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Pizza, Pandemic, and Networking

By Samantha Cretens

October 22, 2021

Alumnus Brian Borkovek leads a workplace culture discussion during a pizza luncheon.
portrait of Samantha Cretens
Samantha Cretens

It was a typical September Friday in Madison, Wisconsin. The air was still warm, football season had just kicked off, and the SHR students met with alumni to work through an HR scenario and help optimize their job search. Students filed into the SHR Center and helped themselves to a complimentary snack of Ian’s Pizza (a personal favorite!). Beginning our session was Brian Borkovec (SHR MBA ’11). Brian is the Human Resource Manager at Extreme Engineering, a local Madison business, and came to speak with us about workplace flexibility considerations to support in-office company culture. This session was particularly topical as it pertains directly to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian’s session covered a real-world and rather difficult scenario: How can HR take steps to effectively work through a pandemic and a workforce that cannot work from home? Brian challenged students to think critically about these issues. This session helped facilitate the skills necessary for students to succeed in their future HR roles.

Our next session was a virtual workshop with Vin Aravindakshan (SHR MBA ’16). This meeting focused primarily on first-year students and the most effective way to utilize their LinkedIn profiles. Vin used his own LinkedIn profile as an example of what students should strive for. Students learned of different ways that the LinkedIn profile photo can be perceived and how to evaluate it through free online software. However, the primary focus of the session was how to successfully network through LinkedIn. Students were challenged to write an intro message to Vin and request a 15-minute networking chat. Vin individually reviewed each message and offered constructive criticism to each student. As the session drew to a close, Vin urged students to reach out to him personally for any further strategic connections. With pizza in hand and new knowledge to utilize, students began their weekend with confidence to help them succeed.