The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Month: July 2018

Brandeis GPS students continue collaboration on statewide MATTERS data project

According to the State Technology and Science Index, Massachusetts is the most high-tech state, with top tier-institutions for higher education producing a highly skilled workforce and innovation economy.

What is MATTERS?

Logo for the MATTERS projectMATTERS™ is the Massachusetts’ Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System.  MATTERS was created to measure the strength of the technological environment in Massachusetts and compare it to other states. It was developed by faculty and students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) under the guidance of the Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC) to compare Massachusetts’ competitive position to it’s 15 peer technology states.

The MATTERS peer states include the 10 “Leading Technology States” from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s annual Innovation Index and the top 5 states in the Milken Institute’s State Tech and Science Index. The MATTERS performance index ranks each state along talent, tax (financial climate), cost of doing business, and quality of life by using a weighted average of key metrics in each data category. The goal is to make Massachusetts the most desirable state to grow a high technology business by using the data from the MATTERS™ project to drive public policy that will enhance the state’s strengths and draw in businesses.

How is Brandeis GPS Involved?

Starting in January 2016, Stephen Gentile, former chair of the MS in Strategic Analytics and a current GPS instructor, created a program for GPS  students to curate MATTERS data. In each iteration of the course, students are selected based on a variety of factors including their academic performance, professional experience, and leadership abilities.

The role of the GPS team includes:

  • Developing, documenting, and receiving approval for the scope of work from MHTC project sponsors
  • Evaluating, analyzing, and transmitting MATTERS data from multiple sources
  • Proposing and executing extension projects to enhance MATTERS analytics capabilities
  • Effectively communicating the project’s status, issues, risks, and results to MATTERS stakeholders
  • Creating or enhancing the methodology to maintain the MATTERS system and developing a proposed work plan for the next offering of the course

Since the launch of the program, Brandeis GPS students have:

  • Analyzed the current MATTERS state indices and suggested changes to the metrics and weighting across all four of MATTERS’ index categories
  • Compared Massachusetts infrastructure spending to that of its peer states
  • Evaluated traffic to the MATTERS website itself using Google Analytics data

There is now a system in place for data versioning and issue tracking, via a private GitHub repository, so the Brandeis GPS team is able to coordinate with the MHTC and WPI points of contact asynchronously throughout the semester.

How can you participate?

The Brandeis GPS course that works with MATTERS data, Special Topics in Strategic Analytics, will be taught during our Fall 2 session starting in October. It is part of our 100% online MS in Strategic Analytics, which aims to help students master the technical and strategic skills necessary to transform data analysis into insightful, data-backed stories to influence key decision makers. The 30-credit part-time, flexible program is designed with equal focus in both the art and science of data in its seven required courses and three electives. After graduating from the program, students should be able to identify patterns and trends within big data, interpret and communicate results to stakeholders of various levels, and leverage data to inform strategic decisions. Samples of our Strategic Analytics courses include Business Intelligence, Analytics and Strategic Decision MakingFoundations of Data Science and Analytics, and Data Quality and Governance.

How do you apply to Brandeis GPS?

If you’re interested in applying to the MS in Strategic Analytics, we offer rolling admission, so you can apply and be accepted at any time. However, there are recommended deadlines if you are seeking admission for a specific term. You should submit your application by Wednesday, September 12 for Fall 2 admission with courses starting in October. Those interested in the program who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still take up to two online courses without officially enrolling. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. Course registration is open now for our Fall 2 classes starting in October. Learn more about our MS in Strategic Analytics, and preview our Strategic Analytics courses here. You can also contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

The value of professional communications

World Cloud of RCOM102 Course DescriptionEveryone needs to communicate – it’s what connects us to others and how we share our ideas. Communication with others is key for success in all aspects of life, both with personal and professional relationships.

Professional communication can be verbal or non-verbal, encompassing the articulation of one’s thoughts and/or body language during meetings, in public speaking scenarios, or via email. Regardless of what industry you’re in, it is important to master so-called “soft skills” such as effectively communicating if you’re looking to advance into a more senior-level leadership position.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top five personal qualities or skills potential employers seek are:

  1. Communication skills (verbal and written)
  2. Strong work ethic
  3. Teamwork skills (works well with others, group communication)
  4. Initiative
  5. Analytical skills

Communication skills frequently make the top of the list for what qualities employers look for in all industries. Actions that professionals can take to become more successful communicators include:

Active listening 

It is important to concentrate on the message that someone else is communicating and exhibit behaviors such as eye contact to demonstrate your interest. Active listening also includes asking clarifying questions to ensure you fully understand what the person is expressing to you. If you listen closely, you will be able to analyze information from others better and more effectively respond to it.

Encouraging interaction through non-verbal cues

A lot of messages are communicated between people without any talking. Non-verbal signals such as posture, hand gestures, and eye contact impact how others will perceive you and your message.  For example, when speaking to a larger group, even a smile that shows confidence will go a long way towards engaging others. It is important that your non-verbal cues match up with the message you are trying to get across.

Being clear and concise

Whether expressing your opinion or asking questions of others, it is critical to get to the point quickly. Stating your ideas in a straightforward way will allow others to more easily understand what you are saying.

