Daniels graduates share tips for making the most of grad school

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. We often don’t know the best course of action until we’ve come out the other side, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit more foresight? That’s why we asked some soon-to-be Daniels graduates what advice they’d give to their former selves if they were just starting grad school today. Here’s what they had to say:

Say “Yes”
If you’ve seen the movie “Yes Man” with actor Jim Carrey, you know that the simple act of saying “yes” to new opportunities can transform your life. “Yes” isn’t the right response in every situation but it does have the power to open doors. MS Marketing student Brionna Simons said, “My advice is to get involved and say ‘yes’ to opportunities for networking, clubs, conferences, agency visits, case competitions and so on. A lot of my classmates would ask me ‘How did you get to do that?’ [and I’d tell them] it’s because I read my emails, registered for events and showed up. Take advantage of the ‘student’ card; it works.”

Ask Questions
We’ve all been afraid, at least once, to ask questions out of fear of looking stupid or incompetent. But more often than not, asking questions can clear up unnecessary confusion for you and for others. MS Business Analytics student Emily Sacks said, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re confused, someone else probably is as well and they could benefit from you asking a question. It’s totally normal to feel lost at times, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up or not work to understand the material.”

Similarly, MS Business Analytics student Karen Huang said, “Never hesitate to ask for help from your professors or classmates.”

Concentrate on Connections
When students reflect on their time at Daniels, they often talk about the connections they made and the relationships they forged with classmates, professors and members of the DU community. MS Marketing student Brianna Culberson advised future students to, “get involved and connect with classmates as much as possible.” She added, “I’ve learned that the grad school experience is much more rewarding the more you connect with the people around you; not only in your specific program but in other programs at Daniels. This is something that I focused on a bit more in my last year of the program and wish I would have made connections a lot sooner.”

MS Real Estate & the Built Environment student Vishesha Talanki echoed these sentiments when she said, “I would recommend connecting with professors, staying in touch with them and getting involved as much as possible.”

Embrace Networking
Just the word “networking” makes some people cringe. It can be uncomfortable to walk into a room of strangers and strike up conversation with someone. But not all networking is like that, and just like any exercise, mastering the art of networking takes time and practice. “The idea of networking used to make me really uncomfortable, but now I’ve grown to love it, said Denver MBA student Julia Stoll. “[My advice is to] start as soon as you can. When I meet interesting people, I ask them to coffee. As a student, you are in an especially unique position to do this. Most people are flattered to be asked for their thoughts and advice. Even with no agenda, interesting opportunities can blossom from these conversations. Our alumni network is fantastic, attend alumni events as often as you can.”

Master of Accountancy and MS Applied Quantitative Finance student Catherine Zhang offered similar advice on networking to international students. She said, “Learn how to network and interact with people as soon as you can. Even if English is not your first language, I recommend pushing yourself to talk to people—even strangers—and try to participate in all kinds of events that are related to your profession so that you can build your network.”

There it is—advice from some perceptive, experienced Daniels students who are oh-so-close to graduating. Now take heed and use these insights to make the most of your grad school experience.

The students featured in this article, as well as the rest of Daniels’ spring graduates, will be celebrated at the Academic Hood Ceremony this Friday, June 8, at The Cable Center. The MBA ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. and the MS/MAcc ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m.