Chaney Wollaston describes herself as an introverted person. The thought of reaching out unsolicited could turn her stomach.
But, as a freshman at the University of San Diego’s Knauss School of Business, she set a goal to put herself out there. She connected with professors by making it a point to go to office hours and planned study dates with her classmates.
“Eventually, those professors … are now the professors I get to thank for writing me letters of recommendation or pushing me to apply for certain scholarships or jobs,” says Wollaston, a 2022 graduate, and a Poets&Quants for Undergrads Best & Brightest honoree.
“Similarly, some of these classmates are now close friends who will continue to be a part of my professional network for many years to come. In this manner, I have learned that developing these interpersonal connections can be incredibly beneficial and impactful even if the process of forming these relationships can be daunting.”
LIKE A GAME OF CHESS
For Luke Tyler, navigating college through the pandemic taught him to think like a chess master.
“Business is like chess. You have to be thinking five to six moves ahead, but you also must be willing to adapt quickly to any changes from your opponent,” says the graduate of Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business.
“Being an undergraduate during the pandemic taught me how to adapt to adversity and develop the skills necessary to become a consultant. With everyone being virtual I had the chance to take networking calls in between classes and block out time for practicing consulting case interviews. Although I was a sophomore at the time, these incremental steps positioned me well for internship and research opportunities.”
The biggest business school lesson for Christopher Smith came during a Diversity Leadership Summit in his freshman year. A quote he heard at the summit stuck with him throughout his time at University of Georgia Terry College of Business: “It is not who you know or what you know, it is who you know that knows what you know.”
“It’s important to have people in your corner to advocate for your skills, talent, and potential,” Smith says. “It is usually not your talent or network that leads to a certain opportunity, but both. Finding people who can attest to your background and experiences, that also believe in your potential, can help tremendously in business.”
10 BIGGEST LESSONS FROM TOP BUSINESS GRADUATES
Each year, P&Q honors 100 graduates among the Best & Brightest Undergraduate Business Majors. As part of the nomination, these students answer the following question: What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business?
We scoured those answers for the 10 biggest lessons from the Class of 2022. Read them on the following pages.
1) ‘YOUR NETWORK IS YOUR NET WORTH’
“The biggest lesson I learned is your network is your net worth. Often the people you already know, or meet can help you achieve your goals. Reach out and connect with people in your classes and get out of your comfort zone to meet new people. You never know who you will meet or the opportunities that could come from that connection.” – Monica Murphy, University of Wisconsin
“It is the power of authenticity when it comes to networking. On my first day of college, one of my professors said, “Your network is your net worth.” Fast forward to now, and I finally understand the true value of this statement. As a freshman, my professors encouraged me to attend career fairs and events hosted by employers on campus. I initially viewed networking as a science, but through numerous conversations, I came to the realization that it was more of an art. Being myself and taking a genuine interest in other peoples’ lives has led to the most organic relationships that opened the door to many opportunities. The people in my network undoubtedly helped me land competitive internships by connecting me to the right people. The main lesson I’ve learned through networking is that listening allows you to gain the most insight from others’ experiences and form relationships built on trust.” – Cory Levy, University of Miami (Herbert)
“People need people. You can think about the stakeholders that businesses have or your personal board of directors. Not many things exist in siloes; you’re going to need others. It’s important to be open to meeting different people. I remember in the beginning of college, I started hearing a lot about “networking” and it was honestly a daunting thought. One of my favorite explanations of networking came from attending Marketing Society. The president at the time said that networking is like speed dating. There will be people you click with and others that you won’t. For some reason, that made it less intimidating for me. I’ve also started realizing that often it’s not what you say, but how you show up and how you made the other person feel. It’s also good to note how other people make you feel. Growing a solid support system will help you realize you don’t have to go through everything alone.” – Ana Martinez, New York University (Stern)
NEXT PAGE: Importance of Continual Learning + Asking the Right Questions