Sustainable Business Oregon, an offshoot of the Portland Business Journal, is a publication that connects the local sustainable business community in Portland. Together with PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions and the PSU School of Business Administration, they recently held a networking event for those interested in connecting with others in the Portland community on sustainable business. Business professionals from a variety of fields were there, from local coffee roasters, to consultants, from people who practice law, to people working with renewable energy, and it was an interesting mixture of individuals representing Portland’s tight-knit and vibrant business community.
Several graduate business students from PSU attended the event, including Brigid O’Donnell, an MBA student at PSU, who said that she liked the opportunity to network with people who were all there because of a shared interest in sustainability. Like many students, Brigid noted that it sometimes feels awkward trying to meet new people at networking events, but in this case she felt that the emphasis on sustainability provided a ready-made starting point for striking up conversations. “I was also able to set up an informational interview with a new contact from the event, and really look forward to learning more about his field”, said Brigid. Josh Monifi, another MBA student, felt that people at the event were welcoming, and said those that he spoke with were interested in learning about what he is studying in school, and what he plans to do with his degree later.
As a Student Ambassador for the Master of International Management program, I sometimes get questions from people who say that they are interested in applying to the program, but wonder about career opportunities available to graduates of the program, while others are also interested in opportunities within the program to focus on sustainable and socially responsible business. While the MIM program and the PSU School of Business do a good job of offering ways for students to develop career opportunities and learn about sustainable business practices, to truly be effective in either of these areas, students must step beyond the classroom and engage with the community.
This is where networking becomes important, and is one reason why I thought that the Sustainable Business Oregon networking event provided a good chance for students interested in sustainability to meet with local business professionals who are trying to put sustainability into practice. As I’ve written before on this blog, networking isn’t necessarily about getting in with the right people; it’s about establishing meaningful relationships with people who have common interests and values, and who can help you learn something. Whether you leave a networking event having met some exciting new contacts that you can follow up with later, or simply leave with a better understanding of the work that others are doing in a field that you are interested in, the time you put into networking will pay off for you over time.
So whether you’re a student who is just starting your career, or a person trying to make a career change, try to network as much as you can with people in the areas that interest you. For those in Portland with an interest in sustainability, the ISS and SBO are great places to start, so check them out and look for upcoming events.
This article is cross-posted with PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions blog.
Josh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou. Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.