The first question each applicant is asked during his or her admissions interview here is typically, “Why Fuqua?”

Each one of us has our own reasons, and one is probably the famous Team Fuqua spirit. What most candidates might not know, is that one of the most important elements in making Team Fuqua so strong is the MBA network of second-year students.

It all starts in early September after the initial Global Institute term for first-year students like myself, when the Fuqua halls get filled with faces that we have never seen before. The Fox Student Center, where Fuquans usually spend most of their time in between classes, is suddenly at full capacity. The second-years are back from summer break, filled with exciting experiences from their internships and a motivational boost towards their final year. They immediately start to lay out foundations in order to educate and transfer their knowledge to us.

For those of you who don’t already know, Fuqua has a student-led culture, which basically means that the students run the show. This gives the school an entrepreneurial, startup-like environment with endless ways to initiate and innovate. A lot of this is led by second-year students who have that extra year of Fuqua and MBA knowledge. From charity events, to theme-based parties, and special programs for entrepreneurs—anything is possible here. Here are just a few events I participated in during the last 2 weeks of our Fall 2 term:

  • Design Thinking Workshop led by Professor Greg Twiss, formerly of the design and innovation consulting firm IDEO
  • Product Management Workshop with Lewis Lin, the CEO of Impact Interview and the author of the best seller Decode & Conquer: Answer to Product Management Interviews
  • Tech 101, a series of sessions designed to prepare tech enthusiasts for different roles in the tech industry
  • MILE Sessions, a Fuqua Marketing Club program designed to educate and tackle everything marketing related
  • Lunch and Learns with second-years who share their internship experience with others intersted in that same company
  • Numerous social events, both on and off campus (with all of the options, there really are too many to name)
Our MBA network shares tips on how to make the most out of networking events like this one in the Fox Center
Second-year students share tips on how to make the most out of networking events like this one in the Fox Center

Now, back to when second-years return to campus.

The first thing they do upon arrival is ramp up the club activities and recruit the first-year cabinet for each. Then, the real fun begins. Each professional club has its own timeline and specific milestones that are designed to help jump start the recruiting process for our first-year class and to guide us through every step of the way. In addition, the clubs host symposiums, conferences, workshops, executive speakers, and Fuqua alumni from a variety of backgrounds and industries. All of this is meant to reinforce our skillset, ignite our creativity and educate us on opportunities that we never knew existed.

Throughout the Fall 1 and Fall 2 terms, first-year students are encouraged to reach out to second-years and have coffee chats with them in order to learn more about their summer experience, recruiting prep and life at Fuqua. Later in Fall 2, we pair up with second-years and schedule weekly mock interview sessions to prepare for the upcoming recruiting season.

During each and every coffee chat or mock interview I have had, I heard a combination of the following: “if you need anything, let me know,” or “I can connect you with X who can help you with Y,” or “Put some time on my calendar so we can continue to work on X,” or “Send me your cover letter/resume and I’ll provide my feedback.” Not only did I get the feeling that someone is looking out for me, but I also made new friends and expanded my network.

It is now the final term of my first year. As I take time to reflect back and think about myself before our first term, I realize how much I have changed. Since then I have grown tremendously on both a personal and professional level, and I have no doubt that one of the main reasons is the support of my second-year MBA network.