As graduation approached, it was a pretty bittersweet feeling. My UNC Kenan-Flagler experience was an incredible opportunity for learning and personal growth. I was sad to leave but absolutely excited for my future.
I had the opportunity to do some really awesome things. On top of participating in the typical student experiences and extracurricular activities, I took time to do some more unique – and perhaps underrated – things you might not think to do while in business school.If you haven’t already done some – or all – of these five things, there’s still time before graduation!
Get to know administrators. Most students get to know their professors – but getting to know your school and program administrators is another great opportunity.
Many of these administrators hold advanced degrees and have had successful corporate careers before transitioning to work in higher education. As such, they offer unique perspectives for business students and can often provide you with guidance and insight that is multidimensional. Most are also well-connected and resourced within your school and university. Many times, they can help you find opportunities, build connections, or just provide sound advice and coaching.
At UNC Kenan-Flagler, I built relationships with administrators across a variety of different functions and offices. If you’re interesting in exploring this, start by getting to know the administrators in your MBA program office, career management center, executive development, corporate relations and alumni development offices.
Cook someone dinner. Sharing a meal is a great way to bond with your classmates and build relationships. Getting to know people in a setting outside the walls of the business school provides a temporary release from the hustle that is b-school – and who doesn’t love a good meal? Cooking a family recipe or an ethnic dish is a great way to share your culture and background with classmates, and you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to do so – although I did use this as an opportunity to improve my cooking (nobody got hurt in the process).
Build relationships with students from other schools. It’s a small world – and among top business schools, it’s incredibly small. As you participate in treks, case competitions and travel opportunities, you’ll meet students from other schools. Naturally, they’ll know some of your classmates and you’ll know some of theirs. You’ll probably play the name game and leave with a new friend.
Take the time to foster and build relationships with these people. Take a trip to visit them if you have the opportunity to. Connecting and building relationships with other students can be a great way to build relationships with people outside of your immediate network, and you never know how it can help.
I’ve met students from other MBA programs through studying abroad, participating in case competitions, and at interviews and company open houses. As a result, I’ve been able to refer many classmates to a company that a fellow student interned at.
Explore a side project. We all have ideas and ventures that we’ve never had the guts to go for. Business school is the time to go for it. It’s a place where you have incredible access to resources – people, knowledge and networks – that can help make your side project a full-on venture. For me it was starting MBASchooled, my MBA-content platform, and publishing content on LinkedIn. I’ve always considered myself to be a thoughtful person but a below-average writer – and while I knew I had insights to share, I shied away from posting them in public spaces. Business school was a great time for me to plunge head-first into these activities – it’s truly a fail safe environment to try something new.
Teach someone something. Everyone – yourself included – comes into business school with a unique set of skills and knowledge that they can share with others. If you see someone struggling with something that you’re knowledgeable about, take the time to offer to teach them about that particular topic. Furthermore, try to proactively identify something that can benefit a classmate – or a group of classmates – and offer to share your knowledge and expertise with them. Teaching others is one of the best ways you can master a particular topic. It’s also a great way to help others and build relationships and camaraderie with your classmates.
When you get to business school, take the opportunity to travel the world. Go to parties and on that school ski trip to Breckenridge or Park City. But make sure to try a few of these alternative activities to add a new dimension to your MBA experience.
By Alex Dea (MBA ’15)