By Andrea Schneider
When I decided that I would be applying to business school about two years ago, I was actually excited at the idea of professional networking. For about a year, after leaving work in the evenings, I would venture off to all sorts of events: American Chemical Society’s young professional meetups, networking nights at 85Broads (now known as Ellevate Network), female MBA info sessions from the Forté Foundation, and on top of all that, I went to as many conferences as I could afford.
About a year into my networking madness, I was a little jaded. I felt like I was treading water. I mean, I had met some very interesting people here and there, but nobody that I felt I really connected with. I wasn’t looking for a soul-mate or even a best friend. I just wanted to meet somebody who was going through what I was going through: the process of applying to business school.
Just as my round 2 b-school applications were coming due, a notification popped up on my calendar for an event that I signed up for a couple months prior. It was called “The Successful You: 2013 Women’s Leadership Forum” held right next to Sloan at the Microsoft NERD Center. I convinced a colleague of mine to sign up, and together we went.
So it’s just as I was losing all hope in networking – when my MBA application fuel was dwindling away – that happened upon an event that turned everything around (it seems like life is always tricky in that way). Here’s a run down of what went down at the Microsoft NERD Women’s Leadership Conference:
1. Diane Ripstein, a professional communications consultant, gives a talk called “Get Ready for your Communication Moments” – and it was AWESOME. About six months later, I recognize her at my synagogue – she’s a member too. This is a very small world.
2. During lunch I meet two awesome women: Tina Tang and Morgan Wang. I stay in contact with them after the event. Morgan becomes my classmate a year later, here at Sloan!
3. Kathleen Kennedy speaks. She’s the Chief Strategy Officer at MIT Technology Review.
4. Robin Chase, Sloan Alumna, serial entrepreneur, peer economy trendsetter and enthusiast, founder and former CEO of of Zipcar, co-founder of Veniam, and CEO of Buzzcar, speaks. Her talk is amazing. Afterwards, I add "entrepreneur" to the long list of things I want to do when I "grow up". She is truly inspiring.
My world got bigger because of this one great conference, and I couldn’t have been luckier on the timing.
If you’re reading this and wishing you could find your next big thing, I highly suggest that you sign up for a great conference that’s right around the corner: MIT Sloan’s Breaking the Mold Conference (which just so happens to be ending its early bird discount tomorrow). If you’re not currently a Sloan student, this is your chance to meet tons of Sloanies in a low-pressure environment. And of course, Sloanie or wannabe-Sloanie, you get to hear keynote speakers Robin Chase AND McDonald’s former President, Jan Fields!
Personally, I can’t say that I’ve had the honor to meet or speak with Jan Fields, but I am so looking forward to it. I hold a special reverence towards the fact that she made her way up the McDonald’s food chain (no pun intended), all the way from starting as a crew member at a Micky D’s in 1978 to becoming COO and finally President in 2010. Talk about success. Dear Jan Fields, can I be you?
Now I’m hungry for a Big Mac…
Until next time,