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Making Conversations Count: 30-Minute Meetings Create Long-Term Connections

By Caroline McCloskey

March 21, 2024

Caroline McCloskey looking at her laptop during a virtual interview

For the past few months, RMI students have been polishing resumes, refining cover letters, and applying for the jobs and internships they believe will help get them far in their careers. Though this can be a bit of an overwhelming process, through interviews, networking, and meeting with mentors, we’ve been able to get more than just offers, but the incredible insight of professionals in this vast yet well-connected industry. I’ve had the privilege of meeting numerous RMI experts and have quickly realized the benefits of asking for a 30-minute conversation from someone you think highly of.

Caroline McCloskey
Caroline McCloskey

The root of most of my connections began in the Risk Room where I received suggestions from faculty and professors about the alumni and mentors with whom I should connect, to not only find an internship but also gain new perspectives from those working in the industry. Instructor Dan Kelly helped connect me with the CFO of the Milwaukee Brewers, Dan Fumai, who then provided the email of the Brewer’s Director of Risk Management, Darius Anderson. I requested a meeting with him, and Darius shared how his experience working in claims and risk control gave him the exposure analysis skills he needed to be a successful risk manager, which was helpful and reassuring knowledge given that I started my RMI career in claims. After expressing my career aspirations of being the Chief Risk Officer of the NBA, Darius shared the name of a friend who is a risk manager there, with whom I’ve now connected on LinkedIn to arrange a meeting.

After meeting with Darius, I connected with RMI alumnus and mentor Andy Nottestad to tailor my resume and develop a clear idea of the strengths I could bring to an organization. Andy met with numerous RMI students, even on Saturdays, to help us ensure our resumes and cover letters represented our abilities as best as possible. When my resume was ready for sharing, Andy sent it to numerous risk managers who expressed a willingness to meet with me or connect on LinkedIn. I was able to meet with Hiep Phung, Director of Risk Management at pharmaceutical manufacturer AbbVie, who helped give me a clearer idea of the type of internship I want, as well as share his insights on the benefits of being a generalist or specialist in the industry. I also had the privilege of meeting with the Risk Manager of the MLB, Anthony Avitabile, who discussed how people-oriented the business is, and that continuously learning, networking, and proving yourself will ultimately result in success.

I additionally met with RMI MBA alumnae and mentors Melissa Leuck and Jenna Herr to touch base on my internship search progress. So that I could learn even more about the risk manager role, Jenna connected me with Theresa Severson, the SVP of Insurance and Risk Manager for Kite Realty Group. I was grateful to speak with Theresa as she shared her insights on developing a captive and how she reaches a meeting of the minds when there are disputes about managing risks. She also shared names of professional organizations she thought I may find interesting given my career goals, and connected me with Rich Lenkov, the CEO of SERMA, the Sports & Entertainment Risk Management Alliance. Rich and I are planning a meeting so that I can learn how to get the most out of the organization as a student.

Through each of these quick conversations, I was able to gain valuable insight not found through researching RMI industry trends or exploring a company’s website, making my interview discussions much stronger and more thoughtful. It may appear intimidating to reach out to a stranger and ask to chat; however, if you find someone you admire or whose role you aspire to work in, expressing your interest will likely lead to a “yes” for a discussion, and gaining the insights of those you look up to will only help your career succeed.