The Best Network: Your MBA Class

Networking – it’s one of those key, ubiquitous business school terms that you just can’t escape. You hear the word uttered at orientations, in class, by guest speakers, by your professors, etc. You feel pressured to attend networking events (which you definitely should) and fret about your elevator pitch (which you should certainly practice). But sometimes I think we forget that we sit in class every day with our best network: our classmates.

Networking with established professionals may be key to getting that first job immediately out of business school, but you can rely on your classmates for many of those post-first job professional transitions. Need a business partner, want to know what it’s like to work in Company X’s HR department, looking for an expert in brand management? You’ll likely have a classmate who can either help you out or knows someone who can help you out. That’s why it’s so important to make those strong ties during business school and maintain that network after graduation.

And it’s hard to maintain that network. One day you’re seeing your classmates every day and then – poof – you graduate and that community you spent two years with is gone. You have to make an active effort to keep in touch with each other. As a dual JD/MBA student, the MBA class I started my program with graduated last May. A group of my classmates pledged to have monthly get-togethers. Well monthly turned into bimonthly, which turned into four months…Scheduling dinner where everyone was available turned into a scheduling feat of Olympic proportions (and one time even involved a doodle poll). We are doing our best to keep in touch, however it’s challenging because life happens – new jobs, new cities, marriages, kids, etc. But it’s always, always, ALWAYS worth it to make staying in touch a priority. Your classmates will be one of your most valuable networks.

An informal get together hosted by MBA alumni.

An informal get together hosted by MBA alumni.

- Sarah Tanbakuchi, JD/MBA Class of 2014

Dyngus Day in Buffalo

Dyngus Day is a Polish-America tradition which is widely celebrated in Buffalo, given the large number of Polish settlers which immigrated to the Western New York are during the nineteenth century. Similar to the motto commonly heard on St. Patrick’s Day, on Easter Monday you will most likely hear “Everybody is Polish on Dyngus Day”. Although Dyngus Day is not generally celebrated in other parts of the country, Buffalo boasts the nations largest Dyngus Day celebration.

Regardless of your personal heritage, this holiday provides everyone with the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of Polish traditions–flirting with the soft tap of a pussy willow branch or spraying your significant other with a squirt gun. Beyond traditional courting celebrations, over the past decade Buffalo has really amped up the fun with a parade in the Polonia District and a official party tent.

polish eagle

If you are interested in having a great time, put your red and white clothes on and head to the Pussywillow Park Party Tent on Memorial Drive at Peckham Street. Once at the party tent you can enjoy traditional Polish food, music, and dancing. Like other celebrations in Buffalo, the friendly people are really what makes the event a great time, which you don’t want to miss.

Given that my great-grandmother emigrated from Poland, my family celebrates in some of our own Polish traditions surrounding Easter, mostly pertaining to food. The Saturday prior to Easter Sunday, all of us travel to the Broadway Market in Buffalo’s historic Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood; Easter is definitely the best time to visit the market if you are interested in a fun shopping trip. Once in the noisy market place, we begin our annual hunt for Polish sausage, pierogies, rye bread, ham, pussy willows, and a Johnny Lamb (butter shaped into a young lamb). After we have purchased all the goodies needed for our Easter Sunday dinner, then we head to Kosta’s restaurant on Hertel Avenue for a hearty lunch.

Like most celebrations in Buffalo, Dyngus Day focuses on family, friends, and good food. If you don’t have any Dyngus Day traditions, get out next weekend and try starting some of your own.

 

Two Years Later

templeton

This past Friday, I attended MBA Sneak Preview Weekend at Templeton Landing, a nice restaurant on the waterfront in downtown Buffalo.  Two years ago I attended the same event, marking the beginning of my MBA journey.  At that time, I met several of my UB MBA classmates and friends for the first time.  Fast forward two years, and this time I played the role of the second year student, giving advice and information to new students eager to get started with the program.  I found it fitting that with just over a month left to go before graduation, I returned to the place where it all started.  It really put into perspective how fast the time has gone by, but also how much I have grown over my two years as a UB MBA.

