6.50 am!! As I ran past some onlookers, I noticed that the bus taking us to Calgary was nearly full. Brent, who epitomises professionalism was about to start the roll call when a few first-years came running behind me- I wasn’t last! People were still bewildered that I was dressed casually while they were all suited and ready to impress. I could even sense Brent rolling his eyes as I made my way towards the back of the bus. But if there is anything that my experience has taught me is that the best way to be receptive, focused and portray professionalism is to be fresh at the start of the day-long meetings that the MBA Careers Centre had so diligently planned for us. That is why I packed my suit and was ready to change in the 10-15 minute break when we got to the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Calgary.
The format of the Calgary networking session was different this year. In my humble opinion, I think the Careers Centre outdid themselves by accommodating as many students as possible without diluting the returns that we may draw from our interaction with former alumni. Those with a strategic mindset would have cogitated on a better way to conduct this networking trip and would for sure have been stumped. The day ran extremely smoothly thanks to the diligence of the ever-smiling Jenna. We were assigned our chosen streams – in the morning we were either in the “Corporate Functions in Energy” session or in the “Consulting in Calgary session”. And in the afternoon, the two concurrent sessions were “Operations in Energy” and “Functions in Finance”. This was interspersed with a copious lunch where we mingled with 35 alumni who graciously sacrificed their time to talk to us. The information sessions themselves were very interesting including the quality of our questions and ensuing discussion by the panel experts being the most informative. I took notes on everything that I thought could help me start or keep a conversation in future networking sessions.
And, as we predicted, Maxine did end up running a debrief session. For introverts, this can be painful! But incredibly, once we start discussion our learnings of the day, we unconsciously begin to maximise the returns on our time. We learn off each other, reinforce what we already knew and spot gaps in our learnings. I guess she is right when she says that we learn best once we go beyond our comfort zone!
Written by: Nilesh Paray
Date of Event: March 6th, 2015