Marriott School student associations key to professional development

Aiden Reiri (second from right) discusses his experience in the Finance Society with fellow Marriott School students. (Braden Lanham)

Finance student Aidan Reiri said joining a Marriott School of Management professional student association gave him opportunities for personal development and professional experience he couldn’t have found anywhere else.

Reiri said engaging with clubs offers exposure to influential faculty members, industry professionals and peer mentors.

“Being in a club, you get exposure and association and an experience that you don’t really get if you’re not in a club,” Reiri said. “The club streamlines your efforts to network and to experience some of the professions you are looking into.”

Intimidation coupled with feeling a lack of personal relevance deterred Reiri from joining the Finance Society until the end of his junior year.

“I wish I had gotten involved as a sophomore,” Reiri said. “I wish I had just gone and had role models, peer role models, and seen them on the track and seen firsthand that that process and that development isn’t this long road until you reach this professional model; it can happen right now. I just needed to see that in action.”

Reiri attributed his club involvement to his internship this summer with a biotech firm in Thousand Oaks, California.

Many student clubs across campus offer students opportunities for recreation and social interaction, but the primary purpose of the Marriott School’s professional student associations is to further students’ professional development, according to Business Career Center Director Mike Roberts.

In addition to facilitating career readiness, these student-led organizations provide networking opportunities, offer training and skill-building classes and connect student members to experts in various fields of interest.

Roberts said the earlier a student starts participating in clubs, the better.

College recruiters now begin interviewing Marriott School students as early as mid-September, meaning students should be engaging in relevant student organizations by the end of their freshman year,” Roberts said.

Marketing career management director Mike Neuffer serves as the faculty advisor to the Marketing Association, a professional student association that holds weekly “dojo meetings” in which companies train students on building industry-demanded skills.

Neuffer said the club hosts companies such as Techtronic Industries, Precoa, Adobe, Union Pacific and others. These companies train students on skills ranging from Photoshop to Excel to Google AdWords to business-to-business sales techniques.

“The dojos help you with hard skills and experiential learning that you might not get in the classroom,” Neuffer said.

Neuffer said club members also have the chance to develop professional networks among companies and peers.

“Student professional associations are critical for your career development, but also building your professional network among your own peers,” Neuffer said.

Economics major David Mella serves as the co-president of the Management Consulting Club.

The purpose of the Management Consulting Club is to help students get jobs with management consulting firms. Club leaders help students practice for consulting interviews, which are more complex and intensive than a typical interview.

“What we try to do is connect members of the club with alumni who work at the firms that they’re interested in so they can have networking conversations,” Mella said.

Students in the club can learn about both consulting in general and the difference between various consulting firms so they can decide which culture will be the best fit for them. Club leaders build relationships with consultants who call into club meetings and answer students’ questions.

“We’re really focused on connecting students in the clubs with professionals in the field,” Mella said.

Mella said students who join a club spend time with people who are very knowledgeable about an industry. Many club members are upperclassmen who have already interned or have offers with consulting firms, giving them a unique perspective on what students need to do to prepare.

According to Mella, the network is the most important thing a student can gain from joining a club.

“You can learn how to have a winning resume and you can read online in forums about interview tips, but you can’t get a network of supporters and mentors online,” Mella said. “That’s something that clubs offer uniquely that other sources on campus can’t provide.”

For more on Marriott School clubs, visit their website.

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