Lauren Black, class of 2019 accounting and information systems double major, writes about the Smith Start Networking Day, held on Feb. 23, 2018, at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Often enough, the distinguishing factor between landing an interview is not dependent on who has the highest GPA or who is in the most clubs but instead is about who did the most meaningful networking. With a group of students as talented as the class of 2021, students have to distinguish themselves from their peers with networking and personal relationships they can build from it.
The Smith School has always been proactive in getting students as early as freshman year immersed and comfortable in the competitive world of business. This year Smith freshman got a head start in networking at the Smith Start Networking Day.
Prior to the event, freshman attended hour-long training sessions hosted by Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program, and KPMG campus recruiter, Jimmy Edwards. Then, on Friday, Feb. 23, these freshmen showed off their newly learned networking skills, as they split into groups and spoke to various KPMG professionals. They were able to speak about different topics such as internships and life post-graduation, while they also received valuable feedback and advice to take into their professional careers.
Jimmy Edwards is a proud Smith alumnus and stressed the importance of becoming comfortable with networking. “It is important to get students in front of employers from day one,” Jimmy explained.
“Events like this let them practice how to conduct themselves in a professional manner in a risk-free environment so that in the future they can feel confident.” Because of KPMG’s strong partnership with the University of Maryland, the firm is able to truly immerse themselves in the Smith experience with events like this.
With the amount of talented Smith alum at KPMG, the firm brought in a number of professionals to the networking day, ranging from associates to partners. Corbin Neiberline, a partner at the Washington, D.C., location, provided insight on the importance of networking, even as early as freshman year. “Business opportunities often arise in the most unexpected ways,” Corbin explained. “Sometimes just making the right connection at the right time with someone in your network can help open the door to possibilities that you may not have otherwise had.” Corbin had invaluable advice for these freshmen and gave tips on how to make the most of their network. “Just remember that everyone has to start somewhere, so be bold, embrace and engage others in your career and build your network.”
Corinne Dougherty, audit managing director at the KPMG Washington, D.C., location, showed her enthusiasm for the event as she helped freshman become more relaxed about networking. “Being an introvert, it took me years of practice before I was comfortable networking,” she stated. “It is fantastic that the Smith School emphases it so early since I know from personal experience that it can take time to become comfortable with it.”
Smith shows its dedication to helping students build professional relationships, and encourages the idea that it is never too early to begin networking. There were new connections forming between students and recruiters, professionals and amongst other students. Events like this continue to give Smith students a competitive advantage, as the school produces an undergraduate community of determined individuals.
Learn more about the undergraduate business program at Smith.