The Opportunity in Being a Student | by Vanessa



On Tuesday, October 22nd, I attended a talk by the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Harold Schmitz.  Dr. Schmitz is the Chief Science Officer of Mars, Incorporated, and he will teach a class at the Graduate School of Management later this year on innovation in food, health and agriculture.

As I listened to his talk, a couple of things occurred to me.  First, I had no idea how extensively UC Davis and Mars have partnered on research in food and health in the past two decades.  It made me feel proud to be part of such a wide reaching institution and lucky to have the opportunity to learn from someone so accomplished.  Second, it reminded me of the opportunity we all have in being a student.

In the past year and a half, there have been a number of times where I have attended a talk like Dr. Schmitz’s, or picked up the phone, explained that I am an MBA student, and asked for mentorship or knowledge.  In fact, just next week, I am meeting with engineering researchers across campus to learn about the technology required to bring a concept to market in my Management of Innovation class.  Last Spring, I talked to the CEO of a biotech start-up for my Social Entrepreneurship class.


In the middle of a busy quarter, it is easy to forget to step back and realize the value of these phone calls, meetings, and speaking engagements.  However, these types of interactions are a major part of business school and something we may never have the opportunity to engage in, in quite the same way.  The minute you tell someone you are an MBA student, there is an immediate appreciation for your hunger for knowledge and commitment to learning.  In fact, I have never encountered someone who doesn’t want to mentor a student.

Networking is arguably one of the most sought after benefits of many MBA programs and we are fortunate that UC Davis is constantly bringing in engaging and high profile speakers to share knowledge with students.  Our program’s alumni are also highly engaged and always willing to help a current student.  I have never regretted picking up the phone and reaching out to someone in the GSM’s rich network—and I am continually impressed with how much my network has expanded since attending the GSM.

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