Summer 2016. I was fresh out of my bachelor’s degree and excited to set off to San Francisco to earn my Masters in International Business at Hult. I would be 5,351 miles away from home, with a new city to explore. I was turning over a new leaf in life—a fresh start!

Two weeks to departure and my heart began to sink as reality started setting in: 5,351 miles is an awfully long distance to travel home for Sunday dinners or to drop off my laundry. One week to go and it dawned on me that I was going to be on a different continent, in a completely different country, in a place that I have never been to.

On the flight to California, I had the realization that I would be arriving in a city where I didn’t know a single person.

Arriving on campus

As an introverted extrovert, I was worried that it would take me awhile to settle in and connect with all these new people. But boy, was I wrong. On the first day, my anxiety completely vanished when I realized that every single person I met was in the exact same boat as I was in: we knew no one, so we were open to getting to know everyone.

 

Paula's student network
New Hult friends at the All White Boat Party.

At Hult, I was surrounded by determined students, bold thinkers, status-quo breakers, big dreamers, and beautiful minds. It was irresistible and inevitable to bond with my peers outside of the classroom. At the end of every module, I realized that my teammates had become like family—you don’t choose them, but you grow to love them!

 

“I realized that every single person I met was in the exact same boat as I was in: we knew no one, so we were open to getting to know everyone.”

Immersion in diversity

In hindsight, it’s safe to say that the Hult curriculum put me in situations that expanded my comfort zone and, as a result, expanded my network.

At Hult, I worked in teams where each team member was from an entirely different country. I learned first-hand about effective communication with people from different cultures, who had varied attitudes towards work. It wasn’t always easy, but I could identify a piece of myself in people that I thought I wouldn’t have anything in common with.

“It wasn’t always easy, but I could identify a piece of myself in people that I thought I wouldn’t have anything in common with.”

Making connections: workshops & events

During my studies, the Career Development Team set up a series of useful events. From perfecting my LinkedIn profile to pitching my personal value proposition, I attended workshops that ended up playing a pivotal role in building my professional network.

Tickets to networking events that would otherwise cost up to $200 USD were also made available to students who were interested. I took advantage of this as much as I could. 

I also took advantage of the free, customized business cards provided by Student Services. And I’m glad I did, because this tiny piece of card made a significant difference in representing myself professionally.  San Francisco offers an abundance of networking opportunities with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and recruiters—all of whom are all valuable to a business student’s network. It’s always good to have a business card to hand.

 

Fashion club
Fashion and Business Club event with Alex O’Neill, former Visual Director at Vogue

 

Strengthening my new network

Prior to living in San Francisco, the concept of networking was completely new to me. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d grow a network of approximately 600 professionals. Or that I would make life-long friends and meet influential mentors—all in one year.

This was all thanks to my newly formed Hult family, an all-star LinkedIn profile, my value-proposition elevator pitch, business cards, and the occasional free ticket to a networking event.

 

Looking ahead

After my year at Hult, the popular saying “The world is your oyster” went from being a just another catchy phrase to becoming a reality. My personal and professional network now spans approximately 50 countries in a diverse array of industries.

Paula's friends
Lifelong friends: sharing photos and a multicultural meal

So, why did I focus so much energy on growing a global professional network? Times are changing. Considering the exponential advancement in technology, globalization is inevitable. Likewise, it’s important to evolve professionally so you don’t get left behind.

While building my network, I engaged in conversations that expanded my perspective on what business may look like in the future. Growing a global network plays a vital role in opening doors and discovering opportunities that you may not have been aware of otherwise.

As a young professional who is truly open to the opportunities that the whole world has to offer, I’m positive that my professional network will play a vital role in the evolution of my career.

“After my year at Hult, the popular saying ‘The world is your oyster’ evolved from being a just another catchy phrase to becoming a reality.”

 

 


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