The Benefits of Making Connections Through Online Coursework

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WSU Online MBA Capstone Group

2,470 miles. My newest friend, colleague, and trusted teammate lives across the country from me. Her name is Elizabeth and I’m spending half of my MBA program working with her and two other students. When we graduate, the four of us will have worked together nearly every week for nine months. I know about their work lives, vacations, kids, and when they move into a new home. We have been brought together by Washington State University’s Online MBA program, but we’ve made the effort to work closely…and it’s been worth it.

I never thought I would care so deeply and trust so innately a group of people that I have only met with via Zoom conferences and Slack channels. In WSU’s MBA program, you work in groups for many of the classes, this is not by coincidence. This program is preparing us to work for the growing number of global companies moving closer to mostly remote work.

This is just in the nick of time for me and my fellow students. As we navigate working from home and online interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic, being comfortable relating to others in an online environment only puts us steps ahead. We’re able to take the lead when our companies require help building a cohesive remote working environment.

This is what group work looks like in WSU’s Online MBA program. You are put in groups of 3, 4, 5, or up to 11 even, and you admit you’re concerned about working in such a big group but the honesty that comes with admitting that helps the group work together. You’ll choose which communication platforms work the best; sometimes Slack and other times Whatsapp. And then you reveal your powers, as well as your insecurities.

In my largest MBA group, we set out listing our expectations at the beginning of our 7-week class, to find out we all had similar thoughts. We wanted everyone to put in equal work, strive to be their best, create a non-judgmental workspace, and speak up as soon as something impeded anyone’s progress. This would give the rest of us a chance to help out and not miss a beat on assignments and projects. By being honest and setting these expectations up front, 11 people living across the planet were able to seamlessly work on a full class-worth of assignments, earning high marks without a single hurt feeling. Instead, we all exchanged contact information and look forward to celebrating each other’s successes in the future.

By #CougaMBAssador Alexis Mohr