In March, we learned that the COVID-19 pandemic would prevent us from hosting the fantastic Welcome Weekend we had planned. We needed to find new ways—in short order—to engage newly admitted students and introduce them to our current students, alumni, faculty, and their fellow Class of 2022 peers.
I reached out to the Yale SOM community, and within the span of about a week, we went from a blank slate with no Welcome Weekend to 45-plus virtual events scheduled for across the month of April. Within another week, due to admitted student requests and current students asking to host more opportunities to connect, we had 60-plus events on the calendar. These ranged from industry-focused alumni talks and virtual student club fairs to speed networking events and faculty talks. Here are some highlights from the schedule:
- A chat about investment management with Brian Christansen ’09, partner at Sands Capital
- A chat about careers in education with Judy Samuelson ’82 and Jaime Bettcher ’17 with the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program
- A chat about careers in tech careers with Ben Freedman ’15 (X, Moonshot Factory), Emre Cilem ’15 (Apple), and Tony Lynn ’14 (Facebook)
- A chat about impact investing with Lofton Holder ’90, co-founder and managing partner at Pine Street Alternative Asset Management
- A talk about entrepreneurship with Professors Kyle Jensen and Jennifer McFadden ’08
- A student panel on business and the environment
- A faculty talk with Professor Rodrigo Canales
- 20-plus small group conversations hosted via Zoom by current students on topics they’re passionate about, including particular industries, social impact clubs at SOM, international student topics, and more
- A virtual student club fair
- Speed networking events for all MBA Class of 2022 admits
- A mock class on negotiations led by Professor Daylian Cain
These speed networking events were especially fun. A few admitted students approached me with the idea of creating a fun and casual atmosphere for admitted students to connect with each other in random small groups. So, we came up with the idea of utilizing Zoom Breakout rooms to randomly assign incoming students to breakout rooms of three to four people. Then, every 10 minutes, we switched up the groups so they all had a chance to talk to 24-plus fellow admitted students in an hour. The first one was a huge success. The second networking event was held at a time to accomodate more internatinal students, and the third was a “Quarantini Social” happy hour. We’re also continuing to schedule more events to extend throughout the summer, inlcuding alumni panels focused on the consulting industry, healthcare, and investment banking.
I’m incredibly proud of how our community has pulled together during this difficult time to welcome our admitted students. It’s been a true testament to the power, resilience, and generosity of the Yale SOM community.