July 19, 2018

Why GreenFig? The Value of a Microdegree in Applied Business Science

Bruce Cleveland | Founding Partner, Wildcat Venture Partners
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Bruce Cleveland | Founding Partner, Wildcat Venture Partners

Prospecting for Digital Oil

The World Economic Forum cites, “[the digital economy] is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And, these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

Where land, oil, and capital drove the past three Industrial Ages, this new “4th Industrial Age” is powered by “digital oil” – data.  Companies are building and deploying systems of intelligence to prospect, discover, and refine the digital oil of the digital economy. And, the miners of this digital oil are “business scientists”.

Business scientists must understand how to capture, observe, and utilize customer, financial, market, and product data. They do not necessarily have to be technical – as in know how to code – instead, they must learn how to generate and review business data and use their creative skills to operate business application software.

In the US, politicians, academia, and industry leaders are currently placing a tremendous focus on technical training, coding, and other STEM programs. However, the unspoken truth is that many of these positions will eventually be eliminated through advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Additionally, many people are simply not interested or well-suited for these technical programs, degrees, and jobs. However, people who are creative and critical thinkers – products of liberal arts programs – are ideally suited to fill the positions of the digital economy.

All they need is some additional specialized training and knowledge. Micro Education companies and microdegrees are well-designed to provide such training.

Inadequate Education and Training Programs

The current educational system is challenged to provide training for the 4th Industrial Age and digital economy jobs that require skills using business application software.

Traditional Education. Most traditional education programs are not equipped to provide the hands-on and work-related experience students need to master business application software and business science. Industry requirements and business applications change so rapidly that by the time a new curriculum is peer-reviewed and approved, it is already out of date – and few university professors have current industry experience or are skilled in the use of business application software.

Online Education Programs. Typical online programs lack real-time, interactive hands-on application software instruction, business science training, and do not include the real-world work experience companies and government organizations require for even the most basic, entry-level positions.

Application Software Companies. Application software providers are not in a position to easily address the issue as one vendor can seldom provide all the necessary functionality for a specific business or government function. In almost every case, each business function requires a number of application software products from a variety of providers.

Corporate Training. Due to the rapid pace of change and competition, most employers do not have the luxury of time or the resources to internally train new workers how to use business application software; so many current employees are not up to speed with these new applications. Companies are seeking workers already skilled in these operational functions and business applications.

Micro Education and Microdegrees

Microdegrees are relatively low cost and require less than 200 hours to proficiency. That said, they are not an alternative to 2- or 4-year higher-ed degree programs or graduate school, they are complementary and augmentative.

A microdegree provides the following benefits:

 •    Skills-based training that prepares students for jobs in areas of high demand by industry and government organizations

•    Less than 200 hours from zero knowledge to proficiency

•    Hands-on, business application software instruction to prepare students to become “business scientists”

•    A combination of in-person and online learning delivered in real-time

•    Work experience gained through real-world projects mentored by industry experts

 •    A selective application process to help identify people motivated to learn

•    Testing and certification to assure employers that job applicants have achieved basic proficiency levels

The key target audience for microdegrees are: 

•   Liberal Arts students – Students studying liberal arts may not have specific skills that are immediately relevant to the industry. Industry statistics cite that less than two percent of businesses actively seek liberal arts students.

•    Veterans – Many companies have a difficult time translating how military experience correlates to industry-specific skills. Vast numbers of veterans returning to civilian roles directly from active duty are especially challenged in this area. 

•    Professionals – Many professionals in the current workforce must learn new skills to stay relevant. Examples include workers who are returning to the workforce from significant absences (e.g. post parental leave, sabbaticals) and must refresh their skillsets; displaced workers who must forge a new profession (e.g. laid off workers due to job obsolescence – manufacturing factory workers); and those who are seeking to change lanes mid-career must demonstrate proficiency in areas of high demand.

GreenFig – Designed to Create Business Scientists Ready to Prospect for Digital Oil

GreenFig is a micro education company offering microdegrees in applied business science. While its current course offering is in digital marketing science, it will, over time, develop additional applied business science courses that include: customer success, finance, sales, service, and support.

GreenFig combines experiential learning from industry experts with business application software instruction and provides practical work experience where students can apply their newly acquired skills.

The unique aspect of the GreenFig program and its micr degrees is that students can achieve a microdegree in 200 hours or less and when completed, they can be confident they possess subject matter proficiency and basic work experience to become “business scientists” ready to prospect in careers that are in high demand by industry.

By Bruce Cleveland

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Our Student Stories blog series highlights the experiences of GreenFig students currently enrolled in our Digital Marketing Science course. Here, we'll introduce you to several current students, find out what drove them to GreenFig, what skills they're developing right now, and what they aim to achieve with their microdegree from GreenFig. Bridging the skills gap for veterans As Renée Hamilton-McNealy began preparing for a career change after nearly two decades in and out of active military service, she knew she didn’t need another college degree. After all, she already holds a bachelor’s in financial services and an MBA in finance, not to mention loads of management and leadership experience as a Master Sergeant in the Army Reserve. Rather, she was looking for a targeted, focused program that could help her develop the up-to-date technology skills she needed to land a marketing position now, but was discouraged by other programs she researched. “I was looking for more specialized education than what a general degree could offer,” explains Renée. “I wanted to prepare myself for life after I completely retire from the military, and to feed my passion for marketing.” Renée discovered GreenFig through The Paradigm Switch, a nonprofit that helps link military veterans and their spouses to prestigious skill-based training programs. “I’m not afraid to start over,” she says. “I wanted to challenge myself.” Renée explains that she wanted to gain skills in marketing analytics, and become proficient with tools that measure the impact of a campaign’s effectiveness. Renée enrolled in GreenFig’s Digital Marketing Science course remotely from the Bay Area, and says that the program offered a healthy, collaborative learning environment where she felt supported. “I learn best in my own environment and in my own space,” she says. “I liked not having to physically commute someplace. With GreenFig, the communications options are endless, and there were always ways to connect inside and out of the classroom.” Looking back, Renée says it was her instructors’ enthusiasm and ability to teach their craft that confirmed she had found the right program. “I just love the fact that the instructors, who are accomplished and experienced, were just as passionate to share their knowledge with us as we were to learn it,” she says. “And they had more than just experience, they also know how to teach. Just because you are a subject matter expert, doesn’t mean that you know how to transfer that knowledge so that someone else can comprehend it.” Renée believes GreenFig’s training courses are ideal for veterans, who are accustomed to targeted, hyper-focused skill development and who thrive in hands-on, real-world environments where those skills can be quickly applied. Applying the digital marketing skills she’s developed over the past 16 weeks to a real-world marketing campaign for a real-world company is an ideal application exercise for veterans like her, says Renée. “In graduate school, I did case studies,” she recalls. “What we’re doing now is benefitting a real company.” Armed with a unique set of skills -- digital marketing, finance and management -- upon graduation, Renée is hoping to join a marketing team where she can specialize in marketing analytics and social media management. “What GreenFig offers is what I needed,” she says. “To challenge me, allow me to get certifications, provide relevant and modern information, and give me the opportunity to immediately apply and exercise this knowledge in the marketplace.” Advance your skills and set your next big challenge at GreenFig. Check us out at www.greenfig.net.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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