When Pamela Raymond registered for Harvard Business School Online’s Credential of Readiness (CORe) program, her goal was to reacquaint herself with vital business concepts and develop universal, transferable skills.

By the end, she achieved that—and more. Raymond gained the confidence to email her supervisor and say she was ready to take on more responsibility at work. A few weeks later, Raymond earned both a promotion and a raise.

“[CORe] gave me the confidence to say, ‘This is what I want,’” Raymond says. “And to be able to articulate it and back it up. I can prove what I can offer.”

Raymond is one of many who have benefitted from completing CORe. If you’re also interested in furthering your career, here’s a closer look at what CORe is and how it can help you prepare for that next step.

What Is the Credential of Readiness (CORe)?

The Credential of Readiness (CORe) is a three-course program featuring Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. It’s designed to equip college students, those considering graduate school, and mid-career professionals with business fundamentals. You take all three courses in tandem and conclude the program with a final exam.

As you progress through each course, you develop essential business skills. Topics covered include making data-driven decisions, conducting a cost-benefit analysis, preparing balance sheets, and reviewing financial statements. No matter your industry, CORe can help prepare you to contribute to business discussions and decision-making. Here are five ways CORe can jumpstart your career.

How CORe Can Advance Your Career

1. Prepare for an MBA Program

If you’re interested in pursuing your MBA, CORe is a helpful prep tool. Malachi Koop initially enrolled in CORe as an MBA substitute. The program instead confirmed his desire to attend business school.

“I was worried about being able to prove to an admissions committee that I had what it took from a quantitative perspective,” Koop says. “But HBS Online gave me another data point on my resume to prove it wasn’t going to be an obstacle for me.”

Despite never taking any business classes in undergrad, Koop was able to show he had the skills needed to succeed. He’s now enrolled in Georgetown University’s Flex MBA program.

Harvard Business School alumnus Niko Stahl also used CORe as a way to prepare for his MBA. Coming from an engineering background, the program offered him the opportunity not only to test whether business school was the best next step, but get an introduction to topics like accounting.

“CORe was a way for me to explore business before diving into an MBA program,” Stahl says. “I’d never taken an accounting course. Just getting that familiarity with the concepts was super helpful, especially once you start an MBA program and you’re sitting in class with people who’ve spent the last four years in investment banking.”

Whether you’re new to business or need to brush up before applying, CORe can get you ready for the MBA experience.

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2. Gain Essential Business Skills

The number of business and financial operations jobs is expected to grow seven percent by 2028—faster than the average for all occupations—according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beyond the growing job demand, employers today want candidates with solid communication, problem-solving, and quantitative skills, who are also effective leaders with a strong work ethic.

Gaining essential business skills can then help advance your career no matter your industry or profession. You’ll start to understand different facets of your organization better and develop more in-depth knowledge about your industry overall.

For Pankaj Prashant, an engineer based in Australia, completing CORe enabled him to understand how pricing works in the mining industry, read balance sheets, and apply statistical concepts to his daily work.

“My ability to identify details related to business efficiency and performance that I may have missed in the past was fine-tuned in this program, and my understanding of the business is now much stronger,” Prashant says. “After my CORe experience, the level of discussion with my managers at work has been insightful and productive.”

Related: Why You Should Study Business

3. Complement Your Existing Background

Fellow engineer Isha Khambra knew her technical skills alone wouldn’t advance her career. She registered for CORe to develop the business fluency she needed to articulate technical topics to a broader audience and understand how her contributions impacted her organization on a larger scale.

“Now I have technical and business skills, which are crucial in furthering my career,” Khambra says. “I have gained a competitive edge and am now confident I can take on more challenging roles in the future.”

Whether you’re working as an engineer, in healthcare, or as a creative, developing essential business skills can complement your existing background and make you a more well-rounded employee. You’ll discover the impact your work has on the company’s bottom line and learn how to communicate more effectively with stakeholders from across the organization.

Related: 7 Business Skills Every Engineer Needs

4. Transition Into a New Field

Changing careers requires leveraging transferable skills. Examples of transferable skills include:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Data analysis
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Business strategy
  • Budget management

CORe can help you build up these competencies. No matter the role you're transitioning into, having a foundation in business can help you gain a better grasp on your new industry and start your next position on the right foot. 

5. Bolster Your Resume

According to a recent survey by City Square Associates, 89 percent of learners said they gained new business skills they could add to their resume after taking an HBS Online course, while 50 percent reported receiving increased attention from recruiters.

By taking CORe, you’re signaling to employers that you’re serious about your professional development, are self-disciplined and motivated, and have built a solid foundation in business. While there are no guarantees, past participants like Raymond, Koop, Stahl, Prashant, and Khambra show taking CORe can help you achieve your goals.

Taking the Next Step with CORe

Whether you want to pursue your MBA, change careers, or grow in your current role, CORe can help you take the next step.

Do you want to take your career to the next level? Download our free Guide to Advancing Your Career with Essential Business Skills to learn how enhancing your business knowledge can help you make an impact on your organization and be competitive in the job market.

Lauren Landry

About the Author

Lauren Landry is the associate director of marketing and communications for Harvard Business School Online. Prior to joining HBS Online, she worked at Northeastern University and BostInno, where she wrote nearly 3,500 articles covering early-stage tech and education—including the very launch of HBS Online. When she's not at HBS Online, you might find her teaching a course on digital media at Emerson College, chugging coffee, or telling anyone who's willing to listen terribly corny jokes.