Using persuasive reasoning

There are often times when you may have an opinion that is different from someone else, but you have to agree to go forward with one. In times like these, using logic and reason to demonstrate the strengths of your perspective will go a long way. This means providing everyone with the facts and sharing relevant examples.

Knowing your audience

You’ll communicate with people differently depending on their backgrounds, professional titles, and experiences. It will be helpful to know what your audience is expecting from your interactions, so you can surpass those expectations.

Ultimately, there are many steps that you can take to improve your communication skills. One way to learn more is to take a professional communications course. Brandeis GPS offers part-time, online courses for adult learners looking to build professional development. Contact us for more information about our professional communications courses: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

Meet Theo Groh: Founding Partner of Wheelhouse Web and Student of Brandeis GPS

Business owner and matriculated student at Brandeis GPS uses knowledge from Master’s program to grow his business and help achieve long-term professional goals.

Theo Groh is a matriculated student in the Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Design. Theo was hesitant to go back to school while working full-time growing his business, Wheelhouse Web – a web, communications, and marketing solutions company based in New Hampshire. Theo is three classes into his degree, and is already seeing GPS help with his long-term professional goals:

  • To build his new company into a thriving and financially stable company that can provide full time employment, benefits, and a growing return to himself and his business partners.
  • To develop his marketing skills to truly have his company be a one stop shop for digital marketing.
  • To grow his company to the point that allows them to take only the clients they absolutely want to take and allows them to work with clients promoting social or environmental change.

Headshot of Theo GrohTheo is among many students who are full-time professionals that are looking to enhance their careers with the benefits of a high-quality graduate education in niche fields with the convenience and flexibility of online learning designed for working professionals.

He has already made progress toward his professional goals, and says that, “So far, GPS has helped me expand the range of digital marketing services I offer and boost my confidence in my skill set. I believe it has also helped strengthen my professional resume, which has helped attract and retain clients.”

What first caught Theo’s attention about GPS was that it is completely online, allowing him to work full-time, is practical and relevant to the work he wants to do, and doesn’t require GRE or standardized test scores.

“I really liked that the degree was specifically in Digital Marketing and Design, not just in Marketing or an MBA with a marketing focus,” said Groh. “That was important because if I was going to go back to school, I wanted a degree that was very specific to the field I was in, very relevant to the work I was doing, and could help me in my business by helping certify to clients that I knew what I was doing.”

GPS offers 13 different master’s Programs in professional fields:

Theo says, “I think what I value the most about GPS is that I am in a class full of working professionals in my field being taught by an expert working professional in my field.”

GPS instructors are industry leaders who also work full-time outside of GPS, bringing real-world experiences and knowledge to their classrooms. And because class sizes are capped at 20 for GPS classes, students like Theo can network within their classes to build connections within their fields.

Before founding his new company in July 2017, Theo worked in New Hampshire politics, independent school admissions, outreach, and marketing. His education at Brandeis GPS has also enriched his political volunteer commitments and outside hobbies. Since starting his most recent class, Writing for Digital Environments, Theo has taken on a long-term personal goal of online food writing, committing to do a monthly blog post on local New Hampshire food and drinks for Stay-Work-Play New Hampshire.

Theo’s experiences in politics, which may seem unrelated to Digital Marketing and Design, informed his work ethic and gave him experiences that help him bring diverse experience to his business and his classes. He says of his time working in politics,

“During that time, I was working 14-18-hour days 7 days a week for months on end during campaign season… I learned that I had it in me to do that kind of work. Like doing endurance training, my experience working in politics showed me what I was made of and taught me what my capabilities and limits were. If I could work long hours in an extremely high-pressure environment for low pay in politics, often for challenging bosses, I knew I was capable of working hard and succeeding in almost any environment. It taught me not to be afraid of hard work and gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business.”

Theo’s business “aims to be the trusted web design and digital marketing choice of dynamic small businesses, striving non-profits, and thriving schools.”

In order to help him reach his goals and the goals of his company, his MS in Digital Marketing and Design at GPS offers the following program outcomes:

  • Build and actively manage digital marketing campaigns across social media, website and mobile platforms.
  • Have a comprehensive working knowledge of digital and social media platforms.
  • Write appropriate content for online and digital audiences.
  • Develop thorough digital marketing campaigns that integrate multiple channels.
  • Track results of digital advertising through analytics tools and use the data to inform future marketing decisions.
  • Use advanced media tools to enhance digital strategies.
  • Communicate the value of digital marketing as it relates to an organization’s overall marketing strategy.

Theo has found that his class assignments help his real-world experiences in business, and says, “I really love the assignments where we have to pick existing companies and talk about how they do on a particular aspect of marketing. I think it’s a great way to learn, and it helps me with my company because a big part of what we do with our small business clients is going in and analyzing what they are currently doing for digital marketing and providing them with advice and services to improve their marketing. I also like the assignment we have in [Writing for Digital Environments] of picking an organization or business that needs help with their marketing. I think it’s a great challenge, something I love to do in my business, and this assignment is helping me think about the best ways of doing that.”

Not only have his GPS classes enhanced his professional life already, but Theo’s professional experiences have enhanced his learning. In his GPS classes, he engages in discussions with professionals at varying levels of their careers in the Digital Marketing and Design field, allowing for rich learning from instructors and peers.

Content contributed by Digital Marketing and Design student Lily Gardner with permission.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

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