Rotman School of Management launches certificate program to prepare non-business grads for workforce

When Stephanie Hodnett completed her bachelor’s degree in English literature, getting on the path to a meaningful career took years of trial and error.

She recalls being unsure of which direction to take and feeling and like her master’s degree was needed to help guide her next step.

It also took Hodnett years to learn about best practices in workplace – from how to negotiate job offers and promotions, to understanding how a company’s strategy and finances could impact her job.

“I wished there was a shortcut where I could get a flavour for different paths to take after my undergraduate degree and learn how to be valuable in any workplace I join,” says Hodnett, who is now an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and executive director for its executive programs.

Today, new graduates from across U of T and beyond can take part in a certificate program to accelerate their success and expand their career options.

The Rotman Business Readiness Certificate, which launched this spring, is designed for recent graduates and early-career professionals who come from a non-business background. The certificate is earned by completing three six-week courses offered by Rotman Executive Programs. In the hybrid path, participants will complete the courses MBA Essentials (online), Financial Acumen (online) and Negotiations (in-person), which is a course best delivered live. In the fully virtual path, learners will choose an online elective in place of Negotiations. Available electives include Cybersecurity, Digital Transformation, Women in Leadership, Business Analytics, Business Design Thinking, Digital Marketing and more.

Each course comes with a certificate of completion at the end. Once all three courses are completed, participants will receive their Business Readiness Certificate.

Stephanie Hodnett, associate professor at Rotman and executive director for its executive programs, says the Business Ready Certificate is designed to be a bridge to the business world (photo courtesy of Rotman School of Management)

“It’s a great opportunity for new graduates to gain tangible proof of their understanding of the latest business insights, all while demonstrating a commitment to continued learning,” says Hodnett.

The certificate is built around the MBA Essentials executive program. Designed to be a bridge to business, participants learn the tools to analyze macroeconomic trends, evaluate financial performance and investment opportunities, drive organizational change, use marketing strategies for growth and develop a diversity and inclusion action plan.

Modules are taught by Rotman faculty members, including: Walid Hejazi, associate professor of economic analysis and policy; Scott Liao, professor of accounting; Simon Ashbourne, founder and partner at The Marketplace Capabilities Group and Sonia Kang, an associate professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management and Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Since the online version of MBA Essentials launched in September 2021, more than 580 participants from around the world have completed the course in an effort to diversify their skillset.

Negotiations, which is offered in-person as part of the hybrid path to the Business Readiness Certificate, is also one of Rotman’s most popular executive programs.

“This course can be extremely helpful as you start out in your career,” says Hodnett. “You learn how to ask good questions, advocate for yourself and understand the opposite person’s point of view – that can be your manager, your client or a vendor, for example.”

In general, Hodnett says the certificate is a great way to brush up on business skills as graduates prepare to enter the job market.

“Understanding essential business principles will give participants a competitive advantage in a constantly changing workforce,” says Hodnett. “Entering the job market, you might have great critical thinking and analytical skills, but you may lack knowledge on the practical concerns of a business environment.

“This is a way to get up to speed on that in six weeks.”

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