On January 31, the Stern and Langone student governments (SGOV and LSG, respectively) announced to MBA club presidents the roll-out of a new, comprehensive networking resource available to all Stern graduate students.
The online resource, referred to as the Stern-wide Professional Networking Database, was first introduced to entering full-time MBA students at Fall 2017 LAUNCH as part of orientation programming. The database, which collects information about a student’s program at Stern, their expected graduation date, and roles in past and present industries, also collects and publishes preferred contact information so that peers can reach out to each other directly.
Since the database’s introduction, over 300 students have entered their information in an attempt to make the most of networking opportunities across graduate business programs at Stern. With the buy-in of current MBA club leaders, the graduate student governments hope to increase collaboration between students involved in a wide variety of professional and affinity organizations at Stern.
The database was created in direct response to the culture of distance between full-time and Langone students pursuing Stern MBA degrees. Although professional and affinity clubs are considered by many to be the premiere cross-program networking resource, many students see an opportunity to improve Stern-wide resources.
“The full-time/part time programs seemed to be very separated and we saw a missed opportunity for Stern to take advantage of our large class size and location within lower Manhattan for greater professional networking,” said Robert DelGreco, VP of Langone for SGOV.
“There were several times during our first year as full-timers where we were told to ‘network with the Langone students,’ however, there didn’t seem to be any formal outlet or database to allow us to do this efficiently,” he said. “We decided to take it upon ourselves to initiate one and hopefully have it be implemented in a formal way going forward to help the Stern community become more cohesive.”
Stern already has a directory with students’ career information, which can be located on AIS, the Stern student information system. The Stern directory also permits students to update their information at will during their time at Stern. The main difference between these two resources, however, is the opt-in component of the Stern-wide Professional Networking Database. Rather than using information reported by students during the application process, the new database allows students to self-report with updated, cohesive language that fosters collaboration and networking. And, although both resources allow students to update their information, the AIS system has separate directories for each program type. If a Langone student wants to find classmates working in their intended industry, for example, they would have to search three different databases to see the same information included in the student-created, combined database.
The project required commitment from multiple organizations within Stern. SGOV President Julian Miller worked with DelGreco to initiate the project in collaboration with multiple Stern administrative offices. Diana Hyde of the Office of Student Engagement worked with students and the administration to expedite implementation of the project, and LSG President Dalia Shteinhauz and AVP of Clubs Dominique Coleman worked to communicate the introduction of the database to the Langone community.
Becky Ingis of the Office of Career Development was tapped to help create the language used in the form that students use to enter their information into the database. “I had to liaise with OSE and OCD regarding how Stern will classify specific industries and functions going forward,” said DelGreco, “so everyone across Stern will be communicating with a ‘common language’.”
Incoming MBA classes were incentivized to enter their information into the database at the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester. Students who entered their information contributed to the participation rates of their class block; the blocks with the highest rates were awarded block points, which are used to win additional funds for block activities.
When SGOV and LSG noted the high response rates from incoming students, they decided to invite the remainder of graduate students at Stern to participate. Although the database is currently only being marketed through club leaders, students are invited to participate no matter their referral.
“I hope that in the near future [SGOV and club presidents] find a centralized point that is easily accessible to all students,” said DelGreco. “I hope that it will become a mandatory requirement for incoming students, which will help to increase networking opportunities from day one.”
All parties involved in the development of this resource are hopeful that it will help bridge the gaps between the graduate business programs at Stern.
“I think this database will be beneficial to the full-time program and Langone/EMBA programs because it will allow all Stern students to have a centralized point of accessibility to each other for the first time,” said DelGreco. “Rather than wondering if a fellow classmate has, or currently is, working for a company or industry of interest, this database will help to streamline that search without the struggle of getting appointments with OCD or constantly scanning LinkedIn.
“Students from all Stern programs graduate with Stern degrees,” he continued, “and I believe that the more connected we are while we are Stern, the stronger our brand and professional networks will be in the future.”
At press time, 343 students had entered their information into the database.
Students interested in entering their information into the new database, participate at http://bit.ly/joinsternMBAdatabase while logged in to your Stern student Google account. To view the database, please contact student government at firstname.lastname@example.org and at email@example.com.