MBA student Cain Menard turned his strength in networking into a full-time position in construction consulting
Cain Menard has a standard party trick: When he meets someone new, he tries to find a connection with them—seeing if they have someone in common.
“Six degrees of separation says that you’re six degrees from everyone on Earth,” explains Menard, who is graduating with an MBA and master’s degree in applied quantitative finance. “I’ll tell anybody at a party now that, ‘Hey, if we talk long enough, I bet you we can make a connection.’ And it works four out of five times.”
The practice isn’t just a fun activity at social gatherings; it’s born of Menard’s lifelong desire to make connections, meet new people and find—and take advantage of—opportunities.
“I think networking sometimes has a negative connotation that can kind of rub people the wrong way,” he said. “But having the ability to make connections—and the ability to make connections with anyone—is helpful in pretty much every career.”
It’s certainly helped in Menard’s case. Not only did it help him make friends and build relationships when he moved to Colorado from Louisiana in 2020 to attend the University of Denver, but it’s helped him in his career trajectory in construction consulting. It was, in part, through networking that he landed valuable internships in his desired career path (including at firms Plante Moran and Thoroughbred Holding). And now he’s landed a full-time job at construction consulting firm FMI, where he’s been working part-time while still a student.
“This job is everything I wanted,” he said. “I couldn’t be more happy to have found this role.”
Menard’s dual degree path—and career path—is a lifetime in the making. He spent his childhood playing with LEGOs and building things, fascinated by how they were made. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Louisiana native helped rebuild houses with his grandfather. His first job was at 14 years old, helping his stepdad, an electrician, run wire through houses.
Menard attended school and studied construction at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, during which time he also interned with general contractors and worked as a carpenter and a cabinet builder. He also began to develop an interest in consulting. “Eventually I felt like there were some opportunities out there I was missing out on, and I decided I’d like to pursue a career in consulting in the construction industry,” he said. “It’s a road that’s been paved for me since as long as I can remember.”
That’s when he decided to apply to DU. Lowell Valencia-Miller, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Management at Daniels College of Business, says Menard immediately made an impression—even before they met.
“Classes had not even started in the fall of 2020 when I received an email from Cain introducing himself and expressing his excitement about the program. He went on to identify how the DMBA program was well-suited to his career aspirations of joining a management consultancy,” Valencia-Miller said. “Knowing about my background in consulting, he asked if he could meet with me to discuss what he could expect from my course, the DMBA program and the consulting industry. I was most impressed, as it is very rare that an MBA student reaches out to me before classes even start and more impressive that he did his research on me as an instructor. I immediately knew that Cain was going to be an exceptional MBA student who was going to achieve his career goals.”
It’s no surprise Menard has taken advantage of several opportunities at DU, from serving as president of Daniels Consulting Firm—a student-run and faculty-supported volunteer organization that provides consulting services to a variety of clients—to completing his global challenge in Spain last December.
Through it all, Menard continued to build a network that will only grow as his career progresses.
“There’s always connections and opportunities to be aware of,” he said. “You just have to recognize it and take advantage of them.”