GMBA students see each other frequently in class but sometimes still lack knowledge of peers’ backgrounds and interests outside of the classroom. Therefore, the GMBA Connect program typically has students share short presentations about themselves before the spring semester’s evening core courses. However, due to COVID-19, this past 2020 spring semester’s online class requirements made sharing presentations before class difficult. Therefore, students found other ways to share about themselves. Megan (GMBA 2020) created insightful online profiles highlighting different students in the 2021 batch. Furthermore, Lea and Hana (GMBA 2021) of the current GMBA Student Council hosted 3 coffee chat sessions over the summer. During these small sessions of only 12 students, GMBA peers were able to catch up with each other about their summer activities while also sharing more about themselves. Various prompts were provided for conversation starters that had topics ranging from professional experience and career advice to personal hobbies and fun facts.
Through these coffee chats, GMBA students from multiple batches were able to share different fun stories and pass along useful advice and information. A few students even attended multiple sessions because they had such a great time! Some students shared their unique past times such as scuba diving and cake decorating. Other students led riveting discussions about their different start-up business ideas. Students shared places they had visited that summer and what tasty foods they had tried. Next semester’s classes and course recommendations were also discussed. It was great to witness alumni and upperclassmen give advice about courses they found challenging as well as high praise to courses they found rewarding. And for many students, the best part was just being able to spend time with their GMBA colleagues in a casual setting and discuss how they were doing day to day – how their work was going, how their families were doing, etc. During the school year, these are usually topics that we forget to talk about or do not have time for due to work or school stress. The coffee chat sessions allowed students to get to know each other in a relaxed and friendly setting. Each session lasted for a few hours, but the time felt as if it went by very quickly.
This is the first time GMBA Connect was hosted in this fashion, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. While MBA students enjoy going out for drinks and attending professional networking events, it is also nice to have a casual afternoon event as well. The GMBA family benefitted from being given a chance to sit around a table and talk freely and openly over snacks, coffee, and tea. Due to the positive feedback, the Student Council is considering to host more of these types of events in the near future.