Talking to strangers, presenting an elevator pitch, distributing business cards – for many, networking can be daunting. Nonetheless, 14 junior-year Kenan Scholars showed off their networking prowess on Sept. 18, 2019, at the third annual Speed Networking Kickoff!
Speed networking is networking with a twist. It’s a quick and entertaining way for scholars and mentors to meet. Participants are paired for three-minute rounds to talk and learn fun facts about one another. At the end of each round, participants quickly move to the next station to chat with another participant, continuing in this manner until all scholars and mentors have interacted with each other. Within minutes, scholars and mentors have shared business cards, made new connections and learned about one another’s interests, careers and life journeys.
This year’s Board of Mentors members include local political leaders, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professors and business owners and professionals.
Conversations about summer adventures and college glory days filled the air throughout the night. Quirky conversation starters, like “What was your favorite Halloween costume?” and “What is your favorite movie?” prompted entertaining discussions.
With each round, scholars gained clarity about what type of guidance they wanted from potential mentors, from advice about research to tips on job hunting to insight into work/life balance. During breaks, scholar Catherine Sugg took notes on the conversations to help scholars remember which mentors to reach out to after the event.
In addition, scholars played a round of bingo, in which they were tasked with discovering mentors “who don’t like coffee” or “who studied abroad in college.”
As the night progressed, conversations took a more serious turn. Discussions of what scholars hope to do with their degrees, how mentors got where they are in their career and what attracted mentors to be part of the Kenan Scholars mentorship program prompted thoughtful reflection.
At the end of the evening, mentor Mike Norona shared how impressed he was with the scholars’ “global mindset” and “poise and ability to communicate their dreams so gracefully.”
The evening was a prelude to a year full of opportunities for mentors and scholars to connect, including panel discussions, one-on-one coffee dates and treks to mentors’ worksites. While the evening passed quickly, it’s hoped that the budding relationships it engendered will last a lifetime.