What Are Your ‘Jobs to be Done’?

The mission of Virginia International University is to “educate students from all over the world through a highly qualified, equally diverse faculty and staff, while striving to provide academic programs at the graduate, undergraduate, and certificate levels that engender the intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity urgently needed in the global community and with a commitment to providing students with the knowledge to achieve excellence in research, scholarship, and creative endeavors.” One of the ways in which the School of Business instructors accomplish our mission is to know our students’ “jobs to be done.”

The word “Job” is shorthand for what a student really seeks to accomplish by earning their MBA at VIU. In many respects, the “job to be done” could be to simply earn a degree. But as we analyzed our student feedback including surveys, social media monitoring, town hall interactions, and individual interviews, we verified that Virginia International University’s School of Business provides numerous “jobs to be done.”

When we as consumers buy a product or service, we essentially “hire” it to help us do a job. If we purchase a new smartphone we hire it to provide us with connectivity to family and friends, record moments in our everyday lives, or to order a pizza. If the product-service does its job well, the next time we are confronted with the same job situation, we tend to hire that product-service again. If the product fails to deliver as expected, we “fire it” and look for a better alternative. The same reasoning goes for choosing VIU for your business degree.

To gain insight into your students’ “jobs to be done,” you first have to know your student demographic. In general, our School of Business students are 20-30 years old, juggling both work and family, and trying to earn a degree, all at the same time. They are ‘hiring’ VIU to provide four key elements: convenience, customer experience-customer satisfaction, credentials, and variable paths to completion.

In one example, a student described the reason for wanting to earn an MBA was to position herself for a potential promotion at her company. She reasoned that to have an opportunity for a promotion would entail increasing her skillset in several areas including leadership, marketing, strategy, and operations management.

Many jobs to be done look solely at the functional aspects of the job which is only half of the equation. The other half is both social and emotional. At VIU’s May 5 graduation ceremony faculty, advisors, and family and friends, joined to celebrate the accomplishments of hundreds of graduates and alumni.

During the reception afterward, I had the pleasure to chat with many of our students and asked them the reason they sought their business degree from VIU. A common theme I heard was, “I did it for my family.” Others mentioned, “I did it for me.”

What are your jobs to be done? Let me know what you think, let’s begin a dialogue.

– Dr. Mark Robinson