The New, Virtual Reality of MBA Networking
One of the biggest benefits of an MBA is the network it provides.
For many, the experience offers an opportunity to connect with a community of bright thinkers and future leaders. In the era of COVID-19 and virtual learning, that element of networking and connecting has changed.
Chris Stokel-Waler, of Bloomberg Businessweek, recently reported on how online learning has changed networking and how B-schools are exploring new ways for students to connect.
A NEW CAMPUS
At NEOMA Business School in France, school officials have created a new virtual campus of sorts. From their laptop, students can enter 80 virtual rooms, lecture halls, and workspaces dedicated to a variety of actives – from casual coffee meets to debates about critical issues.
“We provide the context for people to be together at the same time, in the same place, and do what happens on the real campus,” Alain Goudey, NEOMA’s chief digital officer, tells Bloomberg Businessweek.
ONLINE GAMES AND VIRTUAL TRIPS
Across the world at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, students are utilizing a Slack channel, where they can connect and chat about anything and everything. On some days, students connect and network. On others, they play virtual mafia.
For many B-school students, in-person networking opportunities with business professionals were one of the biggest assets to the MBA experience. COVID-19 caused those to disappear overnight.
Rashveena Rajaram, an HBS class of 2022 student, decided to replicate those opportunities through a virtual “trip” around the world, allowing students to virtually connect with tech companies and VC firms based in Silicon Valley and even Europe and Asia. The biggest benefit of this virtual experience – and something that the in-person counterpart lacked – is the global breadth of connections that students are able to make. And they can do it all from their laptop screen.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if some components of the virtual trips stay,” Rajaram tells Bloomberg Businessweek, “especially when it comes to being able to expand our footprint.”
Over a year has passed since COVID-19 caused the world to go into lockdown. And, while business schools have adapted, only time will tell what the future of networking will look like.