Amongst all the disruption resulting from and adaptations in response to the pandemic, COVID-19 has also changed our way of networking, both academically and professionally. We now face greater challenges to effectively connecting and engaging at networking events. Now, students are, perhaps more than ever, looking to take advantage of the learning and networking opportunities provided through their university programs in order to find new ways to navigate the uncertainties in the job market when they graduate.
Within this current context, it is fair to say that we have all been getting (more) used to Zoom webinars and virtual events and, as a consequence, many virtual formats may have become somewhat predictable. However, the support team for the John Molson MBA in Investment Management program, offered by the Goodman Institute of Investment Management, has found an innovative way to foster more engaging and interactive networking events for its students.
Mentorship Circles at the Goodman Institute of Investment Management
Launched last summer, Mentorship Circles at the Goodman Institute of Investment Management allow small groups of MBA in Investment Management students to connect virtually with prominent alumni of Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business and other industry leaders.
“Our alumni speakers share their career path and leadership lessons, as well as their experience helping their companies navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Our students have an opportunity to ask questions and seek career advice.” Aisha Topsakal, Associate Director at the Goodman Institute of Investment Management.
Mentorship Circles are weekday lunchtime or evening events designed to be exclusive for a select group of students who must vie for the privilege of participating in these intimate meetings with alumni. Participants get the opportunity to ask questions or seek advice from someone who has been in their shoes.
Since COVID 19, it has been difficult to replace in-person connection; thus, small groups help to facilitate meaningful connections between current students and guest speakers. Invitations for upcoming events are sent to the class with information on the featured guest, but only offer a limited number of spaces reserved on a first come, first served basis. Many students reply within 20 minutes of the invitation being sent!
Chosen students are encouraged to conduct research on the guest prior to the meeting in order to come prepared with a few questions and actively engage in the meeting. Not only may the guest call on more quiet students to participate, but a moderator from the program also ensures that all members of the small groups participate in the discussion.
Likewise, the guest speaker is given the opportunity to consult the LinkedIn profiles of the students prior to the meeting, which the guest can then use to ask specific questions to each student. Aside from an introduction of the guest at the beginning of the meeting by the moderator, the conversation is allowed to flow freely. The smaller group size and the unstructured setting also allows the guest to be more honest and spontaneous when compared to more common webinars structured around a PowerPoint presentation.
Guest alumni also benefit from the format
Many program alumni have been keen to participate in the networking session and give positive feedback on the initiative once they have; their willingness and generosity to get involved shows how close-knit the John Molson community can be.