I’m an outgoing person, but even for me, “networking” was a term that felt daunting and uncomfortable prior to beginning my MBA. It seemed to connote a contrived social environment that felt disingenuous and unappealing. Going into business school I had heard a lot about the prominent role that networking would play in the MBA experience, and I was worried about having to undertake this disheartening chore.
Now, with just one semester left toward completing my degree, I am so grateful for the network that I’ve been able to build, one which has opened new doors, formed new friendships, and ultimately helped me to feel like I’m a part of a very special community of Boulder business professionals. Here’s a few examples of how the Leeds MBA program facilitated the networking process for me in a way that was fun and painless:
Career Management Services in the Leeds MBA program offers an opportunity for MBA students called the Professional Mentorship Program, or PMP, which pairs MBA students with a business professional in the surrounding area whose career experience matches the student’s interests. The student and their mentor can choose how often and where to meet one another, and the relationship often becomes a highlight of the MBA experience for many students.
Networking can also be facilitated through class assignments. This semester I took a class called “Sustainable Venturing” in which teams of students worked on developing a sustainable business idea throughout the semester, undertaking a simulation of “real-life” entrepreneurship. The assignment included a networking challenge: talk to as many people as possible with relevant expertise, in person, about their team’s business idea to get feedback. The exercise allowed me to see the incredible snowball effect of networking and how easy it is: I started with one person who was already in my network, and after an hour of chatting, asked them if they can connect me with anyone else who might be valuable for me to talk to. Each person was always happy to introduce me to at least one new person. Soon, the teams in my class had easily talked to up to 50 people. We had all expanded our professional network, and had received valuable feedback and guidance.
And finally, the student representatives from the Student Advisory Council facilitate a matching process between first year and second year MBA students, so that each first year student has a second year “buddy” to come to with questions throughout the year, and to promote more connection between the classes. By getting to know the class above us and below us, we are able to expand our network to include fellow classmates and future alumni. Our classmates are potentially our strongest allies in our network, and the unique community and camaraderie in our MBA program only strengthens the opportunity for meaningful networking.