February 23, 2023

How Maryland Smith is Rethinking the Networking Experience for Graduate Students

The path to landing a dream job often involves a great deal of networking and reaching out to companies or potential connections to get a foot in the door. That can be hard for professionals with limited experience. But the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business is looking to change that.

The Terp Network Team (TNT), created by Maryland Smith’s Office of Career Services (OCS), is engaging with MBA and master's program students by helping them refine their career outreach strategies in a new capacity.

The initiative, which began its pilot in January 2022 and officially launched in March of that year, connects students with a team comprised of a career coach, a member of the OCS employer engagement team and a Maryland Smith alumnus.

Participating students are eligible to sign up for a 45-minute informal conversation with an alumnus. However, during that process, they are only able to see the alumnus’ field of work as opposed to their name and company.

That’s because the TNT isn’t intended to be a transactional experience where students participate just to get another notch on their referral belt, says Neta Moye, director of the Office of Career Services at Maryland Smith. It’s about creating a space where they can engage with professionals, learn from their experiences and determine the best path forward for themselves.

“This is about building connections, and through those connections, understanding more about yourself, these jobs and what really is a good fit for you so that you can focus and narrow your search,” says Moye. “That message is so hard for us to do removed as coaches, and it's just so much more powerful when an alumnus can do this.”

For alumni such as William Sherman, MBA ’20, president of Pendulum Analytics, the opportunity to give back to his alma mater at an individual level and help fellow Terps navigate their career paths is a compelling opportunity.

"I have noticed that the students that participate in TNT are motivated. It's refreshing to understand their goals and the steps they're taking toward them,” says Sherman. “That's where we alums come in. We have the opportunity to help these talented scholars refine their strategies to accomplish their professional goals."

Those insights have been particularly valuable to participants like Sasha Mongia, MS ’23, who says she possessed a strong desire to connect with Maryland Smith alumni that work in industries she intends to enter upon graduation.

Through TNT, Mongia has appreciated forging meaningful relationships with women who she now considers mentors and learning how to better develop her skills and technical knowledge for aspirational jobs.

She recommends that anyone in a potentially similar situation as her leverage the TNT by consistently signing up for meetings and being as candid as possible with alumni to get the best assistance possible.

“I suggest to my peers going through this process to be as authentic as possible about what they are looking for. It’s good to share your ideas and thought processes about your potential career so they can help you refine considerations. By sharing those details, alumni can exactly point out where you can improve your approach,” says Mongia.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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