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Employer support is critical

Whether it’s signing off on your time out of the office or helping finance your education, your employer’s support will make all the difference to your experience in the program. Here are some helpful tips and information to help you initiate the conversation and present a workable plan to your supervisor.

Time out of the office

It's important to be clear with your employer up front about the time your program requires. Here's a shortlist to help you start the conversation:

  • Class days—one Friday and Saturday per month, alternating between Des Moines and Iowa City, plus one Saturday a month for online classes
  • Two one-week Residency Week periods
  • One 10-day period for the International Business Seminar

The schedule is available well in advance of the program's start, if you need to refer to them in your discussions.

Financial sponsorship

Beyond being supportive of your time out of the office, many employers find helping to finance an MBA is a great way to attract, retain, and reward top talent.

Your organization may already have a formal policy in place, potentially with loyalty clauses or repayment terms. Before you ask your employer to invest in your education, start by learning about the existing policy. Your needs may exceed the standard tuition reimbursement benefit, but it helps to know how much of it is above and beyond.

Six tips for talking to your employer

Things will be a little different for the four semesters you're in the program. To make sure your employer is on board, take the time to earn buy-in, build a business case, and relieve any anxieties they may have. Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Engage your mentor—Starting with someone you see as a mentor is a great way to ease into the conversation and see if there’s organizational support for a request like yours. Paving the way through your established relationships is more likely to yield a favorable outcome than a surprise request without someone championing on your behalf.
  2. Be specific—Know the parts of the EMBA curriculum that will directly benefit your employer with a pressing business problem. Dynamics of Negotiations can help you get ahead of a rising cost of goods, or a course in data and decisions (from some of the best data science professors in the world) can help you tackle what feels like a tsunami of customer data. Be specific and remember to close the loop when the investment pays off for your employer.
  3. Seek out alumni—The Iowa Executive MBA has hundreds of alumni in influential positions. If you know of one in your company, start a conversation and learn about their path to getting employer buy-in.
  4. Know thyself—There is nothing more welcome to a supervisor than an employee who knows his/her opportunities for growth and has a complete plan to address them. Knowing the gaps in your expertise—whether it’s talent development, financial reporting, or marketing strategy—is a great way to present your EMBA as a professional development opportunity that will help you perform at a higher level.
  5. Provide perspective—It’s one thing to say you’ll have a commitment outside of work for 16 months. It’s another to say you’ll need to be gone for just six Fridays in the next six months. It's good to remember that most of the time commitment is happening when you're not at work. And even on class days, you're still just a phone call or email away if they need you.
  6. Provide reassurance—Your employer may have concerns about losing you once you earn your MBA. Take the time to reassure them about your plans. And if it comes down to that, propose a tuition payback clause in the event you decide to pursue other opportunities.