Midway through the event, a former UB MBA and active alumni member addressed the room, stressing the importance of networking and maintaining contact with our UB MBA classmates.  Over the past two years, the importance of networking has been stressed again and again.  However, when these words were delivered this night at Templeton Landing, they resonated with me and seemed to be the most valuable and honest message that could be given to the incoming students.

After graduation on May 16th, all of the classmates and friends we have had for the past two years are going to go our separate ways.  Some will remain in Buffalo, but others will move on to other cities, or even far across the world.  As I move on to begin my career, the best advice that I can give to incoming students is to get to know your fellow classmates.  Get together with them outside of school and make your relationships stronger.  For the next two years, they are likely going to be the people who you see the most.  So make the most of it.  Relationships I have with my UB MBA classmates are among the strongest that I have ever had.  And I know that however far away we may end up from each other, the bond that we share will last long after our two years are up.

Kevin Scoma
MBA Student, Class of 2014

First Year Follow-Up with Jason Daniels

This past summer we introduced several students from of our MBA Class of 2015. Before these students finish up their first year of the MBA program, we hope to catch-up with them and see how they are enjoying themselves so far. This follow-up is with Jason Daniels, you can read his introductory blog at the following site: http://ubmba.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/new-student-profile-jason-daniels/ .

Daniels_Jason

What has surprised you most about the MBA program?

Honestly how fast the first year has gone. I feel as if we just had advantage week and now we are coming up on 5-6 weeks left. In the beginning you feel as if there is all this time then you get into it and you realize how wrong you were.

What has been the most challenging aspect?

Statistics is extremely challenging. The groups can also be very challenging just organizing the schedules, working with different people so closely, coming to an agreement on how to approach assignments and who does what; it definitely adds a challenge.

What has been the most rewarding aspect?

The most rewarding aspect of the program has been the relationships I’ve built with some of my peers. First year is a lot and everyone goes through it together. You have tough times and celebrate the successes together its almost like a bunch of us have went to war together and now we have a connection because of it. Going through all of this with this group of people is a very rewarding experience and it makes the bad days a little better and adds to the good ones.

Do you have any plans for this summer?

This summer I plan on working and traveling. Next year will be my last and I’m a JD/MBA so I’ve been in school for quite some time. This will be the last “summer vacation” I get  so I plan on making the most of it.

What words of wisdom can you offer to future MBA’s?

In the first semester you are going to get a lot of work in some classes that you will think is silly or “busy work”. DO NOT take that stuff lightly it all adds up. Also be proactive and don’t leave things to the last minute. There are periods where you will be unreasonably busy followed by lulls where you feel like you have all the time in the world on your hands and my advice would be to work through the lulls. The work piles up and you will thank yourself for staying ahead of the game.

 

Finding your Ikigai (y-Ky-gnaay)

On Wednesday March 26th Sanjay Gupta, Emmy Award-winning CNN medical correspondent told the crowd in Alumni Arena to ‘do something that scares you every day”.  The UB Distinguished Speaker admitted that speaking to a crowd of hundreds ‘scared’ him.  That statement stuck with me, even two days after hearing it.

Sanjay Gupta’s life was ever changed by the 9/11 attacks on America.  Before September 2011 he was tasked at CNN to cover health policy issues.  After the attacks he found himself doing stories on the people who survived the attacks, as well as other natural disasters happening all over the world.  During his almost 15 year span at CNN, Gupta is the most well traveled  reporter, having been to over 100 countries and all continents.

His advice to young professionals; read everything!  He finds that most of his day is spent reading and learning about new procedures and health policy.  He is inspired by Diana Nyad, motivational speaker; author and long-distance swimmer.  Nyad, who at the age of 64 never gave up her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida.  In 2013 she was able to accomplish her 30 year dream.  He said that she ‘just found a way’ to get through it.  Something that to this day is very profound of.

Gupta’s stories of war, triumph and his quest to have a healthier America inspires me.  He boasts that after all he has seen and all that he has been able to accomplish in life he can say he has a sense of purpose.  Find your passion, Gupta’s advice to those seeking to live a healthier life.  He was lucky that his passion for writing and healthcare can be combined into his current role at CNN.

