have one
    3 – second supplementary M level around culture, people, organizations, HR, art, something, anything, that shows you are creative, can see the whole picture, have spent time developing social interests and skills

    But better than any of this is to know people, your network will serve you better than working your way through monster.com jobs.

  7. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    I just hired a manager and he has a degree in ministerial studies. There was a field service engineer with a degree in culinary studies and he repairs computers. The certs and experience is what matters. The degree is a check-mark in a box for me.
  8. siersema

    siersema Member

    I'm curious, within IT what professional memberships would you see as important?
  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    In my workworld specificity of degree is everything. A generic degree goes into the circular file. Certifications are nice but they can be irrelevant. Even if irrelevant they show 1) some initiative/ambition 2) some recognition that specialized knowledge can be an asset.
  10. dlady

    dlady Active Member

    Depending on where on the latter you are working, probably true.. as you move up the certs mean less and less, and I think you want to be able to check as many boxes as possible…

  11. BMWGuinness

    BMWGuinness New Member

    It would be a great addition if you could define the checkboxes, that way I can see which ones are checked, and which ones need to be worked on.
  12. dlady

    dlady Active Member

    For what I look for, membership and participation in local and national “user groups”, or skills based organizations. So for example if I am looking at 2 candidates, one with a bunch of personal credentials, degree’s, certificates, and one with some of that (maybe not as much) but also with participation in the XXX user group, speaks at XXX events on technical issues, has XXX network of people to draw upon, I’m going to lean to the candidate with the social professional networks…

    Personal credentials are great, but it can’t be all about you in today’s workworld..
  13. dlady

    dlady Active Member

    As you get to the top of the ladder, you need to have two types of credentials, internally validating ones, and externally validating ones. In my view, degrees and certificates are internally validating. Pretty much anyone with work and time can get them and within reason some level of credential is open to everyone. Important, but these tend to be all about the individual. The external validation comes from civic contributions, and getting organizations to recognize you as having value in the field. Speaking at events as an expert; being in the “top 100” something in your field, honorariums from organizations, letters of thanks and praise, peer review publications; these all become the boxes that you need to check to work your way high on the ladder. You also need, of course, to have social skills and actually be both good at what you do, and also see real value in other people and be able to create opportunities for them and to help them achieve what they are looking to achieve…

  14. BMWGuinness

    BMWGuinness New Member

    I've started utilizing LinkedIn to help my social professional network. It has been very helpful.
  15. BMWGuinness

    BMWGuinness New Member

  16. dlady

    dlady Active Member

  17. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    Behold the power of networking...

    I agree. Networking is a very powerful tool. I owe my current position to the networking I did while I was working on my master's degree while in the Army.

    Aside from networking, having a degree in a specific field is sometimes necessary. The hiring managers in my department won't even look at you unless you have a degree in math, engineering, computer science, or other closely related fields.
  18. Pugman

    Pugman New Member


    For what's it's worth - I think that undergrad degrees are checkboxes for most hiring folks (keyword : Most).

    I've hired senior IT folks (presumably like yourself) based on specific certs and work experience and had it work out nicely despite the lack of a 'college education'.

    Quite simply - if you've been doing it for 11 years w/o a degree, you've obviously built some skills. That said, I think a quick generic BA followed by a MBA may serve you best (a business degree followed by MBA is arguably redundant IMO - but that's up to you).

    Just my 2 cents.

  19. BMWGuinness

    BMWGuinness New Member

    I'll have to wait for both evaluations to complete, but right now I know for Excelsior I have 60 credits complete toward the BSBA MIS and 90 credits complete toward the BSLS.

    If the story is similar for TESC, I might go with this path:
    AS Emergency Disaster Services --> BA Liberal Studies --> BS Business Computer Information Systems --> MBA Program --> Career

    I believe, with the current credits I have, I could qualify for an AS in Emergency Disaster Services immediately, this would supplement the Emergency Management experience I have.

    I could then work on any general education and arts and sciences still needed for the BSBA to fulfill the BALS. (including macro/micro/statistics)

    I could then focus on my IT and Business classes to fulfil my BSBA, while creating the business foundation needed to achieve the MBA.

    Right now, the best fit for an MBA program looks like CCU, and they have a General Business and Human Resources specialization.

    I think with all of the above completed, and the additional experience I pick up while attaining the above, I should become a qualified candidate to work my way up in the IT Management field.
  20. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    Here is what I suggest and why-
    Go for the quick BALS and go right into the MBA program. With 17 certification exams, they would demonstrate more knowledge then a BS Business Computer Information Systems might show. I would favor a candidate that showed progressive knowledge (BALS / MBA) rather then one that shows lateral knowledge (BALS / BSBA).

    By the way, you have 17 exams - which certifications do you have? Where do you live? Do you have any management or supervisory experience?

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