B-School Students Can Network Effectively and Economically

The travel and networking experiences that MBA students have at their fingertips is just one of the many amazing benefits of business school. Whether the motive is a tech trek to Silicon Valley, an finance industry conference in New York, or a trip bonding with peers in Belize, these adventures can make quite a dent in a student’s wallet.

A recent article in US News offers some great tips to help b-school students trim some of those expenses by focusing on other, more affordable networking options. And in some cases, the untapped opportunities don’t cost a penny.

For example, students can take advantage of networking opportunities set up by the school to get first-year students paired with second years and alumni. “We really try to get the students engaged with the second-year class first, because that’s zero cost,” Emily Anderson, director of the career management center at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, tells US News.

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Anderson also notes that at Owen, second-year students help facilitate a practice career fair, which lets first-year MBA candidates sharpen their networking skills while learning about various careers.

Another great tip is to help run a conference in the industry you’re interested in.  Working behind the scenes offers greater access to the speakers or session leaders of the event,  allowing you to forge stronger connections than the conference attendees collecting business cards at the cocktail reception, according to one Chicago Booth School of Business MBA featured in the article.

And don’t underestimate the networking power of a school sweatshirt—you never know what conversations it may spark and doors it may open. Anderson tells US News, “You want to draw people into conversations as much as possible.”

Despite the sometimes exorbitant cost, most MBA students find significant value in these travel and networking experiences, which can lead to employment offers and internships thanks to a school-sponsored trip.

Students must decide for themselves what is financially feasible, but there’s much to be gained from making strong connections with your classmates, and there’s almost no better place to do so than outside the classroom.

Image credit: Flickr user Richard Foster  (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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