Sanjay Gupta has inspired me.  He made me think about what am I passionate about, and what can I do to scare myself every day.  My sense of purpose, or my Ikigai (meaning ‘what’s your sense of purpose” in life from the Japanese culture) will only help me to get out of bed every day and ask myself that very question.  Defining your Ikigai will only help to define the reason WHY you do what you do every day.

 

First Year Follow-Up with Michelle Lund

 

This past summer we introduced several students from of our MBA Class of 2015. Before these students finish up their first year of the MBA program, we hope to catch-up with them and see how they are enjoying themselves so far. Our first follow-up is with Michelle Lund, you can read her introductory blog at the following site: http://ubmba.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/new-student-profile-michelle-lund/ .

Lund_Michelle

What has suprised you most about the MBA program?

I would say the biggest surprise for me was the workload, but beyond the workload discovering my ability to keep up with expectations. This program really works you hard, but in ways that allow you to grow as a young professional. Although I wasn’t expecting as heavy a workload it has been a very valuable learning experience.

What has been the most challenging aspect?

The workload and the quality of work that is expected can be challenging at times. After working a few years before returning to school it was a struggle to get back into a school mentality and to shift my priorities. With the majority of my friends working full time jobs, it was hard to be that person who couldn’t join for a Bills game or couldn’t do dinner. It’s definitely a struggle to find the right balance between schoolwork and your personal life – but once you do it gets easier!

What has been the most rewarding aspect?

I would have to say the most rewarding aspect has been to learn more about myself. This program has really given me insight into who I am as a person, a leader, a teammate and a classmate. It has pushed me to my limits which has given me the chance to do things I never thought I would be able to. Additionally, I would say the network that I have begun to build not just among my classmates but also with professionals in the area has been very important. As my entire family is in academia, I have had to “blaze my own path” in the business world and this program has given me the opportunity to do just that.

Do you have any plans for this summer?

This summer I will move to an internship at Blue Cross Blue Shield in the Marketing and Communications department. I am really excited to experience a new industry and a new company within Buffalo. I also have plans to go to a few concerts and participate in a few runs around Buffalo this summer and to really just enjoy the time off from school and the warm weather after this long winter! In the end of the summer I will be traveling to Europe with a close friend to Paris and Amsterdam, before beginning my second year of the program!

What words of wisdom can you offer to future MBA’s?

This program is designed to push you to your limits. Don’t be afraid of that, and don’t be afraid to not always get the perfect grade. It is a learning experience beyond the grades, and only once you let yourself take a step back will you realize that. Don’t forget what is most important. Although studying and homework should be a priority take the time to get to know you classmates and network because that will define your ultimate success within the program and once you graduate from the program.

What other information would you like to share? Whenever you are unsure about things use all the resources available, beyond just the professors and the resource centers… reach out to second years with any questions! We’ve done it all before so we understand it better than anyone.

Caring for the Community

The number one thing I love most about the UB MBA Program, and the UB School of Management in general, is how much everyone cares about our community. There are constantly events and fundraisers going on that give back to not only our UB community, but to WNY as well. Last semester, I had the privilege of being in Professor Nick Everest’s Teambuilding class. Our 24-person team was tasked with a semester-long project and the only instructions we were given were to “do something that will affect someone not in this room”. We could have done anything and yet everyone was in agreement that we should host an event that raises money for a good cause. The result was a very successful and fun charity auction that raised more than $5,000 for Carly’s Club of WNY.

Natasha Blog Picture # 1

In addition to all the big events, everyone is always looking for small ways to support our community. Last Friday, the School of Management wore blue to support a 4-year-old boy from Clarence, NY named Ben. Ben’s mom has created a heartbreaking blog that follows Ben’s devastating and ongoing battle with cancer.

http://bensauer.blogspot.com/

http://www.blue4ben.com/

Natasha Blog Picture # 2

Furthermore, this year’s MBA class gift is one that will keep on giving. If you read Jenna’s February 15 blog post, she discusses how our class gift will be used to assist graduate students with the tuition costs associated with an unpaid summer internship. This program, called G.I.F.T.S., is in honor and memory of one of our classmates who led the charge when it came to giving back.

I am truly proud to be a member of such a caring, philanthropic program and I am always excited to see what cause we will all band together to support next.

Natasha Allard

UB MBA 2014



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