How to Make Online Classes Work With Your Brand

Career DevelopmentEducation

I’ve talked about working for free and wondered about the benefits of investing your cold hard cash in your personal brand on this blog. But readers have reminded me not everyone is in position to do these things. A friend of mine recently finished his teaching degree – a degree he did entirely online, while working as a tech in an emergency room full-time.

So after talking with him, here’s some tips on both pursuing a degree online and how to start your career afterward.

If you’ve recently received a degree for attending online college classes you might be worried about how potential employers will look at your web-based education. In today’s fiercely competitive job market those with an online education can easily convince themselves that their new-age method of becoming learned looks bad and reduces their attractiveness to employers. It can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy: when you manage to make it to the interview process and the interviewer asks about your education, you proceed to describe your choice apologetically and can even unknowingly sound defensive.

Whether this factors in you getting hired or not is dependent on the hirer, but it definitely doesn’t do your brand any favors.

Have faith in yourself when being interviewed

Before you even start to think about how to improve the way you present your education choices to an employer you need to realize some things.

First off, online education is an established system of learning approaching a decade of mainstream use. What was once a series of suspicious entities online promising an inexpensive route to a degree has turned into a situation where even Harvard offers students online programs. The evolution of technology and the almost exclusive reliance on the web for information has streamlined online education to the point where it’s actually more economically viable for universities to have their faculty instruct students via the web-connected computer.

Simply put this isn’t your mamma’s online education atmosphere anymore.

So right off the bat, understand that there’s nothing to feel bad about when it comes to an online education. It’s the way of the future and has enough of a past that many of the bugs and flaws have been figured out. If you believe you received a worthwhile education completely on-par with a more traditional on-campus learning experience, then there’s no reason whatsoever for you to second-guess it or feel the need to defend your course of action during the interview process.

By questioning the legitimacy of your own education you force employers to question your education as well. This invariably leads them to move on to another candidate with better demonstrated confidence.

Understand the selling points of an online education (you’re unique)

If an interviewer asks for you to expand upon your educational experience state the truth as ordinary matter-of-fact. Chances are doing so will result in the interviewer moving on from the topic and the issue of online versus traditional education doesn’t get brought up in the first place. But in the event that the interviewer wants you to go into detail about your online education and why you chose to take online classes, you better tell the truth and say you’re a modern age pioneer.

You might want to avoid going that far, but don’t waste the opportunity to utilize your online education to effectively brand yourself with positive light. Online college requires technological savvy. You can’t be computer illiterate or even software ignorant when you’re a full-time online college student. More importantly, an online education demands an enormous amount of personal responsibility. You aren’t regulated by a classroom clock and peer pressured into taking notes. When getting an online education you’re completely reliant on your own motivation to get the degree.

That’s guaranteed to go a long way in the mind of a potential employer. It covers all contingencies: if the interviewer was skeptical of online education your explanations make it look better. If the interviewer felt no discernible difference between online and traditional education, then your sell will impress due to its high level of confidence.

Looking at your choice to get an online education and considering it an inhibitor for employment from the get-go is sure to contribute to a lack of hopeful job leads. You have to believe in its authenticity yourself if you ever expect employers to. Knowing how to pitch your online education to interviewers is a great way to strengthen your personal brand as well as strengthen your confidence while out there looking to start your career.


Nathaniel Broughton is a veteran internet entrepreneur and investor.  Dating to 2002, he has helped produce 3 Inc 500 award-winning companies.  Nathaniel owns Growth Partner Capital, a venture fund that provides SEO consulting, premium link building and online reputation management services.  He is also owner of, a nationwide bonding agency.   Previously he served as CMO of, a $65 million nationwide mortgage bank which acquired his marketing firm Plus1 Marketing in 2008.   A resident of San Diego, Nathaniel often writes from his experience as an investor, marketer, and advocate of “networking like Paris Hilton parties – Nonstop”.  Follow him on Twitter – @natebro.