February 8, 2013

Networking tips for business school students

When we ask prospective students why they want to pursue a graduate degree, one of the most often cited reasons is to network; network with other students with similar interests, network with faculty who are experts in their field, or network with alumni in positions where they aspire to be one day. So what do you get out of networking at Weatherhead? Here are some examples and tips from two of our Student Ambassadors:

Michelle Karp, Class of 2013
Networks are incredibly important when you're trying to build a career. That's why I've made it a priority during my MBA program. There are always events going on—the Career Management Office brings in speakers, student clubs have networking events or panel discussions, and professors bring local (and even national!) executives in to talk to their classes. I always make a point of attending as many of these events as I can, even during a busy academic schedule, and use that time to practice my networking skills while building my own network. Sometimes this means attending an event with a speaker whose work is outside my field—there’s a lot more pressure when you're talking to someone from your favorite company, so it's best to practice as much as you can in low-pressure areas. This also means getting out of your comfort zone. I make sure to find opportunities to introduce myself and thank speakers for coming, and even though it may feel awkward when you first try it, people are almost always receptive and appreciative! It takes time and dedication, though—it’s easy to skip these events, but you never know what type of opportunity you might be missing!

Tom Bueno, Class of 2014
Living as we are in an information society, pretty much all of our activities, from work to leisure, require some certain degree of knowledge. We all either are or were, at one point in time, students. As a graduate business student, it never ceases to amaze me how many doors my “student” status opens for me. People are willing to talk to students, sit down for a coffee and a chat, exchange experiences, or offer advice. Just by approaching people and telling them I’m a student, I've been given hours and hours of precious advice and many, many tips. Especially in Cleveland, where Midwestern conviviality is the norm, people are more than willing to spare minutes and even hours to help you on your way. And that, in my opinion, more than any class you’ll take, is what makes a business education so valuable.

Summary of networking tips:

  1. Seek out and attend career center/office speaker events
  2. Attend as many events on- and off-campus as you can
  3. Attend events with speakers outside your field because it provides a low-pressure environment for you to practice
  4. Introduce yourself to speakers and thank them for coming after their presentations
  5. Leverage your "student status" and simply ask to meet someone over coffee for advice