Real-world networking lessons

Midway through this challenging first semester and the lessons keep coming. So do the opportunities. Just in the past few weeks, I’ve met and heard speakers from such influential companies as New York-based Deutsche Bank and Compass Group North America, a food service company based out of Charlotte, N.C. While I’ve decided on a marketing concentration, it’s always nice to hear advice from professionals in all types of industries. Hearing these speakers’ real-world advice also reinforces all of the book learning we’re doing right now.

Last weekend I learned some hard, yet valuable real-world lessons about networking at the National Society of Hispanic MBAs career fair in Chicago. I was one of about 20 TCU full-time MBA students who traveled to the event and many of my classmates had wonderful success. At least half our group earned on-site interviews and at least one (at the time of this post) has been contacted to travel to Cincinnati for a next-round interview with Proctor and Gamble.

I’ll admit I didn’t prepare well enough to be competitive for internship opportunities at the NSHMBA event, but I did make one valuable contact at Land O’ Lakes. It is great how somewhat random encounters can turn into solid ideas. After talking to Paul, a marketing professional and recruiter from Land O’ Lakes, and getting some valuable information from him regarding dairy and agriculture marketing, I’ve decided to further research the industry. Since I grew up on a dairy ranch in California, I have added incentive (and knowledge) to pursue an internship in this industry.

The NSHMBA career fair left me with blisters on my feet and plenty of fatigue, but I think the trip was worth it. If I attend any more career fairs this year or next, I’ll be much better prepared and certainly more confident.

Speaking of confidence, I survived my first interview this week. Well, it was just a mock interview, but it felt like the real deal to me. I talked by phone with Sherlene from Healthpoint, a Fort Worth-based healthcare company that specializes in wound care products and research. The interview consisted of mainly behavior questions, but those are the types of questions I need to practice. Thanks to our helpful Graduate Career Services Center, I’m better prepared for my next interview, which I’m hoping will be real.

Real from me right now is keeping my grades at an acceptable level and building my confidence. After a somewhat disappointing grade on my Marketing midterm, I now know how I need to study to improve my grade by the end of the semester. I got Bs on all my eight-week class finals so I’m pleased with those results. October has really flown by; only about seven more weeks before we reach our big Integrated Project in December. This team project is a week-long business simulation that will draw on all our knowledge from this semester and past work experiences. Managing stress and fatigue will be part of the challenge, but the experience will be valuable moving forward in the program.

— Michele Machado

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