Networking with Fellow Tar Heels as a MBA@UNC Student

One of the many reasons why professionals pursue their MBA is to grow their personal network. A strong network plays a vital role in the development of one’s career growth. The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School has an alumni network over 32,000 strong. When I was applying to MBA@UNC, I was concerned about the networking opportunities MBA@UNC students have relative to their full-time MBA counterparts. Often times, full-time MBA students interact with their classmates on a daily basis and form a great bond with their classmates that can last a lifetime. Not only do most MBA@UNC students work full time, but they are also based around the world unlike the centrality the brick-and-mortar Chapel Hill campus provides. So can MBA@UNC students network like the full-time students? The answer is yes, and here is how.  

Utilize Career Services

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School offers excellent career services, from resume workshops to creating a customized job search strategy. The purpose of my MBA was to accelerate my career growth in a different industry, so I spent countless hours planning with my career advisor during my first year. I learned how to reach out to alumni and the proper etiquette of doing so.

Get to Know Your Classmates

As MBA@UNC students meet for class once a week, familiar faces will pop up through each quarter. I have taken the opportunity, either during group case studies or group projects, to get to know my classmates. These classmates and friends make the global immersion events even more memorable.

Create a Social Group Based on Geographic Location

Even though MBA@UNC students are located around the world, most students are still interested in meeting other students who are nearby. This is why I created and ran the Silicon Valley/Bay Area social group within our learning platform (similar to how we create groups on Facebook). Last October, we held a dim sum event in San Francisco to catch up with each other.

Actively Volunteer with Alumni Chapters

I am lucky to be based in Silicon Valley, where there is an active alumni network. I joined LinkedIn regional groups for UNC Kenan-Flagler alumni and signed up for event e-mails from the alumni affair groups. I even helped a fellow alumnus with an event in Santa Clara and got to meet and greet with the Tar Heel alumni group. By actively seeking out networking opportunities, I received advice on my career transition from folks who had similar experiences during their time as a MBA student. I was pleasantly surprised by how much the Tar Heel network was willing to go out of their way to help one of their own. I met a Tar Heel alumni who helped change my career, and I was able to switch career paths into a different industry.  

How the MBA@UNC Network Advanced My Career

These are some examples of how I networked as a MBA@UNC student. MBA@UNC provided me with the confidence and tools needed to transition from a senior engineering role into a program management role. My career advisor showed me how to tell my own story during interviews. In addition, the MBA@UNC program taught me important concepts from financial statement analysis to marketing and business strategy — topics that I was able to speak to during my interview. By combining these concepts with my past experience as an engineer, I was able to convince the interviewee that I was ready for the job.

Ultimately, MBA@UNC and the Tar Heel network have helped shape me into the professional I am today.

I hope you enjoyed my advice and one day make a great story of your own — the Carolina way.

About the author: Louis W. Chen is currently a MBA@UNC student and serving as a MBA Student Ambassador. Louis currently works in the High Tech Industry as a Program Manager out in Silicon Valley.