The challenges and opportunities faced when earning an Online MBA are a little different than when working towards your degree in a traditional setting. A few of the common disadvantages of on-campus programs include commuting to class, often higher tuition costs, and longer time commitments compared to online formats. When you are an introvert, you may face even more challenges.
You might not have considered how your personality affects your success, but studies show that introverts make up 25-40% of the population. Introverted students tend to be more in tune with their inner world and ideas rather than the external, physical world. This means that you might prefer solo time or small settings of maybe two other people instead of a loud gathering with a lot of people. Being introverted does not mean shy or quiet. In fact, being introverted means that you process and experience the world and use and replenish your energy differently than extroverts. Being introverted is not a disorder, and contrary to popular belief, it does not mean that you dislike people. It is simply a personality type that exists on a spectrum. Regardless of your personality type, you can learn how to succeed in an Online MBA program as an introvert.
To succeed in a program, it will help to be aware of the pros and cons of your personality.
Energy and Interaction
There are over 600 Online MBA programs in the U.S. Before you select a program, go through the details of how the classes are taught in regards to if classes are live and require participation or are held in an asynchronous format. There is likely a mix of both styles. However, being mentally prepared for what and how you will be expected to participate in the program will help you select which is best for you.
Time management is important, but especially when you are an introvert and have to engage in dialog with others. It might help you to think in terms of energy management instead. While extroverts are fueled by social interaction, introverts are drained by it. Even online interactions can be draining. You will want to avoid burnout by managing your energy well and planning where it is spent. Research as much as you can beforehand to find how the classes and coursework will be done.
Obviously, when you are an online student, you don’t have to go into a classroom full of classmates and a professor. You won’t have to stand up and introduce yourself. But that does not mean that you won’t have any interaction during your program. You might be assigned group projects that will require you to collaborate with your classmates or be expected to interact and participate in live classes. In most, if not all, online formats, you will participate in the chat, forums, or emails rather than turning on the video.
Being an introvert in a face-to-face setting, you tend to fade into the background. Virtual learning makes it easier to fly under the radar and not be seen in an upfront way. It takes a lot of the pressure off when you can hide with the click of ‘Turn off video’ and stay behind the scenes. If most of your interactions are in chat form, you might even find yourself interacting more than you would in an in-personal format, because you have the time and space to engage when and how you feel comfortable.
While you may be researching for your Online MBA or already enrolled in a program, make an effort to be intentional. Your time and energy must be prioritized to achieve your degree. It would be best to spend some time with your planner and look at your week ahead to see what social obligations you have coming up so that you can plan around Live class sessions or Zoom calls.
Ways to Manage Your Energy
- Asynchronous classes might be the best option for introverts. You don’t have to be present for these classes and have the ability to log in and work through the course at your own pace. This might benefit you as an introvert when you need more time to process what and how you want to communicate your opinion.
- If and when you have live classes, try to schedule your social time earlier in the day when you still have energy. For example, if your classes have a Zoom meeting type of element, plan your social time around that. Keep your time leading up to that time as low-key as possible.
- Schedule in rest and recharge periods. This may look like a coffee break, a quick walk around your home, or a fifteen-minute rest away from screens. If you don’t schedule these times in, you might spend hours focused on your work and later realize you haven’t moved all afternoon. Not taking conscious breaks can easily lead to you burning out.
Utilize Your Strengths as an Introvert
Consider your strengths more than your perceived weaknesses. Rather than seeing weakness as a failure or deficiency, look at it more as a challenging lesson. Here are a few struggles you may encounter as an introverted OMBA student. Remember that there are always actionable steps you can take for success!
Introverts are more inclined to stay quiet and listen during interactions. They observe and listen. This is a great skill, especially when it comes to note-taking and picking up on the relevant information from a lecture. This skill also helps you be a great problem solver because you naturally keep track of the relevant information.
Another block many introverts experience is being afraid to engage during class and with the other students. This can potentially hinder you outside of the program during interviews, company get-togethers, or team meetings. Think of your Online MBA program not only as a place to learn and succeed but as a period where you can practice growing in an area of weakness. Enter a class with the mindset that you will need to speak up in one form or fashion. This will help you in many areas as you continue down your career path.
As an introvert, you probably don’t speak up as much as everyone else might. When you finally do speak your mind, people are often more inclined to pay attention. When you show your unique insights, you can bring things to others’ awareness that will aid them in their coursework. Be prepared beforehand by being familiar with the topics to be discussed if possible and write out your talking points if you prefer.
Additionally, introverts are more inclined to be able to focus when it comes to studying. To engage both in collaborative learning and manage your energy, you can start an online study group with your classmates. If you create it, then you can initiate quiet study sessions and keep it small to start and get to know the individuals in a more exclusive setting.
By using a platform like Zoom, you can schedule sessions where the class can log on and study ‘together.’ You can take this time to work together apart, with sound off for focused periods of time, and share work and notes. If you are open to it, you could form relationships, make friends, and form intentional networking connections with your fellow Online MBA classmates who will be in the workforce, possibly in the field you’re interested in.
Introverts often prefer written communication rather than speaking. With much of the Online MBA programs’ coursework focused on integrative reasoning, communication, and writing, you might already have many of the practical skills to succeed. As an introvert, you can use the challenging moments as spaces to grow. Your success as an Online MBA student depends on strengthening your areas of competence and being aware of your weaknesses so that you can build on them as well. Take some time to identify and write out what those strengths and weaknesses specifically are for you. You can make this into a statement of intent – one in which you will deliberately use your strengths and challenge your weaknesses. This awareness and intention will help guide you as an introvert to succeed in your Online MBA program and long into your career.