Networking. It’s a term that you’ll probably get sick of at Fuqua. But what does it even mean? According to Merriam-Webster, net·work·ing is “the exchange of information or services among individuals; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” Blah blah blah. SO WHAT?
At the beginning of the year, networking meant setting up informational interviews, reaching out to recruiters at career fairs, adding classmates and other connections on LinkedIn, etc. These are all great ways to learn more about people’s experiences, hear their advice, gain knowledge about the field you’re interested in, and even land a first round interview with a great company. While Fuqua does a great job of teaching the ins and outs of informational interviews, using LinkedIn, and more, networking at business school involves more than going through robotic processes. And my understanding of networking evolved into something much more.
Networking is Personal
Sometimes, networking just happens naturally and doesn’t need an official “networking” label. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as easy as getting involved in clubs you’re passionate about, being a good teammate, and being the kind of person that your classmates “wouldn’t mind being stuck with in an airport for hours on a business trip.”
Starting MMS as a communication major, I’ll admit that I sometimes felt lost and frustrated with classes like accounting and finance, but I showed up to team meetings and contributed what I could. Occasionally that meant synthesizing what my teammates said and calculated to create a cohesive write-up for the final project. At the time, doing well, knowing everything, and being the “smartest” seemed to matter so much. Honestly though, at the end of the 10-month MMS program, I didn’t even remember the grades I received on most assignments. I know the classroom knowledge I learned is sure to come in handy in the workplace, and I can now say I’m comfortable with working with both words AND numbers. For me, though, the most important outcome of MMS was more personal — it was the friendships I made through every day “networking.”
Being a part of the MMS network means attending an event that a friend has planned for months, baking a cake for a classmate’s birthday, or studying in the Fox Center to help a classmate who is struggling with a class. All of these experiences are also “networking.” Networking doesn’t mean reaching out to someone just when you need something — it means making the effort to work on real relationships with real people. While striking up conversations with people for the sole purpose of networking is absolutely useful, the more personal interactions are the ones that I’ll remember for years to come. The respectful and supportive people I met during my time at Fuqua are the ones that I know I’ll be happy to help in any way I can in the future. And I know I can expect the same from those friends, too. I have smart, supportive, and business-savvy friends to visit and reach out to in places as far away as Germany, Mexico, China, and India, and across the country in LA, just down the road in DC, and just up the street in New York City. And I cannot wait to see how our network grows as we progress in our careers and meet new friends along the way.