Staying Connected: Graduation Transition Dinner Focuses on Value of the Wharton Network

When Brian Egras was a student in Wharton’s East Coast EMBA program, his study group called itself the “Townies” since all of the members were from the Philadelphia area. After graduation, staying connected was as easy as meeting for dinner or drinks.

However, just two years after his graduation in 2006, staying connected became a lot more complicated. By then, members of his group had moved to Boston, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sydney.

“The lesson learned,” he says, “is to not underestimate how fast or far apart you might move from your friends in the EMBA program.” Despite their distance, the “Townies” and other members of their class keep in touch regularly, belong to various LinkedIn Wharton groups, maintain a blog with classmates’ updates, and organize yearly class reunions.

The importance of maintaining your Wharton EMBA network is a message that Egras recently shared with second-year students at the program’s annual Graduation Transition Dinner. “Don’t wait around until you need someone. You need to keep your network alive constantly,” said Egras, a senior advisor at Tyco Electronics in Philadelphia.

“When banking took a hit in the economy, we called our classmates in the banking industry to see how they were doing and if they needed any help,” he said. “And keeping in touch is a great way to learn how other people have made career transitions, moved to different job functions, or even negotiated job packages.”

Monica McGrath, an adjunct assistant professor in Wharton’s Management Department, also spoke at the dinner about the importance of sustaining a network with classmates who not only have shared the same experience of earning an MBA in an intense residential two-year program while balancing jobs and families, but also have significant knowledge and skills in a diversity of industries.

“You don’t just leave Wharton and become a CEO and know everything.  This is a network of people who can provide resources in new areas, who can serve as sounding boards, and who can become trusted advisors who appreciate what you’ve gone through,” said McGrath.

Egras, McGrath, and the other speakers provided plenty of ideas for how to stay connected, ranging from joining alumni clubs and subscribing to Wharton publications like Knowledge@Wharton to attending Wharton conferences and appointing classmates to specific tasks such as helping to connect alumni within their regions.

“We know how busy everyone is and that it can be difficult to stay engaged once students go back to ‘real life,’ but the Wharton EMBA network and resources are too valuable not to take advantage of,” says McGrath.

Read more about the Wharton EMBA Alumni Network.

Read more about Wharton EMBA Alumni Connections

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