A big part of bschool are the
You’re gonna form lifelong relationships with the people you go to school with. Bschool is a major bonding experience – just wait till your first group project (or your third Happy Hour!) and you’ll understand what we mean. 😉
These relationships are typically tightest with those in your cluster – the 65 or 70 people you go through your core classes with, in the first, and part of second, terms. You’ll also be buddies with people in other clusters in your same year, and you’ll form friendships with other students in your electives, which have a mix of people across your cohort and from the class in front of you (when you’re a first-year) and behind you (when you’re the Big Kid second-year student).
These patterns are common across most schools. People who go to smaller programs aren’t necessarily going to form fewer relationships. And conversely, just because you’re going to a program with twice as many students doesn’t mean you’re going to meet twice as many people as you would at a smaller school. Humans have limits. How many friends can you really have?
So this brings us to our point: The reality of “the network” is much more about YOU than it is the school.
- Are you the extrovert who’s out at parties every weekend and hits all the networking events and runs through a box of business cards like it was water?
- Or are you the introvert who prefers to manage relationships differently – and who freezes up when he hears the phrase “networking event” (even worse, “events” plural)?
Bschool alumni networks are just like any other group of people with something in common.
It’s more like belonging to a political party. Sure, you have that one attribute that you share with other people in that group – you might even say it’s an important attribute – but it’s not a defining attribute.
You’re more likely to get a response to an email sent to a complete stranger who happens to have attended the same business school as you did. If you’re the type of person who frequently sends emails to complete strangers asking for stuff, then attending a bschool with a big alumni network may prove a big advantage to you. More people you can email.
Or you could join the Elks Club. They’re probably looking for new members, especially you young whippersnapper types. They might not respond to emails though… mostly because they might not know how to use a computer.*
Hitting someone up out of the blue to ask for help will still be hitting someone up from out of the blue. You’ll just be able to put “Fellow Wharton alum interested in…” in the subject line of that cold-call email that you’re writing.
If you’re an introvert, then you will likely be shaking in your boots just as much while writing that future email as you are today. Perhaps the experience of all those bschool mixers will give you more confidence and less sweaty palms (fewer sweaty palms???). But as with all things in life, the strength of your school’s network will largely depend on you and what you do with it.
* Apologies to all you Elks Club members out there. That was a perhaps-unfair jab at you and other such organizations, which are primarily populated by men, mostly elderly, usually not so tech-savvy, in rural parts of America. Or maybe we don’t need to apologize, since you’re unlikely to be reading this here post on the Interwebs.