“Can you hear me?” “I think you are muted!”
It certainly isn’t conventional, but this is how interactions between alumni and me have sounded over the course of my first year at The University of Wisconsin-Madison due to the ongoing pandemic. Despite essentially no in-person interaction with alumni, my experience thus far has been nothing short of incredible. In the beginning days of my time as a student, I must admit I was slow to adapt to this primarily online-only networking. Perhaps it was because it was unusual for me, perhaps it was due to the frantic nature of the first semester at business school or perhaps it was a mental block I formed, thinking that alumni would not want to talk to me as I would often need something and would have little to give in return. However, I quickly learned that UW Madison alumni not only want to help; in fact, they love to help in any way they can.
My first interaction with alumni was essentially mandated from the SHR center. I was to sign up with an alumni mentor to conduct mock interviews. Right away, I learned the impact alumni could have as I received valuable feedback on my interview questions from Rebekah Reese that would eventually propel me forward with my internship interviews. From here, I connected with my primary alumnus mentor, Brian Borkovec. Brian provided me with great insight into many different facets of human resources; ultimately helping me identify areas of human resources and types of companies I would like to target for full-time roles. I would go on to meet Ben Burney—in a short one-hour call I came out feeling empowered and optimistic about the skillsets I could bring to companies.
At this point in my MBA journey, I was beginning to love networking. I began reaching out to completely random alumni via LinkedIn and would ask them for a quick video call. Some did not respond at all, but many did. In one instance, I reached out to a badger alumnus with a genuine interest in a certain industry and left with an interview for an internship.
These interactions with alumni have and will continue to be the gift that keeps on giving. As I entered my consulting project, I found myself at a loss for how to proceed with certain issues. This became both an excuse to reach out to more alumni and a reason to circle back to previous alumni. They proved to be an excellent resource in simply communicating how their organizations are handling certain issues, which would help guide me with my recommendations for the project.
In conclusion, I quickly learned the value that the badger alumni base brings. With just over a year until I am officially considered a Badger alumnus, I eagerly await the day where I can pay it forward. To all alumni who have helped my classmates and me in any capacity, a massive THANKS for all you do!