On Wednesday, June 16, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management wrapped up its 55th annual Orientation Program & Career Forum (OP), marking the second year in a row the organization successfully hosted the event virtually.
Considered one of the most powerful, impactful aspects of The Consortium experience, this four-day event is an opportunity to welcome the incoming class of MBAs and prepare them for success in business school. Students connect and begin to build relationships with their classmates and peers as well as representatives from member schools and corporate partner companies. This year, the 628 members of the class of 2023 were able to come together virtually, using the Hopin platform.
With live videos and virtual booths, students were able to meet their Consortium classmates and peers as well as network with representatives from Consortium corporate partner companies, including Danaher, Accenture, CVS and others.
“The virtual career expo was a once-in-a-lifetime networking experience that pushed me to become more self-driven, and manage ambiguity, and to stand out amongst world-class talent,” says Theodore Prime, a member of The Consortium’s class of 2023 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin School of Business.
Sessions focused on different career tracks including general management, corporate finance and investment banking, consulting, marketing and technology. Activities also included a discussion titled “The Risks and Rewards of Authenticity,” an ethics and healthcare workshop, virtual career fair and more.
Students also had the opportunity to interview with representatives of some of the nation’s leading companies across a range of industries, gaining professional insight and advice and building relationships that may lead to internships or full-time employment. Many in attendance appreciated these opportunities to network in the virtual environment.
“I meaningfully connected with Consortium peers and top-tier corporate partners — despite being virtual — through chat forums and Hopin features that allowed for instant one-on-one meetings. We, as a Consortium cohort, also took initiative to create ad-hoc interview preparation sessions and socially distanced in-person meetups,” says Charlie Yates, a member of The Consortium’s class of 2023 at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
Despite not being able to meet with students face-to-face, corporate partners found value in connecting virtually with MBAs. “We were able to take full advantage of the flexibility of virtual to increase engagement and touch points with very talented candidates, leading to an expansion of the number of offers we gave,” says Jorge Pastrana, strategist in the Strategy and Marketing Development Program at 3M.
A 2020 Consortium alum from Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Pastrana says the most powerful aspect of OP was the caliber of the students. “Even as a recent MBA grad myself, I was impressed by the diversity and depth of professional experiences, community involvement and commitment and students’ readiness to meet the moment,” he says.
For the students themselves, the opportunity OP provided to connect with fellow MBAs was also impactful, as it inspired collective optimism.
“In addition to pre-MBA recruiting and networking, OP provided a platform to learn about my Consortium peers and their goals,” says Yates. “Sharing our respective aspirations and plans reminded me why I am going to business school: to continuously build and improve the case for diversity, equity and inclusion in all spaces.”
Perhaps most importantly, for some students, the event helped validate as well as empower them to achieve their vision for the world. “OP helped me feel seen and valued as a diversity candidate. I’m forever indebted for this opportunity and the community that I built during this experience,” Prime says. “I [saw] more of who I want to become in [those] four days than in my last five years of professional experience. OP is an amazing bridge between being a high-potential MBA candidate and an ambitious leader ready to take on the world.”
For companies looking for diverse talent, the event was proof that these future leaders are out there, ready and waiting to make their mark.
“OP is a constant reminder that there is a deep pool of prepared and ready diverse talent,” Pastrana says. “The onus is on us to continue to support this network and attract talent to our respective industries and companies.”