Networking Dinner Connects Students and Alumni

Article by Reeta Francis (Q17)

When I first signed up for the QUEST Alumni Networking Dinner, I was apprehensive about attending. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that networking comes to me about as easily as flying comes to peacocks. Throw in the added challenge of dinner etiquette (there are three forks on this table, and one is for salad…) and the night was leading to more apprehension than joy. Walking into the Garden Restaurant at UMUC on October 3rd, I was happy to see that I would be able to network in an intimate dining setting. Most events I have attended involved mingling in a crowded room; at the dinner, alumni were seated at each table surrounded by QUEST students.

I had the pleasure of sitting with QUEST students Vikram Bhandari (Cohort 18) and Nelly Desmarattes (Cohort 17). Sitting with us was Kyle Bodt, a Senior Consultant at IBM and a member of Cohort 14. Between appetizers, main courses, and desserts we talked with Kyle about life after graduation, life as a consultant, and life after QUEST. Conversation throughout the night was engaging, informative, and entertaining; it provided professional advice with a personal touch. One of the more interesting topics that came up was the QUEST Alumni Board, of which Kyle is a member. As a soon-to-be graduate, it was interesting to hear about how alumni can still be involved in QUEST post-college.

What I liked most about this night was the fact that I was able to network with alumni and fellow QUEST students. I got to know Kyle, but I also learned a lot about Nelly and Vik. The dinner cemented the idea that QUEST is an inter-cohort community. As a member of that community, it is important to stay connected to each other. There are about as many QUEST students out there as there are endangered giant pandas on this planet. No one can appreciate what it means to be in QUEST the way QUEST students can. We pandas should try to stick together.

Entrepreneur Dr. Ivan Misner once said, “networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships. Don’t engage in ‘premature solicitation’. You’ll be a better networker if you remember that.” The Alumni Dinner was a great start to building a rapport between QUEST students and alumni; we planted the seeds and now we’ll see what grows as time goes on.

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